Are university degrees still worth it? We weigh up the pros and cons.
Going to university can be both life changing and costly. With greater emphasis being placed on alternative post-school options (VET, straight into work, etc) what are some of the pros and cons worth considering when it comes to uni?
Some jobs you simply can’t get without a university degree
For a range of jobs getting a university degree is the standard qualification necessary to be considered for even an entry-level role. For other jobs, further postgraduate study is also required to be considered for a role, for example a Masters or research background may be required. So, if you know the industry or career you’re looking to move into, it is worth checking whether a university qualification is required in order to grow and excel within that industry.
They teach you an array of transferable skills
One thing people often don’t consider is the transferable skills that university helps students to build. Unlike high school where most knowledge is spoon fed to students, university study focuses on helping students to think critically and to develop their autonomous learning skills. Developing how you think, your time management skills, self-discipline and your ability to teach yourself subjects and skills is an ability that will continue to reward you throughout your life.
The community could change your life
If you make the choice to get actively involved in university life, the friends and colleagues you meet could be with you for the rest of your life. I even met my husband at university!
You get to take the deep learning dive
University is designed to help students to spend time thinking conceptually and deeply about a specialised area. Often in the workforce in order to get things done, this kind of specialised research into an area is not possible, so enjoy being able to take the time to explore subjects while you can.
It could connect you with industry
Universities are starting to take a more active role in matching students to employment opportunities. Whether it is career open days, internships, practical industry-based subjects or alignment with mentors, universities are being more active than ever in connecting students with work opportunities to support the transition into work after study.
It is becoming increasingly expensive
In Australia the price of university is on the rise. It is true that the HECS-HELP scheme does make it possible for lots of students to participate in university life, but don’t forget, this is still a debt you will have to pay off in the future so consider it wisely.
Degrees sometimes don’t actually prepare you for the world of work
One of the core criticisms of university degrees, is that they won’t actually prepare you with the practical skills to be able to perform a job when you finish. With most degrees having at least a large emphasis on theoretical and conceptual learning, the practical skills of how to actually do a job can be lost along the way or even totally forgotten. One way to combat this is to (in parallel with university) seek out opportunities for work experience like internships and summer jobs in the industry you’re looking to move into.
Without accompanying experience you might not be that employable
It is becoming more and more critical for employers that you have previous experience on your resume. While it used to be ok to just have education qualifications listed straight out of university, more and more employers are expecting a stronger connection and history with the actual workforce.
You might not be ready to study again
Alright, so you’ve just sat through probably 12 or more years of education and you feel a little sick thinking about signing up for another three or more. This is quite logical and if you really feel like you’re not ready to continue studying perhaps it is worth considering other options like going straight into work, taking a gap year or looking into a vocational pathway. Tertiary study is not the best fit for everyone so don’t feel like it is the only option available to you post school and or that you need to get started right away.
You might not get your hands dirty
While some university degrees involve a practical component, this can be very little in comparison to some of the direct work experience you can gain from alternative education options like TAFE in which you can work and learn simultaneously. Vocational pathways are incredibly important to the Australian workforce and also offer a range of lucrative and fulfilling pathways that might be the best fit for you. Don’t sell yourself short by only considering uni. Check what else is out there.
So what’s the verdict?
Good question. When considering the pros and cons of getting a university degree, there is no one-size fits all solution as there are a whole range of variables to consider in terms of finding the best personal fit for you. We recommend that you spend some time researching and talking to trusted mentors around what would be an optimal fit for you. Once you know where you want to head then you can start seeing if a university degree is the right fit for you.
If you’re looking for some online support we recommend trying the CareerHQ Compass. This online, 6 module tool will help you to match your interests and skills to 3-6 career options.
Click here to try the CareerHQ Compass: www.careerhq.com.au