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August 10, 2014 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Fresh out of the sheltered life of high school, we are all convinced that tertiary education is the straight and narrow path one has to lead for a prosperous future.

Farewelling my all girls boarding school, I took the plunge and dove into an overseas exchange for a year. Before the big departure the question on everybody’s lips was ‘but will you go to university?’, as if it was the end of the world if my answer was of the negative.
I had hoped that a year of living abroad would help me to realise what I do want to do with my life, whether it be work or education. I was open to the idea of university study knowing it would get me the degree I need to begin my working future and maintain a moneyed life. But when I pondered the idea, my reasonings came down to ‘well, if I want the money’. Which to me didn’t seem like the approach one should have before embarking on a potentially four year degree, developing into one of the most stressful stages in someones life.
I arrived back to New Zealand feeling anything but certain about what I wanted to do. So I decided the best thing to do would be send in my application and head to uni.

It’s imagined that life comes easy post-graduation. You have a ‘unique’ qualification to guarantee you a lifetime of high paying, easy-breezy jobs. Atleast, thats how we envisioned it during our naive, younger secondary school days.
I don’t remember anyone prepping me for the stressful weeks on end, the constant draining of the hard earned cash, or the ways to manage successful grades with a healthy, regular social life.

Since enrolment for first year, I’ve been one of those people who leads a foggy, hesitant view about who they want to become or what they enjoy enough to turn it into a career but who still continues to battle on through the years to ensure that they have some form of qualification to fall back on.
So I guess the question is whether tertiary education is all it’s cracked up to be. Is taking out a five digit student loan to complete three to four years of study the ‘right’ decision in this day and age?
The stats say that yes, it is the right thing to do if you are wanting the dollars. The percentage of earnings from post tertiary education is considerably higher than those who went straight into the work force. But if money isn’t your highest concern, these reliable stats are of no interest.

We all have that friend who went against the mainstream vibe, dropped out during the mid years of high school and went on to work full time. To some, those daring adolescents have hit the end of the road. How will they get anywhere without a tertiary education? Will they end up working in the same place until they retire? But what are those people up to 4 years on. Getting a promotion? Working their way up through management? Have already bought a house, travelled the world and still have savings in the bank? The answer to these questions are most likely to be yes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against tertiary education – as I am a second year student. But I feel the reasons for taking on such a weight of financial and social stress, as well as the underlying factor of an undecided future needs to be properly mulled over.
Living, studying and socialising amongst predominately second year students, you begin to get the feeling you aren’t alone. In the dark times of assessments and the general end of a week, true feelings are revealed. Not all of us know where we are heading with a tertiary degree or whether we have made the right decision. I know that I was enticed by many to follow the path of my friends and family to continue a higher education. I also know that I will come out with a well deserved degree, whether at times I have wanted and will want to just throw in the towel. But I suppose what I’m trying to say is that, university is not the one and only direction one has to take for any type of future.

Some say that this next level of education can be a waste of time and money. But in the end despite occasional lack of interest and motivation, I will end my days of study with a degree which I will always have as evidence of those gruelling years


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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