I don’t want to go to university

So you’ve decided you don’t want to go to university. That’s fine, amazing even - if it’s what you really want. Oftentimes uni can be so overwhelming that we don’t step back and see the bigger picture. So take a minute and let The Mix help you draw up a pros and cons list.

A young woman is sitting on the floor. She is thinking about not wanting to go to university. This is a wide-angle image.

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why people say they don’t want to go to university or continue in higher education.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life

Not having a plan for your life is completely normal. In fact, most sixth form students, and that includes year 13 school leavers, are waiting for that light-bulb moment. It’s sensible to wait until you have at least a vague idea of what career interests you before you jump into a degree, but don’t start thinking, ‘I don’t want to go to university’ just because you’re confused.

What should I do?

  • Check out our article calledWhat career should I do?’ for some pointers.
  • Talk through your options with your teacher or careers advisor at school. If those aren’t an option, you can always chat to a trained advisor at the National Careers Service.
  • Focus on the subjects you enjoy instead of the ones you get good grades in. That way you’re more likely to find a career that you love. “Young people may feel a little lost when looking at their options,” says Tom Laws, an adviser from the National Careers Service, “but our Skills Health Check tool will help you decide what kind of job would suit you.”
  • Take a year out to give yourself time to think. Use that time to explore the world, or whatever else you’ve dreamt of doing. Stepping out of your comfort zone can help make decisions clearer. “Gap years can be a great way to explore careers, develop skills, discover new cultures and gain invaluable life experience,” says Tom. If this sounds like the right choice for you, then check out The Mix’s gap years, work and studying abroad resources here.
  • Try some work experience placements, or a year out starting work in a full time job. This’ll give you real-life experience and help determine what you like and don’t like. Not to mention, having a job on your resume will look good to future employers.

I’m not academic

Neither are Lord Sugar or Richard Branson, but that didn’t stop them starting multi-million pound businesses. You don’t have to be academic to be successful. Just because you constantly yelled ‘I don’t want to go to school’ when your parents were driving you, doesn’t mean your future is doomed. Perhaps your skills would be best suited to a more practical, hands-on course or career?

What should I do?

  • Again, think about what you enjoy doing. Hattie Wrixon, 21, quit her A-levels because she didn’t enjoy school. “My parents assumed I’d go to uni, but I’m not academic,” she says. “I’ve always been entrepreneurial, so I decided to do a secretarial course. Completely the right decision. It taught me essential skills I needed to start my website.” You can read more about Hattie’s story here  and get information about starting your own business here.
  • Check out more industry-specific courses, apprenticeships and entry-level jobs.
  • We reckon that if you don’t want to go to university, you probably spent secondary school saying ,‘I don’t want to go to school’, but unfortunately, you do need some level of formal education. Retake any GCSEs that you need. Learn more about exam retakes here.

I don’t want to go to university because there’s no point

If you want to be a doctor, a vet, a teacher or any other profession that requires a degree, then there’s a definite point to going to uni. But nowadays a lot of jobs don’t ask for university degrees as a necessary qualification. There are tonnes of alternatives out there.

What should I do?

  • Look at which careers definitely NEED a degree and work out what you’re willing to eradicate at this point. (The Job Profile section on the National Careers Service website is useful for this).
  • Once you’ve got a list of careers you’re interested in, check out other ways of getting your foot in the door (apprenticeships, internships, training schemes etc). Weigh up the pros and cons of each option.
  • Look into the industries where there’s demand. You can do this by reading our article, ‘where are the most jobs’.
  • Don’t forget, alongside your course there are lots of other benefits to university. You’ll meet new people from all over the world. Plus you’ll have the chance to build networks which can end up being invaluable to you in the future.

They cost too much money

Yep, degrees and tuition fees are expensive. We’re not gonna lie, you’ll probably be saddled with a whopping great student debt at the end of it. Thing is, since most graduates earn more over their working life than non-graduates, it’s a pretty good investment in your future.

What should I do?

  • For more information on Student Loans and when you need to pay it back, read our article on paying back student loans here.
  • There are also bursaries and hardship funds you can apply for. Check out extra funding options.
  • If you have a good relationship with your parent/s or guardian/s, you could always try reaching out and asking for some help.

I’m scared of going to university

Leaving home to go to uni is probably the biggest change you’ve gone through thus far. Is it the course that’s worrying you? The location? Or the idea of living with strangers and their weird habits? Remember, most people find it scary, but they eventually settle in. If you’re thinking ‘I don’t want to go to university’ because you’re scared, the best thing to do is just dive right in.

What should I do?

  • Read our expert chat about moving out to university to help you figure out what you’re scared of and what you can do to tackle it.
  • Try talking to someone who’s already been to uni – they should be able to chat through your fears and reassure you.
  • If you really don’t think you can face it, you can always stay at home and do a part-time degree. To find out what that’s like, read Amy’s story here.

Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 23-Jan-2022