Is University worth the cost and hassle?

The Times has opened the floodgates to the higher education question today, and no doubt many people will be passionately extolling or deriding the choice to attend university. It’s something that maybe people seem to have firm opinions on but I’m not sure where I stand to be honest.

I pretty much always expected to go to Uni, so it didn’t seem like much of a choice for me (although I did seriously swither between English Lit and Art College for a good while). And even though I hated a lot of my undergraduate degree and failed to make new any lifelong friends during the process, I don’t regret it. I do regret the loan it’s left me with but I don’t think I’d have the job I have now without the degree.

The MSc was more enjoyable, but mainly because it was more creative and again I don’t think I could say I enjoyed it, but I can honestly say I write better for it. In terms of making real money in the future – I suspect getting a degree is overrated. As an experience you should grab with both hands if you get the chance – I say go for it. You can always drop out and get a proper job if you hate it, and if you’re left overqualified for some jobs after it surely you only need to be a little creative with your CV?

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4 responses to “Is University worth the cost and hassle?

  1. That’s a tough one to answer really, I suppose the answer is yes and no (such a fence sitter). I went to Uni as a mature student and did a Art Foundation course then my degree. I came out with a First Class BA Honours degree in Visual Art which I have done absolutely nothing with. That wasn’t the point of going though, I just wanted the experience that was denied me when I was younger. I really enjoyed the experience and learned so much. I don’t regret going, but like you regret the loan it left me with! It’s always rankled with me that had I been ‘allowed’ to go when I was young, I would have got a grant for it.

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    • I feel your pain, I managed to time my undergrad perfectly so that I got hit with a payment that was quickly set up and then abolished. For some reason the people in my year still have to pay it… huh!

      My boyfriend did fine arts degree, which he is isn’t technically doing anything with – although he’s still creating – but I think he’d agree that the access to various art materials and discourse made it worthwhile.

      I think if you enjoyed the experience you must have made the right choice!

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  2. I’m sure there are some worthwhile courses but mine wasn’t one of them. I don’t think I gained any skills I needed to try to get into the industry – a few bits and pieces, sure, but not enough to actually start a job walking – the best stuff I learnt was always self taught or through work experience. I always just saw university as the natural progression after school and didn’t put any thought into doing anything else after my sixth year exams.

    I know some newspaper editors – particularly the old school ones – don’t value a degree and would much rather prospective employees had work experience. I think a lot of other employers are only interested to see if you have a degree, not necessarily what it was in or how well you did.

    And while I did make some friends and get some good contacts, I’m sure I would’ve met similar acquaintances had I just gone into work straight away.

    I also owe someone a lot of money for doing it all.

    The one positive I would take from it is that by leaving home I grew up a lot and learnt – or at least started learning – how to look after myself. Again, I know a lot of people who didn’t do anything like that at uni.

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    • you know, it feels a little as though you’re saying something along the lines of ‘you’re likely to get out what you put in’? You got something out of uni, but you’re suggesting it’s a skill lots of people manage to avoid, similarly you got the work experience without uni and think your most useful skills were self taught. It doesn’t paint a great picture.

      I think there were a lot of people who assumed that uni was the most logical, if not only, choice they felt open to them after school. That everyone can enjoy higher education is a nice idea, but I doubt everyone does or would. If I’d thought I could work for a paper or a magazine without uni I wouldn’t have gone.

      These days it seems like you need a degree to get a job in a call centre – sounds like a waste of not only money, but more importantly time, for plenty of people.

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