# 129 (2013) Does University Prepare You For Work? My View From The Flip Side
When I left school I went out to work. I took out one year to go to college but pretty much since day one and for the last 17 years I have been employed full time. They weren’t career jobs, but they were jobs paying good wages which gave me the money to do all the other stuff I wanted to do like buy food, go out, have holidays. Then in 2009 I decided to go to University and study for the career I really wanted.
Going back to school and not having to endure the daily grind for someone elses benefit was like a breath of fresh air. And it served its purpose which was to get me skilled up for what I wanted to do. I didn’t expect it to find me a job. I was building a business.
I have been out of Uni for about a year and a half now. And I haven’t done an honest days work since I left. The thing is, I’ve kind of engineered it that way.
You see, whilst I was out working, a part of the rat race, I didn’t know what it was like on the other side of the fence. I didn’t know about ‘enjoying work’, working to live rather than living to work. I spent all week longing for Friday and all weekend dreading Monday. We all have to do it of course. If you need a job you’ll do whatever it takes to bring in the pennies.
But I have absolutely no enthusiasm for full time work. I run my own business part time which doesn’t feel like work because I love it (every work day feels like Friday afternoon :-D) and I work from home so I don’t have to do the whole commute thing which gives me back hours of my life every week. I still have to do occasional part time and temporary contract work in administration to top up the bills but I will do whatever I can to get out of having to do it full time. My time is now precious. More precious than money. And 3 years living on student loans has taught me all I need to know about budgeting.
Even the part time admin jobs I have leave me time to do my accounts, blogs and research for my business. Because they are generally quite boring and limited in terms of actual work.
The problem is that Uni is nothing like the real world. Even hardened full time employees like myself who thought they were doomed workaholics can be brainwashed by the student way of life. Where else can you find a job that gives you a 6 month lead in deadline for one piece of work? They say Uni is hard work but compared to what the real world wants from you, it’s nothing. And I treated my Uni course like a 5 days a week 9 – 5.
I got into a brief conversation yesterday with someone who is about 10 years older than me and, for whatever reason, has just completed a college course and is now at University. He said exactly what I have been thinking all along. ‘I’ll do anything to get out of going back to work.’ He’s contemplating doing an MA after Uni is over with, because he really doesn’t want to go back.
Whatever students may say about courses, it does make you complacent and it does kind of suggest that you should only be doing what you want to do rather than what you should do. There is a lack of urgency and I think a total lack of work ethic in general across Uni courses. They are not preparation for the real world.
When I went, I was surprised about how easy going they were about deadlines and work volumes and what constituted a grade. You could get away with not turning up to classes for a month and still pass modules. Of course, let’s just claify something here. I was on an arts degree. In the real world those jobs are not easy. But the study volumes compared to, say, a medical degree are not the same. So let’s just make a point that I’m not branding EVERY degree with my brush of doom.
We blame students for the lack of work ethic once they emerge from study status. But is it them that’s to blame, or the educational institutions which condition them to a life of study? As a mature student going back, I saw a whole flipside to the system. A whole bunch of issues that need addressing. Uni is the easy way out for some. It’s a great way to spend 3 years but it does make entering the real world a more painful experience.