In the classic board game, Game of Life, where players simulate real life from graduating from high school to retirement, the start of the game begins each time with the choice between getting a job and going to university. From then on, to “win” depends on both the choices you make as you go along along with the chance spin of a wheel.
Each country is different, but college and university is becoming more and more expensive in most places around the world, whilst at the same time more specific skills seem to be required for quality jobs. This leads to the question, which generations have argued over - is university worth it?
The bad news there is no scientific way to work this out for an individual, no handy calculator to figure out whether spending possibly tens of thousands of dollars will reap you rewards later in life or not. Obviously if you want to be a doctor or lawyer then a degree is mandatory. But here are a few things to ponder, if you are deciding what to do with your life.
Arguments for going to university
There is still a lot of data that shows that over a lifetime a graduate will earn more money in the career than someone who does not have a degree
The university doesn’t just teach you the subject you are studying, but will provide you with priceless life skills: the experience of meeting and networking with people outside of your immediate environment, with different experiences and opinions from you, independence and the joy of mastering a subject are just some.
You will have more life choices if you are not sure what kind of job or career you want: many jobs require a degree so you will have access to those as well as jobs which do not require one
Arguments for skipping higher education and going straight for a job
You don’t like formal academic study and don’t do well with it
You are pressured into going to university by family or friends but don’t want to
You know what you want to do and you don’t need a degree for it.
You will earn straight away and avoid large debts.
You will still meet new people, network and gain independence, perhaps more of it, by entering the workplace straight away
An apprenticeship can be an opportunity to learn a skill on the job, thus learning and earning at the same time
Even if you don’t go for a degree it is likely that to succeed in your chosen path you will need to train and gain expertise in your field. Being able to work with other people, able to adapt and other soft skills are perhaps just as important as any academic skill in determining success in a career.
If making a lot of money is your driver then the top earning professions needing a degree are doctor, lawyer and financier. On the other hand, however having your own business and entrepreneurship, needing no degree can make you rich, or richer than these - just look at famous dropouts Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
So the decision you make, just like in Game of Life, is not going to define your entire life. Time to spin that wheel….