My life as a 19-year-old who’s not at university

By Jamie Trezise

So the last day of Sixth Form arrives, and everyone says their goodbyes. The majority of people go off to university, which can be a barrel of laughs. But university isn’t for everyone, as I found out. But what’s life like for those who don’t go off to a far-flung city? What do those people who don’t go to uni do? Can they have the same amount of fun as those who appear to disappear off for three years of solid parties? I can tell you, they certainly can.

When I left Sixth Form, I was really unsure what I wanted to do with my life. For a couple of months, I went to college to do a youth work course. When I finished there, I needed to find a job. So I began to work back at the school I went to, which was very surreal at first, but soon became very enjoyable. But I still can’t get used to the fact the headmaster sends out emails inviting all the staff round for croquet…

When most of my friends went to uni, I almost felt very lost, as the people I was used to seeing nearly every day were now in different cities across the UK. Although in Sixth Form I found friendship groups did become more open, I felt that I couldn’t suddenly tag along with a different group of friends. So I made the most of the opportunities that arose, such as whole year group gatherings, which meant I could meet up with my year group and make more friends, which led to me being invited to more social meet-ups, and some of the best nights out of my life so far.

Although my job involves some work at home, I have little pressure when I walk through the door at 5:15 to sit down and do loads of work, which a lot of uni students do, as many have essay and coursework deadlines to contend with, as well as their hectic social calendars. On average, I only have to do one or two hours work a week outside of work, when many uni or college students are expected to spend up to 16 hours a week outside of lectures doing extra study, whether that’s reading, writing or group work. And we all know what group work can be like…

But Jamie, what about all the exciting extra-curricular activities at university? I hear you ask. Well, that’s a very good question. From what I’ve found, most societies and clubs at universities have a “real world” equivalent. For example, most sports that have societies at uni have a club locally, as most towns have football, rugby, netball, tennis and hockey clubs.

But Jamie, what about the more obscure clubs like Quidditch? Now I’m really glad you asked that. Quidditch is a sport that is famous for being started at uni, but now it is played more widely, and there is even a Quidditch Premier League, with teams all over the country.

I’ve found that other societies have real world equivalents, like Christian Unions are similar to churches (as many have services for young people), course-based societies (like History or Law) can be translated into committees at college or work (like the teaching assistants at where I work go out regularly), and the Student Union bar is basically a Wetherspoons.

Now one thing I have struggled with is the lack of independence, because working as a teaching assistant means that I cannot afford to move out of my parents’ house. But there are a few things you can do to become more independent. One thing I did was starting to pay rent. Now, hear me out on this one. What I really didn’t want to happen was for me to become the stereotype of the 40-year-old man living in his parents’ basement constantly playing video games. I wanted to take some responsibility for myself. My parents never asked for market rates, as they understood that wasn’t possible. They instead asked for a “contribution” which was, in my opinion, a very fair amount.

In conclusion (which you’re taught not to write in essays at uni), from Facebook, it may appear that those who are at uni are having the time of their lives. But I can honestly say, I am living my best life now. I still have the option to go to uni if I want to, but there is no pressure for me to. I’m happy with the fact that I have a steady job, great friends, and have a rudimentary understanding of the rules of Quidditch.

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