Is it worth kids going to uni these days?

(29 Posts)
ssd Mon 02-May-16 21:14:26

we wont be paying fees, we're in Scotland

ds studied really hard and has got unconditional offer for a good uni

but all I read about is graduates who cant find work

so.....should we really be encouraging him to try to get a job or an apprenticeship?

theres nothing particular he has always wanted to do and his degree is in social sciences which hopefully will give him a broad range of skills to find employment with

OP’s posts: |
insan1tyscartching Mon 02-May-16 21:33:13

My ds chose not to go to university, it was the right thing for him at the time. His best friend had died suddenly just after his eighteenth birthday and ds did an awful lot of "partying" as to him life suddenly seemed very short.I was worried about him living away but would have sent him with my blessing even though he got himself into some real states.
He left school at 18 with good A levels and started working for local government. He's 27 now, his employer funded a degree and a masters on day release.He earns £38k pa which is significantly more than his friends who went to university and he has no student debt.
Dd 22 also left after A levels and went to work in banking but has recently moved to Local Government as well because progression is quicker and she is ambitious with plans to follow her brother's path but in a different area.With the exception of those who went straight into teaching and a friend who went to Oxford none of her other friends who went to university are in employment that reflects their graduate status and could have secured their roles at 18.

coffeeisnectar Mon 02-May-16 21:41:49

My DD is going to university next year (February) to study Paramedic Science as she plans to be a paramedic. She's doing the optional fourth year to study trauma as the rising pay scale for that qualification makes it worth the extra year studying.

If she was just going to study something that wasn't going to actually pave the way into a job I'd probably have talked her out of it. As it is she's going to leave with a mountain of debt behind her but hopefully the qualifications for a decent career which she really wants to do.

MinnowAndTheBear Mon 02-May-16 21:41:53

I'm 25. I got fairly good A Levels but didn't go to uni, and started work in an admin role. I'm now a civil servant in a dead end job with few transferable skills.
DH is also 25. He got an apprenticeship when he was 16 and studied on day-release or in his own time, until last year when he qualified to a level he is happy with. He now earns more than double my salary. I know of no one else our age earning anywhere near this figure (save for one other with the same qualification). I regret not doing an apprenticeship and getting some meaningful qualifications before getting stuck in my current job.

2rebecca Tue 03-May-16 00:04:22

I think it's only worth going to university if it's either part of your career plan and necessary or highly advantageous for your career or you're really passionate about the subject.

ChocolateStash Tue 03-May-16 00:10:06

I don't ever think furthering your education is wasted. It can open you up to opportunities, that you may not get, if you were not as educated. University isn't for everyone, but if you dc want and have the opportunity to attend it, and can afford to do so, I would encourage them to follow whichever path is 'right' for them.

ChocolateStash Tue 03-May-16 00:14:01

One of my siblings was totally wired when younger and left school early, when we were much younger. They grew up and went back to education and went to university in their late 20's when they realised how important education is, and how it can help you, when you find an occupation, you love and are good at smile


homebythesea Tue 03-May-16 08:18:16

My DS considered the pros and cons of Uni because he wasn't going to follow a vocational path (eg law, medicine) and had no real idea of a career. We found that a lot of big companies run school leaver management training schemes (eg Glaxo, big accountancy firms etc) for those with good A levels. On the face if it these are very attractive alternatives to Uni and if course means earning decent money. However when you drill down on the detail the bald fact is that 3 years down the line the graduate applicants would be coming in at a higher pay grade because they are graduates and for evermore the non graduate, despite all and any actual work experience, will have that gap on a cv. Of course it's possible to get further qualifications later, but it's more difficult to do while working.

So DS is off later this year to do a Humanities degree, with still no real idea of a career path, but his course promises various transferable skills and boasts a very high graduate employment rate. We can only wait and see. But the experience, the growing up he'll do, the people he will meet, the skills of living away from home etc will all be to his general benefit and I think he's doing the right thing.

bojorojo Tue 03-May-16 15:44:14

I do agree, homebythesea. The only other consideration is where someone does the degree and how "well" these graduates do after leaving the university. Have they achieved a career that they feel to be worthwhile and meets their aspirations? It can be hard, for example, to persuade an employer that an English degree from a more lowly ranked university makes you more employable than someone with an Economics degree from a highly ranked university. So degree and institution are important but all the other soft and transferable skills you learn are good too. However, work experience and a degree are the best combination!

homebythesea Tue 03-May-16 19:11:53

Hear hear bojo! I've often said the best thing would be to get rid of the whole "50% of school leavers should go to Uni" nonsense and for employers to stop requiring higher education qualifications for jobs that once upon a time would have been done by school leavers. Too many stories of debt laden graduates doing jobs they could have done without their degree. crosses fingers that won't be my boy in 2019

hilbobaggins Wed 04-May-16 13:11:15

I work in HE careers and employability. I honestly think there's going to be a massive change in graduate recruitment in coming years especially with the introduction of degree apprenticeships, the apprenticeship levy and more employers removing degrees as a pre-requisite for employment. I've also been reading a lot recently about contextual recruitment i.e. employers using big data to take into account candidates' socioeconomic backgrounds not just results (AAA much more impressive if you've come from a more challenging background etc). If I had a teenager I'd be encouraging them to look at all possible routes in and in particular at degree apprenticeships which means avoiding debt! anyway I'm not sure where all this is going but it's certainly an interesting time and the days of simply "getting a good degree from a good university" are well and truly behind us.

mayfly66 Thu 05-May-16 00:01:43

Dare I say that if the value of a degree can only be justified by virtue of it's employment prospects, university probably isn't the right choice.

To put it mildly, it is kind of missing the point...

2rebecca Thu 05-May-16 09:04:10

I disagree that it is missing the point, particularly with the amount of debt many young people take on to get through university.
OK if you are wealthy and wish to study an obscure subject for its own sake knowing it doesn't make you more employable then you can choose to do so, but most people going to university hope and expect it to make them more employable.

homebythesea Thu 05-May-16 09:59:48

mayfly I'm afraid your view is somewhat outdated. It used to be the case that University was a time to explore an academic subject at leisure at the taxpayers expense safe in the knowledge that you were only one of about 20% of your peers who has a degree thus ensuring a fast track to the best jobs.

Now it is considered the norm for 18 year olds to go to university, graduates are no longer necessarily the elite and they will be paying for their education to some extent for many decades to come. So it is not surprising that the focus is on emplyability. One of the compulsory modules in my DS prospective course at a top RG uni is called "emplyability skills". It is a focus from day one, with emphasis on work placements, internships and all that.

Headofthehive55 Sat 07-May-16 09:16:10

The average earnings of graduates are quite low. Uni stats can tell you them. Often they are minimum wage earning particularly for social sciences, etc.

Some graduates do well. But lots don't. I think it's worthwhile if it's needed for a career path, otherwise I'm not so sure.

I am alarmed by the number of graduates working as receptionists, clerical officers, health care assistants, in the hospital I am in. One had a PhD. Good unis too. Family members who went to good unis are unemployed, waitressing, working in a sports centre. Decent people, worked hard, one has a first class degree....

jeanne16 Sat 07-May-16 15:46:07

I work in a small secondary school. They advertised for a lab technician which is not a well paid job and were inundated with applications. They had applications from a number of PhDs and someone with a Masters from Imperial. So much for doing STEM subjects.

Headofthehive55 Sat 07-May-16 15:57:57

jeanne it doesn't surprise me one bit.

It's the elephant in the room or the emperors new clothes.

BackforGood Sat 07-May-16 16:03:51

I think it depends on if you see 'going to University' as being purely about getting the degree, or if you look at the broader picture of living away from home for the first time, growing into an adult, making lifelong friends, having lots of new experiences, and making great memories. I consider part of going to university as being about the latter.

Also, 30 yrs ago, you could get decent jobs straight from school. The vast majority of those same jobs now advertise for someone with a degree.

Clearly having a degree - say post 2000 ish? - comes with a different value from those degrees prior to that, but youngsters can only exist in the world they are in today, not how we, their parents, would like it to be.

TheSolitaryBoojum Sat 07-May-16 16:10:08

How long will the student loans system be viable anyway? So many new graduates in minimum-wage jobs, some of them will never earn enough to pay back the loan.
it was a mistake to decide 50% should go, there's been a boom in dubious degree subjects, spoon-feeding to obtain results, plagiarism and essay writing websites and the rest.
The apprenticeship schemes are often exploiting their workers too.
A local sandwich shop was offering one, hours were 7am-4pm and requirement to work weekends at functions. An apprenticeship in sandwich and salad making, on a wage of £3.30 an hour. A qualification in handwashing, hygiene and how to wear a plastic hairnet.
Disgraceful, but on the gov website as acceptable.

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Sat 07-May-16 16:10:34

University is only worthwhile in my opinion if you do a course that is related to an actual job - law, accounting, teaching, engineering etc. Courses such as media studies, business admin, event management etc are all useless and someone wishing to follow these type of careers are better to do so through work experience.

CocktailQueen Sat 07-May-16 16:13:27

I don't think education is ever wasted!

She might find something that she really wants to do in uni, or a new subject that really interests her.

You're not paying fees so you'll just having her living expenses etc to take into account.

I'd go for it. There are loads of other benefits to uni apart from job skills and a degree at the end of it...

She can perhaps do a voluntary job/part time job to bring in some money/in an area she'd like to work in as well when she's there.

Makesomethingupyouprick Sat 07-May-16 16:13:49

I'm a HCP and we have two administration workers on low wage who are approaching 30. One has a degree in theology and the other in philosophy.

The latter told me she has £21, 000 of debt from her degree but doesn't earn enough to be expected to pay much off and it'll be 'written off' after a period of time.

I suspect there are numerous other graduates like them out there. I've got 2 degrees but they were part of a specific and realistic career plan.

Dustylaw Wed 11-May-16 01:07:53

No one can guarantee that graduates get top graduate jobs but it is (right or wrong) overwhelmingly likely that non-graduates don't even get a look in for graduate level jobs. There are exceptions but it is not the norm. No fees, hard working student, offer at good university - it would be an unusual life choice to turn that down. Any hard (traditional) academic subject is taken seriously by most employers so don't think that something 'vocational' gives the edge because it doesn't (unless it's something obvious like pharmacy if you want to be a pharmacist or medicine if you want to be a doctor or golf course management if you want to work in a golf club etc).

MrsMushrooms Wed 11-May-16 02:05:00

It depends what they want to do. I didn't get a degree when it would have been easier (IE when I was younger!) but my earning potential has been stunted since and now I'm back at uni and it's expensive. I had an offer at Glasgow aged 18 but as the entry requirements change and grades in future classes increase, I couldn't go there then so I'm at GCU which is significantly less respected and provides less opportunities on the course. It's also hard as a mature student to fit in and to balance uni / work / bills. With free fees in Scotland and the jobs market still recovering, I think any bright young person with an offer would be mad to turn it down! My husband did an apprenticeship out of school and is doing well for himself, but the maximum he could ever hope to earn in the service industry he works in isn't an awful lot and he also often regrets not getting better qualifications while it would have been easier. Obviously it's different for everybody, but when uni is an option and something to which the child is suited, I think go for it! Worst case scenario, they won't use their degree but will have 4 years making new friends, learning a new subject and developing research and time management skills (plus have opportunities to study abroad, join some societies, etc). The graduate jobs market might be competitive, but so is the non-graduate jobs market and having a degree can't hurt.

MrsMushrooms Wed 11-May-16 02:08:33

Also, regarding my earning potential, I work in a professional industry at way above graduate-entry level, but I'm self-taught and despite my experience and capability, I'm frequently passed over for work because graduates are preferred. It really is a stumbling block, even if you're good at what you do!

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