Going to university

It’s going to get more expensive to go to university.  

Having designed a lot of selection systems and coached quite a few people to “pass” systems other people have designed, I’ll give you the benefit of that experience in a couple of questions to consider.

The first, one I often ask employers who want me to design a “graduate recruitment system”, is – why do you want a graduate?

The answer that usually gets is “we need intelligent people”, but when I ask whether that means they think everybody who leaves school at 16 (like, say, Alan Sugar) is an idiot and everybody who goes to University (like most politicians) is a genius, they usually (if they are intelligent!) start to wonder what they do want.

Maybe they have to have somebody with a relevant qualification.  If that is the case, then obviously, a degree or a similar level professional qualification is a must.  And some people simply can’t deal with the intellectual demands of (say) a management role and those who do struggle are more common among non-graduates than graduates.  So sometimes, the certificate is important and the employer is wise to set the criteria to insist on relevance (or a certain intellectual level) of degree. 

But possibly what they need is a keen A-level student who didn’t know what they wanted to do at university so went out to work instead, rather than somebody who is the same intelligence and who didn’t  know what they want to do either, but wanted 3 years to think about it.   So they may be better off keeping a more open mind, checking that people have the intellectual ability (be it the ability to read and write, or to do calculus in their heads), and focussing more on motivation, aptitude and personality than certificates.

So, from the employers side, it is more about what is actually needed to do the job than a “degree”.

From the parent/student side, the question is, – why do you (or your offspring) want to go? 
Is it to get a qualification for the sake of it?   Is it because you are really interested in that area?  Is it because you don’t know what else to do?  Is it because you want to experience that lifestyle, get away from home, be your own person?
They can all be reasonable reasons (with the possible exception of not knowing what else to do, it’s becoming a bit of an expensive luxury for that).  But think about what you really value in life.   What do you enjoy?   If you can get a place to do something that really interests you, think you’ll enjoy the experience and want to make the most of it, why not?   If it will lead to something that you’ll enjoy doing as a career, although it will be a really tough three (or more) years, why not?
But if it is to do a job that will earn you lots of money, but that you already think is boring before you start, how much work are you realistically going to put into the degree, and how well will that get you into the job that you don’t want to do anyway?  If you are looking at a “useful” but boring degree or one that will be interesting but less practical – what do you really value? 
Thinking about what you want from university (and life) and why you want to go, rather than do all the other things that you could do, is usually a good move. 
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