Do Degrees Matter on their Own?

3472576304_5457d43eb3_bI have a confession to make. I don’t care one jot for my degree. I do not want to incite any tension upon you, I’ll explain in the most rational way why we’re all wasting our time and money at university.
Imagine the journey: you’re a high school student and in Year 8/9 you are forced to think about your GCSE options. All relevant research is undertaken, you settle for your chosen subjects and move on. You’re then forced to select very few subjects at A level, which you adamantly confirm to your protesting parents are your dream subjects and will help you get the degree you’ve always wanted.
Not chosen a degree yet? No problem. You choose the worst combination of A levels possible. Or the best – depending on what The Times or The Guardian tells you.You then start your degree, and bluntly, it’s awfully dull and monotonous. Let’s be honest. Whilst you may think that your coveted degree of choice will broaden your creativity, employability and set in stone that average 30k a year, that dream may fail if you follow this false designated path.
Whilst a degree is an opportunity to develop some useful skills, namely how to turn somebody else’s essay into your own and get away with it –  you can help yourself by developing other, much more valuable skills at the same time, that are applicable to the outside world and can help you get a job in no time.
So, let’s settle a few things. Firstly, your degree isn’t teaching you enough of what you actually want – for 9k per annum. Don’t kid me, and most certainly try to not to kid yourself. Most of you have said your degree wasn’t actually what you thought you’d applied for, right?
You chose it for the job prospects, prestige or because, like me, you were an Oxbridge reject. And now it sucks and you have to stick with it. For nine grand a year plus the normal living expenses. Secondly, you’re not actually learning applicable skills from your degree of choice.
In all honesty, our education system doesn’t set us up to analyse what our educational subjects are doing for us, as individuals. We think of the list of facts we need to learn, and the deadlines (with constant reminders to yourself that this pain is for a wealthier, more stable future) – and that’s pretty much it.
How many times have you told somebody that a degree is a vital part of life because ‘every decent job expects one now’. Have you noticed how, even as you say that, you value your degree for its material worth rather than your experience and what it brings to you now? You have become a consumer without knowing it, with profoundly asymmetric information disadvantaging you.
Lastly, the third point is simple: you’re not meeting enough people. This one is simply the most important thing you can do at university. You need to mix with people you wouldn’t generally socialise with back home. You may meet a future Prime Minister just by joining a random society and you don’t know it (in fact, this isn’t Oxford so scrap that).
What’s more is you’ll never know if your interests and passions are actually stronger in a completely different area altogether. You may think you would love dissecting the brain for a living – but actually get a buzz out of writing feature length stories instead. You may think that writing reports is below a surgeon, but that’s probably what you’ve been brought up to think anyway. It doesn’t matter – what does matter is whether it is your passion or not.
The reality is, the modern-day degree doesn’t provide you with enough – it inevitably stifles valuable social and leadership skills that are so important when facing the world as a graduate. We are forced to spend hours locked away as a social recluse, learning about barely relevant concepts for the wider world. Frankly, who cares? Whilst I avidly implore you to commit 90 per cent to your degree and perhaps the extra reading, don’t forget the plethora of extra-curricular activities you could be utilising at this university.
As the inevitable YUSU elections rears its ugly head – think about whether it would be a good time to broaden your experience, and more importantly, whether you’re doing enough for yourself or for others.