I was terrified when I started university. A new life, in a new town which I had only visited once before. This was my first step on the road to an independent life, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. It was like standing on the edge of a massive ocean, waiting to dive in.
It's been a year since the increased tuition fees came into play within Higher Education; exams have been taken, coursework has been handed in, and the first intake of students to pay the higher fees are looking forward to starting their second year of university...
With the new University term a few weeks away, and some freshers already enjoying their very first taste of university life, many will be wondering; is it worth getting a job while away at University?
The government and advising bodies will no doubt try and convince you and your classmates that going to university is possible whatever your backgrounds or interests. Do not be fooled it is not that simple.
No matter how much you think you're prepared for these opportunities, there are always things that surprise you. As school leavers around the country prepare to collect their A-Level and GCSE results this month, I thought I'd share my advice and what I wish I knew before starting my apprenticeship.
There are options - more options than ever before - and those students clutching their A Level results wondering what to do next need more support to help them explore exactly what is available to them, rather than being rushed into a decision that just isn't right for them.
Some brains can't be measured in the confines of an exam hall or in an essay. Do you take in the world around you? Are you curious enough to ask questions? Are you engaged enough to have strong opinions?
For too long, a stigma clouded apprenticeships. But now that stigma has gone. A degree is no longer the only route that the ambitious and capable can take on their way to fulfilling their potential. Apprenticeships are a wholly viable option. A-Level leavers must make the choice that is right for them as individuals.
The cost of helping children to achieve their educational ambitions is arguably most acutely felt by single mothers, especially those who were not married when their relationships ended and so are not entitled to receive spousal maintenance.
As a postgraduate recruiter once told me, "These days, it's next to impossible to secure a job with a BA. Just like in Europe, MAs are becoming a necessity". If this assertion holds true, then we truly live in a rather sorry state of affairs. Rather than a university education empowering students, the necessity of advanced degrees seem to illustrate how the higher education industry has profited from student vulnerability.
Often, you'll see evil parents in films threatening their naughty children with boarding school, like it's the ultimate punishment. Well, that's just a load of nonsense. When I was eight years old I went to boarding school. A lot of people will automatically think 'how awful' - it wasn't. As the youngest of four I knew boarding school was going to be on the cards one day.
Our research further highlighted that outdated views are still prevalent with nearly half of parents (48 per cent) thinking that apprenticeships are geared more towards boys than girls and almost a third (32 per cent) thinking they are for less academically able young people. This is certainly not the case.
Each year the cost of living as a student goes up, with rent rates being hiked by landlords hoping to scratch a living and the fear of overdraft fees, not to mention the prospect of up to £53,000 of debt looming once you leave University, it's not surprising that an ever increasing number of students are turning to sex work as a way to make money quickly - cash in hand that will fit around a busy schedule of studying and socialising... The work that these students are doing isn't simply prostitution, with many turning to stripping on webcam services and working as lap dancers and strippers.
The CBI's well-publicised report, Tomorrow's Growth, as well as providing a welcome reminder of the parlous state of careers guidance available to young people, makes a strong case for tackling 'the idea that the A-levels and three-year degree model is the only route to a good career'.
As we head towards the start of the second year under the coalition's new Higher Education funding regime and with A-Level Results day (and the chaos that is clearing) looming on 15 August, universities, politicians and journalists alike are examining the effect on UCAS applications.
Oxford is a place where people are paid to research, and write about a vast array of subjects, most of which are united in their irrelevance to society. A tutor of mine has spent the last few years on a grammar of ancient Greek - pointless not least because the zenith of Greek grammar-writing was reached in the 19th Century. But one recent piece of research might even have topped my tutor's efforts...