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Is Getting A Degree A Waste Of Time?
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Is Getting A Degree A Waste Of Time?

At one time getting a degree in the UK was seen as a passport to a really good job, with a salary that would provide an above average standard of living including buying a house, a car, maintaining a good social life, eating out and taking a couple of foreign holidays a year. How times have changed. Not only is the economy creeping slowly out of recession, unemployment is high and last week it was reported that even after three years a quarter of graduates haven’t been able to find a full time job. Questions are being asked by some sections of the media about the value of some degrees, especially those so called soft subjects such as ‘media studies. And now some graduates, undergraduates, A level students and some parents are questioning whether getting a degree is really worth it or a waste of time.

No one can answer that question for you - they can only offer an opinion. However, here are 6 questsions to ask yourself that may help you answer the questions for yourself.

1. Do I need a degree?

There are some professions such as law and medicine, where you have no choice but to get a degree. It may be that after your time at university or college that you don’t get to work in exactly the area you wanted immediately, but there’s no point in looking back and saying that it was a waste of time. If on the other hand you want the type of job that doesn’t require a degree – you should do some research find out what value a degree would make and decide how that information will impact on your final decision.

2. Do I want a degree?

The reasons why people choose to study for a degree really vary. It might be just a natural progression on their way into their chosen profession, it may be because of parental pressure, it may be just because they think that’s what’s expected of them. It’s really important that you ask yourself about whether you want to do a degree and how it fits in with your dreams for the future. Make sure that any decision you make fits in with your own values and beliefs.

3. What will I learn from a degree?

Write yourself a different list of the different things that you’ll learn – not just the subject knowledge and skills, but some of the soft skills. This isn’t to say that you wouldn’t learn some of those things from a job, but it’s good to try and clarify in your mind the value to you of your degree.

4. What do I hope to get from a degree?

You want to ask yourself this question to consider what expectations you have and whether your expectations are realistic or whether you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

5. What are the cost and benefits of a degree versus the costs and benefits of a job?

Don’t rush into a decision. Do a cost and benefit analysis and really think about what you will gain by doing a degree and compare that with what you will gain going straight into work. Of course you won’t necessarily think of everything – you can’t because some of it will be unknown, but it’s a useful tool to use as part of your decision making.

6. Do I have to do a degree right now?

If you’re worried about the expense of a degree, or whether you’re really ready for it you can always delay doing a degree until later in life. There are an increasing number of mature students who choose to complete degrees by distance learning so they can carry on working and spread the costs over a longer length of time if necessary.

Summary

Is a degree a waste of time? I would categorically say it isn’t because learning should never be viewed as a waste of time. However, the value of a degree has to be viewed in your own context, your beliefs and values and the hopes you have for your future. It can be difficult to know whether you have made the right decision, and hindsight is a wonderful thing so all you can do is think about it carefully and then live with whatever you decide.


Street Talk

Great question. I believe that if your goal is just more knowledge, then pack your lunch and head to the library, its free! Even skills that you believe can only be found in school, can likely not only be found outside of school but actively practiced, for example a job. I do believe in formal education but if there is some doubt in your mind, then definitely take a moment to think about it before taking the plunge.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks Adam for taking the time to comment. I agree with you - there are plenty of places to learn and it doesn't have to be in a formal setting. No one should allow themselves to be pushed into getting a degree unless they feel that it is right for them. After all there are plenty of examples of successful people who didn't choose that route.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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