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What Is The Value Of A College Or University Degree?
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What is the Value Of A College Or University Degree?

After three, four or more years studying many graduates who have found themselves unemployed or are working in low paid starter jobs are beginning to ask themselves: ‘What is the value of a college or university degree?’ . Well according to government ministers in the UK quite a lot.

In 2010, David Willets MP, the University and Science Minister said that graduates ought to contribute to their education as they can expect to earn more than “100,000 pounds over the course of their working life than those without a degree”. However true this might be, it can sound a hollow boast if you’ve just received another rejection letter, you have no social life and you've had to move back with your parents to keep your living costs low.

Many graduates are feeling quite disillusioned with the lack of opportunities and choices in the job market. That's not very surprising because government ministers have consistently pushed the advantages of a university education and have never given the same weight to vocational qualifications. Now some of those students feel betrayed by the system.

In my view, part of the problem is their lack of understanding of the job market and the skills employers are looking for as well as having completely unreasitic ideas about what they have to offer - believing that a college or university degree offers a natural gateway into a very good job of their choice.

There are some professions that you can't enter without a degree - so the value is fairly clear. Get a degree and follow the profession of your choice. But it's not always that clear cut. However, no one can tell you what the true value of a college or university degree is because it will depend on your own particular value and belief system as well as some of the choices you make. All I can say is that if you decide to pursue a degree you need to make it work for you.

The way to do that is to do some forward planning and make sure that you not only have a good degree but you have the skills which will make you very attractive to potential employers. Here are some of the things to consider if you're thinking of taking a college or university degree.

Which degree?

When choosing a degree think about what you’re going to do with it when you graduate. You may have a strong idea of what degree you want but if there’s no obvious path through to a job you may want to think about adjusting your choice.

What employers look for?

It’s really important that you understand what employers are looking for. It’s not just your degree that they’ll be interested in. Your subject specialist skills will be important but they’ll also be looking for generalist skills (IT, basic accounting, problem solving skills ...) and connected skills (negotiating, networking and management skills ...) and self reliant skills (your ability to manage your own professional development).

Plan ahead

You need to understand the sector or industry you want to work in all through your degree. Find out what skills or qualifications they’re looking for. Explore whether you can find some work experience. Keep a note of the skills you acquire through your different activities whilst at college or university. It’s no good thinking about it in your final year.

Don’t kid yourself

Although employers want confident employees – don’t kid yourself. They won’t be over impressed just because you’ve got a degree, offer you a huge salary and a company car. That will only happen to a very, very small number of people. They don’t owe you a living and if you don’t show the right attitude – you won’t get a job. If you haven't got the skills you need then do something about getting them.

Do I take any job or a job I love?

Everyone wants their ideal job. If you’ve completed a four year degree you’ll be thinking that it’s right that you should get a job in your chosen field. Yes it would be nice, but these days it’s ofen unrealistic. If you are going to make the three or four years of studying worthwhile, you have to be flexible. All jobs have something positive to offer.

Summary

Only you can decide the value of your college or university degree. You may think it’s worth it before you embark on one and then feel disappointed when you graduate. In order to make it of value to yourself, think carefully about your choice of degree, make sure that you acquire all round skills including, generalist, connected and self reliant skills and plan ahead so that you are aware of what’s happening in the industry or sector you hope to work in.

What do you think a degrees worth?


Street Talk

Nick M  

From what I have seen, there are a few prominent reasons as to why graduates have a tough time in the real world. There is one that is fairly obvious to me. Students who graduate without any job/internship experience. Most graduates are fixated on coursework and attaining good grades, and making sure everything looks good on paper. However, this leads to neglecting application of all that wealth of information, into the real world. Students need to focus on the realities of working a career WHILE they are in college, and work a few internships, so by the time they get that sheet of paper stating they are good at such and such, they already have a career orientated position waiting for them afterwords. Another thing; people are so fixated on getting the degree and the grades, yet they don't care about the actual education they are receiving. Straight A's =/= intelligence and ambition.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

You mentioned the fact that education is no quarantee of a position with any employer, how true. I believe we have mentioned this before on how times have changed in those regards. Not to say that there has ever been a job qurantee out there in any shape or form, well I guess some unions have fought and won concesions like these, another topic another day. At one time in Canada a higher education threw you on top of the heap for a position with any employer. Now it seems just to be a standard education, try getting work that does not have to deal with manual labour, without education, chances are it will not happen. Higher education may not quarantee you a job, but try getting one without education, how does that shovel feel in your hands??? Thats my take. Tim

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Hi Tim. I think there are probably lots of entrepeneurs that have never got a degree but have been highly successful and got their education on the job. I still believe that is possible if you have the right drive. However, some people feel more comfortable with having a degree and the status and opportunities that gives them. As I said in my article each person has to decide on the value of their degree to them. Sadly quite a lot of graduates in the UK are realising that they don't add up to their expectations.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
AJ  

You make some excellent points here. This is an article every high school student and college student needs to read.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks for your comments AJ. Glad you enjoyed it.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Excellent article...we have become too dependent upon the thinking that a degree is the only key to a successful career. And that goes for both those looking for jobs and the Employers. Many companies overlook the great talents of those without a degree and in many ways can train up a person as well. Is a degree worth the value? To some level yes, but for the amount of money that is being placed on the debt accounts of young people, I'm not so sure.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
  

Thanks Joseph. I agree with you I'm a little ambivalent about the value of a degree. I think I would be encourage some people to get into work and if they really want a degree do it later - part-time.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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