At this time of year it seems that everything is about going back to school / college / Uni. It’s in the news, the shops, on the internet. Even the popular tele programmes such as Hollyoaks are all about the new Freshers. But not everyone goes to University, and if you’d like to have gone but haven’t, it can all leave you feeling rather lost.

Some people choose not to go to Uni, and that’s great. But for others the choice isn’t their own. It might be because their grades weren’t good enough, because they don’t have the support of family, because of personal circumstances, or a combination of those things. But if you wanted to go to Uni, and haven’t been able to for whatever reason, this time of year can be very hard.

It’s even more difficult if all your friends have gone away. They’re busy starting their new lives, having fun and filling Facebook with pics of all their new friends and nights out partying. You might not hear from people you were once close to. And it can leave you feeling lonely and abandoned.

But it isn’t the end of the world. Going to University isn’t always great for people, and if you read our article last week for people starting Uni then you’ll realise that your friends may be having their own difficulties. So focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t, and know that it’s still possible to create a decent future for yourself.

For people repeating a year to re-sit exams, don’t worry about being behind. People go to University at all ages, and you’ll be no different to anyone who’s taken a year out to work or go travelling. A year might feel like a long time, but it really isn’t, and by the time you do get to Uni it will all have been worth it.

If you simply can’t go to university because of personal circumstances or lack of support, things can feel even tougher. It’s possible you’re out working in an adult world, trying to support yourself (and maybe others) and facing responsibilities that all your friends at Uni won’t have to worry about for years. You can feel old before your time, and you can feel as though you’re missing out on so much.

There’s no easy to answer. You can’t suddenly create supportive parents or a different set of circumstances, so to an extent you have to live with it. But the way you choose to think about the situation, and the choices you make to improve things for yourself, can have great effect.

If you’re desperate for qualifications then go get ‘em! This Government website gives details on how anyone, of any age, can study, and the different paths people can take towards a degree. Even of you don’t have ‘A’ levels, there are access courses available too. And most of these courses can be slotted around work and personal circumstances. It also gives details on funding for mature students and young people who are on their own. Don’t give up on your dreams just because there are obstacles in your way!

If you simply can’t study at all, then you need to accept that you’re just taking a different path. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be as good, if not better, than those of your friends away at Uni. Not all your friends are going to be leaving Uni with a degree, and even those who do aren’t all going to get the jobs they hope for. Life experience can count for a lot, so make it count for you.

If you’re struggling to get a job, then do some voluntary work. It will get you out the house, enable you to meet new people, perhaps extend your social life, and it will look great on your CV. Or if you want to work in a particularly industry but don’t have the qualifications, then contact some potential employers and ask for work experience. You never know where it might lead.

You don’t need a degree in order to become a happy and successful person. Your path may be different, but it can lead to somewhere wonderful if you direct yourself to where you want to go.

So look at your situation now, and look at where you want to be in three years time, and then focus on doing everything you can to achieve your dreams.

If you’re struggling, then join our Message Board for friendly support. Our community is full of all types of people, of all ages, and with a wide variety of circumstances and backgrounds. It’s a place where everyone fits in.

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