Degrees of Success

Degrees of Success

In these heady times of exam stresses and the ongoing pressures of our education system, it’s worth taking a step back to acknowledge that a degree is no guarantee of success.

It may surprise you to find a private tutor saying this, but I firmly believe we need to maintain perspective. It wasn’t that long ago that relatively few people went to university. Those that did had a distinct advantage when subsequently, they applied for jobs.

In a large pile of CVs, a university graduate was usually considered head and shoulders better than someone with A Levels and some workplace experience. And for the most part, it’s very much the same today.

For some time now, there has been a mission to push as many students through university as possible. This means that a greatly increased number of entrants to the job market now have degrees to show for their efforts thus far.

And so, you could be forgiven for thinking that’s good news all round. However, as we know, not all degrees are considered equal and the same can be said of the universities.

If you’re a Pixar fan, you may recall the line from Monsters Inc., where the villain is on a mission to give everyone one superpowers and says, “because if everyone’s Super, nobody is”, or words to that effect. Which is exactly where so many graduates find themselves.

Which begs the question: Is it worth fighting through the system, if the net result is that you’re considered largely the same as your competition?

Of course, there are differentiators such as which university one attended? Was it Oxbridge, or Russell Group? Did you achieve a First?

How are employers to select the best fit when they simply can’t interview everybody? Who would be the best fit for the team, or the company culture from all the applicants is likely to be passed over. It’s quite the conundrum!

An article caught my eye recently about a man that left school at 16 and went on to make an £80 million fortune without an exam pass to his name. You can see it here:

His entrepreneurial spirit and vision drove him on from nothing to great successes. Interestingly, he regards the UK education system as pointless and impractical.

My personal perspective is that the experience of going to university provides a much richer experience than simply obtaining a degree. I believe it to be more than worth the battle to both get there and the associated costs. For many, it’s the first experience of living independently and it’s a period where many lifelong friendships begin.

However, it is worth being cognisant of other routes to further education and ultimate employment. One size simply cannot fit all, and nor should it.

So, as the dust settles on this year’s exams and results are anxiously awaited, it’s worth remembering that there very few doors that close on us forever, especially at such a young age. There are always options, even if they aren’t immediately apparent.