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Degree in Debt

Why Post High School Qualifications Get You Nowhere

Image courtesy of Google, because I have not graduated yet 

"If you work really hard in school, you'll be able to get yourself into a good University and then that will be you set up for life..." or some variation of this classic spiel is what most teenagers hear all over the world. Tertiary education always seems to be held to such a high standard all over the world. In movies it is always depicted as a privilege of the rich kids while the working class typically go in to a blue collar job. This depiction may be slightly more accurate in places such as the United States due to college being so expensive and the government not doing much to help people to gain a college level education. In my home country, however, undergraduate degree tuition is covered by the government, so it is a lot more accessible to everyone regardless of their backgrounds. What I like about this is that it allows people to gain a place at their top choice Uni through hard work and their own intelligence rather than how many zeroes are on the pay cheque handed over by their parents. It allows anyone to have that window of opportunity opened for them. Or so we all thought. As a final year undergraduate student, I can tell you that a degree holds not a lot of opportunity any more. 

With so many more people going on to further education than ever before, the bar has been raised even higher. An undergrad isn't enough anymore, now you need a masters degree as well. If even more education is not for you (because not everyone has a spare £9,000 lying around) then you get to face 10,000 applicants per graduate job. 10,000 applicants. It is getting increasingly more difficult for brand new graduates to even get their foot in the hallways let alone the door these days. On top of working hard for your grades, maybe even having a part time job to pay rent or tuition if it isn't free in your country and general living, you also need to have at least a year's worth of experience in the field. When is anyone supposed to have the time? And let's not even mention planning for unexpected disruption within your degree. In my third year I was not taught one of my classes for over six weeks due to the lecturers going on strike because their pensions were getting cut. I am all for them getting the correct pension, but I have now not been taught crucial material that the British society of my field have stated I need to be taught in order to be accredited by them. Even though we have been told that it won't affect us, my grades suffered when it came to exam season. 

I have already been rejected from jobs and my final year only started five weeks ago. I have friends who did not go to Uni but instead opted to go straight into jobs or apprenticeship roles who are now fully qualified or in managerial roles. I believe more emphasis needs to be put on these opportunities at school, or at least as equal an emphasis as is put on further education. The stone cold truth is that a college education is not elite anymore, which is not a bad thing in the slightest before my words get taken out of context. I think this is fabulous that every one is given an equal chance. But, the top graduate opportunities that our predecessors used to see a degree getting you are so few and far between now, that the idea of a degree giving you an advantage is starting to become a little bit outdated. For specialised professions this is not the case. I still agree that Doctors should go through the rigorous training that they do, as well as Lawyers and so on. But, for less specialised roles that take on graduates under their wing, the opportunities are dwindling.

I am sure that many may read this and think I am just being a whiney, privileged student. But, for those who are in the same position, I feel that I am justified in saying what we are all really thinking. Further education is one of the world's largest businesses—we are paying them to put us in to debt. With unemployment after graduation being so high now, people are taking any job they can get purely to pay off their student debt, and it may not even have anything to do with what they studied in the first place. After all, we can't all just take out small loans of $1,000,000 from our parents.