What About the Rest of Us?

It’s difficult to make choices sometimes. It’s even more difficult when those choices will effect the next few years of your life, and possibly even what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. Schools emphasise the importance of moving on to university, while those who would rather jump straight into work are given little-to-no guidance on how to do so. As someone who did just this, we decided to talk to local girl, Ruby Burdis, who went to Thorp Academy in the twilight of her school years.

She, like a number of students from the school, decided that university maybe wasn’t for her and also thinks that it may not be for a number of people. We decided to catch up with her, and ask why she made those choices, and what she’s doing now.

Do you think schools put too much emphasis on uni?

I think from the moment you start sixth form, it’s assumed you’re there because university is the aim. From about four weeks in, I was part of a group of students who had monthly meetings with a tutor on how to get into the best universities. From then on, it didn’t seem like there was an option and there was a serious lack of approval, in my opinion, for those students who wanted anything else. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off going to university, but don’t let anyone try and convince you it’s your only option.

What made you choose the career you’re in currently?

I only got into admin because my A level results were a shambles and university was a no-go. Business Admin was always an apprenticeship going and pretty easy to pick up, so I went for that. But after working in a marketing environment for a few months, I was hooked. I loved the fast pace and the satisfaction of seeing marketing campaigns I’d done the behind-the-scenes work on when they came together.

Was university ever on the cards?

When I first started my A-Levels, moving away for university was for sure what I wanted. I’m still not sure if that was because everybody around me was going and I didn’t want to be left behind, or if I actually did want that. Learning has always been something I loved, but as time went on, I realised working towards exams wasn’t something I’d ever want to do. I think once I’d sent my UCAS application, it hit me how much I didn’t like being in the education system and that I wanted a career.

Do you think students are pushed too hard, and put under too much pressure during exam season?

Without a doubt. I do think partly this is down to teachers also being under a lot of pressure. But I think sometimes it feels like if you’re not clever and doing well in tests, you’re not worth trying for. I think you’re told from the start of A level that if you fail your A levels you’ll not get into university and then not get a job, which is unfair and untrue.

As of July 2015, Jo Johnson, the Universities and Science Minister, declared that there was a substantial rise in young people going directly to university. Since then, we have seen multiple claims that the number is rising each year.

Don’t be discouraged from going to university. Be excited, and do what you want to do. If that requires you avoiding university altogether, look at things like apprenticeships, internships and even volunteer work.

You never know where it might lead you.