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Do you think that doing a degree, should be for the aim of working in that related area? Or could just be for the fun an enjoyment of it ?

(56 Posts)
Lardlizard Wed 06-Mar-19 15:02:34

Say like dancing or wildlife conservation or something arty

Backwoodsgirl Wed 06-Mar-19 15:17:30

You should be free to do as you wish. Degrees are expensive, if you have the money and time to study something that you won't use great.

Gomyownway Wed 06-Mar-19 15:21:13

Degrees were never invented as a tool for progression. They were about gaining knowledge and learning. I think it’s a shame that we have moved so far away from that in today’s world.

outpinked Wed 06-Mar-19 15:22:39

Degrees are expensive now so I would personally only encourage people to do something that will lead to a career they’d enjoy. Years ago when they were free or fairly cheap I would have advised most people to go to uni purely for the experience but it’s too hefty a debt now.

hazell42 Wed 06-Mar-19 15:30:38

I'm doing a masters degree 'for fun'. And I already have my sights set on a PhD when I finish the MA in a couple of months. Also for fun.
Also, some people have fun in their jobs. Would you allow that?

User10fuckingmillion Wed 06-Mar-19 15:34:06

It’s not really a debt though is it? It’s a tax. Calling it a debt puts people who would benefit from a degree or just the experience of university off.

SignOnTheWindow Wed 06-Mar-19 15:36:24

I think you go down a dangerously narrow road when you start insisting that education has to be 'relevant' to your job.

Loopytiles Wed 06-Mar-19 15:38:13

Depends on your personal situation, priorities and aspirations!

TrendyNorthLondonTeen Wed 06-Mar-19 15:38:33

And why can't these things lead to jobs?

MoniqueTonique Wed 06-Mar-19 15:41:05

What outpinked said. And whether its a tax or a debt makes no difference when you are starting your career owing thousands.

Gingerkittykat Wed 06-Mar-19 15:43:26

DD's friend has just finished an acting degree, and is now working 0 hours at minimum wage in a cinema. The chances of her getting any paid work that will see her able to support herself are almost zero (she had a day as an extra on a BBC programme as her only paid work)

She loved every moment of the degree, it's benefited her in so many ways. You've got a working life of 50 years+ so why not dream while you are young and have some fun.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Wed 06-Mar-19 15:52:43

@lardlizard - it is very sad indeed that you can’t see the value in studying art or dancing or wildlife conservation. The first two help make the world a more beautiful,place and enrich the human spirit, and the third is vital for the preservation of our planet.

It would also be very sad if young people were driven, by the cost of university degrees, to choosing only degrees that lead straight to a career.

UbbesPonytail Wed 06-Mar-19 15:53:00

There’s so many good degree subjects that can relate to many fields, whilst still being pertinent to your interests.

My BA is in literature, MA is creative writing.

I am a writer, never really expected to be anything else (did have a brief period at 10 when I was adamant I was going to be a vet until I realised I hated touching animals).

And my BA undoubtedly gave me a solid foundation but could have been equally good for a number of fields.

Personally, I think if you’re really drawn to a subject and definitely want to study, then that’s what you should go for. There’s (nearly) always a way to swing any academic qualification to your advantage in the job world.

Cwenthryth Wed 06-Mar-19 15:55:24

whether its a tax or a debt makes no difference when you are starting your career owing thousands.
That’s just not true though - I’m 12 years graduated (specific degree essential for entry to my profession) and still paying off student loan, but at % over certain amount of income - in effect a tax until it’s paid off - it doesn’t affect my credit score in any way, and raises with inflation rather than actual interest, so it is very different to if it was a standard debt rather than a student loan. I graduated ‘in massive debt’ but it’s never felt like that.

Anyway to answer the OP, I’d say both :-) but consider the cost/benefit of it, same as anything.

GeorgeTheBleeder Wed 06-Mar-19 15:57:02

Surely the point of an undergraduate degree is to broaden your horizons and equip you with critical thinking skills that you will be able to call on for the rest of your life? All in a context, ideally, of social adventure and learning amongst a diverse section of like-(ish) minded people.

Exactly what you study is secondary. Everyone has different motivations, the important thing is freedom to choose. What each individual gains from their time at university becomes a benefit to society. Medics and artists might both study anatomy - I want doctors to be trained, but I also want people who'll view the world, and act in it, through the prism of artistic thought.

ColeHawlins Wed 06-Mar-19 15:59:25

Education has its own, intrinsic, value.

Besides, plenty of jobs are open to graduates of any discipline.

bookmum08 Wed 06-Mar-19 16:03:13

Sorry but it is far to much a cost to be 'just for fun'. Going to uni for fun is only for the idle rich.

MargoLovebutter Wed 06-Mar-19 16:05:05

Given that you will be paying for it, I think it should be for whatever you want!

Lardlizard Wed 06-Mar-19 23:52:08

Who said I can’t see the value in it

I personally think it’s a shame kids are steered towards what pays the most

bridgetreilly Wed 06-Mar-19 23:57:38

Well, I don't think it should be for either of those things, tbh. I think it should be because you want to learn. If you want a career, get a job. If you want to have fun, get a job, earn money and spend that having fun. If you want to study and learn and care about your subject, then do a degree. Most people do not need a degree.

AornisHades Thu 07-Mar-19 00:03:00

When I graduated there were jobs that asked for a 2.1 degree rather than a degree in a particular subject. It was seen to demonstrate an ability to learn and think.
The job market may be significantly different now for graduates.

AllesAusLiebe Thu 07-Mar-19 00:35:27

bookmum08. Ironic username, by the way.

I see you’ve fallen into the trap head first. An educated population is a dangerous population. Pushing the ‘employability’ agenda is the biggest travesty to happen to education in this country since the reintroduction of tuition fees.

BoomBoomsCousin Thu 07-Mar-19 02:17:02

I think you are likely to get far more, intellectually, out of a degree you enjoy and want to study for its own sake. But unless you're well off I think you need to be pragmatic about what you spend your money and opportunity on.

Some degrees don't offer a good return on investment - average salaries are lower than for those leaving school with A levels or equivalent. I think it would be a bit foolish to pursue one of these unless you were already set in a good career or were well off enough that you didn't really need to consider your future income.

stepup123 Thu 07-Mar-19 02:26:48

I'm doing a degree for fun OP, I say go for it. It's in an area I find fascinating- psychology. I plan to do my masters too.

bookmum08 Thu 07-Mar-19 08:03:02

Alles why is my name ironic? I like books. I collect books. I chat to people about books. I get involved with book swaps and sales. I read books to children. I seek out authors I don't know. I seek out old out of print books by authors I do know. I read information about authors I like. Sometimes I may read non fiction related to the story of the books I have just read to learn more.
However if I was 18 years old now I would find it very hard to justify getting an almost £30 000 debt to do all that for the 'fun' of the fact I like books.

corythatwas Thu 07-Mar-19 08:08:23

There is such a thing as transferable skills. Not all students who do a history or English literature degree end up working as historians or students of literature. But they nearly all come out of it writing a lot better than they did before, doing much better oral presentations, and being much better at reading large quantities of material and finding and analysing the central argument. There are all sorts of jobs where that really helps.

Camomila Thu 07-Mar-19 08:09:41

I always say it on these threads but I think education is a public good - the more educated your population is the better.

Education tends to make people more open minded and capable of reasoned debate which I think we really need in such a diverse society (Note I said 'tends to' there's always exceptions)

Skittlesss Thu 07-Mar-19 08:10:32

I think it should be done for the enjoyment - three years is a long time and you need to keep motivated and interested. Do it for the career only and you run the risk of not staying interested.

I don’t work in the field I got my degree in though, so perhaps my opinion is different. I am, however, doing my master’s in the same field as my UG degree (albeit some 15 years later) just for “fun”.

moosesormeece Thu 07-Mar-19 08:11:58

But you don't do a degree just for fun, you do a subject you enjoy (hopefully) and while studying it you gain lots of transferable skills which then help you gain employment that would otherwise not have been open to you.

For example, I spent three years banging out regular 2500 word essays on subjects which a week previously I had known nothing about. That taught me how to focus my research, absorb information quickly, and then communicate it to make a point. I also leant how to analyse sources and argue effectively. I might not need to know about the economic consequences of the Black Death in my job now but I didn't waste my money.

HarrysOwl Thu 07-Mar-19 08:15:24

I did an arts degree, had a great time, but I wish I'd chosen something else that helped me carve a dedicated career.

billybagpuss Thu 07-Mar-19 08:16:48

I started doing mine for fun through OU then ended up working in that industry which was quite a change from what I was doing previously.

Life isn't a straight line, who knows where it will lead!

Slowknitter Thu 07-Mar-19 08:20:47

Education is a good thing. If you have the time and funds to go and study something because you enjoy it, what could possibly be wrong with that? However, going into debt in order to study something which has little or no chance of leading to a career would be pretty foolhardy unless you have other job prospects, qualifications or means of future support.

Wanda1988 Thu 07-Mar-19 08:22:57

Unfortunately this attitude of “don’t worry about money, do something you love” is pushed on girls more than boys. University is the first place we see the genders separating with the boys doing the courses that point towards a lucrative career while the girls tend to go for the softer/less lucrative options.
I will be teaching my daughters to enjoy financial independence and to take realistic steps to have a successful career-years spent studying something for the fun of it would put them behind those who take a more pragmatic approach

CardsforKittens Thu 07-Mar-19 08:29:34

I did a degree in a subject I found interesting but didn’t expect to pursue as a career. As it turned out, there were jobs I hadn’t considered at 18 but discovered I had an aptitude for during my degree. So I did end up using my degree. I studied my subject for ‘fun’ but it turned out to be a lot more than that.

corythatwas Thu 07-Mar-19 08:30:22

I also think we should be cautious in teaching young people that STEM is an instant entry ticket to a well-paid job. Plenty of people with degrees in STEM do low-paid jobs or struggle to find a job.

In fact, I'd say STEM and history are quite similar in that they provide a grounding, but the young person themselves have to be very proactive in finding the kind of job where this skill might be useful and selling themselves to the employer.

One thing I would say, though, is: don't push your young people into something they are not keen on because you have got it into your head that it is the path to a well-paid job. As a lecturer I spend a lot of time mopping up after such well-meaning but misguided decisions: this is where you get the plagiarism, the breakdowns, the mysterious absences from seminar, the essays cobbled together the day before the deadline. Remember, it's not enough to get in at a prestigious university, they have to get out with decent grades at the other end.

CoolJule43 Thu 07-Mar-19 08:37:00

As long as students pay for their degrees I think they should do whatever they want as long as they don't complain that they can't find work afterwards.

If ever student fees are removed in the future then they should only be allowed to take degrees in career-securing subjects.

The rest of society can't be expected to pay for degrees in, say, David Beckham or Media Studies if there aren't sufficient roles available for people with these qualifications.

However, there are lots of jobs/professions where without a relevant degree you will have no chance of securing that career.
e.g. Medicine, Vet, Solicitor

If it was me I would definitely study for a degree in a work-related field but then I'm sensible grin

JRMisOdious Thu 07-Mar-19 08:37:22

Depends who’s paying for it really. If you can afford to pay for it, do what makes you happy. Don’t think taking out student loans with a fairly good idea that you may not be able to pay them back to study something that is purely for personal enjoyment and probably won’t lead to anything that will directly contribute to wider society is responsible or fair in the country’s current economic climate. There are much more important calls on what in those circumstances is effectively public funding.
That said, of course something that starts out as enjoyment or purely self improvement for its own sake could end up as a career, you never know. Bit of a pesky grey area.

GeorgeTheBleeder Thu 07-Mar-19 08:40:23

If ever student fees are removed in the future then they should only be allowed to take degrees in career-securing subjects.

Now, there's a dystopian future to look forward to!

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 07-Mar-19 08:51:57

Whilst agreeing that education, learning and knowledge can be and are anend in themselves, there are degrees that mustbecareer specific, like medicine, veterinary science and lots of others too, no doubt.

But it ishould be about enjoyment, love of learning, life experience too.

JessieCW Thu 07-Mar-19 08:55:16

I've had this discussion with various parents and friends of mine, I think that a degree should be in something that you will enjoy studying, at a place you want to study so long as you take on extra curricular opportunities and do at least have an idea of where you would like some sort of career to take you. halo

I actually encouraged my DD1 to enter this competition called The F Factor! I saw it on Facebook and twitter with a few celebs tweeting about it. If anything it looks good on her CV and gives her real life experience and something to talk about.

They’re offering kids aged 14-25 a £10k prize to turn a business idea they might have into a proper business. I have linked the Facebook post here for you. www.facebook.com/f.factor/videos/1987605298211578

Hope it helps somebody - I imagine this could really compliment someones studies and looks great on job applications! star

ushuaiamonamour Thu 07-Mar-19 09:06:17

I fell pretty strongly about this as uni seems too often to be used as a glorified vocational school. The courses I took were all, except for the core of required ones, subjects I wanted to know more about, pure and simple. And as time goes on I'm more and more grateful that the year I entered, the university began offering a liberal arts degree, i.e. with no requirement to concentrate studies in one area. I got to take courses in mythology and 20th-century art and Chinese philosophy and Eastern European lit and so on and on. It was tremendously exciting, and I felt rather sorry for people who confined themselves to one field.My first job after graduating was waiting tables. And that was fine with me. So I'm probably unreasonable to look a bit askance at people who go to uni for anything except the sake of learning.

corythatwas Thu 07-Mar-19 09:26:17

If ever student fees are removed in the future then they should only be allowed to take degrees in career-securing subjects.

And do you feel qualified to decide what is a career-securing subject? Is German a career-securing subject? No? But can we afford to have a nation that doesn't train a single person with a high level of skill and understanding of German? Probably not.

Are biology and biochemistry career-securing subjects? Evidently not, knowing how many graduates struggle to find work in the field. But we're not going to get any advances in medical research if we don't train any biochemists. My SIL who is a biochemist didn't walk straight into a job after her degree. But she is now doing cell research that may have a knock-on effect on the development of future cancer treatment.

Is medieval history a career-securing degree? Doesn't seem like it on the face of it, but may well lead to a good and useful
job in civil service because of transferable skills.

The entertainment industry is a huge earner for the UK< both directly and indirectly through encouraging tourism. But it is not structured in terms of permanent stable careers. So should we not train any actors (arguably the best in the world) and just agree to ditch an industry that is valuable to the country?

GregoryPeckingDuck Thu 07-Mar-19 09:32:22

So long as you pay for it you can do what you want. But taking out a government loan that you don’t pay back Fira hobby degree is wrong.

Absurditi Thu 07-Mar-19 09:36:58

I'm doing the OU Psychology Bsc. I do not have the mental energy at the moment to do a full-time course. Honestly, I have always just been interested in psychology, and at one point I did want to go down the MSc/Stage 2, or the Doctorate route to becoming Chartered, but I really do not see that happening TBF! So you could say it's useless in that sense, if you like.

I suppose I hope that I will gain a lot of transferable skills. I've now got it into my head that if I receive a good undergrad degree, I can progress into a MSc/PGDip in Occupational Therapy or Speech/Language, possibly Social Work or Nursing. Sure, I do not need psychology go do these, but I think it's a good background to build on. Also, I know I could just go ahead and do a Bsc in any of those courses now go be qualified, but as I'm struggling with mental health right now, I cannot commit.

GeorgeTheBleeder Thu 07-Mar-19 09:50:31

*Is medieval history a career-securing degree? Doesn't seem like it on the face of it, but may well lead to a good and useful
job in civil service because of transferable skills.*

Oh, come now - if that's all they do, who on earth will preserve our knowledge of medieval history?! The more philistine this country becomes, the more important it is that people are encouraged to acquire the skills that may prevent us from losing all claim to being civilised ...

Alsohuman Thu 07-Mar-19 10:01:30

Surely a degree is an indication of a trained mind, ability to research and use initiative, regardless of subject. To say a humanities degree is pointless when so many of us have them and have built successful careers on them shows a complete disregard of facts.

AnnaComnena Thu 07-Mar-19 10:21:09

Oh, come now - if that's all they do, who on earth will preserve our knowledge of medieval history?! The more philistine this country becomes, the more important it is that people are encouraged to acquire the skills that may prevent us from losing all claim to being civilised ...

This why people need to learn Latin! Without Latin, it's impossible to access medieval source material and carry out medieval research.

But we are approaching a time, if we're not already there, when so few children are learning Latin at school that there will not be a big enough pool to supply the Latin teachers and medieval specialists of the future.

Some years ago, a record office I knew wanted to recruit an archivist who could read Latin to look after its medieval records. They couldn't find one.

Londonmummy66 Thu 07-Mar-19 10:42:39

This why people need to learn Latin! Without Latin, it's impossible to access medieval source material and carry out medieval research.

Actually someone who is good at Latin will have quite a few transferable skills. Facility with its grammatical structure will mean that they are good at reading legislation - a lucrative career in the law might therefore await them. Also, they are likely to be very good at computer coding - when he was working my DF was so impressed with a couple of classics graduates that he had a rule he would always interview someone with Latin A level for a coding job. They'll also have the ability to research a subject and write an essay to a deadline - a useful skill in many fields, a grounding in the principles of philosophy - helping them to think around a problem - again a useful skill for life.

I doubt many people go to university to read classics with that in mind - what they want is the mentally enriching experience of studying a civilisation that still underpins much of our daily life. (BTW I did not read Classics myself.)

PinkSmitterton Thu 07-Mar-19 10:45:42

Also worth mentioning that the largest employer of graduated in the country is public services (obviously they are a huge employer generally and this includes specific medical staff, as well as teachers/social workers/civil servants etc) so society benefits from graduate educated workers.

I think it is important to be honest about what a degree can provide- whether that's enjoyment, development and often increased employability.

I work in a university and I sometimes talk to students who think a degree is enough to get them a good job (it often isn't on its own) or that doing a master's will open up a whole raft of "better" options (again, usually not)
And that's fine, I did my MA for enjoyment and learnt a lot. I think it did help me get my current job because I talked about it at interview- but plenty of people at my level have Bachelors only.

I do think many young people would benefit from more information whereas in the current system many people assume that university is the next step without really thinking about why (I did!)

MereDintofPandiculation Thu 07-Mar-19 10:55:07

University is the first place we see the genders separating with the boys doing the courses that point towards a lucrative career while the girls tend to go for the softer/less lucrative options. Not quite the first place. We already see it in GCSE choices, certainly in A level choices.

If ever student fees are removed in the future then they should only be allowed to take degrees in career-securing subjects. So concentrate your education budget on those who are going to be earning well in the future?

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Thu 07-Mar-19 11:55:37

Apologies, @Lardlizard - I read things into your post that weren't there.

"I personally think it’s a shame kids are steered towards what pays the most."

I agree with this. When our three dses were looking at university, we encouraged them to choose subjects they felt they had passion for - one went for Law, another for Applied Maths, and the third started doing a degree in Geography, but has switched to Urban Development. Two of the three have graduated and are working now - the lawyer is working as a quantity surveyor, so his degree is helping him with the contract side of his job - but it definitely isn't a logical career progression from a law degree. The second is teaching maths, so that is a direct route from his degree, and the third hasn't graduated yet, but his appears, on the surface, to be the most vocational degree of the three of them.

And then there's my sister, who read Music, and became an accountant. Her degree hasn't really had any influence over her career, but music is her passion outside work, and brings her immense joy.

yearinyearout Thu 07-Mar-19 12:00:55

I think it's dependent on your situation. Whilst I agree that it's more a tax on education than a debt, with the costs involved these days I probably wouldn't have encouraged my DC to do a degree just for fun. Even with the loans it has ended up costing us a lot of money to top them up with rent etc, which is fine as they've both worked hard and their degree will benefit their careers. If they'd wanted to go to uni simply to arse about drinking I wouldn't have been so happy to fund it. If you have the money to fund it yourself that's a different story, crack on.

NicoAndTheNiners Thu 07-Mar-19 12:13:58

Well I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief when dd said she wanted to study architecture. Hopefully it will lead to a career/job. More so than a geography/history/English degree.

Though yes I totally get that those sort of degrees can open doors to jobs/careers even if they don't utilise the actual degree. I totally agree that education is worth it for the skills it teaches people, critical thinking, communication, research, etc.

When I retire I'm planning on going back to uni to do a history degree for my own enjoyment safe in the knowledge I will never have to pay the tuition fees back!

AllesAusLiebe Thu 07-Mar-19 13:17:23

bookmum08 to me, your username suggested that you may be well read therefore I found it difficult to reckon with your argument that university was the domain of the ‘idle rich’. Your username suggests that you value reading and therefore education.

I work in academia and hate the fee system with an absolute passion, but what I hate more is the notion that as an institution, we have a responsibility to churn out automatons ripe for the workplace because that’s the only value in having a degree.

bookmum08 Thu 07-Mar-19 18:54:32

Alles I do value education. There are so many things I would love to learn and experience because I 'enjoy' the subject but the cost is just too much.
If you have a spare £30 000 to go to uni without having a specific goal then fine (that's what I meant by 'idle rich' - maybe I was a bit extreme there) but if you don't have the money then a debt that big hanging over your head is terrifying. While we have people paying so much for 3 years of being at uni to end up at the bottom of a low paid job as they weren't aiming for a specific goal it just seems daft. So many people are relying on loans - the governments money - and most will end up not being paid off. I would rather the government uses that money for housing, proper apprentiships and training schemes and money available for those who go to uni for something that will lead to an actual job (ie Doctor). Of course we need people to learn history and culture and politics etc so we have a society that has this knowledge. This is important. But as a country we simply cannot afford to 'loan' someone such a massive amount so they can study a random subject that they think 'that might be fun' because they feel they have to go to uni because still have no clue what they want to be /do in life.

TwoRoundabouts Thu 07-Mar-19 19:20:26

The main issue I see now is pupils particularly poorer ones are encouraged by schools to just do a degree without thinking what type of job they can get from doing the subject. They are frequently encouraged to do subjects where you need to have parents who can support you afterwards if you want to have a career in the area.

Myself and a few of my peers were actually told by a teacher in each of our schools not to do certain degrees due to the limited career options arising from the subjects. I think in mine and one of my friends' cases the teacher who did this found we were good in more than one area and pushed us towards the better paid area. (We went to different schools in different areas of England.)

So while I think people can do any degree, people need to be aware of how they may be limiting the careers they can go into by doing a particular subject.

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