Why I Graduated A Year Early

12 December 2017


As you may be aware, last year I was at university. I graduated 'in absentia' this year on account of me being on holiday while the graduation ceremony was taking place, so the photos I've used in this post are from my HND graduation instead, just in case you're wondering why my hood probably isn't the right colour!

Being a university student was something I'd been working towards ever since I left high school in 2012 (SERIOUSLY HALF A DECADE AGO.) I'd always imagined that I'd be studying Geology or something Earth science related, because my dream has been to work with volcanoes, but my grades at school weren't that great, so I ended up going to college to study Travel and Tourism instead. The idea behind this was to gain tourism knowledge, then head to university and obtain a business degree so that I'd have business knowledge in order to start my own Geological Tour Operator. This is still a goal of mine, or, just to work in Geo Tourism in some aspect. I digress.

In 2015, my second year of my Travel and Tourism HND, I applied through UCAS for the 3rd time in my life, and was rejected by all 5 of my courses, once again I was applying for Geology and Earth Science. I decided that this was my last attempt, because it costs to apply via UCAS and I just didn't have the money to go through it again, so, I applied for BA Business. And I was accepted to jump straight into year 3. Buzzing.

So this is all well and good. The course I was on makes the assumption that you'll choose to advance into your 4th year, but you have the option to graduate in year 3 if you wish. Initially, I didn't think I'd be doing that. I wanted to complete my university education. After all, this was something I'd been aiming for for the last few years of my life. I already had a few ideas on what I could do for my 4th year dissertation. So what changed?

University wasn't what I thought it was going to be. In the first few weeks I thought it was okay. I'd made a few friends and I really enjoyed my French class as well as Enterprise Creation. (The first few classes of Enterprise Creation I was literally just sitting making puns, like that is the dream right there!) but the novelty began to wear off. I wasn't learning things that I wanted to learn about. I don't know what I really expected. My first semester modules were Enterprise Creation, Strategic Management and French. Arguably, these were to be the most important modules for me. And upon reflection, they did teach me a lot about business, and, as I'm sure you'll have realised from my last post, French was a favourite subject of mine. But I just wasn't happy, and it wasn't a feeling I was able to shake off. I was stressed out, and my mental health was beginning to really suffer.

Semester 2 I decided was going to be a new start. I was going to get my shit togther, I was going to be organised for every class, and I was going to sort my MH out. It was going to be okay. My modules this time were Digital Marketing, French (A two semester course), Business Research Skills and Managerial Economics. I loved Digital Marketing and I had a lecturer who really cared, and did make a difference to me by noticing that I was struggling with my MH and checking in on me. (Hi, if you're reading this, Emma!) but I was still struggling. I couldn't wrap my head around Managerial Economics, even though I'd been really good at economics the year before at college (literally had an email from my lecturer congratulating me because my report impressed one of the external verifiers from the SQA). I've no idea how I managed to pass that class first time. It wasn't my lecturer's fault, I just really struggled.

And then there was Business Research Skills. BR fucking S.

If you couldn't tell already, I hated this class. It was one that was supposed to set up to help us when we do our dissertations in 4th year, but honestly it was crap. I never wanted to go. Ever. I only went for my attendance. I can't remember a damn thing about those lectures other than 'You can't compare lobsters to potatoes' and having talks about GPS. We had maybe 3/4 weeks in total talking about Qualitative and Quantatitive data analysis - which was actually really important for us to know about. Don't even get me started on the tutorials. It was so badly organised that I started to really hate university. (The tutorials, basically, were done in a way where there was an overbearing of things for 'homework', which is fair enough on its own, but the lecturers were actually advised on a few occassions that if you didn't do the work then you were to sit outside and not participate in the class. Yes. I'm fucking serious. At university. And one of the tutorials I spent a full hour drawing out a MAP OF AMERICA.) The less I say about that module, the better.

So, so far we've talked about the fact I didn't learn what I'd anticipated, and that my mental health was suffering. But the next reason helped sway my decision into not returning this year.

I don't need a Business Degree.

I have an HND. That's all I really need to get a kick start into my future working in tourism. I have so much travel and tourism knowledge already, I'd just need a quick refresher and I'd flourish in a T&T career. I'd make an awesome tour guide. I could be cabin crew (as long as my tattoo was easy to cover.) I'd be really great in a T&T role. And I don't need a business degree to get me a foot into the industry, it's just a benefit.

I sound as if I'm really complaining, but my experience wasn't all bad, and actually, I'm really grateful that I was lucky enough to get the chance to experience it, because it has been life changing.

For one thing, living in student accommodation, my own little flat, was incredible. I wrote a blog post about it a few months after I moved in, but I made a friend for life living there. Joanne, who I'm going to go and visit in early 2018 and I'm so excited about it! I've mentioned her a few times on here, but she's really lovely and I got so lucky that we got along so well, because not a lot of people get that experience with their flatmates. The accommodation team also held a few events through the year, and through these events, I got to meet Laura, Alana, Kieran, Sonny and Maxence, a few of whom I still talk to! There have been nights where Alana, Laura and I headed into Glasgow and had such memorable nights out! I do miss being able to do that more often, but if not for attending uni, those things would never have happened.

This has been a really long post, and I'm sorry for how much I ranted.

University isn't for everybody. And going isn't the be all and end all. I love education, but the experience I had wasn't for me, and I'm now looking at getting out into the world and getting life experience to help me with my future career. I'm a supervisor at my work, and have been for a year, so I'm still learning things about how businesses work and operate, but just in a more hands on way.

If you're reading this and you're thinking about whether you should go to university or not, I'd say apply. Give it a chance. You do have the option of taking a gap year. In saying this, there are other routes, too. Apprenticeships and colleges are both great ways at earning qualifications, too. Apprenticeships are sometimes preferred over uni/college because of the hands on experience. And you can get apprenticeships for pretty much anything! While at uni, I sat one for retail management! So don't be disheartened. Reach for your dreams in the best way that suits you. There is no wrong way. Only you know what's right, and it's only by gaining experience that you find out what works, and what doesn't.

Okay, I'll leave that there, but don't feel afraid to reach out to me in the comments, on twitter or anywhere else if you have any questions about my university experience! I promise my next post will be a lot less rant-y!

Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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