All kinds of directions

Fraser Doig

university collegeAfter serving my six-year sentence at that state penitentiary they call high school, I was at a loose end. I’d scraped the minimum grades required to get into university, but in my heart I knew I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment.

This fact was later supported by the turbulent year that ensued which I fondly refer to as my ‘Kerouac period’. However, hedonistic adventures aside, I chose instead to enrol in a two-year course at college. And now, as I begin my life as a university student, I can fully appreciate the different, but equally valuable, fruits that both college and university can bear.

Most people are aware of the scholastic tug o’ war that rages between college and university students. The attitude that you’re somehow less intelligent if you go to college is just as misguided as the view that university students are pretentious and snobby. There’s a big difference in the style of learning at both college and university, but neither should be regarded as superior to the other.

I find university to be more academically orientated and I’m positive that my time here will equip me with crucial knowledge and expertise that will – regardless of what people might say – put me in prime position for future employment.

My time at college focused more on the practicality of subjects, and taught me how to implement learned skills in a working environment – something university sorely lacks. If you find that you’re not cut out for university, there’s absolutely no shame in going to college instead. In fact, many university graduates enrol in college to get a more refined education and experience in the field they’re looking for a career in.

A common grievance with almost every fresh-faced university student is to do with the transition from school to university. Moving away from home, being away from your family and the struggle of living in an unfamiliar environment are all factors that contribute to the feelings of isolation and loneliness every student experiences to some extent at university. Many students are left feeling like a fish out of water or alienated in some way and, as a result, education suffers.

College is a very different kettle of fish in that most students will stay at home with all the creature comforts that come with it. My time at college showed me that very little changes in the classroom either – smaller class sizes meant that I got to know everyone personally very quickly, just like old times! What sets it apart from school is that it introduces the more university-like concept of independent learning, which for me made college an ideal platform for bridging the gap between school and university.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that university presents you with all the freedom you’d ever dreamed of, and more. 18 years at home with your parents is enough to drive anyone stir crazy and my 21-year stint definitely had me climbing the walls. Now, away from the watchful eye of mum and dad, I’m free to do what I want, which just so happens to be drinking until I can’t feel feelings anymore.

Flying the nest also teaches young people life lessons, such as money management and house maintenance – that is, of course, before you discover that your entire month’s student loan has been consumed by alcohol and the smell from that six-month-old pile of Dominoes boxes is kind of off-putting.

Ultimately, whether you go to college or university generally has nothing to do with brains or apparent lack of them. I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of incredibly clever people that go to college, just as there are some definite ‘heid the baw’s’ at university. Both roads have the potential to lead to your ideal job, it’s just a matter of which route you decide to take.