Very often people ask me about whether they should pursue a degree or try to get a job. What should your career path be when you’re sort of just starting out? The answer to this question really depends on your strengths and weaknesses, your goals and ambitions and your socio-economic position currently.
Are you in a hurry?
Commiting to an undergraduate programme that will take you four years to complete after you literally sat in school for twelve or fourteen years is not a small ask of anyone. You might not be academically inclined anyway, so why bother? This is the one time I would agree that a degree programme isn’t the only route you can take. Most of the jobs are actually in fields that you don’t need a degree for. If you are good with your hands, you could do an apprenticeship in plumbing, motor mechanics, wiring (electrical) building, brickwork, or any of the various fields that most of the world relies on. You might not have a fancy looking job, but it’ll earn you plenty. Sometimes, having to go into debt to finish a four year degree while your parents struggle to support you isn’t the best option. It might be that you need to start earning money soon. Working your way up in a company is as good an education as any, if not better. I know quite a few store managers and business owners who attended Night School to finish a high school qualification.
Do you have a passion for a career that only a degree can offer you?
If you want to be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer you will need a solid qualification just to be allowed into the industry- and for good reason. There are certain fields that need extensive formal qualifications without there being any way around it. If you are interested in any of those fields you will have to do the time. Things you might consider is whether or not your parents, relatives or friends can help you with tuition. I’ve seen many people drop out of school because they needed to double up on several jobs to pay for classes- the same classes they end up failing because they don’t have enough time to study. You could work fulltime and study part time. Sure, it will take you longer but if you do well after a year or two you might even qualify for a fully paid scholarship, if you couldn’t get one straight away.
There’s the other obstacle some women encounter while studying. They hit a bump in the road and it suddenly becomes impossible to balance having to study, being a parent and holding down a job. If you are in a steady relationship but would like very much to finish your academic qualification, try researching which contraceptives are both safe in the long-term and effective. You might want to hold off having kids for a bit while not handicapping the possibility of having kids later on- if that’s what you’d like. I’m not a medical expert but mechanical methods are probably safest, like using an IUD also known as ‘the loop.’ Chemical methods may have long-term side effects that can result in not being able to conceive later on. Whatever you decide, do your research beforehand and speak to at least two doctors who have different opinions. If you already fell pregnant or already have a baby and you’d like to continue to study full time, try to create alternate arrangements that might enable you to study at home or online or simply finish the nearest qualification you can get on your way to getting a degree. You might be able to add those credits later to your degree programme. My greatest concern, in this case would be for the child and not for your education- which you can possibly pick up on later. Children have rights too.
Do you value education?
At the heart of it, you need to decide whether education is something that features highly for you in and of itself- not merely because it looks good on your resume. If you value education and you love learning for the sake of learning, you have unlimited free resources online. If you want to go through a formal program in the form of getting several academic qualifications then it will totally be worth your time. After all, it’s what you love and value. If that’s you, study study study. Rake in one degree after the next. If that’s not you, and you’re looking for a way to earn a decent salary, then look at working your way up into a career of your choice. Start from the bottom and work your way up. You’ll have a better chance of success without getting yourself in debt to get a degree. If you’re a man, go for jobs women typically don’t aim to do. You stand a better chance of not being discriminated against due to affirmative action and gender equality regulations. When women say, “no thank you” to a certain profession, you’re more or less guaranteed a job. If you’re a woman and it’s hard to find a job, try to get into a field that women generally don’t go for. On account of affirmative action, you’ll get in even if you are clueless- you can always learn on the job. Good luck!