Avoiding the pressures of higher education

With youth unemployment at an all time high, it’s essential that the next generation of students have a unique selling point to differentiate themselves from all of the competing graduates.

With many pressures affecting young adults, it remains to be seen if higher education is having the desired effect for the majority.

Initial concerns

As a student, the first decision you must make is to determine which university is the most suitable to attend. Do they offer the right course? Does it have a good reputation with success rates to justify the choice?

You also need to consider how much it will cost, whether you will be returning home for summer or deciding to take on an exciting summer job.

The financial incentives

These are the most logical questions that any perspective student would ask. However, the changing nature of funding, and free competition for students is now beginning to shift. Universities now have the power to offer financial incentives to entice students to select and attend their organisation.

Surrey University is offering a £3,000 cash reward for first year students, as well as sports membership for the duration of their course. This offer is available for those who gain A*AA from their sixth form programme of study. Newcastle University is offering their electronic engineering students free laptops, plus £2,000 per annum if students achieve AAB grades.

With the ever increasing costs associated with attending universities, these incentives are perhaps becoming more important for prospective students.

How long does Fresher's Week really last for?

The temptation for students to spend their student loan on building their social credibility amongst their peers is higher than it has ever been before.

The ripple effect is felt by the lecturers and they face a continual battle to get students to attend lectures.

TV programmes such as Geordie Shore glamorise the ‘party lifestyle’. This has had a positive knock-on effect to Newcastle University, who received 15 per cent more applications compared with the previous year (pre-Geordie Shore).

With high profile events being promoted seven days a week, the temptation to go out has never been higher. University contact hours have been reduced and independent study is encouraged.

National debt of students

Looking back to 1962, where the government used grants to entice the country’s school leavers into university, we now live in a time where the average graduate comes away with £53,000 of ‘friendly’ debt (not to mention loss of earnings by taking three years out to attend university).

Whilst it is argued that a graduate will reach higher career heights once they have left university, the money borrowed still needs to be repaid. Repayments commence once a graduate secures a job which pays in excess of £21,000.

Making the 'right' decisions

The financial obligation should motivate a student to engage, participate and make every conceivable effort to achieve as high a level as possible once the decision has been made to enrol.

This poses a tough dilemma. The loan borrowed is likely to be one of the biggest a person will ever have in their life, second to buying their first home.

If you are thinking of going to university, sit down with a parent or student advisor and carefully consider the following questions:

  • What do you want to get out of your higher education experience?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Why have you chosen this university?
  • Will you be provided with the support, expertise and equipment at university in order to succeed?
  • Will you be able to afford it?

It is essential that you make an informed decision and not be distracted by the peer pressures’ that will inevitably come at a time when you are at your most vulnerable.

Bio: Jenny Wescott recently graduated from Brighton University with a Degree in Marketing and Journalism. She enjoys reading writing and sharing anything to do with student lifestyle and is currently self employed as a freelance copywriter.

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