Feeling the weight of the future on your shoulders? Here are some top tips to help cope with the pressure and really start focusing on who you want to be. 

Being told you have to make a serious life decision that majorly affects the rest of your life at the age of 16 isn’t easy. Teachers continuously pushing you for answers, parents trying to influence your choices, people not looking too pleased when all you can say is ‘I don’t know’- it builds up a lot of insecurity. How can people expect so much of you when not so long ago you were still being treated like a child?

Taking a deep breath and learning to handle the pressure of finding yourself is the key to rationality. To help you along the way, here are 5 things to think about as you begin your journey into adulthood:

1. What you choose now doesn’t last forever.

Throughout life, you never stop developing and changing. Your aspirations in 20 years time will be completely different to your aspirations now. Without disregarding any space for change, focus on what you currently want, rather than what you may think in the future. And remember, a random career change during your mid-life crisis? Iconic. Don’t let consistency hold you back.

2. Following what makes you happy is probably a bad idea. 

It sounds great, but the reality is that happiness is just an emotion, and those things come and go like buses. If you go where the money is, you will have the resources to pursue things that make you happy, and support your family: I know it sounds weird, but most people love their family a lot more than their job. Well, at least their dog. 

If you want to go to uni, go, but don’t feel like you need to. If an apprenticeship down the road will make you happier, go for that instead! Talk to people and ask for advice, but at the end of the day it is solely your decision to make. 

3. The money is a lot, but won’t hinder you.

Student debt is a vampire that you invite over your threshold. How is it possible to live with so much to owe? How long does it take to pay off? What if I can’t afford it?

Here is a link that explains everything you need to know about student loans and how to live with them:


And that’s the thing, you will learn to live with them. Paying off your student loans will become a part of life. Whilst it is still a major aspect of university life to consider, the debt will not stop you from taking out a mortgage or buying a car or doing all the things an ‘adult’ is expected to do. Take the facts into consideration and don’t overthink it, there are plenty of people who do a degree- how many do you hear complaining of financial difficulty 10 years in the future? 

4. You don’t need a degree to be successful. 

There are many cases of success from people who don’t have a degree, and some of them even earned it rather than coming from a wealthy dynasty, so don’t fear for your future when you realise university may not be for you. The stereotypical idea of success is so ingrained into our minds that we feel ashamed to pursue anything else, when in reality, success is not just about intelligence, it is about passion and dedication in whatever you do. Follow that, and that only that, and you’ll find your way.


5. Choose the right uni for you.

It is a scary thing to leave behind everything you were used to in your life, to start anew and try and make a living on your own. Complete independence- are you ready for that? Are you ready to suddenly brave the world at 18?

If the answer is no, then think closer to home. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities have excellent reputations, with Newcastle ranking 23 out of 140 UK universities. We are proud of our nightlife, our student talent pool, our architecture and heritage- why not stick around to maintain the typical Geordie culture? Considering universities closer to home undoubtedly brings a sense of comfort to the intimidating idea of bracing yourself for adult life. And who needs a student loan when you can pop to your parents for tea instead? 

You may be telling yourself that university is pointless if you cannot live the ‘uni life’ to the fullest, but there is no shame in finding comfort in your hometown and finding your way with your family and friends quite literally by your side. Other nearby options to consider are Durham and Sunderland, which also offer fantastic education opportunities. 

So, take this as a reminder that you don’t always have to move away to enjoy university life. Take it easy, visit open days, ask questions- Newcastle is a fantastic city. Help us keep it that way. 

The words of others, however, cannot answer the ultimate question: To uni or not to uni? 

Research your options, always have a back up, and really take the time to think about what you truly want for yourself. 

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