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Stats: 8,437 members, 12,200 Topics. Date: August 22, 2017, 4:17 am

Results day is coming up and I can only watch as my friends worry about whether their grades will be good enough to get them in to university. I struggle to relate: I’m anxious about my results, but I decided months ago to decline all my offers and not go to university.

It’s complicated. I loved reading and writing from a young age. I loved writing my own stories and plays and pretending to be a journalist – it all came naturally to me. So by the time I reached sixth form, my destination was obvious to everyone around me – I would go to university to study English.



At my first open day, I quickly fell in love. They say you know that a university is the place for you when you can see your future self standing on the same campus, and I felt that. I started the Ucas process as soon as I got home.

But as with so many others, I struggled with my personal statement; I found it hard to talk about myself when I was still trying to understand who I was. This planted the first seed of doubt, but I tried to ignore it – university felt like an unavoidable piece of the jigsaw that was life and without it, I couldn’t succeed.

The wait to hear back from my chosen universities felt like a lifetime but even then a small part of me hoped I wouldn’t receive any offers. By the end of March, all my decisions had arrived – I had five offers from five brilliant universities. I should have been ecstatic, the happiest I’d ever been, shouting from the rooftops. I couldn’t help but stare blankly at the screen in front of me. I felt nothing.

Even then, I felt pressure from everyone around me to go through with it. After all, it was what all my friends were doing. But I just knew it would not bring me happiness. It took me a long time to accept that university can be right for some people but not for others, and that turning it down doesn’t have to mean failure. Eventually, I signed on to the Ucas website I had been avoiding for months and made my decision. I declined all five of my offers.

I hadn’t spoken to my school or friends about my decision – only my mum, who had known from the start that university wasn’t right for me. I was embarrassed and afraid of what people would say or think.

I haven't shut the door, just opened another
But I’m not alone. New research from the Sutton Trust has found that the proportion of young people who say they are likely to go to university when they are old enough has fallen to an eight-year low.

Money worries are certainly a factor, and this type of learning isn’t for everyone. But I mainly declined my offers because I’m not ready for university, and I don’t know if I ever will be – and that’s OK. I know that choosing not to attend university doesn’t mean I won’t have opportunities or be able to challenge myself.

My next steps will include pursuing the two things I love most: journalism and photography. My education certainly hasn’t ended – getting into a career is bound to include vocational experience and training. I haven’t shut the door, just opened another.



Results day is still a nerve-racking thought. I’m relying on my grades for my future just like everyone else. I’m also genuinely excited for all of my friends who will go off to university in September, and I know they will share the same enthusiasm in what I choose to do with my future.

While what I do from now on may not be conventional, I know I have made the right decision and, for the first time, I am not embarrassed or ashamed – I’m confident that I will get to the place I want to be.

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