A fresh influx of excited faces will flood through university doors this month. It is a scary and exciting time but it is also a period of great expectation and it can be hard to prepare for such a massive change in your life's direction... In many ways I wish someone had told this to me on my first day at university.
Because there is no public overseer, there is no one to take genuinely impartial responsibility for making sure that employment figures are accurate. The result is that thousands of students a year could be relying on misrepresented information to make one of the most important decisions in their lives.
Very few weeks have the same mythological status as freshers' week. You'll meet your new Best Friends Forever. You'll be out every night. You'll make stories you'll dine out on for years. You'll end up with one eyebrow. You'll have lots of excellent and sexy sex with people you've only just met. It'll be wild. It'll be great. Except that's not what freshers' week is like for most people.
With GCSE and A-Level results fresh in the hands of thousands of young people in the UK this week, it's important for students and their parents to be aware of the wide spectrum of available options. University will rightly continue to be a place for generations to continue their education, but it's naive to think of it as a 'one stop shop' for getting onto the career ladder.
I am earning money already and learning how to manage my finances. Whereas if I had gone to University, I would have around £66k debt to pay! To make matters worse, Computer Science graduates are earning less every year, they are earning on average £2,261 less today than in 2007. Instead, I will have earned over £66k creating a difference of over £132k!
Searching for a job is dull, difficult and downright depressing. It's frustrating to spend hours honing an application only to have nothing but radio silence in return, so when that much prayed-for email does come saying thanks for applying and hey, you don't seem so bad, we'd love to meet you, it pays to make sure you're not going to let down a red hot application with a damp squib of an interview.
I can't remember a time in which I wasn't obsessed with my appearance. There is a harsh, vindictive little critic who sits on my shoulder and breathes his bile into my ear incessantly... He tells me I'm grossly overweight, unattractive, and undesirable. He turns my head towards every reflective surface and excoriates every lump, bump, crease and curve, imagined or otherwise... I no longer feel I have any concept of what I actually look like.
Whether you are going to university or into the job market I hope you'll set out to 'earn and learn' throughout a career that will be all the more rewarding if you do. The retail industry is a good place to do that. It is often a first job for many school leavers and it's a fulfilling place to build a career, providing a lifetime of learning and opportunities.
How universities can expect Arts students, for example, to pay £9,000 for a reading-based degree with the essential ingredients not included, I don't know... Expensive reading lists are an irritating, tiresome and unnecessary addition to the financial burden already placed on students, and it makes the annual £9,000 tuition fee seem even more of a rip-off than we originally thought.
With the costs of student life rising even more, living at home can be the most economical option, however the long secluding distance from campus scares a lot of students because they don't want to miss out on the full university experience. But, living at home and having a social life is not impossible.
This is a perfect storm scenario. Countries such as the UK, with a history of dominance and empire and educational excellence, need to look beyond the obvious. The world is going to be a very different place in just a couple of decades. Economic and cultural hegemony is not a birthright and can easily shift to the east throughout this century.