The Value of Your Degree

There have been multiple articles in the news of late, with the basic premise that the job/education market is changing. There has been an evolution from the idea that every student should have the OPPORTUNITY to go to university, across to the idea that every student NEEDS to go to university.

To some, education has then become an arms race. The trades have been devalued (regardless of truly important role they play in society). And undergraduate degrees have become similarly devalued, becoming a pre-requisite for many jobs rather than an advantage.

There are those who would argue that the very nature of degrees have changed. They say that in the old days, the purpose of a degree was to hone THINKINg skills, and now they are just an extension of the rote learning and memory that characterises the school years: Knowledge without Understanding.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with that position, but I do agree that an undergraduate degree is not the automatic ticket to success that it once was. And I worry that many students are spending years and fortunes in education for degrees that they may never use.

I also worry that, in a country with such a strong ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, and with such an evident bias against PhDs in commerce & industry (as opposed to academia) that simply doesn’t exist in countries like the USA, then our local students are slowly being squeezed betwen “too little” and “too much” education.

The solution: If you are doing a degree, make the most of it. Use the time at university to make yourself the most well-rounded future job candidate that you can be. More than just concentrating on your academic results, take time for preparing yourself for the workforce:

* Build your networks – through your univeristy and professional societies
* Build your experience
* Take part in your univeristy’s full range of activities. More than academeia, get involved.
* Learn how the job market works. As example, the RACI’s “Understanding the Job Market” video series is freely available here,

Here’s a recent new article about the problem. What are your thoughts?