By: Sonya Bateson
“What do you want to study at university?”
That was one of the most common questions I was asked as a teenager.
Not “What do you want to do when you leave school?” or “What job will you get after high school?”
The only other question I got nearly as frequently was: “Are you going to take a gap year, or go straight into study?’
I always did well at school so it was automatically assumed that I’d be heading off to university. And I did.
When I got there, I hated it.
Some of my papers were riveting, and others I could barely keep my eyes open for.
The food was yuck, the textbooks expensive, and I hated having to share a bathroom with five other people.
The lack of routine threw me, as did suddenly becoming responsible for all the minutiae of adult life.
I made it through one year and never went back, with a mountain of student debt hanging over my head.
It took me until I was 21 to figure out what I wanted to do, then I chose to go to polytech to study.
It was 9am-3pm each day, 18 months rather than three years, and had a heavy focus on practical skills.
By then, I’d grown up a bit and knew a lot more about the adult world – although I still had a lot to learn.
I only wish I’d known earlier that university wasn’t the be all and end all.
It seems today’s teens are picking up that life lesson a lot quicker than I did.
As reported in the Herald on Wednesday, Ministry of Education data show the numbers of students leaving school aged 17 or under jumped by 8 per cent last year to 34,763.
Ministry deputy secretary Dr Craig Jones said there was an increase of 1.5 per cent in the employment of 15 to 19-year-olds in 2017.
Going straight into the workforce is a fantastic option for many teens, particularly if they’re going into an apprenticeship.
You don’t need to go to university to get a great job or have a fulfilling career – and it’s pleasing to see this is being recognised.