The Future of University


*Please note before I begin that these are my experiences of university, and by no means do I want them to cloud anyone else’s experiences. As for prospective students, please don’t let other people’s experiences cloud your own choices; you should study because you have the desire to learn ultimately.

With that said, let’s begin! I’ve been in and out of university for the last three years, with a brief break to overcome a bout of severe depression. Undeniably that was one of the hardest points in my life, and I pray that I never get that low again; in the same way, I hope that nobody else ever has to experience that kind of pain. I’ve been through one and a half years of two entirely different degrees, but ironically enough have hit the same slump at roughly the same point. There could be a correlation here as once again my health isn’t in the best place, but we’ll leave that aside for the moment.

There’s something about the 2nd year that leaves me questioning my purpose; my life; the reasoning; my future at the university. It could be that my course wants me to be physically there when sometimes I’m having such a flare-up that getting out of bed is a tearful event, or that I need to be there in the midst of adjusting to new medication. It could be that my motivation hits the bottom of the Thames (or the Trent) at this point because I want good grades without the tedious tasks. Currently, I’m having an issue with spending far too much time on theory and not enough time creating. I’m not whining, I just thought I’d be challenged more creatively on a writing course?

I don’t know, something doesn’t sit right with me.

When I decided to come back to university, it was to become more of a creator. I’d lost joy and inspiration from being so heavily into humanities and statistics before, so I was really hoping that this time I’d do a lot of creating, but somehow I feel like I’m not. We create to fit our work into a box/mould when in reality I thought I’d be creating personal projects to develop as a writer in the real world. I guess I’m just unenthused by the whole thing and just want to feel more like I’m actively contributing to my future?

This is just one factor to why I’m conflicted about the traditional university.

Another reason is that I worry about having my health used against me. While off sick for a lot of the first semester, I was also able to keep up with deadlines. Yet I was “advised” to take time out, which would be another year wasted. Obviously, I know now that it wasn’t meant with ill intentions, but somehow it felt that way, thus creating a mental rift. From my perspective it makes it seem as if I’ll now be permanently on the chopping block, always one step away from being kicked out for the one thing I don’t have full control of right now; my health.

I know that I’m mentally capable of staying up to date (albeit from home when I’m sick, or increasingly depressed, which does happen), but being told the most logical option of completing a course that posts its materials online from home isn’t an option is rather depleting. I want to graduate and actually enjoy studying again, so surely if a method has worked well then it should be made a possibility?

I’ve been through the rigmarole of switching universities before, so to switch from what in Student Finance’s eyes would be full-time to part-time is something I’d much rather avoid. An online university sounds like a great option right now for progressing forward, but the lack of financial support makes it a bigger risk. You’d in effect have to work part-time at the minimum to support yourself in the same way that the maintenance loan supports a full-time student, in spite of working ideally to the same rate as a full-time campus-based student. This is what makes it all so conflicting.

I don’t quite know where my future lies at university right at this moment, although I do know the finances will play a huge role in making any decisions moving forward.

If you were in this situation, what would you suggest?

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