To work, or to pursue a higher degree, that is the question
What are you going to do after graduation? It seems that most final year students are facing the same problem: making a decision on whether to find a job, or to stay on longer on campus. Perhaps the grim state of labour market is responsible for this struggle.
Let us first presume that there is always a job for each one of us, the question is: how can we get a better one? A shining degree, perhaps?
It is unclear when the tide of adoration of degrees started, but it is getting higher and higher each year. This turns a degree, more likely, into a piece of paper. However, there are still some students blindly believe that this paper can smash open the door to employment.
It is time for them to wake up.
Around twenty years ago, having a bachelor degree perhaps meant something special. But because nowadays many universities lower their threshold, graduates are no longer scarce.
Then more and more graduates choose to step into postgraduate studies, thus more masters and more Phds. The “degree inflation” has driven everyone back to the same starting point.
It is of paramount importance to note that supply exceeds demand in the labour market. There are always more graduates than positions waiting to be filled, and the daunting economy worsens the already grave situation.
In this case, a higher degree seems to be a reasonable way to bring them an interview. However, a Phd student from the University of York mocked herself: ”I, a Phd student, can’t even find a part-time job as a cleaner.” As she observed, such a “popular” and “important” position is competed for by dozens of candidates.
Some more intimidated postgraduates treat further study as a way to give them more time to wait until the economy gets better. However, it is worth to note that the value of a degree also depends on the nature of the position.
Some fields, e.g. science related areas, do require certain academic achievements. A medical degree may be more preferable.
In fact, under some circumstances, a master or Phd degree is recommended but not necessary. Employers tend to focus on employees' work experience and other relevant abilities. From this perspective, getting a higher degree seems not so appealing.
No matter what the reasons are, escaping from the cruel reality or making oneself more competitive, we seem to have forgotten one thing: the purpose of study.
On the one hand, we study to get knowledge we need to live and work. On the other hand, we study out of the enthusiasm of exploring the unknown. But people tend to be more utilitarian. Those subjects that can make you more employable or guarantee more financial benefits are more popular among students.
When choosing a career, some people have to give up their “true love”, compromising in the knowledge that they have to earn a living.
So long as the economy is still weakening, keep fingers crossed for those graduates who are bustling in the job market. At the same time, get a degree for the knowledge’s sake.