Going to university – The time of your life or a waste of your time?

Is going to university the right path to take still? How much value do companies put on degrees when they are recruiting? I hinted to some colleagues the other day that going to university does not necessarily give you an advantage when applying for jobs.

Path to university

Divided opinions

It may not surprise you to hear that my colleagues who went to university say it did give them an advantage. They say it certainly helped them get better paid jobs. Whilst my colleagues who didn’t go to university said they didn’t feel held back for not having a degree.

If you are you a student looking to graduate in the next few years. Or you are a school leaver debating on whether to go to university or not. We really value your thoughts. Do you think the cost of going to university outweighs the benefit?

Likewise, if you are in HR or involved in recruiting. What are you looking for interviewees to demonstrate during the recruitment process? How valuable is a degree when deciding on whether to recruit someone or not?

I went to a “red brick” university and graduated with a 2:1 degree. I have an 18 month old daughter and I am hearing all the hype about university tuition fees costing up to £9,000 a year. Should I be encouraging her to go to university when she is older?

In my opinion a university degree count’s for nothing in the outside world, unless it is for a professional subject such as medicine or dentistry.

I have proof to back that up. I graduated 12 years ago, and my first job was for one of the biggest global financial institutions. At the time I thought it was my degree that made the difference. It showed that I was “bright” and could learn things quickly.

What it was like on my first day of work?

However, when I arrived for my first day of work with the other 60 new recruits (they had 60 new starters every 2 months!) I found I real mixed bag of “talent”. Some people had been to “red brick” universities, some had been to the old polytechnics. Some had first class degrees, some had 2nd class degrees and others had 3rd class degrees.

However, what surprised me the most was that some had not been to university at all. They had been working for the last 3 years gaining experience. Some of them hadn’t even been working in financial services. So, their experience was in totally unrelated fields.

You could argue that I was naive in my preconceptions, but it shows employers don’t only just look for graduates. Surely that shows, if it didn’t matter 10 years ago if you went to university, it doesn’t matter now!

Students graduating

Is university the best time of your life?

I also don’t agree with the argument that going to university is the best time of your life. I was lucky enough to take a gap year between school and university and hand on heart that was the best time of my life. (If my wife is reading this then my wedding day was the best day of my life… and every day since!)

Let’s look at the word lucky in the statement above. I used it to say that I was lucky to be able to afford to go on a gap year. In reality, I worked in various jobs as I travelled around to pay my way as much as I could. Surely it is financially better to only be a grand or two in debt before you start work than being 30 grand in debt when you graduate from university? Perhaps it was by demonstrating my work ethic whilst travelling that my first employer liked and subsequently offered me a job!

Should companies sift job applicants by degree performance?

There is an argument that companies simply say all applicants must have a degree or even a 1st class degree to act as a preliminary cut of CV’s.

However a better and fairer way (in terms of equality and diversity) is surely to create your own pre-interview questions. Then have all applicants answer those questions, and only let those that pass, send their CV on to you.

Such an approach wastes no time on interviewing the wrong candidates. It compares everyone on a level playing field, irrespective of what educational route they took before applying for the job. It also gives you a good idea of an interviewee’s strengths and weakness for you to delve further in the interview.

That is not a plug for eLamb’s pre-interview assessment tool…ok, so maybe it is. We are experts in creating online assessments to aid the interview process.

The debate around the value of going to university is very evocative and is not something that is going to go away in the near future!

Other Posts...

I am interested to know more

    I am interested in...