On Thursday, I attended my sister’s graduation ceremony. It was a lovely day and a proud time for my sister,  her boyfriend and our family to see her efforts being paid off. It also brought back some wonderful memories of my graduation – which I depressingly realised is nearly 5 and a half years ago!

My sister did a social work degree and is lucky to have a job already within the field that she wants to progress in. But what happens to a lot of graduates? They end up working in a supermarket or have a degree that is then irrelevant to what they want to do. This is by no means a cristicism because I worked in numorous factories and shops before I realised which field I wanted to work in. But is there a pressure on young people to go and get a degree? It isn’t for everyone and there are many examples out there of huge success without the padding of a university background – and of course without the twenty odd grand debt! Young people need to take the route best for them at the time.

I am a person who likes to study. As you know, I like writing and reading. But I also like to reserach and learn new things. I couldn’t have not done a degree, I don’t think. I loved the subject of English too much  and I knew I wanted a degree in it. Some may think this is wrong because I had no idea what career or job I wanted – I just knew I wanted to study for a few years longer and hoped the rest would work itself out. Luckily it did. I don’t think I would take the risk now, though, with student fees going up so much! It is a bit of an expensive gamble to do a degree that you aren’t sure you need. Saying that though, the graduation ceremony the other day also made me feel inspired and excited by further education again. I would love to do my Masters. I always did. But that was a step too far. A step to even more expensive studying that I wasn’t sure I needed in order to get a job. Sad really, when the need for money to survive has to take over our love of studying and bettering ourselves – which is something post school kids have to contemplate. But what I also want to say is, that if people don’t particularly like studying then they shouldn’t do a degree – unless they really need that particular qualification to do a dream career. There are so many other ways into jobs.

Some people choose the ‘universiy of life’ over academic studying. I think there is a lot to be said for that too. Meeting people, travelling, doing various jobs all help to make you the person you are – along with any pieces of paper boasting your various qualifications. Again, like anything, it is down to the individual and what makes them happy and how they choose to learn and gain a happy and successful life by their terms. As you may guess, I am very proud of my degree, as I am my A levels and GCSEs and other courses I have done. But, working in shops and factories has given me as much, if not more, life experience. Uni life was great yeh and I had to learn to stand on my own two, dancing all night, tipsy feet 😉 I had to cook, sort bills out along with cementing new friendships and oh yes doing the work for my degree. But it was a nice and easy life for 3 years really – 5 and a half years into the world of work I can say that 😉 Yes, I met lots of different people from all over the country (and other countries). People from different backgrounds and who had different interests – but we all had similar goals, i.e. to finish our essay before going out to get drunk 😉

Working in shops and factories has given me a different kind of life experience though. I had to work with people of different ages, cultures and personalities. No, smoothing things over with a shot or two. Or burying myself in my room with my essays when someone annoyed me. No. I had to learn to work under and with people I didn’t like. Be a boss to people I found intimidating. Be polite and friendly to customers who were rude. Choose to join in or not with bitchy comments in the factory environment, in fear of being a ‘bitch’ myself or being a ‘goody goody’ if I didn’t. I had to stand up to bosses when they took advantage.Altogether, learning that an degree in English would not make me a better shelf stacker/worker/person than anyone else. These are all the things that truly helped me to become who I am. And I am glad I experienced it all.

Back to the graduation ceremony – it does make me laugh, that whilst it is an amazing time to celebrate your academic goals being completed, your individuality, your class of degree, your subject – you still have to wear exactly the same outfit as everyone else in the room! Me and my parents had quite a laugh looking at the sea of red and light blue cape wearers in the search for my sister:

A bit of a 'Where's Wally' situation!
A bit of a ‘Where’s Wally?’ situation!

The lecturers wore individual outfits though. They normally wear their own colours from when they graduated, which I think is always a nice touch. The immature side of me resurfaced again, though, when they entered as it just made me think of Harry Potter and the witches and wizards in their colourful outfits! But I believe humour can be brought into most situations 😉

So, congratulations to my sister and all those who have graduated recently. But we need to remember, that we are all graduating through life all the time. Going to the next stage, the next phase, gradually improving ourselves or in some cases redeeming ourselves 😉 Graduating from university is highly important and something that you will remember forever but what comes next is just as important………. 😉


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