“This life is not a short window of opportunity; you are a short window of opportunity.
So make the most of you, and all you have to offer.
Don’t let the life that you are slip away”
Jacqueline Mary Phillips
Now the term has started into full swing hopefully many of the students at Universities and colleges have settled into their new environment; with meeting new people, making lifelong friends, and learning exciting and inspiring topics that they would have been looking forward to as part of being at HEI.
However, for a small minority (I add here that anecdotally this number seems to be increasing) these young people, faced at half term in this new environment, realise that perhaps this was not for them. They may have come into University with a variety of reasons, with hopes and dreams, but for some it is the fact that they have to become independent, for many this is the first time they would have left home. For others it is the fact of being at university, with a notion of a busy social life, with the drinking and club culture appearing, it becomes too much for them. For some it's the realisation that the course they picked was not what they expected or hoped for.
How did the SEJ support them?
The latter point is close to home, as one of my own children realised this half way through their second term. When this was brought to my attention I was fortunate to have used the SEJ, why fortunate? Because previously my reaction would have been most likely to tell them to stick with it! I would have a whole story attached along the lines of ‘… you are wasting opportunities’, ‘You are lucky to be able to study further, where many may not have the chance’ etc. etc. Of course none of these thoughts help or support them, (or me for that matter). Instead I was able to examine my perceptions and expectations, and was able to support them to make an empowering choice.
Why does everyone have to go to University?
I work in an environment where obviously students are there to learn, or are they? Every year, particularly in the last 10 years or so, I meet increasing numbers of students who admit to not wanting to stay there. When asked why they are at university they sometimes don't have any clear reasons, the most worrying is when they say due to parents, or peer pressure, or school expected them to! I can’t see any reason why everyone has to go to university, and I don't understand why they would apply if they don't want to?
I am concerned by this ‘following the herd’ kind of mentality in going to University. This seems to be more evident every year, and especially so around the time of the Clearing period in August; more often than not when asked what course they wish to study, they give vague and rambling answers about their qualifications and ask us to choose a course for them. With the introduction of tuition fees and cost of the living increasing, it can become a big burden to go to University, so unless you have a real solid reason why you would go to University, you are not going to get the most out of it.
University offers many wonderful opportunities to expand and improve your skills and knowledge, as well as growing as a person, but equally there are other places through paid employment, or apprenticeships where you can receive just as varied and interesting experiences. The World is your oyster, go out there and grab it, live your life and reach your full potential, and take the SEJ with you wherever you go as a life enhancing tool to make the best of these opportunities!
Dr M Howard-Kishi