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To ask which degrees you think are useful / useless?

(138 Posts)
fizzthecat1 Wed 18-Oct-17 17:32:21

I was just on this thread

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3062891-to-think-dd-should-pick-to-study-what-she-is-interested-in-and-not-what-she-ll-get-a-job-in

There were so many comments of "I did a degree I enjoyed but couldn't get a job, wish I'd done something more useful" etc.

I'm just curious what degree you did and whether it was the right decision, or what degree you'd have done instead. There were so many of these comments and I may retrain in the future so want to know what to avoid / what's good.

Jessikita Wed 18-Oct-17 17:34:52

I studied law and I have found it very useful.

Hard not to engage with all the internet arm chair experts or the RL ones though.

When I was at uni I always thought media, media production and sports science sounded useless.

But it is difficult. You don’t want too broad a subject like geography, but then you don’t want a too narrow one in case you change your mind about your career.

Fekko Wed 18-Oct-17 17:36:21

A 'useless' degree? I'm not sure there are useless ones. There are some unusual or very specialised ones.

Maybe some will have better employment stats but surely they should all prove that you can digest a lot of information and write a report/explain the key points. Unless you have a degree in mine.

Bobbiepin Wed 18-Oct-17 17:36:45

I did psychology and counselling. I'm now a psychology teacher. Very difficult to do something in psychology with just a degree and I'm not qualified for anything else without further study but it does the trick for my job!

Fekko Wed 18-Oct-17 17:36:51

Mime not mine. Bloody autocorrect.

disahsterdahling Wed 18-Oct-17 17:37:54

I did law and a language. I did end up falling into being a solicitor and I am not sure what career I would have ended up doing if I eg had just done the language element, especially as the only other thing I tried for was the civil service fast stream and I didn't even get beyond the initial set of tests. But you don't need a law degree to become a lawyer anyway.

I do think people should do what they are good at/enjoy though if they don't know what they want to do. Better to get a First/high second in say geography, than a third in engineering. Well maybe you can always get a decent job with a science degree regardless of class. Lets say better than a third in law.

On the other thread, I can't really see the difference between doing bioscience and zoology. I'm sure both will lead to an interesting career.

windowOnTheThird Wed 18-Oct-17 17:38:16

Gender Studies

Women's Studies

They seem nothing more than 3 year's training in how to be an arse on youtube.

alsmutko Wed 18-Oct-17 17:39:43

Not all jobs require a vocational degree. Some jobs will take a graduate, the right graduate, in any discipline. Even media studies.
Having lots of relevant extra-curricular experience is more important than the discipline you graduated in.
DD was very involved in campaigning and the Femsoc as an undergraduate, so her first job took her into campaigning professionally. If she hadn’t got that job, well she is also a trained barista!
And she got a first.

kw1091 Wed 18-Oct-17 17:40:06

I don't think any degree is useless.
You may not use your degree in your future career but the experiences that come from completing a degree are priceless. I learnt self-discipline, time management and real dedication but most importantly I learnt how to look after myself and formed some of the most amazing friendships. The experience is always worthwhile.

AccrualIntentions Wed 18-Oct-17 17:41:59

History. Mainly because I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do and it was my favourite A Level subject. It was absolutely the right decision, there were loads of career options open to me at the end of it. I've ended up in Finance but others from my degree classes are in the civil service, marketing, academia, HR, the museums/archives sector, management consultancy, running their own businesses, and loads of other things as well as the obvious "history teacher".

I think a broad subject is absolutely the way to go if you don't know what you want to do. Transferable skills sounds like a trite 00s catchphrase but it's true. I've been recruited and promoted loads of times above people who did degrees specific to the area I work in, because it's the sort of area where you have to undertake professional qualifications anyway which always supersede the undergraduate degree.

However, if you're looking to retrain then you'd presumably have an idea of the area you want to go into and can find out the best subjects and routes into that - which may not be studying at undergraduate level at all.

Wawawaa Wed 18-Oct-17 17:44:17

I did English literature and couldn't find a 'proper' job until I retrained several years later. I acquired much debt, working in silly jobs on zero hour contracts. If I was able to give the me of the past any advice, I'd tell myself to study something vocational.

HermionesRightHook Wed 18-Oct-17 17:49:24

A broad, mostly academic subject is an excellent choice if you don't have a burning dream to work in a specific profession. But you need to make sure it's an academically rigorous course from a decent uni, because what you want to learn from a broad degree isn't a long list of battles or chemical symbols, it's critical thinking skills, writing skills, communication skills - things you can adapt to any role. And if you pick a subject you like and are good at, even if you don't want to be a geographer or whatever, you'll work hard and enjoy it more.

History is great training for critical thinking and learning how to handle ambiguous information and evidence, you can't really get better, but if you want something with a bit more figures and maths straight science is the way to go. Music, geography, maths, languages - they'll all teach you "how to be a thinking intelligent person" skills as well as the specific skill of "French", "the flute", "linear regression" or whatever.

NoCryingInEngineering Wed 18-Oct-17 17:49:35

I did an engineering degree. Seems to have left me fairly employable

corythatwas Wed 18-Oct-17 18:08:35

I'm an academic and meet lots of people who have done all sorts of different degrees.

Ime there is no degree on earth that lays out a red carpet for you and allows you to waltz into a well paid job regardless of your own efforts and without a certain element of pure luck . Maybe there were once, but not any more.

Otoh even the least vocational degree can be a stepping stone to a great job if you use it to acquire thinking skills and organisational skills and plan your career and employability from the very start- and happen to be in the right place at the right time.

I know people with PhDs in biochemistry subjects struggling to get a job and others with degrees in acting or Ancient Civilisation who are doing absolutely fine.

I have recently been speaking to students in their first and second years. Some are very much on the ball and are making arrangements to see Careers Advice and arranging interviews for placements and taking on extra tasks which will look good on their CVs. Others are more drifting along. If I were a potential employer I know which ones I'd want to employ.

Tinkerbec Wed 18-Oct-17 18:16:46

I did Physics. I didn’t want to move South so was limited in the North. Ended up teaching.

RavingRoo Wed 18-Oct-17 18:21:52

A Managing Director at my last investment bank
had a 1st in Media Studies from a shit uni. He used it to talk himself into a grad scheme at Goldman Sachs by analysing the website beforehand and giving them a portfolio full of suggested improvements. I think any and all degrees can be useful if the uni focuses on employability, and you aren’t the unemployable sort.

LaGattaNera Wed 18-Oct-17 18:27:23

I did law and think it is a good degree to have even if you do not wish to be a solicitor/barrister/law lecturer. I did become a solicitor but was offered trainee accountancy roles and a couple of other trainee management positions before I got my training contract to be a solicitor. Teaches you to analyse, question, argue both sides, write accurately and with care, debate and advocacy and is a fascinating degree I found.

Polarbearflavour Wed 18-Oct-17 20:17:04

I did nursing which is great for being a nurse as there are loads of nursing jobs! I currently work in a completely different field though! Oh and my degree was free but healthcare degrees aren’t free now.

starzig Wed 18-Oct-17 20:33:08

Once you have your degree you can choose a career that uses but not necessarily 100% based on your degree. I did biochemistry but my job is more chemistry. Just need to be careful you don't stray too far from what you can get a job in. Also you can always do the more for interest as side subjects so long as you keep sensible core subjects

LaurieMarlow Wed 18-Oct-17 20:37:34

As I said on the other thread, there's no such thing as a useless degree.

All degrees can lead to a good career if you know what you want and have the focus, confidence and drive to get it.

And I suspect the 'knowing what you want' bit is what hinders many people with more general degrees.

My old boss is a great example. He has a 2.2 in media studies from a former poly. Not exactly promising. But he knew exactly what he wanted to achieve and on graduating literally knocked on doors until he talked himself into a job in his chosen field.

He's been moving up ever since and he's now on the senior leadership team in one of the best companies in the industry, on about 200K. Most of the people reporting into him have oxbridge degrees.

Now I get that many people would prefer an easier path to employment and then more vocational degree might well be a better fit for them.

Backoff85 Wed 18-Oct-17 20:37:35

I did languages and I should have done something more worthwhile - I moved abroad afterwards and learnt way more language wise than I did at university. I could have just spent those 4 years working abroad, making money, learning on the ground and reading all the books/watching all the films on the course list anyway.

If I had a kid I would tell them to only go to university for a hard skill subject nowadays considering the cost.

DrMadelineMaxwell Wed 18-Oct-17 20:40:53

I did a B.Ed and was happy to have chosen it, when many, many of my previous school mates who had done other, less specific degrees were working in shops etc and still deciding what type of other jobs they were suited for.

That said, a lot of them will probably be paid a fair bit more than me by now depending on their choices.

ConciseandNice Wed 18-Oct-17 20:41:52

I remember with one of my previous jobs I was on a company stand at a Graduate recruitment fair. One of the big ones at Earl's Court. I interviewed briefly, and took CVs of hundreds of applicants. 75% of them had marketing degrees on them and nearly 100% of those went in the bin because the people holding the CVs looked unimpressive. It was exhausting and in the end you judge on first appearance and the degree you had was a big factor.

tiredbutFINE Wed 18-Oct-17 20:43:11

I did media back when it was the in thing...I think it gets a bad rap, it has a firm basis in the theory side in Semitics and philosophy. I'm fairly sure all media students are at some point forced to write an essay from a communist/feminist/postmodernist perspective. It isn't just watching telly like people imagine. And the media is kind of powerful in modern western lives whether you like it or not.

NameChanger22 Wed 18-Oct-17 20:44:07

BA graduates earn less on average than those that leave school with just GCSEs. BSc graduates do a lot better.

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