Graduation marks the finale of your university experience and the receipt of your degree certificate, but what about your university journey? Surely that matters too?

This piece of paper, confirming your attendance and your academic accomplishments, wraps up university into something relatively simple. It’s a questionable feeling having something so straightforward authorise the importance of your degree. Some might say your degree certificate is the most important thing to come from attending university, and yes of course it is central, but what about the journey? What if this journey is more significant in the long run than your degree certificate?

In 2012, I began studying at the University of Essex as, what I would say now, a young naïve eighteen year old. At the time, I believed I was comfortable in myself and knew myself thoroughly. Now, almost ten (blooming hell) years on, I can see how young I actually was and how I still had so much to discover (I still do!). These days, I understand and appreciate just how much uni helped my self-awareness, my individuality, and how I’ve truly grown into me. Whilst my degree is incredibly important, it’s this journey to self-awareness that has impacted my life more and something I definitely credit my time at university advancing in a humongous way. 

The learning curve at university is incomparable. Everything from living alone to hearing people’s opinions on politics, religion, and culture, to meeting folks from cities you never knew existed (when I first met my flat mate - now my best friend - from Leicester, I had to google the city, I had absolutely no idea what or where it was!). Chatting with housemates, colleagues, and lecturers brings about new ways of thinking and fresh perspectives on life and yourself as a person. Personally, I not only learned important adulting techniques, such as to avoid putting metal in microwaves (unfortunately discovered the hard way), I also learned that being me is completely and one hundred percent okay. Moreover, I realised how to be me. I discovered my passions, my confidence, what I look for in my future and in loved ones. I understood my weaker areas and sought other roads to improvement, growth, and advancement.

Alice and her friend, Hayley, as students at Essex.

There can be some worries that university is time and cost expensive, but perhaps I, and many others, didn’t give these minutes and money for just a degree, we also came away with self-discovery, wonderful memories, and best friends, all of which are still with us today and will be for an eternity. I really believe you are not just paying for a certificate, an education, you also enjoy an excursion through the years of young adulting, and journey is categorically priceless and truly unforgettable.

As gushy as it is to scribble, you do ‘find’ yourself at university, or I feel I certainly did. It’s a wonderful safe place to learn about yourself, in all the intricacies and depth that make you an individual. Uni expands your mind in ways never considered before, challenges your comfort zone, and can redefine a life path. It’s all a journey to self-development, to growth and evolution as a person, and this journey at university elicits a personal journey no other environment could mimic. It truly is unique. Yes, go to university to get that qualification at the end, but also go to realise, to dare yourself, and to gain a strong sense of you


This blog was originally published in 2018.