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Is A Degree Worth Your Sanity?

Updated on March 1, 2018
sparkleyfinger profile image

Lynsey is a qualified Graphic Designer, who has a keen interest in art and design. She also enjoys DIY, crafting, photography and blogging.

What do you reckon?

Do you think a degree is worth it?

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We all know that education is an important part of life. In a country where I am fortunate enough to receive a free education, I would like to think that I would take full advantage of that opportunity.

However, I recently made the decision to complete my education at a HND level rather than progress to the Degree course. (For those who don't know, a HND is basically half of a Degree) In all honesty, I feel that this is the best option for me, particularly in the current financial situation.

I tend to get super stressed when it comes to educational deadlines. I feel I must specify, because work doesn't stress me at all, but the concept of failing to achieve my qualification TERRIFIES me to the point i overly stress. Therefore, I found it difficult to finish even the HND with my sanity intact!

I was totally set on going back straight after the HND, but my stress levels were a factor, and I was advised that it would be unwise to pursue it, as the workload would be 6 times as much as I was already getting! As I also worked, it would have been almost impossible. At the time, I was upset that I wouldn't go on to graduate and wear that funny black robe... But, the more I have thought about it, the more I have realised that it was probably for the best.

Don't get me wrong, I did worry that I had ruined my life. After all, we are encouraged at school to pursue education as far as possible, that you won't get a good job unless you are super qualified, and in some cases that's true. This was a worry to me until I was recently in the local shopping arcade, and I saw 2 of last years graduates from the previous year working as cashiers. Is that the good job that my teachers spoke to us about? I think not!

It made me realise that even though I was in the same job as I was before I got my qualification, at least I am in a position where I can progress within my role. I can build a career with my current employer.

I have also realised that in today's market, you won't get a job without experience. For example, if I had 6 months experience in Graphic Design (as well as my HND) I would be more likely to land a job than a graduate who had no experience, even though, on paper, they are better suited. I have found this to be true of most job opportunities that are out there. It is a sad fact that half of UK graduates fail to find a job within 3 months of leaving University, but it is also proof that perhaps there should be more emphasis of work experience built into these courses.

It is these realisations that have led me to question the worth of a Degree.

Is it just a piece of paper?

Difficult to achieve, no doubt, but still a piece of paper to represent 4 years of your life...

I have worked alongside graduates in many job roles, even before the recession. I once even worked alongside a Doctor. An actual doctor! In the same position and rate of pay as me!

For the most part, these people were completely down to earth. But, there are the minority who are so arrogantly superior that they simply can't accept their current position, which leads them to perform poorly at it. They think that the fact that they have their magic piece of paper makes them a better employee, without considering their standard of work.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who are surplus to requirements within their field, and will have to accept a position that they are overqualified for. How they approach that role shows a lot about their personality, and if they react negatively, then I'm sure you can see why they may be surplus to requirements.

Unfortunately, at the moment, the surplus continues to grow because many individuals turn to Education in an effort to improve their chances of finding work. They choose subjects that are marketed to the masses as being easily achievable, no matter how they done academically at school. This in turn means that there are a lot of graduates for a particular subject, and only so many actual jobs.

There are also people who want to break free of the benefits system, and student finance provides a platform for that- personally, I was richer as a student than a full time worker! As a result of this surge, Colleges and Universities are filled up well in advance of the academic year because there is such a huge demand.

But, at the end of the academic year, the reality is that most of these people will return to the benefit system. Even if not, they will be unlikely to be employed within their chosen vocation. After all, there can only be so many hairdressers, personal trainers or care workers at any one time!

Of course, you can always go down the route of starting your own business, but that carries all sorts of risks, and I'm simply not brave enough for that!

Obviously, there are success stories out there, and I wouldn't want to dissuade you from following your dreams, but as it stands at the moment, I am happy to have realised that for me, a Degree just isn't worth the hassle!


© 2013 Lynsey Hart

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    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      7 years ago from Lanarkshire

      I can imagine! I'm quite lucky, my parents were really supportive, but it's not like that for everyone :-( good luck! Let me know how you get on! :-)

    • Nabil Ansari profile image

      Nabil Ansari 

      7 years ago from Mumbai, India

      My academic year has already ended. I have also talked with the co-ordinator and he said that it would be better for me to take a gap. All I have to do is to convince my parents and that's it. But that is the most difficult part.

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      7 years ago from Lanarkshire

      I can totally understand your situation, I nearly dropped out while doing my HND (equivalent to 2nd year) but it felt like a massive waste of time! When does your academic year end? Have you perhaps thought of taking a break? So, finish this year, take a gap year, and return in the next academic year? It would prevent having to resit a year, and would allow you the year out to gather your thoughts? It is a difficult decision, and I wish you luck!!

    • Nabil Ansari profile image

      Nabil Ansari 

      7 years ago from Mumbai, India

      I feel the intensity of this hub. Why? Because I'm in my 2nd year and I'm thinking of dropping out, just to explore life and options I currently have. And if it didn't work out, I'll go back and complete my degree. But some superior people think that it is a huge risk and I should probably not do this.

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      My HND was full time study. It was more intense than the equivalent first and second year of degrees. This is where I made my points from. In my field, it is a very high workload, I.e 20 pages of sketchbook work, plus finished elements of a design weekly per class. It was super hard going. I think that personally, if it got tougher than that (which it would do) I would have had a mental breakdown! And all the friends in the world wouldn't help if you were in an asylum :p lollol I truly wish I could have enjoyed it.

    • DMitchwell profile image

      Daniel Mitchell 

      8 years ago from London, England

      I would just like to note that I completely agree with you regarding how Universities likely over sell your subject related job prospects. I am only pointing out that there are other considerations too

      My HNC was the same, I worked 45 hours a week and then a day studying, plus three pieces of coursework completed every five weeks. It was very tough

      My points are really only referencing full-time studies where you have the 'University Experience', and I do not mean 24 hour parties as the stigma attached to that phrase goes

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      Fair point.... For those who are lucky enough to just study for those 3 years. I worked at least 20 hrs a week alongside this, and often more... Alongside a super intense workload from my course. If I was lucky enough to be able to dedicate the time to study, perhaps the experience would have been more positive.

    • DMitchwell profile image

      Daniel Mitchell 

      8 years ago from London, England

      I will offer a little counter-argument against. By this, I mean that the University experience can not be broken simply to just the job prospects you have once you have finished, this is especially true if you receive a free education from it.

      Firstly, those that go to University will usually make so many more friends than they would have if they had not gone. This leads to not only a more satisfying* social life post-University but also more opportunities and people you can rely on.

      Secondly, relating to the job prospect question. You have a greater opportunity of moving to places such as America and Australia where a degree or a wife is pretty much a pre-requisite for a working Visa there.

      Thirdly, you can dedicate three years of your life to just the study of something you really enjoy. I currently work almost 60 hours a week and I struggle to find any time (or energy) to do anything else. That is why three years doing something you are passionate about and the only stress being that of Essay deadline is exciting for me.

      Lastly, you the opportunity to take unpaid work placements at companies you could never do stuck in a full time job. If you want to work for Vice for six months and make some contacts you can. if you're studying art and would like to work in a gallery as an Assistant Curator you can.

      All I am saying really is that I would rather have spent three years of my life putting off the harsh realities of a 'normal job' which I do not have any passion for than to still be doing the same without that experience. Plus, you never know what may pop up whilst you are there in terms of opportunities whilst studying

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      I thank you for such a detailed response to my humble little hub :) I totally agree with what you say too- if everyone had degrees, we wouldn't have a lot of service providers- then the country would go to wreck and ruin!!!

    • profile image

      Callum 

      8 years ago

      The really sad thing about getting a degree is that more often than not when you take your first graduate job they end up completely retraining you anyway.

      It would seem that all these graduate jobs are interested in is being able to prove that you can learn. They don't seem to really care about the particular skills you have learned but that you have been able to actually learn.

      My university was a joke. Lecturers would leave in the middle of a lecture to get food because they were hungry. They would cancel classes with no notice and we would be given lecturers who could not speak English (happened to me on 4 different occasions)

      On the subject of experience, the experience I gained during my placement year is the only reason I have a job. I believe totally that when I finished Uni I would be unemployed without that placement experience and in fact I am still employed by the place I had my placement in.

      Some people are destined for Uni/HNC/HNC and some people are not. Schools are failing too many people by trying to promote a one solution for everyone which is unfortunately leading to a situation where there are very well educated burger flippers working at Mcdonalds.

      The big thing to me is that universities are also guilty of not being realistic with the employment chances of people when they leave university with the sad fact that in Scotland there are very limited employment opportunity for people when they leave university.

      One thing schools should be ashamed of is the stigma they place when getting an apprenticeship and seem to promote the fact that if you don't have a degree you are a failure. Apprenticeships are very important and I would go as far as saying they are more important as they promote actual experience and real world skills and from my experience people who have had apprenticeships go on to gain employment whilst far to many with degrees simply can't.

      If the world was filled with doctors, lawyers, bankers and IT, you would have no one to keep the plumbing running, the electricity on, the gas coming out of the ground, the TV on and may of the other incredibly important jobs that people who have been apprentices do for us.

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