The Real Value of Higher Education for Job Seekers

by A Guest Author

In the age of information, we are now able to educate ourselves online, on our own terms, at our own pace, and at a price anyone can afford: free. With this in mind, students are beginning to question the real value of a university degree. Given the rising cost of tuition in addition to the unfathomable expense of living in a city like Sydney, some are choosing the road less traveled - and it doesn’t include university.

Consider the prospect of investing fours years at a job where there is room for growth, for an employer who is willing to foster the development of its most promising employees, versus the prospect of four years studying at an institution which will leave you will tens (even hundreds, in some cases) of thousands in debt. Will your employment prospects at the end of those four years necessarily be any better?

Students should think of themselves as consumers and choose their field of study accordingly. A medical doctorate provides a clear path to a well-respected and well-paid profession. Such programs are designed to guide students throughout their careers, fostering a smooth transition from student to professional. For this privilege Australian students will pay as much as $220,000 (the cost of the University of Melbournes recently remodeled program). On the other hand, a degree in, say, Philosophy, is the metaphorical equivalent of a finely beaded Prada handbag; it may give you a lot of personal satisfaction, but it won’t get you far on a resumé. Young students must consider what sort of return they can expect on their investment and choose their major accordingly.

So what is becoming of all those graduates holding the sorts of degrees about which they are queried a hundred times a day, “what are you going to do with that?” Are those with degrees in literature, history and women’s studies faring any better that those with four years of added on-the-job experience and zero debt? Most people would argue for the former and here’s why.

University gives us access to a network of professionals that would be exponentially more difficult to tap into outside the system. It also provides access to internships offered exclusively to students in specific programs. Undoubtedly, given two candidates with equal experience, one of which holds some sort of recognized tertiary education, you can guess who’s getting the job. Though we all harbor ideas about living outside the system, if you want to work inside it, it helps to have qualifications from a globally recognized brand: the university system. Non-traditionally educated employees have to work a lot harder to convince employers of their skills and knowledge, backing it up with loads of on-the-job experience.

The personal development of university students should not be ignored either. According to Professor StevenSchwartz of Macquarie University, “Whatever profession students choose

to pursue, they will benefit not only as professionals but also as human beings from

being exposed to the greatest works of fiction, history, biography, philosophy and

science.” Students get four years to think about what sort of people they want to become and that’s an opportunity that’s hard to refuse.

Without question, there is a world outside the security of the system. You don’t have to look far to find examples of extraordinarily successful businessmen without degrees: Frank Lloyd Wright, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Rush Limbaugh. Successful businesswomen, on the other hand...not so much, although surely the 21st century will rectify that. This path is not for the faint of heart. Entrepreneurial spirit is essential for survival outside the great big gates of the status quo.

The real value of higher education then, is for you to decide.

About the Author

Amy Knapp is a business blogger based in Sydney, AUS, writing regularly for InsideTrak. Educated in Law and the Fine Arts, her work champions the marriage of the creative and the corporate. Follow her on Twitter@JoyofWords.

This post was written by A Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author. If you have high quality, useful information to share with students, send us an email or click Write For Us to learn more. And in case you're wondering - yes, you can promote yourself in this fancy author byline.

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