I graduated in 2008, and since then I've looked back on going to university and can't help but wonder whether it was worth it (in terms of both time and money).
I'd be curious to know what experiences other people have had, as well as if any of the potential university goers on this forum have their own doubts about whether they should even bother.
I'm just going to write what comes to mind.
Firstly, I don't claim that there's a straightforward yes or no answer to whether university is worth it, it depends on the individual, the university, and what a person hopes to get out of it.
These days, it seems like schools and colleges make it out as if university is vital, and certainly something everyone should at least try to get into - but rarely is there any exploration of the tangible benefits, it's just taken for granted that it's important and you are prepared for it regardless of whether it'd really benefit you and your life.
There are really two supposed benefits, the qualifications/knowledge/skills you get, and the more general social/life experience of leaving home etc.
I'd actually break apart qualifications from knowledge/skills, as in my opinion qualifications are bordering on meaningless. I see them as a measurement of how well you prepare for exams rather than of knowledge or ability. They're still a benefit of course, since certain jobs will require certain qualifications, but I personally don't believe they say much about your abilities.
Now, when I think of the total cost of university, in terms of the 3 or 4 years I could've been working, and in terms of the hefty price tag (even after taking loans and grants into account), university doesn't seem worth it; the costs outweigh the benefits.
One counter-argument is that people who graduate from university do get better starting salaries than those who don't. Sure, however I think there are problems with this argument. Firstly, it says nothing about the salaries those people would've gotten after working for 3 years (after that amount of time their talents should really have spoken for themselves), and secondly it says nothing about how many graduates manage to maintain or increase their salary, or even keep their job. Following from my view of qualifications as not being representative of actual ability, I wouldn't be surprised if many graduates fail to do so after being exposed to 'the real world' where you have to perform well more persistently than in education (exceptions exist of course). Furthermore, it doesn't take into account the fact that those who attend university (and graduate) are going to on average be at least marginally more skilled than those who don't, but I'd argue that those people have the potential to be equally skilled without going through university.
Moving on to the actual knowledge/skills gained, from what I've experienced there are MANY university courses that are a joke, and teach you very, very little. In many cases, particularly in more practical or vocational subjects, it is possible (and often better) to learn through experience, research, reading etc., and a formal, lecture/classroom style education is simply not as effective.
This is certainly the case for me. I am a programmer/web-developer, and most of my knowledge and skills have come from working in my own time on my own projects, and reading books. Since graduating I have been running my own business so the qualifications issue isn't even applicable. Honestly I'm not sure if I learned anything at university that I wouldn't have been able to learn myself, and I was certainly taught a lot of useless junk besides.
So all that's left is the social/life-experience issue. Certainly, leaving home and meeting new people is a good thing, but you don't need university for that.
In general I think that the whole education system is becoming out-dated, not just university, and that people need to be better taught how to think, rather than taught lists of facts to memorise for exams. Maybe that's better saved for a different thread though.
Last edited by Darkademic; 2 weeks ago
I don't think you should belittle the non-academic side so much. People develop so much from the experience - that in itself is worth it alone. It isn't really just about getting drunk. Its about developing a set of skills that allows you to function better in society. Its about creating a lot of good memories and friends too!
When you look at the academic side, I think that some of the choices people make are poor, yes. They do courses which won't help their careers or broaden their knowledge and skills, but there certainly are a lot of courses that will. I think SOME university is not worth it, in this respect; but a lot are.
Depends on the degree.
If you're going to do a degree at Staffordshire in Marketing, you're probably better off going straight into the working world and building experience, since experience > degree in marketing/business. (MASSIVE GENERALISATION)
On the other hand, degree in mathematics from Cambridge >> work experience.
I am awefully sorry, but web development just isn't a very complicated job. Sure, it requires effort, but you're not a top of the line programmer just because you made this PHP CMS one day.
You're right though. It depends on your profession. I'm studying engineering and mathematics, and I would have gotten nowhere without university, and I would probably have gotten some lousy programming job if i weren't studying right now.
It really depends on the degree subject and the field of work entered.
I'm paying back £15 a month, so It's certainly not costing me much.
That said, a lot of the time it isn't worth it (expecially since alot of people do the wrong subjects, for example I would have chosen engineering If I could go back, my gf would have done social work)
I also learned to program during my spare time. This was spare time I had because I went to uni tho! Also I was just damn jammy getting my current job in software development (someone who had actualy done a computer science degree would probably be better placed!)
*Subbed* Wanna know as well about other peoples' opinions on this
I think all threads on this post pose a plausible argument but in essence some people aren't ready to find a job before uni.
Most of the time on university campus' they teach you skills that spruce up your CV and teach you to know what to say at interviews in amongst learning vital skills that sometimes are highly relevant to the career you want to persue.
with this said some people may come out of uni even more worse off than when they went in as they have spent the time partying and paying for their time with relatives money (so haven't learnt nothing about handling money). But overall if i wasnt going to uni id have to stay home because I wouldnt be getting enough money to move out but with student loans and grants i have that opportunity. Also people say you meet the best friends of your life in uni. Yes people may waste there degrees and not get a relevant job but 3 years is a long time to be preoccupied as opposed to looking for a job constantly.
In truth i'm becoming unsure of whether I want to continue on to university now. I'm feeling burned out and I know the degree I chose was just for personal interest rather than application so I can still learn history without a degree.
However i'm also wary about taking a gap year because I have so much pressure to go now to save money even though I could go even with raised fees. I'm also under pressure because I don't know how to tell someone that I have chosen not to go to university when i'm predicted AAA and I gained AAB for AS level. It feels like i'm wasting my time.
I also worry about getting into apprenticeships or anything like that and I would like to travel alone. At the moment i'm fighting over happiness or a future which isn't guaranteed. If the degree goes wrong and I lose it I then have to face large amounts of debt even if I go before the tuition fees rises.
Seems more about testing than actual learning.