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Is Career FOMO Restricting Life-enhancing Experiences?

Is Career FOMO Restricting Life-enhancing Experiences?
15 August 2019 James Brooke

Teens across the UK have received their A-Level results today (15 August 2019), but are pressures and expectations to make their next career move infringing on their chance to seek personal development through travel?

A new survey1 commissioned by leading youth travel booking site, StudentUniverse, has found that almost a third of students (31%) receiving their results today don’t plan on taking time out to travel* the world at all during the next three years, with 38% declaring that they need to focus on their careers.

The top five reasons students gave for not going travelling after results day were:

  • It’s too expensive
  • I want to focus on my career / studies
  • I have no idea where to go / what to do
  • I haven’t got anyone to go with
  • I don’t think it would provide any benefit to me

Here, an A-Level student hoping to start university in September and his mother talk of their experiences and aspirations for his future.

Joe, a 19-year-old from Stockport, who received his results today and has been accepted to study law at The University of Leeds, shares his thoughts on whether he was given the support he needed to make the best decision for him: “I was told multiple times that I had options beyond attending university, and that the timeline to decide wasn’t rigid; the support I was given has really reassured me that my career aspirations are possible.”

Joe added: “I have looked into ways in which I can incorporate travel with my studies; I intend to do an Erasmus+ year abroad with a foreign university. I think it would be amazing to immerse myself in another culture, whilst gaining the skills that will benefit my future career.”

Joe’s mother, Gail, shares her thoughts on the options Joe faces and whether travelling should be considered by students. “I’m really excited for Joe; he has much more freedom of choice than I feel my generation did, there’s less pressure to start providing for themselves at age 16 and therefore allowing time for further studies.

“Over the next three years, hopefully he’ll have an enjoyable and rewarding experience at university, it’ll be a fantastic opportunity to make friends and learn to be more self-sufficient.”

“I would love him to travel, as it can only be a beneficial and fabulous life experience. It encourages decision making, budgeting, planning and assessing risks, all of which are essential life skills. However, students don’t typically have a large enough income to pay for it, and it can put pressure on parents to provide funds.”

This was apparent in the survey, which revealed that 13% of A-Level students who hope to travel during a gap year, expect that their parents will fund their travels.  Meanwhile, half (49%) plan on working and saving until they have enough to fund their desired travels, whilst a further 17% plan on incorporating overseas work to fund their travels and save just enough for their flights before departing.

Here, an A-Level student talks of her decision to join the career ladder, with hopes to travel in the future.

Rebecca, a 17-year-old, Office Administrator from South East London, who also received her A-Level results today explains why university wasn’t for her: “After completing several weeks work experience in London in Year 10 and during school holidays throughout sixth-form, I knew that the world of work was right for me – I loved it and couldn’t wait to get back. At school, I definitely felt pressure from teaches to apply to university, they asked “what universities are you applying to?”, never “are you going to apply?”; I appreciate that they were trying to help, but I found the whole experience very embarrassing.”

Rebecca added: “I do hope to travel at some point in the coming years, I would love to experience Australia for four-six weeks, but I wouldn’t want to do it on a budget, I’d want to save enough money to make the most of the experience, further supporting my decision to start working and earning.”

Here, a student careers advisor shares his thoughts on the options students face on results day, and the benefits of travel.

David Wallace, Futures Coordinator and student careers advisor from Suffolk, with over 16-years-experience commented: “All young people should explore all options open to them upon receiving their results today. University offers huge possibilities, but it’s not the only route to gain skills, experiences and higher-level qualifications. The idea of ‘a job for life’ has long gone, and it can be a mistake to make too concrete a career plan too early – getting some experience of life and wider cultures undoubtedly change you as a person and will broaden your understanding of the workplace and the people you’ll call colleagues.”

Wallace added: “Spending time widening horizons through travel may be a great start to understanding a wider world, and, importantly – yourself.”

Sam Willan, General Manager at StudentUniverse UK, said: “While the survey showed that many students want to focus on their careers instead of go travelling, it also revealed that 78% believe it [travelling] looks good on a CV. Here at StudentUniverse, ‘travel’ and ‘career’ aren’t mutually exclusive, and we believe no one should fear missing out on their career development by taking the time to travel.”

“It’s great to hear that Joe is looking to incorporate his studies with overseas travel, and there are many other options available to those who want to boost their CV, such as teaching in Tanzania or marine conservation in Madagascar. Alternatively, the likes of Australia’s Working Holiday Visa programme offers students the chance to really seize their new-found independence and work abroad, in skilled and careering boosting jobs.”

“We’re on a mission to empower students and young people to travel the world, and give them the chance to explore and understand diverse cultures, whilst establishing a deeper level of self-awareness, all of which leads to a more authentic life. As Gail stated, travel can help develop essential life skills, which we know in turn will support their career ambitions.”

– Ends –

Notes to editors:

1An online survey, conducted by Atomik Research, of 1,002 17-19 years olds completing their higher education A-Level and equivalent exams.

*for the purposes of this survey, ‘travel’ would be a period of four or more weeks spent abroad.

For further press information, please contact:

Arabella Halfhide/Baillie Horwood
Rooster PR
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8930
E: [email protected]

About StudentUniverse:

StudentUniverse is the world’s leading travel booking site for students and youth. Through negotiations with a network of global partners, StudentUniverse offers discounted pricing and terms on flights, hotels and tours. StudentUniverse also operates Journeys are Made @, the world’s largest gap year inspiration travel platform.

StudentUniverse launched in the UK in 2013 and was acquired by Flight Centre Travel Group in 2015. StudentUniverse is headquartered in Boston with offices in London, Toronto, New York and the Philippines. StudentUniverse believes that travel is essential to a modern education. Millions of students use the service every year.

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