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Is a degree the ultimate success mark?

(22 Posts)
hattiewrixon Mon 22-Jun-15 15:17:49

I was at an academic girls school in SW London and when I realised university was not for me, I decided to leave school at 17. Once I'd left school, I realised there were few resources informing me of the alternatives to university available. So I set up Uni's not for me, a growing community of young, intelligent and ambitious school leavers. We aim to provide support, guidance and advice and in September, we are holding our first events. Despite my parents being incredibly supportive of my decision when I left school, I suffered from various comments among parents at my school with a rather old-fashioned, snobbish view - I would be a failure without a degree. Having spoken to a number of interesting school leavers, I can safely say that not one of them is a 'failure'. But I wanted to find out with parents how they would feel if their children decided that university was not for them? Would you find a site like Uni's not for me helpful? How can we shift the stigma of apprenticeships and those without a degree? Do you still feel that in order to have ultimate success, a degree is required?

GooseyLoosey Mon 22-Jun-15 15:27:11

I would be disappointed if either of my children left education without a clear direction and idea of where they were going.

If one wanted to leave to pursue an apprenticeship in (say) landscape gardening, I would encourage them to look at what the most successful people in that field have by way of education and qualifications. If that research showed me that the leaders in the field had a degree in horticulture, I would be disappointed that they did not want to aim for that. If they had practical experience and an apprenticeship, I would be delighted for my child to follow that route.

I would be happy for them to follow any career path they wanted and if they did not want to go to university because they had another goal to pursue, I would be chuffed to bits. If they did not want to go to uni because they just did not think it was for them but had no idea what else they were going to do, I would be disappointed and I would think that they might have closed many avenues for themselves.

However, if in my heart of hearts I did not think they had the ability to get a decent degree, I would hope that they would have explored other avenues and I would rather they did that than saddle themselves with thousands of pounds of debt which was going to have no real return for them.

Theas18 Mon 22-Jun-15 15:34:29

Of course a degree isn't the ultimate mark of success.

There are many appropriate and effective routes into different careers. I guess I'd want a DC to think about plan and pick a route what ever it was, not just " maybe I'll do a degree/apprenticeship dunno what in..... "

If they honestly had no idea then they need a gap year or so that self funds- so go get a min wage job to save to travel etc. 6 months shelf stacking /basic caring / waitressing/burger flipping etc would either take you into say sainsburys or mcdonalds management training program or give you a clear idea that you really didn't ever want to do that again and would take career path X say access to health care studies then nursing degree or what ever!

FaFoutis Mon 22-Jun-15 15:36:18

It sounds like a good idea. I would be quite happy for my children not to go to university, degrees are no measure or guarantee of success.
I teach university students and quite a few of them would probably be better off doing something else.

sisterofmercy Mon 22-Jun-15 15:36:56

To be honest even a post grad qualification doesn't really lift you above the masses any more. Graduates are fighting over the old jobs that used to go to 16 year old school leavers.

But you have to stay strong and take pride in your accomplishments - good apprenticeships seem like a great way into work and I suspect will become increasingly varied in scope. The system needs changing so that everyone is catered for - graduate, apprentice, intern or straight-into-worker.

I am pretty sure that there would be charities and public sector organisations that might well support you in your aims. They might be able to provide you with information and possibly funding if your aims coincide with their's.

Good luck. It sounds like a very worthwhile endeavour.

PandaMummyofOne Mon 22-Jun-15 15:37:58

No. There are plenty of other directions a learner can take. Academic learning is not for everyone. Vocational learning, apprenticeships, training schemes are sometimes better. It's completely depends on the person taking them.

SqueezyCheeseWeasel Mon 22-Jun-15 15:38:02

So basically, you're just here to plug your website?

hattiewrixon Mon 22-Jun-15 15:59:47

Thank you all for your replies! I'm interested to find out because last week a news piece released reported that that seven in ten parents felt they did not understand the options available to their children after school, according to a study from LifeSkills created by Barclays. It's just interesting to hear your views and see if there is perhaps a platform to be created specifically for parents. By the sounds of it though you all seem very open minded and I appreciate taking time to give your feedback, so thank you.


SunnyBaudelaire Mon 22-Jun-15 16:10:40

'is a degree the ultimate success mark' -? well no it is not, as sisterofmercy pointed out, graduates are now fighting over the jobs that used to go to 16 year old straight from school.
Also, a lot of degrees are a bit rubbish anyway...
I make a living from academic proofreading and some of the dross I have virtually had to rewrite has confirmed my belief that many degrees are simply for sale.
The most successful person in our family left school with a CSE in metalwork.
Drive, determination, staying power, vision....being spoonfed a degree from a crap uni does not offer those does it?

hattiewrixon Mon 22-Jun-15 16:35:12

I would be inclined to agree SunnyBaudelaire. However, over the last couple of years having done numerous school visits, it becomes very difficult to dis an old poly where a student is going to study media because they are the first person in their family going to 'university'. I am in no way anti university and believe it can be undeniably beneficial and experience wise, unforgettable. However I am a huge believer that schools must relax the pressure for students that university is the be all and end all. It's unfair and makes pupils unsure about uni feel nervous and unsupported if ultimately they'd be much better off doing something practical. More than anything it's unbelievably expensive too now!

sashh Tue 23-Jun-15 09:14:24

There is a stigma about not having a degree? In whose opinion?

Heels99 Tue 23-Jun-15 09:15:49

No, it isn't. There is a great website called not going to uni with loads of good opportunities on it

prepperpig Tue 23-Jun-15 09:19:21

I don't think a degree makes you stand out at all any more. So many people have them that they have effectively become devalued.

TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 23-Jun-15 10:31:28

I don't know that having a degree stands to you when entering the world of work unless the employer is recruiting for a specific graduate position. Most employers prefer experience over university qualifications.

However, I've seen it hit back at a much later stage in a person's career. When enough time has passed that one candidate has fifteen years' experience and another has twelve years' experience plus a degree, the experience gap at that stage of one's career is minimal and the degree is an additional qualification that distinguishes one candidate from another.

I've seen friends in early to mid-30s get burned by this, as they have always been ahead of the game in terms of experience and therefore have been desirable candidates, only to find they are now stranded in a field of university-educated candidates, and at a significant disadvantage.

TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 23-Jun-15 10:33:36

So to paraphrase what prepperpig said above, I don't think having a degree makes you stand out from the crowd.

However, I think NOT having a qualification (that everybody else has) can make you stand out, and not in a positive way.

titchy Tue 23-Jun-15 17:04:58

OP why on earth would you want to go into a school and 'dis an old poly doing media' for that first generation university applicant. What an awful attitude.

Millymollymama Wed 24-Jun-15 13:26:09

I have my doubts that potential students and apprentices get the best advice on courses and careers available. Whilst not saying a media course is undesirable, it is if the applicant was capable of studying Economics at a top university but thought the local university was just as good and the subject was easy.

I would also suggest that it would be much better for young people if advice was readily available in a "one stop shop" situation rather than in little known web sites or through uninformed teachers and parents. (Obviously not everyone is in this category). If young people prefer a degree that is up to them, but it does young people a disservice if they cannot easily access top quality advice, preferably via school based services.

In my view, a student who has to employ a proof reader should be automatically given a 2:2 or lower! It is pretty close to cheating if the work is rewritten by the proof reader! They are not employable in my view. Is this normal? I am quite shocked to read this.

hattiewrixon Thu 25-Jun-15 13:02:54

My point exactly, titchy - I never would.

Kez100 Thu 25-Jun-15 21:36:37

My son goes to a very good college but they are insisting he completes all the Ucas forms even.though he wants an apprenticeship. It's virtually impossible to do.this properly as how do you write a ps when you have no course in.mind! He's written it now as an application for the apprenticeship he'd love, hoping it will be useful.

Some colleges do seem to sell uni as the only next option.

TurnOverTheTv Thu 25-Jun-15 21:41:38

My DH went to uni for a term and hated it, he left and started his own business and earns 80k+ a year. His parents were not happy though at the time!

Equimum Tue 07-Jul-15 09:42:52

Milly, even professors often pay to have their work proofread and it is certainly common that post-grad student pay for such services. In many cases, it's not that re-writes are required, but that it is often difficult to spot ones own errors, and if papers are submitted with errors, it can take a long time to get through the correction and resubmission process.

Millymollymama Tue 07-Jul-15 13:23:23

It was just that Sunny, up thread, stated she had to virtually rewrite academic work as a proof reader! That seemed extreme! I can see that proof reading is needed for professional papers, but for the normal undergrad it seems unacceptable if it is virtually rewritten!

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