To Study or Not to Study – How to Figure Out Your Next Steps

Some of you may be faced with tricky decisions about your education options next academic year. With a lot of university teaching either moving online or adopting a hybrid approach with very minimal face-to-face time, you may be wondering whether going to university is worth your time and money. While some institutions, like The Open University, have lots of experience of delivering high-quality education online, here are some ideas that may help you decide what to do next: 

  • If you are still keen to study but do not know what remote learning looks like check out some MOOCs of OpenLearn courses here for free.
  • Motivation – what has been your primary motivation for choosing your course? For example, if you want to study marketing, why not volunteer in your spare time? Online learning means that you may end up having extra time free if you do not travel to lectures and socialising with your peers is limited, so use this time to gain some extra experience. Are there any local businesses you could help with, for example, by managing their social media? How about fruit or vegetable picking or working part-time in a local supermarket? Having extra things to do will help create a better routine too, whether you decide to study or defer to next year.
  • Other options – depending on the subject of your studies, there may be other avenues of gaining experience, like apprenticeships where you learn on the job and after a couple of years end up with valuable and practical qualification. You can then decide whether you still want to pursue a university education. If you take a gap year, you could complete a Coding Bootcamp or become a yoga teacher and set up your own business.
  • Learn a language – if travel becomes an option again, why not becoming an au pair? If that is not possible, you can still use technology to practise your language skills. How about giving translation a go?

Whatever you decide, take your time to research your options and remember that how you spend your time now, will have a long-term impact on your future. So, try this decision-making tool:

  • Goal – ask yourself where you are now and where you want to be in 3, 6 and 12 months. It’s a bit like planning a journey. What is your primary goal? What matters the most?
  • Reality – what does your reality look like? Think about the resources you have or don’t have, like time, money, accommodation. What can you control, and what is outside your control? Focus on what you can control. 
  • Options – based on what you have written down, now you can start considering the options available to you. 
  • Will – commit to one or two choices, and just do it. 

Good luck. 

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