YOUTH MATTERS Flora Murphy...Has the future really arrived here so fast?

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For at least six months now, these questions have been a regular feature of every family get-together: ‘So, Flora, where are you applying for university?’, ‘So, Flora, what are you going to read?’ and ‘So, Flora, what will you be doing on your gap year?’

Looking slightly bewildered, having expected a more indirect ‘What have you been doing lately?’ or ‘Did you hear about [insert family member’s] recently announced pregnancy?’, I feebly churn out the ‘I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet’ mantra, surrounded on all sides by the audience of my aunts and uncles.

Foolishly I forget each and every time that this uninformative response is invariably followed by a new wave of questions. ‘Surely you are going to apply ...’ and ‘Surely you are going to read ...’, leave me increasingly uneasy and are passively responded with calm replies of ‘That sounds interesting’ or ‘Yes, I’d really like that’.

This well-honed tactfulness effectively conceals that I’d much rather be talking about what we’re having for lunch or admiring my aunt’s new trench coat.

By now I really should have employed my imagination.

I could have seized the opportunity to fabricate some sort of extraordinary, over-meticulous plan for my education.

Would founding my own university and employing primary-school children as lecturers or ‘I’m waiting until exotic dance becomes a course option’ satisfy my persistent relatives?

The reality of the situation is that I am in denial of needing to think about my future. I’m of the school of thought that it will all turn out fine in the end, like it does for everyone else, but in actual fact those who are at university now have actively subjected themselves to the time-consuming thinking process that I am doing so well to avoid.

The controversial increase in the cost of higher education can be seen as closing doors, but in fact it seems like more doors are opening.

Apprenticeships and other employment schemes are becoming more and more popular, which seem far more relevant and fitting for future employment than a broad-based university course where I will, literally, spend three years attempting to rack up as much debt as is studently possible.

But then again, we are on the cusp of these changes and the promising new schemes may take a few years to take off and become worthwhile.

As is my custom, I do think that everything will fall into place eventually.

I simply need to decide what to do, then when and where I want to do it. Easy, right?