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Is a university degree the be all and end all of life? Should it be? I don't think so.

To University or not to University.

When I was growing up a university degree was the holy grail of life after school. Basically you went to school to get a degree/diploma to get a good job. If you didn’t get a qualification, then you were, without question, going to end up living in a cardboard box on the street. It really was an all or nothing situation. So that is what many (many) of us did. We got the qualification but we didn’t necessarily get the good job. In fact, we didn’t even get jobs in the industry we studied. But at least, while drowning in debt, we could tell people we had the degree. 

Know that I have kids, two of whom have gone through tertiary education, I call bulls*t on it all! In fact even before my kids entered tertiary education, I wasn’t so sure about it. 

Education is never wasted, I get that and totally agree and if you want to study, go for it. But it is no longer the holy grail of life. A degree does not mean a good job, in fact it does not mean a job at all – just ask the millions of graduates who are unemployed or working for minimum wage. Studying for 3/4 years, getting into crippling debt does not mean success and it should never ever have been. 

The world is not the same place it was 25 years ago when I left school, it is dramatically different. The job market is dramatically different. I worked as a social media manager for 7 years – when I started out, there was no course I could study, this job didn’t exist 10/15 years ago.

There is still no formal qualification for an “influencer” yet people are making 6 figure salaries. Children are are creating YouTube  videos, earning more money a month than some people earn in a year. 

The world of AI is once again, rapidly changing the landscape. There are certain jobs that will be done by AI shortly once again changing the work place dynamics. 

Currently more than half the students at UCT are not able to pay their fees. This means that once they finish their degree, they will not be able to actually graduate until they can pay their fees off. In order to pay the fees, they need a job, but they can’t get a decent job without the degree, so they take a minimum wage job and have to try live and also pay off their fees. This feels like complete madness!

There has to be a better way. 

Maybe that better way is encouraging children to be who they want to be and not who we want them to be, or who we think society needs them to be.

 

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12 Responses

  1. As a parent of a child who had no schooling for her secondary years due to illness. She is now doing great at college. University is great but not for everyone. I am all for following your dreams no matter what they are but it should be their choice not a pressured choice

  2. I held my university degree in hand, a testament to years of dedication and the countless late nights spent studying under the soft glow of my desk lamp. It was a symbol of perseverance, opening doors to new opportunities and adventures that once seemed like distant dreams. As I stepped forward into the world, the knowledge and experiences gained became the foundation of a future filled with endless possibilities. Never give up.

  3. I feel the same as you, when I was at school almost everyone went to university. Yet my friends who didn’t go aren’t in jobs that are worse than those of us that did. I think now there are more options with apprenticeships and different ways to continue education. I don’t think I’d have gone to uni now if I was still in school x

  4. College is surely not what it was when I went in the 70’s. We need kids to know its ok to do a trade instead of getting a degree that will only keep them in debt and not find a job.

  5. Thank you for sharing your candid thoughts on the university experience. Your perspective challenges conventional wisdom and prompts reflection on the true value of education in today’s world. It’s empowering to reconsider success beyond a degree and to prioritize individual growth and fulfillment.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, no matter how controversial they might sound, this is awesome and I think we should all be talking about such topics.

  7. I completely agree with this. College is NOT for everyone and that’s ok! Definitely something we need to talk about more!

  8. I think that it’s important to encourage young people to discover their hobbies and passions rather than forcing them to go down the same road. Especially in such a formative state, I think it’s more detrimental to pressure them to feel like they need to have it all figured out. I totally agree with your piece.

  9. I think there was a time when having a degree would make or break your future, but those days are over. The job market has made a huge shift to practical experience in so many sectors.

  10. Personally i think yes university degrees pursuing is important, at the same time, studying & doing what we love as a career equivalent important too. Cheers SiennyLovesDrawing

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