Why I wish I'd considered alternatives to university

Tamika Green with some of her friends at university

Tamika with some of her friends at university - Credit: Tamika Green

A debate has been circulating about whether university, particularly in the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, is actually worthwhile. Whether online classes are worth tuition fees and the cost of living.

So, is university more about the experience than the qualification young people come away with? My opinion about this is beginning to change. 

I have been to university, and although I didn’t start my university degree with the dark cloud of the pandemic hanging over me, I certainly ended with it. My final year was cut short and lectures were moved online. I still haven’t been able to graduate.  

I firmly believe that if the pandemic had hit before I started university, I would not have gone. Tuition fees along with the cost of living would have been far too much for me to just end up sitting in front of a laptop.

It’s the experience of meeting new people, budgeting for a food shop and surviving in an all-girl flat, where I learnt the most. University was a place I felt I finally belonged and I met my best friends there. 

Tamika with her friend at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge

Tamika studied writing and film studies at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge - Credit: Tamika Green

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But now that I have completed my degree, I realised there was a lot I missed out on. When it came to competing in an ever-competitive job market, I struggled. 

I applied for many jobs in journalism and publishing, but application after application I was rejected. I felt stranded and I didn’t know where to go next. I was left wondering if I had made a mistake studying writing and film studies.

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I didn’t have all the skills I needed to be employed in the field I wanted to go into and I thought about changing my career plans.

However, after many months and a lot of hard work, I am now lucky enough to be on a journalism apprenticeship. I'm studying for an NCTJ diploma in journalism and working as a community reporter for the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star. I'm getting hands-on experience in the workplace whilst training to be a journalist at the same time.

Tamika Green at university in Cambridge

Tamika is now on an apprenticeship studying for an NCTJ diploma in journalism - Credit: Tamika Green

I have learnt more in the last few weeks than I did in the three years that I studied. I'm seeing first-hand the value that an apprenticeship can offer – being in the work environment and learning from those more experienced than I am. 

I'm not saying I regret going to university, but I do think young people receiving their A Level and GCSE results this week should give a little more consideration to alternatives to university. I know I wish I had.  

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