Don’t Believe In Yourself!

ST84Photo Blog is taking a momentary step away from photo talk to bring you this…

The University applications organisation, UCAS, is urging that students should apply to university after they receive their grades.

One of the major reasons cited by advocates of this change in the televised/radio discussions of it is that students apply to the courses they think they might get into, instead of having the ambition to apply for the course they most want to do. In support of this, they also say that schools will discourage students from applying to courses they think they might not be successful in getting a place at.

Now, I have a problem with this line of logic. Partly, no doubt, because I was one of those students once. I’m from a “povvo” background and wanted to apply to Oxford University. My school didn’t think I’d get in, because of my background. I disagreed. I applied. I got my acceptance letter pretty swiftly.

While there are a range of issues with the current university applications system (not to mention with the current education system generally…), I’m concerned that we have advocates for UK youths who are essentially saying, rather than support young people to have sufficient self-esteem, ambition, and belief in their power to achieve their own goals and to change the society they live in by doing so, we need to change the current applications system, because without pieces of paper from us proving their worth they wont believe their own worth.

I have bits of paper from people like this. They have no real value to me when they’ve been awarded by individuals and organisations with such rank professional narcissism. The qualifications have nothing more than utility to me. I knew I was capable long before I ever received them. And it is that capability that has value, both to me and to society.

In a failing economy, and a world where technological advances mean that entrepreneurs will innovate to bring new products to market, and new jobs are being created requiring skills we don’t have qualifications for yet, surely fostering an attitude among the young that qualifications are the only arbiter for moving ahead with an idea is a dangerous path to take?

It is important to train, and it is important to listen to feedback. But it is also important to learn how to keep developing your own ideas and plans in the face of negative feedback, when you’re convinced that you have the capability to achieve something. That’s where progress and innovation comes from.

Or, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” What piece of paper does UCAS have for grading that?

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