Unless you've managed to completely avoid the internet and all forms of news, today is the day where hopeful students everywhere receive their A-level results - although I'm still not entirely sure what those are. (I'm American and can't be bothered to Google.)
Those who are over the age of 17 like to use this time to reminisce, talking about what they got on their A-levels, or more specifically, how they got shit results but still turned out OK. "I didn't get into the college of my dreams but I own my own company!" they'll tweet, reassuring those who got less than stellar results know that life isn't over.
And, indeed, the quality of your life is not dependent upon your A-levels, or a university degree, or any sort of qualification. Your life isn't over - it's hardly even begun. But, as someone who quit college and has found success and happiness despite not having a degree, I would still urge young people (and old people) to go to university.
Go to university. Go. Not because your parents want you to. Not because it's what you "should" do. Not because your friends are... go because you can. If you're in a position where, financially, you can go to university, go.
I've had young friends and family members decline the opportunity to go to university because they said they didn't know what they wanted to do, they had no idea what they wanted to study, and they wanted to get on with their lives rather than paying for an education they're not even sure that they'll need.
Fair enough, but unless you have a steady paying job already or are already on some sort of career path, as I was when I quit college, what else are you going to do?
Travelling and taking a gap year is totally acceptable - but when you are back in the real world of paying rent, bills, and grocery shopping... what are you going to do?
Nothing is worse than feeling aimless. Nothing is worse than not having a trade to fall back on.
When you go to university, you can explore. You have four years where you can try and figure all of that out. Figure out what you're passionate about, what interests you, what career paths are out there. You will have four years where you're allowed to live in a world where it's acceptable to be skint and a be a bit of a mess and write poetry drunk at 4am while you try and find yourself. Why not do that now, rather than at 34 when your career as a musician didn't quite work out and it's the only thing you know how to do?
I'm not saying that without a degree you won't find your way - obviously, I know personally that's simply not true. But getting a degree in the University of Life, as us college drop-outs like to call it, is hard. It's tough going. And depending on the industry you want to get into, you'll have to work twice as hard if you don't have a degree because some employers assume you automatically know more about something if you have a BA in it.
Being in a position where you can go to university is a privilege that not everyone has - and if it's an opportunity available to you, take it. As fast as you can.
Image via David Michael Morris's Flickr