Enter school in a the year you turn 5, learn and learn and learn. Start being examined from age 7. Make subject choices at 14 that you’re told will determine your future. Narrow those choices down at 16. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!
Today, A Level students are finding out their results and discovering what they will be doing come September. University? Further Eduction college? Work? Travel? Many will be thrilled, many will be ambivalent, many will be disappointed. They will all be okay.
Personally, I feel that too much pressure is put on young people to have decided their future at a very early age. Make subject choices that will lead to your chosen degree, and in turn your career for the next 40+ years. But it doesn’t work like that for everyone, and that’s fine!
Here’s my story:
I got 11 decent GCSEs. I’d probably have done better if I’d have not been bullied throughout my whole school life, but I passed them all and had a fair few A grades to my name.
I went to college and did 4 AS Levels.
I dropped out of college – disillusioned by formal education. My sociology lecturer told me I’d never pass. I got an A.
I travelled to Brazil. Studied for an English A Level while learning Portuguese to a high conversational level within 3 months.
I worked full time as a travel agent, using my discount to continue seeing the world.
I spent 2 months in Thailand, living with Buddhist monks and then volunteering to rebuild an orphanage devastated by floods: a result of the tsunami a year previously.
I bought a house with my now ex. We didn’t work out. I used inheritance money to buy a place on my own. I worked 70 hour weeks in a special needs residential college.
I bought another house and rented out the first. I met my now husband. We bought our first house at the same time as planning our wedding. I continued to work in special needs education. I fell pregnant a few weeks after our wedding.
I didn’t have a career, or even the prospect of one. Education wasn’t for me as a career.
I began a blog to document my pregnancy – a way to capture the special journey into parenthood as well as providing an outlet for the writing I’d always loved doing.
I went on maternity leave, had Toby, gave up my job, went self employed, took paid work on my blog and began working as a freelance copywriter and social media manager.
I fell pregnant again. Had a rough pregnancy. Postnatal depression. Started a business.
2.5 months ago I started a full time job as a content manager. I get to write, I get to create, I get to manage, I get to collaborate. I don’t have a degree, I barely got one A Level.
At 16, 17, 18, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. Life gave me what I needed in order to forge a successful career path and I wouldn’t change a thing.
For some, university is essential. It’s their future. For others, it’s an expensive 3 years that doesn’t lead to anything they couldn’t have done anyway.
I’m not against university at all – I sincerely hope that everyone who is sure of their career ambitions gets what they are working hard for! Congratulations to every single student who has worked their bums off and achieved their goals – you freaking rock!
But to those who are today disappointed, disheartened, unsure what to do or how to manage outside of formal education:
You will be fine. Work hard, be open to the opportunities life presents you, be flexible, look for chances, be prepared to take some leaps of faith.
I promise, if you do these things then life will work out. I know, I felt utterly lost at your age and now I am settled, happy, completely fulfilled in life.