I was an unsupported student at uni
I have fumbled my way through university without financial support from my parents, other than the occasional food shop when I return after the holidays. My parents are not very well off and have three of us to support, so them paying my way through university as an unsupported student was never really an option.
Student maintenance loans only go so far once the rent has been paid, particularly in first year where accommodation can be expensive because of what is included. Luckily, in my first-year food was included for most meals. However, I still had a phone bill to pay, meals out with friends, books, supplies, event tickets, and other expenses that crop up at uni. For the most part, I lived off of what was left of my student loan, savings from working during sixth form, and after that my student account overdraft.
When it came to the second year, I had to get a job. The savings were gone, and the overdraft needed paying off. I’ve only occasionally regretted being forced to get a part-time job while at university. Finding a balance between university work, social life and getting enough sleep is difficult enough, never mind when you have a job as well. I’m a hard worker. I had to get to sleep early some nights, other nights I was too tired to go out, so I will be honest: my social life has suffered in my last years of university. However, I don’t regret working.
Despite the challenge and the increasing focus my life had on money, Despite being an unsupported student I became more self-sufficient, learnt early the value of money, and re-evaluated priorities in my life. As a result, I found a graduate job early to secure a stable financial future, I am more careful with spending, and am more independent.
I have developed fantastic skills at my part-time job and made some great friends and contacts among my colleagues too, and have improved my employability overall. I believe that being unsupported financially at university is a challenge; however, overcoming that challenge has made me more ‘grown-up’ and prepared to face the adult world.