student life

A Degree – Is it really worth all the time, cost and effort?

The question all panicked college leavers ask themselves nowadays is the controversial subject of whether a degree is necessary for success.

The question all panicked college leavers ask themselves nowadays is the controversial subject of whether a degree is necessary for success. I want to show students, who like me, have been unsure on University, that with determination and drive, it is possible to achieve your dreams without the worry of risen fees and 75k debt.

The worried state that all second year college students are in now, was exactly how I felt last year, and my god was I worried! I didn’t know if I wanted to go straight onto a degree, I didn’t know if I wanted a gap year, I was extremely confused. So, despite a very hard and stressful decision, I decided to follow my heart and take a gap year to try other avenues before settling on an expensive degree.

Exploring other avenues is something that young people just simply aren’t doing nowadays, but students really should try, simply because it can be so beneficial. Students seem to only look at University as an option because society and employers have created a pressure on us all where we feel a degree is the only passport to success.

However, I have spoken to several people who are excellent examples of what can be achieved through taking other avenues, and having determination and the will to succeed. They are all inspirations to me, and hopefully any students who are having a stressful time deciding on what to do next and feel they would like to explore other routes before deciding on University. The following people have all tried other avenues, and guess what? It paid off!

Danielle Dance is the buying manager of accessories for Kurt Geiger. Danielle finished her A-levels and deferred a place at University to start work experience at Vogue, Glamour and More magazine in the fashion departments. From this she saw other avenues within the fashion industry and decided to work her way up, rather than go back to study for a degree.

Danielle said: ‘Friends and colleagues have mostly taken the degree route into fashion but then after this they always have to start at the bottom to gain work experience.’

She added: ‘A degree doesn’t always enable you to jump to the top.’ She told me that the route she has taken enabled her to get a head start and work up the ladder much quicker without a four year degree.

When I asked Danielle her views on the increase in fees, she said: ‘I think those looking to go into University have to ensure that it really is worthwhile.’ Nevertheless, she did state that a degree can of course be necessary if you know its precisely what you want to do, ‘St Martins in London is world renowned for fashion design and if serious about fashion then definitely worth the fees.’

Following this inspirational talk from Danielle, I spoke to two girls who have studied the same NCTJ diploma in Journalism as I currently am, at Brighton Journalist Works, and have succeeded without a degree.

Sophie Eager found the fees very frightening when looking to go on to higher education and admitted it did put her off. Sophie knew she wanted to go in to the area of journalism and said, ‘I think it depends on the industry and journalism is definitely an industry that looks at experience rather than qualifications and it hasn’t put me at a disadvantage in the workplace by not going to University.’ Sophie discovered that for what she wanted to do, it definitely helped her more by studying with the Journalist Works for her NCTJ qualifications.

However she has quite rightly stated that it depends on the industry, as we all know some certain jobs require that you must have degrees, an obvious example being a Doctor or Lawyer. Sophie said: ‘some jobs you just can’t get on without going to University.’

Scarlett Wrench finished her A-levels and decided that rather than forcing herself to make a hasty decision, she wanted time to work things out by travelling, working and meeting interesting people. Three years later she put her name down for a fast-track journalism course and just eight months later became a Sub Editor at Men’s Health magazine.

Scarlett said: ‘Mostly I think getting the job you want is down to tenacity, confidence, life experience, work experience, and a positive attitude… not whether or not you have a degree.’ Scarlett actually gained her Sub Editor position before even completing her journalism course, which really does show that the area of journalism can be an achievable dream through raw talent and hard graft.

She added: ‘I would never ever knock anyone who chooses to go to University. I just think that people need to carefully consider all their options before making a decision they could later regret.’

The conclusion I wanted to reach here was of course not to put students off University and say that it isn’t necessary to go, because I haven’t been, so I wouldn’t know. However based on a few facts I have found and the avenue I have taken, it shows it is certainly possible for people to do just as well by taking other avenues, which is exactly what I wanted to express.

By interviewing these enlightening people, I wanted to encourage young students and let them know that there are other avenues than just a degree and many people take them. At the end of the day, with or without a degree, it is your courage and passion that will gain you your dream job. Finally, good luck to all young students finding their way!