Why Go To College If You Have No Intentions Of Using Your Degree?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MainerMikeBrown, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Coming to this a lot late but just looking at the OP's post, things in the UK are a little different. Secondary (11 to 15/16) school ends and then you have a choice of get a job or go to college to better your school exams/take courses in things that are not on the ordinary curriculum which will help you then get into university (if that's your chosen path) to get the degree/phd/doc/whatever.

    For the most part, college is paid for by the government although there are courses that you might have to pay for - or at least pay for the examination and if you are an adult learner (full or part time) at college then you have to pay for the course. University is where the big money is spent.

    Now, I do agree that there are a lot of students out there who have no idea what they what to do as a career, who does know at 16 what they want to aim for in life? Then there are life events that come up that can totally derail your best laid plans.

    Then there are the inevitable people who see college and university as a few years of dossing around in student bars and generally having a great time at someone else's expense before you just scrape through with the minimum grade and get handed a job at your father's company - or the company of your father's friend etc etc.

    You are right in saying that most employers who ask for degree education don't always want you to have a degree in a specific field. At the end of the day, if you have a degree in anything, then you have proven that you can take on the job of learning a subject from scratch over a long time span to the point of storing and retrieving the important information and applying that information under exam conditions. You've proved you can work!

    Obviously, there are jobs where the degree matters. Apply for a job in the ME's office with a degree in Drama and the guy who applied with a degree in Forensics is more likely to get the job ...

    But, are there jobs where degrees matter??

    I was told by my oh-so-loving parents (said with sarcasm) that I was "too thick for university" and to "get a job and pay my way."

    I only just scraped through my GCSE's (they took over from O levels in 1989). I went on a training course to do photography which included one day a week at college and managed to get a Merit in the exam - the highest mark in the group. And that's where the fairytale ended. I moved out of my parent's house at 18 and joined the real world of jobs and struggling. An extremely bad relationship sent me back to my parent's for three months and then I was off again and have not looked back.

    I've done all sorts of jobs (working as a hospital porter was fab). Most have been in administration and it always angered me that while I could do the job better than anyone with a degree, there were always plenty of applicants with degrees who wanted my job - but wanted an extra ten grand a year wages simply because they had a degree.

    So what does that all mean for my writing career?? Well, I'm a published author with no degree. Big deal :)

    If someone doesn't want to read my books just because I don't have a degree, then that's their loss!

    I am an intelligent woman with over twenty years of work and life experience under my belt and I continue to learn - everyday. There are things that have happened in my life that are way, way more stranger than any fiction I come up with so I'm going to carry on doing what I love. There was a time when I did question myself, "who's going to take me seriously as an author, I have no degree!" but I don't ask that anymore because I already have my answer. Everyone who reads my work and connects with me through social media, the people messaging me to say "when's the next book out?" They are the one's who take me seriously as an author.

    OK, I think I've gone on enough now! One last thing, I know I said it doesn't make a difference to me but if I ever did get the chance to do a degree in something, I would!
     
  2. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    A book that I hated (plotholes the size of the Andromeda Nebula) was written by a graduate in Creative Writing. As you say, a degree proves that you can learn stuff. Doesn't mean that you can do anything with it.
     
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  3. Glasswindows

    Glasswindows Member

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    They really are debating these days if it's dangerous - or rather stating the danger - for the average age of moving on to the "working life" getting so high. People used to just go to school if they could, and then to work. And they had the workers and the doctors and the high fancy stuff. Now everyone needs to be perfect and go years and years of school till they even CAN get a job they want. Note, all those companies saying they won't take people who haven't got one, are saying so just to lift the level of intelligence and sophistication they think they're hiring.

    Though I find this topic as it was started naive, there's a good point there, in studying and in what people tend to think it means. Taken for instance, how much do they actually learn. People do learn while living. Someone says I learned and grew up so much in there, but he would have learned all the same anywhere else. Different things but who's to say which is more valuable.
     
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  4. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That's the thing, employing someone with a degree doesn't mean you are getting someone with more intelligence and sophistication than someone without a degree.

    A girl I knew, went to university and got a business degree. Yes, she was highly intelligent but she ended up with a placement in a company where she was hoping to take on the manager's position. No chance. From a business point of view, she could tell you anything and everything about maximising sales, shifting stock and making the business more economical and profitable but she couldn't do the job and left after six month. The reasons she couldn't do the job?
    1. She couldn't deal with any situation that wasn't "textbook" because she'd never learned how to deal with out of the ordinary situations that pop up within the workplace.
    2. She couldn't accept that certain things didn't work the way she wanted them to work because of how the company was influenced by outside sources such as suppliers and customers.
    3. She knew nothing about the product the business was selling and was unwilling to spend the time learning.
    4. She believed she was 'entitled' to the manager's position because of her degree.
    5. She never had the respect and backing of the other staff because she was in her early twenties and was expecting to climb over people in their forties who had worked for the company for more than twenty years simply because she had a degree.
     
  5. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    To all the people hating on college, let me say something. Like I said before, most employers don't care about the actual subject(s) you studied in college. It's about what skills you bring to the job. On top of that, college gives you the opportunity to do internships, research, and/or summer jobs. It's a good way to gain some experience. It's also a good way to network. After all, getting a job is more about who you know rather than what you know. Colleges also offer services like career fairs and resume workshops. And of course, taking all those classes makes you a better thinker and a more informed citizen (assuming you put in the work).

    There's a big difference between your average high school graduate and your average college graduate. High school classes just don't have the same amount of rigor, and it's a lot easier to bullshit your way through high school than college. So I completely understand why more and more employers are choosing to make a college degree a requirement.
     
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  6. Fitzroy Zeph

    Fitzroy Zeph Contributor Contributor

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    As a general statement -- perhaps; but within the area of study -- not likely. This may be fine for people selling cars, or sitting at a reception desk, but I doubt holds any truth for a job that requires skill.
     
  7. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I'm not hating on college, I'm just observing that some people see it for what it isn't and expect that a degree will automatically open doors for them and lets face it, people with degrees (or recognised qualifications) will (more often than not) be looked upon as better or more worthy of your time than those who don't have any.

    Had I had the chance to progress through college and onto university then I would have, it just was not an option that was ever going to be in front of me. Maybe I would think differently if I'd had a uni education.

    That's what makes this interesting - we are not all the same, we don't all have the same chances and opportunities as everyone else but what we do all have, is the ability to make the best of whatever we are handed in life. Whether we make the best or not, is another story entirely!
     
  8. Fitzroy Zeph

    Fitzroy Zeph Contributor Contributor

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    I know everyone's life has its challenges and it is way easier to go to college or university for some than others, but, living in England, I have to believe if getting a post secondary education is important to you, then you can.
     
  9. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    No good having the skills if you can't do the job.

    Every time I visit a hospital, dentist, doctor's surgery I am putting my trust in people who have spent a huge chunk of their lives in colleges and universities honing their skills to an acceptable level because they have our lives in our hands but I wonder how many don't actually stay in the medical profession longer than five years because they have little or no people skills.

    I do think colleges and universities should be open to anyone who wants to lean and has the ability to learn but I don't think having a degree should make you any more of a better person that the person who delivers you mail, serves you in a restaurant, pumps your gas, feeds your school children, repairs your shoes, builds your houses and keeps your local 7/11 store fully stocked with your favourite snack.
     
  10. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't know if this would surprise anyone coming from me, but if one of my students asked me if they should go to university I'll tell them the truth: 'I don't know'.

    It's a big gamble, and the opportunities that a degree opens are often hard to spot, and don't really come straight away. And, let's face it, just having a degree does not mean you have a great amount of knowledge. Since starting this MA I've been shocked at how much I didn't actually know about my own subject.

    I'm not saying that a degree is not a fantastic achievement you should be very proud of, because it most certainly is, but more knowledge comes from experience, and more certainty of what you know comes from experience than just knowing about a subject.

    It's a question that hasn't a good answer.
     
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  11. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    You can, it's there waiting for you if you have the time to attend and the money to pay for the course.
     
  12. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    But no one's saying university education is the only quality employers should be looking for, are they? I agree, people skills are important, as are lots of other things.

    And non one's saying having a degree makes you a better person, are they? I mean, for a given meaning of "better", Person A with a formal education may be better than Person A without an education, but that's only for a given meaning of "better", it's only a "may be", and it doesn't say anything at all about Person A compared to Persons B-Z.
     
  13. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    @cutecat22

    That's a little ungrateful. Doctors give up basically ten years of their lives so they can perform a service that is objectively good(I belive in free healthcare but as far as I know that's nothing to do with the doctor). Expecting awesome people skills fromnthen is a little demanding, especially when lots of non doctors have just as bad people skills.
     
  14. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I have come across scenarios where I have been penalised for not having a degree even though I have the necessary and required skillset to do a job. If I were to change my current path and apply for a full time job, odds are I wouldn't even get past the application stage once I'd read the words "degree required" on the advertisement.

    I seem to be at a funny age. The generation before me were all old school O level takers who them moved onto A levels, I was in the generation who took the first GCSE's - the test subjects - no one knew what they were doing (and I'm talking about the exam boards as well as the students and employers) and so what we thought were great marks were actually crap. GCSE's were going to completely get rid of O and A levels and give a clear indication of your education. They were the way forward unless you needed a degree to start teacher training or wanted to enter the medical profession. At the time, lots of us were pushed into admin or IT as according to the word, computers were the future (hence the shortage of builders and labourers and the sudden influx of computer workers and office staff).

    Then, came the realisation that GCSE's were perhaps, not all they were cracked up to be. The government are still changing things now, a whole generation later as my MD starts her mock exams, we are seeing changes. Now you HAVE to stay in school until you are 18 either in the sixth form, if you need to resit exams or via a college for other subjects. The only way out, is if you have a job.

    And then what happens after that? we are back to pushing our kids through the school system with a view to getting into university because all jobs call for a degree of some sort. To me, the degree is not as awe inspiring and important as it used to be, especially considering some of the absurd degree courses that are on offer.

    How about an MA in the Beatles? or a Degree in Cannabis, Auctioneering or Comedy?

    I'm starting to get quite bitter now so I'll just shut up!
     
  15. kfmiller

    kfmiller Active Member

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    I have a B.A. in History. I got it because I love history. Unfortunately, there is not a lot to do with that degree at the undergrad level. I planned on going on to graduate school, but life and kids got the better of me, time slipped away, and now I'm 30 years old and the thought of pulling on my big-girl britches and getting it done sounds much more daunting. I was never able to find a job in my field, and NO teaching is not an option just because you have a history degree- you need a teaching degree (get that one A LOT), mainly because I lacked any real work experience. I had my first kids when I was 20 and still in college, so my time was focused on finishing my degree and also being a stay-at-home mom. In my job searches, it has become blatantly clear to me that while a degree is certainly important, sometimes valuable work experience trumps education.

    Contrast this with my husband. He is an aero-astro engineer and got his degree in that from a top 10 engineering college. He has been employed ever since graduating college and has moved up the career trajectory in a great company. He would not be able to do his job without his degree.

    Is college worth it? Absolutely- and for some careers there is no two ways around it. Are there other things that go into being gainfully employed other than a college degree? Yes.

    Also- to the person who said that history is just memorization. I'm going to stop you right there and assume you have never taken anything higher than high school/low-level undergrad history classes. No, history is not just "memorization." That is why our knowledge and interpretation of history is always changing.
     
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  16. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I know they give up a lot - that's their choice but when you are dealing with the general public - especially in a highly stressed job where you are dealing with highly stressed members of the public - you need people skills.

    I've worked in hospitals, I've seen the doctors who succeed and they are the ones with the people skills.
     
  17. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I...if people are stupid enough to do an MA in The Beatles they deserve to not get a job.
     
  18. Chinspinner

    Chinspinner Contributor Contributor

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    I think this is the same in most jobs. You can be technically brilliant, but if you don't get on with; your boss, your clients, your customers, then you won't be going anywhere fast.

    It is a sad truism that it is who you know, rather than what you know that counts.

    As for me, I drank my way through uni- got enough to get by- got a job and no-one gave a shit about my degree anymore.
     
  19. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    they should have chose Pink Floyd or the Stones
     
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  20. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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  21. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Exactly!
     
  22. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Universities are businesses, not 'schools'. People often forget this. If people want to do degrees in sniffing farts, some universities will offer it eventually. You need to be aware of how marketable your degree is before you start it.
     
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  23. Chinspinner

    Chinspinner Contributor Contributor

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    Glad I'm not the only one that puts the Beetles quite a way down the list of the greats.
     
  24. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Or, Music of the 80's ...
     
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  25. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Depending on the job you are going for, the subject of the degree doesn't necessarily matter.
     

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