The BIG debate – University: Is it worth it?
Is a university degree necessary for success in later life? Are the costs of university now outweighing the benefits? Has having or not having a degree made any difference to your life?
We share the views of 2 young people in Zambia and then ask YOU to share your views and experiences.
The YES argument
I think that a university degree will definitely make a difference in my life. In Zambia, those without a degree have little chance of getting an interview because nearly all job adverts seem to want applications from those who have degrees only. It is clear to me that university graduates have more options in Zambia than non-graduates.
A university degree also proves that you have a certain knowledge of a subject. In an increasingly complex and technology driven world this can only benefit you when looking to find employment.
What I would like to see though is more opportunities for graduates in Zambia. At the moment it feels like there are lots of us chasing just a few jobs. Furthermore, in addition to a degree most job adverts ask for several years work experience. What I would like to know is how can we gain experience given that we have been studying?
The NO argument
I finished school with good grades but decided not to go to university. Instead, I went to work in our small family business supplying goods and services to the mining sector. It is not a decision I regret – 5 years later I have found that I earn more and have more skills and experience than my friends who went to university. As a result I have no debt and am able to financially support my wife and child.
The salary was very, very low to start but as I have built up my experience and skills I have been able to prove my worth to the business. When you are young you do not need to earn as much as when you are older so the low starting salary was not that big a deal.
During the last 5 years I think I have learned more about business than I would have in 3 years at university. After all there is no course that teaches you the skills required to run a small family business! That said, I have done several courses that have helped me with some of the technical skills I was lacking. These included courses in book keeping and marketing. Sometimes I do regret not having a degree as I wonder what will happen to me if the business fails. Will employers see my lack of a degree as a problem?
I think that some of my friends were a bit immature to go to university and they might have benefited from taking a lower-paid job and studying part-time too. Alternatively, they could have put off going to university until they were more mature and better able to fund their studies.
So, what do you think? Having read the experiences of the individuals above do you think that a university degree is necessary for success in later life? Are the costs of university now outweighing the benefits? Has having or not having a degree made any difference to your life?
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