Is it worth the trouble to get a university degree? Is that a fair question? If not a degree, then what is the alternative? After all, the ‘new normal’ post the COVID era will be anything but normal.
There you have it. Here in South Africa there’re lots of movements, at least one for every issue that we can think of. Indeed, there is even a movement that represents unemployed graduates – The Unemployment Graduate Movement (UGM). That’s scary, because I thought that once you have your bachelor degree, you can walk in almost every job.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the correlation between a bachelor degree and guaranteed employment. Statistics South Africa’s results for the first quarter of 2019 showed an unemployment rate of 31% among graduates up to the age of 24 (Mail and Guardian).
So, one in three freshly graduates are jobless in South Africa. That’s sad, because our government is paying for almost all the students’ tuition. And now they are shy to employ them.
Indeed, UGM President, Nkululeko Ndlovu, accused government of having no will to help graduates and it was up to the unemployed to stand up for themselves (IOL). Therefore, the UGM did what every movement of worth does when things are not going their way. They demonstrate…
Is it still worth the trouble to get a University Degree?
Earning a university degree is not necessarily an easy endeavor. Especially here in South Africa. In fact, most of the undergraduates makes lots of sacrifices:
Dr Anesu Sam Ruswa 1 did a study to examine students’ conceptualisation of poverty at the University of the Free State. He found that students face a plethora of deprivations which were broadly categorised as follows:
- Basic needs which are most vital for student functioning or survival;
- Essential resources for learning and living as a student;
- The living conditions and living arrangements of students;
- Freedom of participation; and
- Aspects of psychological and psychological wellbeing.
The study indicated that 19% of all students were multidimensionally poor. This may be the case at most universities in South Africa.
So, big eyed first year students, mostly from disadvantaged communities join the university to get a bachelor degree. They do it not only to improve their own lives, but many times also the lives of their extended family…
But, is the degree worth all the effort and emotions if you can’t do anything with it?
The pros and cons of obtaining a university degree
Liz Seda, writing in LifeHack, mentioned five reason why it is – or not worth the trouble to get a university degree:
The cons of obtaining a degree
Your new bachelor’s degree is becoming increasingly worthless as more and more people graduate from universities. Even more, jobs that used to need only a bachelor’s degree now prefer master’s degrees.
The Illusion of Safety
Not all university degrees are equal. Even in the USA, bachelor degree graduates have an unemployment rate of 8.9%. Sadly, the US rate is not bad when you compare it to 31% unemployment rate graduates in South Africa.
Drowning in Debt
The ‘missing middle’ – that is students that do not qualify for government assistance, may end up with hundreds of thousands of Rand study loans to pay back. It’s a hell of a disaster if the students can’t find employment soon after graduation…
The Source of Creativity
Having a university degree is no guarantee to be the next Steve Jobs. However, the stuff that you learn there will give you the foundation to be the next Jobs. Now it is in your hands…
Your Professors Aren’t Concerned About Your Education
Many professors are far more interested in tenure and their research than they are about making sure you get the best education they can possibly give you. One study has shown that 45% of students are no better at critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing after their sophomore year than they were when they began.
The pros of obtaining a degree
You’ll Be Better Off With One Than Without One
If you do need to get a job, having a degree can only help you—not only will you have more options to choose from, but you’ll also get paid more.
Learn how to Think
College is about more than book-learning: it also teaches you how to think. It’s about learning how to become a leader and how to make impossible deadlines work on 3 hours of sleep. Also, it’s an opportunity to learn how to initiate change, negotiate and experiment in life without any dire consequences.
Going to university is a once-in-a lifetime experience. In fact, you fundamentally change as a person during the course of your study years.
It’s not until after university that you realize how mentally stimulated you were every single day.
It’s a Jol
You have your entire life in which to work: even if you end up being self-employed, work is never going to be as carefree as university was.
At the pace that technology and innovation is moving forward, it is hard to believe that a three years bachelor degree will still be relevant. However, to master the science of business, you’ll definitely need to know the principles of it.
I see the feature of learning, as it already is with business, as been done in the online channel. Also, you need to learn something that is in demand, that can make a difference in someone else’s life, and that they are willing to pay for…
Think about what you can do with and in the 4th industrial revolution.
1 Ruswa, A.S. 2018. Multi-dimensional student poverty at a South African university: a capabilities approach, (Doctoral dissertation, University of the Free State).