A lot of people go to university hoping to get one thing: a degree. However, I think there are a lot of valuable things you can get out of university that have little to do with your formal education.
One very important thing you can find in university is a sense of community. People talk a lot about the importance of finding friends at university, but I would argue being a part of a community is just as important. Chances are, you were a part of a community at home; you may have been on a sports team, or maybe you were a part of a club. Once you graduate from high school, you’re often ripped from these communities, which can be disorienting and lonely. University is awesome because it allows you to rediscover this sense of community. You could get this from a club, a sorority, the student council – there are so many possibilities. Finding a sense of community after high school can be pretty difficult, and university is a good environment in which to do so.
You can also experience new things at university. This might sound like a bit of a cliché, but it’s true. In high school, there are a lot of things you just can’t do, either because of the expense or because whatever you want to do isn’t available where you live. I’ve had so many invaluable experiences at UBC this year. I learned how to rock climb for free, I helped my prof out with his archaeological research, and I helped put together a zine. I helped plan a conference for LGBTQ+ youth in my hometown with a bunch of people for whom this was a part of their job. Had I not gone to university, I wouldn’t have been able to experience any of these things, some of which I’ve want to do for a long time.
Another thing you can do at university is figure out how to do adult stuff. Basically, you get to screw up without it being a big deal, because you probably still have the support of your parents. This year, I’ve had to learn how to budget for groceries (quick tip – don’t use up all your money because you might need toilette paper two days before the end of the month). I’ve had to look for housing, and I’ve also had to sort out my insurance. Of course you can still do a lot of these things if you don’t go to university, but it’s a nice stepping stone, because it’s designed for teenagers who may not have all the necessary life skills. After all, dorms, meal plans, and RAs exist for a reason.
So as you can see, university is good for a lot more than just getting a degree.