So it’s that time of the year. To go to university or not to go?

University opens up doors to better job prospects, allows you to become independent, trains your mind, and helps you to develop new skills. But not going to university can also do those things. The ‘University of Life’ is often described as the learning gained from experience outside of educational institutions, and many people are opting against university and for the University of Life.

So which one is more important? University degree or University of Life. And which option is for you?

The first questions to ask yourself when thinking about your options are: What do you want out of life? And: What do you want your CV to look like?

What do you want out of life?

Do you want to spend the next 3-4 years studying and becoming an expert in a subject that you love?

Are you seeking independence and the chance to meet hundreds of people from all different walks of life?

Or maybe you want a high paid job in your dream company?

All of these things and more can be achieved with a university degree. Whatever degree you choose to study, you will be taught by experts; lecturers who have spent years, and sometimes decades, specialising in that field. And there they are, passing on that knowledge to you.

However, learning is achieved in different ways, and spending those four years doing an apprenticeship, travelling, volunteering, or even going straight into work, can also teach you valuable life skills.

Apprenticeships can also lead to lucrative careers. Jamie Oliver, JCB chairman Lord Bamford and Stella McCartney are just some of the many apprenticeship success stories. And spending a year abroad doesn’t only present you with the opportunity to learn a new language, you could also learn about different cultures and values.

If you want to experience life on your own terms and opt for a more practical method of learning, you may want to consider the University of Life.

What do you want your CV to look like?

Let’s take two examples.

Sarah didn’t go to university. She chose to travel around South America, learn Spanish, and volunteer at various charities. When she returned back to the UK, she applied for an internship with an international charity that works in South America, as a communications assistant.

Lucy went to university. She studied media and communication studies for three years, and applied for the same internship as a communications assistant.

While Lucy has three years of solid experience in communications from university, Sarah has spent time living in the countries that the charity works in. Her hands on experience may be useful for certain parts of the role. However Lucy’s in-depth knowledge will show her competence in this field.

The way your CV looks will depend on the decision you made when you left compulsory education. For certain careers higher education is obligatory, so if your CV doesn’t feature a medical degree, then it’s unlikely you’ll get that job as a junior doctor. Going to university means you can fill up your CV with all the modules you took, the societies you were on, and any activities you participated in on and off campus. You can really show off your expertise in the industry you are planning to work in, and demonstrate your ability to dedicate yourself to something long term.

If you still can’t make your mind up, how about doing both? That’s right. You can get a university degree and go to the University of Life by opting for a deferred entry. Deferring your university entry will allow you to explore other options before you move up to higher education. Whether you choose to travel, work or volunteer, you’ll pick up valuable skills education can’t provide you with. And once you graduate, you’ll not only have an excellent degree, you’ll also have experience. In other words you’ll be unstoppable!

If you are planning on going to university and want help with your application, speak to one of the team at [email protected].