Our teenaged columnist Olivia Harris shares some thought on the value and cost of going to university

Often, going to university has a whole stereotype that comes as a package deal. ‘They’re so clever’ and ‘I’m so proud of them’, are just a few lines you might hear if you decide to take up the university path. However, do we sometimes put too much pressure on teenagers to have the desire to go to university?

As you hit that second year of college, the inevitable talk about what comes next pops up everywhere. Teachers, family members and friends are all excited about you possibly taking on an academic adventure over the next few years (an adventure that may also leave your bank account feeling very empty!). Sometimes it feels like university is an essential stepping stone to the rest of your future, and in some cases, this is true, but for others it could not be any more wrong.

For some career paths, the option of an apprenticeship may be much more valuable and time efficient. However, education on how apprenticeships work and how to apply for them, is still coming in at second best to the application process for university. Why are apprenticeships still pushed back onto the side as just an alternative option?

Due to so many places of education pushing teenagers into university, most employers are not too impressed by someone having a degree anymore. Most workplaces look for personal qualities and achievements that can make you stand out from the rest. While I understand that degrees within some jobs are highly recognised and irreplaceable, for most they are just not the cutting edge anymore (and especially not worth a large amount of debt).

I think in the future, any post-18 pathway taken by a young person should not be looked down upon just because it does not include university. I think university should still be a very exciting option offered to students, but also should not be an assumption placed onto them.