Good Money After Bad
I hit university straight from school, without touching the ground. Uni of York – Russel group, highly acclaimed, Politics with International Relations. What a fiasco. Three years and many tens of thousands of pounds in loans later, and I was out again. Two years more pass, and I’m still working at my local nursery, zero-hours contract, a hair above minimum wage, and what was supposed to be a summer job that I started when I was fifteen has become the reality of my career.
I didn’t enjoy my time at university, broadly speaking. It was socially unfulfilling and intellectually under-stimulating. I felt much as I did at school – that I was there as a box-ticking exercise, worth to the institution only what I could provide in fees or flat academic achievement. Time and money had essentially been cast away on a three-year hiatus from thinking realistically about my future.
One could call the course expensive. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that it costs quite a lot of money. Because in terms of what you get for what you pay, it blows most concepts of a bargain out of the water. At university, I shared my pittance of lecturers with hundreds of people. In three years, I had perhaps two or three one-on-one meetings with my supposed ‘teachers’. I had a course supervisor whom I spoke with briefly once a term, to no consequence. Contrast that with SCA, where a roster of expert mentors is enhanced by regular appearances from industry stars. I get to book up to five hours a day with mentors if they have the time to see me (and they often stay beyond working hours to get round to people waiting). I had a passing two-minute conversation with Caroline, one of our copywriting experts, about a topic I found interesting from a masterclass she had given last week. She tweeted me on Sunday night with a link to something pertinent and fascinating she had found and thought I ought to see. Just this morning, I heard Richard Russell, an enormously accomplished man, and an advertising don, say the words ‘contact me any time, out of work hours, weekends, it’s all fine.’ I defy you to show me a university student who can boast such support from their faculty. I have never felt that an educational institution was so invested in me and my potential, so genuinely excited to see me succeed on a personal level, as I feel in this building.
Deciding to come to SCA was a decision to throw yet more money and time at my education. More than that, I’m arguably nullifying the previous money and time invested at university; I’ll live and die by my portfolio in my coming career, my degree will never be mentioned again (hopefully) and those drab years spent dossing around a student house missing essay deadlines may as well not have happened at all, for all the impact they’ll have on my future.
You may have heard of the Sunk Cost Bias: the fallacy that something is worth pursuing further simply because resources have already been put into it. I went to university because I had put in so much effort at school to get there, even though it wasn’t the right place for me. I came out of university and kept pushing for a straightforward, corporate career because that was what I went to uni to get to. I have sunk a great deal of my energy, happiness, and life into something that SCA is wiping clean away. This angered me for a long, long time before I started the course and in the early weeks. But I’m starting to realise how lucky I am that I overcame the fear of sunk cost. That was all just the price I had to pay to end up where I am now – to borrow a phrase from Uri Baruchin’s strategy classes, “the work before the work.” Now that I’m here? In the grand scheme of things, I think I’ve still gotten a pretty damn good deal out of it all.