Can university alone really prepare you for your future?

University student Monica Greep, 18, of Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, is studying journalism and the news industry at the University of Kent. She is spending the week on work experience at Deep South Media. Here is her personal view about how life as a student is preparing her for a future in the workplace.

Monica Greep

Monica Greep

Having reached the end of my first year in my three-year university course I often ask myself if I’ve made the right choice.

So much importance is placed on students going to university that most constantly worry if they’ve got it right, indeed, tens of thousands of students either transfer or quit their courses every year.

So, you tried psychology, maybe history suits you better? Perhaps creative writing mixed with American literature could be the course for you?

It seems that the overall mentality is that if you can, go to university – it doesn’t really matter what you study there as long as you have a degree.

In studying journalism, alongside my NCTJ diploma, I am vaguely aware of the type of career I would like to pursue after my time at university and of course I hope that it will help – or  I wouldn’t be spending  three years of my life in Gillingham, Kent.

In saying that, the question still remains: Can university really prepare you for your future?

Although university is teaching me the fundamentals of journalism, the lecture room is not the real world – whereas time spent on work experience has given me a glimpse of what will be required in the future, even if I am working on the less crucial news releases.

As clichéd as it may sound, and as obvious as this may be to those who are already working, my short time at Deep South Media has already shown that there is a huge difference between learning something in theory and actually doing it.

Of course, my university encourages students to try to be proactive, to find real stories and get as much real life experience as we can, but it’s rare to find someone who takes a student journalist seriously, let alone when your biggest story is about the local hedgehog sanctuary.

I find it hard to believe that in a few years I could well be working as a qualified journalist without ever having seen a real interview or written anything aside from coursework.

It seems strange that the previous, and obligatory, week of work experience given to me by my university (I won’t mention where, but it consisted almost entirely of photocopying) could have been the only experience I gained before I entered the working world.

So, to revisit my question, obviously I have no idea if my university experience will really prepare me for my future, but personally I feel that not enough importance is placed on real work experience – actual work and not just turning up every day and being a general nuisance to staff.

University is not for everyone, but then again neither is work. The only difference is that we can’t avoid the latter so we’d better be prepared.

I don’t think I’m alone in attending university not to get a degree but to get a job. Whether or not at the end of it I I’ll be ready for a lifetime of full time work is a totally different question…