Is your degree worthless?
As a university student I remember sitting in a lecture listening to a very enthusiastic guest speaker. His message was simple: graduate and earn as much as you can.
Now as a student in the UK I was experiencing my university days with a false sense of security. Tony Blair was peddling the notion that with a degree your future was set. With Labour’s target of getting 50% of students into higher education, there was no wonder it was promoted as essential rather than optional. According to the hype, upon graduating you would land one of the countless graduate vacancies – and earn a minimum of £25k a year.
It all sounded great. The decision on what degree to do was of no concern, flicking through the university prospectuses was like deciding where you wanted to go on holiday. We thought it didn’t matter what degree you did, you just needed to have one.
As a result of this disregard, the degrees focusing around media became more and more appealing; who didn’t want to learn how to be a TV presenter, write about the influence of Brit pop on mainstream youth culture or spend a semester in the States?
From media studies to sociology, David Beckham studies to outdoor adventure with philosophy, the options were endless. Within a short space of time it quickly became apparent that these degrees were of no real value, or ‘Mickey Mouse’. Ironically, it was Labour MP Margaret Hodge that coined the phrase. The sad fact was that they were, and still are.
I suppose an argument can be made that it is the skills you learn while at university that are what are essential for the economy. But seriously, landing yourself in thousands of pounds worth of debt for three or four years of studying to become a graduate in something there was little or no calling for in the job market? Really?
After my friends and I graduated it quickly became apparent that the abundance of jobs was founded on a lie. Not only did you have to compete with the other graduates in an already saturated market, but in 12 months you were joined by thousands more chasing the dream. The fact was the jobs were few and far between and those with degrees specialising in law, a language, a science, for example, stood a far greater chance of landing them.
Luckily I have been able to share my experience with my younger siblings, of the three only one has gone to university. The one that has studied hard to get into the best university she could and is studying for a degree that not only offers a grant, but that will lead to a specific profession.
Deciding whether to go to university is a massive decision, and with the increase in fees here in the UK it seems that more people are considering if it is the right choice for them, or at least looking at the longterm benefits of higher education.