Home > Advice > University > Your guide to: The pros and cons of university
University can be an amazing experience, but it’s not for everyone. It’s also one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life – so it’s important to think carefully before taking the plunge.
In this guide, we explore the pros and cons of university to help you make up your mind.
'Weighing up the pros and cons of university? Check out this guide'(Video) The Psychology of Career Decisions | Sharon Belden Castonguay | TEDxWesleyanU
1. You can become an expert in a subjectyou love
If you’re the person who has to know everything there is to know about a subject, then uni could be for you. Over the three or four years of your undergraduate course, you’ll become an expert in your chosen subject. The chances are you’ll get to choose a number of specialist areas of study as your interests develop.
2. University can prepare you for a specific career path
Some jobs require a university degree. For example, if you want to be a doctor or a vet, you’ll need to go to university. Other career paths typically start out at university – such as engineering, nursing and laboratory science. However, more and more apprenticeships are opening up– in fact, apprenticeships are available in all three of these professions today. If you’re considering a career in one of these areas, university may still be the best way in, but research all your options before making up your mind.
3. Graduates earn more
Graduates earn 35% more than school leavers, according to the stats pros at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). And while the gap is narrowing, the IFS say it isn’t going anywhere soon. Don’t forget that the 35% number is a headline – there are lots of factors which can make a difference. These include the course and university you choose and the career path you’d like to pursue.
4. Uni gives you time to gain work experience
Going to university means you’ll be very highly qualified come graduation day – but it doesn’t guarantee you the technical and employability skills employers look for. Never fear – the long summer vacation is a great time to gain experience and skills through internships, a summer job or work experience placement. Internships are plentiful –but they can be competitive. If you don’t get one, look for local employers related to the career path you’re considering and get in touch.
5. You’ll get a taste of independence
University gives you a flavour of independent living without throwing you in at the deep end. You’ll usually be broken in gently with a year in halls, giving you the chance to learn basic life skills like cooking and doing the laundry. Later, you’ll probably live in rented accommodation. Choosing a student house is exciting and insightful – and although you might not relish the thought of clean the loo or kitchen sink when you move in, it’s all good experience!
6. You will gain high-level transferable skills
Uni may be light on workplace experience, but a degree gives you skills that will stand you in good stead throughout your career. Whatever subject you study, you’ll learn to think critically and analytically, question assumption, carry out thorough and robust research, solve problems, and process large amounts of information quickly.
7. It can broaden your mind
One of the best things about uni is that it can alter your outlook on the world. It's a chance to move to a new place, meet people from different backgrounds, learn about fascinating ideas and experience culture, art and politics. OK, so we may be painting a grand view of uni life, but it's all there for the taking – if you want it.
1. You may not gain technical skills
Some degrees, such as medicine or veterinary science, prepare you for a particular career path. Others, like engineering and computer science are geared towards certain areas of work. These degree courses give you skills that you can directly apply in your job, should you choose to continue in your field of study. However, many roles are open to graduates with a degree in any discipline – and according to research by the New College of the Humanities, half of graduates end up in jobs like these. Your degree may give you valuable transferable skills, but you will have to learn the technical skills you need to carry out your job.
2. You may not get employability skills
According to research by Career Builder, only one in three employers thinks students graduate with the skills they need in the workplace. Nearly half of employers surveyed said graduates leave university without people skills, and many said graduates lacked problem-solving, creative thinking, communication and teamwork skills.
3. Contact time is less than at school
Contact time is often much less than students expect. In a recent survey, nearly two thirds of students thought they would get more contact time than at school, and a similar number expected to spend more time in lectures than in the classroom. In reality, contact time is usually much less than at school. Courses such as history may have less than 10 hours of weekly contact time.
4. You’ll leave with a lot of debt
According to research by the Sutton Trust, 2015 graduates left university with an average of £44,000 of debt. This is likely to rise as tuition fees and living and accommodation costs increase. The good news is repayments are linked to your earnings – currently, you must be earning around £17,500 to start repaying your student loan, and your remaining loan will be written off if you don’t repay it within 30 years of the first April after you graduate.
5. You will be committing at least three years of your life
A university degree is a big commitment to academic study. Most bachelor’s degrees last at least three years. You should think carefully if you’d prefer to be working in a paid job than dedicating yourself to years of study, coursework, revision and exams.
6. You’re not guaranteed a graduate job
Nearly a third of graduates (31%) do not do a graduate job. This does not mean they will never do a graduate job, and with the job market a very competitive place, their degree may still have helped them get that job.
7. Lifetime earnings can be higher with an apprenticeship
According to the Sutton Trust, those with a level 5 apprenticeship(or higher) are likely to earn more over their lifetime than graduates with a degree from a non-Russell Group university. Apprentices in this group are predicted to earn an average of £1.5 million over their career, compared with the £1.4 million forecast for non-Russell Group graduates.
So what does this mean for me?
The pros and cons of university mean you should think carefully before choosing your path. If you're drawn to university because you think it will help you get a well-paid job, you should think about the career path you’d like to pursue, and research the various ways of getting there.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding:
- What career path appeals to me?
- How will a university degree help me achieve this?
- Could an apprenticeship or school leaver programme be a better way to enter my career path?
If you've weighed up the pros and cons of university and decided it's the right choice for you, make sure you use your time wisely:
- How can I explore different career paths while I’m at university?
- How can I gain skills and experience while I’m at university?
Have fun, explore new ideas and meet new people, and make time to enjoy the holidays as well as gaining work experience – you may not get another opportunity for a long time!
Still debating the pros and cons of university? Check out our post "Should I go to university?"
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- University graduates gain professional qualifications that are recognised and respected worldwide.
- University graduates are offered higher pay and greater financial stability.
- University graduates are given the option to fast-track their career with graduate study.
develop the essential skills you'll need in your career and working life – communication, organisation, time management, team work, leadership, problem-solving. increase your earning potential – having a degree makes you more attractive to employers, you'll have a greater choice of jobs and you'll earn more.What are the pros and cons of a private university? ›
- Pro: Academics Above All Else.
- Pro: Close-Knit Community.
- Pro: Favorable Class Sizes.
- Pro: Financial Aid Packages.
- Cons: Cost.
- Con: Lack of Diversity.
- Con: Limited Majors.
The pros and cons of something are its advantages and disadvantages, which you consider carefully so that you can make a sensible decision.What is the main purpose of university? ›
We found that for many students, it serves three particular functions: to gain decent employment, to achieve personal growth, and to contribute to improvement in society.What are the cons of free university? ›
- The Money Has to Come From Somewhere. ...
- College Might Not Be Taken Seriously. ...
- College Education and Experience Could Decrease in Quality. ...
- More People Would Go to College.
Poor self-care, inadequate sleep, and heightened stress are among the factors that can lead to most of the health problems in university life. In addition to these, living close to large numbers of people can also pose health risks by increasing the likelihood of students acquiring illnesses.
Graduates earn more money
"If you go to uni, you'll get a higher-paying job". It's something we've all heard – so often, in fact, that you may even be wondering if it's an urban myth about university. The good news for students and graduates is that getting a degree usually does lead to a bigger pay cheque.
Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges. It's natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before you feel like you've found your feet.What are the pros and cons of community college? ›
- Pro: Cost of Community College. For most undergrads, college is about more than classes. ...
- Con: Lose Out on 4-Year Friendships. ...
- Pro: Community Colleges Tend to Be Local. ...
- Con: Perks and Prestige at Four-Year Universities. ...
- Pro: More Flexibility. ...
- Con: Fewer Programs.
Cons of Private School
The cost can be prohibitive and put a financial strain on the family. The student body will often be less diverse, especially when looking at a religion-based school. There will likely be fewer students with special needs in a private school.
- There are pros and cons to having children.
- I'm weighing the pros and cons of moving to another state.
- The pros and cons of using a laptop for work are debatable.
- The pros and cons of taking a day off work are clear.
- There are pros and cons to every decision we make in life.
When weighing options, we use “pros” to describe positives while using cons to describe negatives. The idiom “pro and con” compares the advantages and disadvantages of something with the intention to aid in the decision-making process.What is the true meaning of university? ›
-ˈvər-stē plural universities. : an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees.Why is it called a university? ›
The word university is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which roughly means "community of teachers and scholars". The first universities were created in Europe by Catholic Church monks.How do you describe a university? ›
A university is an institution of higher education, usually comprising a college of liberal arts and sciences and graduate and professional schools and having the authority to confer degrees in various fields of study.What are the pros and cons of free education for all? ›
|Free tuition education might lower the wage gap||Students might not value the education anymore|
|Lower unemployment rates||Declining quality of college education|
|Pressure on the students can decrease||Several students may not be suitable for the college|
Pro #1: Free college would expand access to education.
Bright young people who currently skip college because they can't afford it would have the opportunity to get a degree and get better jobs. The high cost of a degree would no longer be an obstacle. For many proponents of free college, it's a question of fairness.
- 1 The Politics of Higher Education.
- 2 Issues With Graduated Students.
- 3 There Is Already Plenty Of Help Available.
- 4 Choice Would Be Limited.
- 5 More Government Control.
- 6 Negative Effects From The Public.
- 7 Not Everybody Wants To Go To College.
Both are equal academically, but if you prefer a school with a wider choice of classes and programs, a university may be a better fit. If you prefer small-sized classes and being able to interact more with their professors, a college might be a better option.
- You'll Save a Lot of Money/Avoid Debt. ...
- You Can Earn Money Instead. ...
- You Could Increase Your Lifetime Investment Earnings by $1.5 million. ...
- You'll Stand Out to Employers. ...
- You'll Gain Genuinely Useful Experience. ...
- You'll Develop Truly Useful Skills.
- You'll be educated in a wide variety of subjects through general education requirements. ...
- There are more majors for you to pick from. ...
- There are loads of extracurricular options. ...
- You'll get the traditional college experience.
Not Adequately Taking Responsibility. College freshmen, when facing poor academic results, tend to look for places they can deflect the blame. They may cite poor instructors, noisy dorms, lack of time, or not being graded in a fair manner. Poor grades, in hindsight, could generally have been avoided.What is the biggest problem facing students today? ›
- Financial. Most students can't write a personal check or dip into a savings account to pay for tuition, books, and other educational expenses. ...
- Managing Commitments. Balancing work, school, and family is another major challenge students face. ...
- Academic Preparedness.
9 challenges students face in school are poverty, homeless families, child abuse and neglect, bullying (including cyber bullying), violence, obesity and eating disorders, sex and pregnancy, suicide, drugs, and dropping out.What are the 5 importance of education? ›
Education helps you develop critical skills like decision-making, mental agility, problem-solving, and logical thinking. People face problems in their professional as well as personal lives. In such situations, their ability to make rational and informed decisions comes from how educated and self-aware they are.What are the 4 importance of education? ›
It helps people become better citizens, get a better-paid job, shows the difference between good and bad. Education shows us the importance of hard work and, at the same time, helps us grow and develop. Thus, we are able to shape a better society to live in by knowing and respecting rights, laws, and regulations.What is the biggest benefit of education? ›
Education is a powerful agent of change, and improves health and livelihoods, contributes to social stability and drives long-term economic growth. Education is also essential to the success of every one of the 17 sustainable development goals.Is university a good choice? ›
Gaining a university degree in your area of interest will improve your chances of securing a job role in specialised fields. Indeed, most skilled jobs require academic training as well as a bachelor's and master's degree. Some examples include careers in healthcare, engineering, education, law, and accounting.Do people need university? ›
Earning a college degree could also lead to greater career stability. According to BLS data, 3.5% of workers with a bachelor's degree faced unemployment in 2021 compared to 6.2% of workers with only a high school diploma.
The evidence that a college degree significantly improves one's employment prospects and earnings potential is overwhelming. Bachelor's degree holders are half as likely to be unemployed as their peers who only have a high school degree and they make $1.2 million in additional earnings on average over their lifetime.Is university important in life? ›
University can help students to build their self-confidence and independence. Students will have plenty of opportunities to make new friends from different countries and backgrounds. Living independently can also nurture an increased level of responsibility.Why is university so stressful? ›
Why are you stressed? College students commonly experience stress because of increased responsibilities, a lack of good time management, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and not taking enough breaks for self-care. Transitioning to college can be a source of stress for most first-year students.What does university teach you about life? ›
University forces us to grow up, become self-sufficient and be capable of living independently. Time Management: Students learn to juggle lectures, deadlines, societies, a social life and perhaps a job. It is our responsibility to remain organised and learn to strike a balance.What are 3 benefits of attending a university? ›
A brighter economic future, more career possibilities, and a greater sense of personal fulfillment are all possible with the acquisition of a bachelor's degree. Take the next step and request information on earning your bachelor's degree today.Why public universities are better? ›
In addition to larger athletic programs, public colleges tend to offer a more diverse selection of extracurricular activities due to their larger student bodies. If college sports and campus events are an important part of the college experience for you, you may prefer a public institution.What are the benefits of a small university? ›
- Smaller Class Sizes. ...
- Classes Taught by Professors, Not Teaching Assistants. ...
- Personalized Academic Path. ...
- Higher Graduation Rates. ...
- Less Bureaucracy. ...
- More Financial Aid Opportunities. ...
- Close-Knit Campus Community. ...
- Active Alumni Networks.
- It is not an option for a 4-year degree in most circumstances. ...
- The workloads are often lighter at a community college. ...
- It can be difficult to stay invested in the program. ...
- There is no campus life at most community colleges. ...
- It is usually paid for directly.
Colleges and universities primarily differ in program offerings and degree types. "University" refers to larger institutions offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. "College" refers to community colleges, technical schools, and liberal arts colleges.What are the pros of community college? ›
The advantages community colleges offer students are numerous: low-cost tuition/fees, campuses close to home, small class size, and the most significant benefit is the opportunity to transfer to four-year institutions.
- Easier to teach and easier to learn. ...
- Discipline issues in the classroom are avoided. ...
- Adaptation to special considerations. ...
- Makes good use of time. ...
- Cost. ...
- Adapting your child to a new reality. ...
- No social interaction during study time.
"If there are no big concerns about academic ability, learning issues or motivation, I'd say wait until your child is a little older and they have begun to discover their own interests, which usually comes at about age 10," Ehrlich says. "A good time is around middle school.Do private school students do better in life? ›
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has published reports in the past that show greater academic success among private school children when compared to public.What are 3 benefits of going to college? ›
- Discover Your Interests. College tends to be a time full of discovery. ...
- Increased Job Opportunities. Many jobs require a college degree. ...
- Higher Potential Earnings. ...
- Lower Unemployment Rate. ...
- Job Satisfaction and Security. ...
- Improved Skills. ...
- Personal Development. ...
- You will be more marketable. ...
- Access to more job opportunities. ...
- Higher earning potential. ...
- Opportunity to change industries. ...
- Greater job stability.
- The Cons of Attending a Four-Year College.
- Tuition Costs Are Skyrocketing.
- A Degree Isn't Yielding the ROI That It Used To.
- Loans and Debt are Crippling College Grads (and the Economy)
- College Doesn't Necessarily Grow Your Mind.
There's a good chance one might be your connection to your future career. As a college graduate, you'll likely have better career prospects, higher pay, and a higher-skilled job. These factors often contribute to stability, success, and overall happiness.What is the difference college and university? ›
Colleges and universities primarily differ in program offerings and degree types. "University" refers to larger institutions offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. "College" refers to community colleges, technical schools, and liberal arts colleges.Why is education important for success? ›
Education lessens the challenges you will face in life. The more knowledge you gain the more opportunities will open up to allow individuals to achieve better possibilities in career and personal growth. Education has played an important role in the career world of the twenty-first century.