Going to University – The time of your life or a waste of your time?

Going to University – The time of your life or a waste of your time?

How much value do company’s put on degrees when they are recruiting? I hinted to some colleagues the other day that going to University does not necessarily give you an advantage when applying for jobs.

It may not surprise you to hear that my colleagues who went to University said it did give you an advantage and it certainly helped to get better paid jobs, whilst my colleagues who didn’t go to university said they didn’t feel they were being held back at all for not having a degree.

If you are you a student looking to graduate in the next few years or you are a school leaver debating on whether to go to university or not, we really value your thoughts on this, do you agree that a University degree is a waste of time?

Likewise if you are in HR or involved in recruiting for your company then what are you looking for interviewees to demonstrate during the recruitment process, do you agree that a degree is not valuable when deciding on whether to recruit someone or not?

I went to a “Red Brick” University and graduated with a 2:1 degree, I have an 18 month old daughter and listening to all the hype about university tuition fees costing up to £9,000 a year I am being asked whether I will encourage my daughter to go to university (yes she is only 18 months old, that was not a typing error…crazy isn’t it!)

In my opinion a University degree count’s for nothing in the outside world, unless it is for a professional subject such as medicine or dentistry.

I have proof to back that up, I graduated 12 years ago and my first job was for one of the biggest global financial institutions, at the time I thought it was my degree that made the difference as it showed that I was “bright” and could learn things quickly.

However when I arrived for my first day of work with the other 60 new recruits (they had 60 new starters every 2 months), I found that some had been to “red brick” universities, some had been to the old polytechnics, some had first class degrees, some had 2nd class degrees and others had 3rd class degrees.

What surprised me the most at the time was that some had not been to University at all, they had been working for the last 3 years gaining experience and some of them hadn’t even been working in financial services so their experience was in totally unrelated fields.

You could argue that I was naive in my preconceptions but it shows that not all employers only look for graduates or for graduates with a 1st class degree. Surely that shows if it didn’t matter 10 years ago whether you to University or not, it doesn’t matter now!

I also don’t agree with the argument that going to University is the best time of your life. I was lucky enough to take a gap year between school and university and hand on heart that was the best time of my life. (If my wife is reading this then my wedding day was the best day of my life… and every day since!)

Let’s look at the word lucky in the statement above, I used it to say that I was lucky to be able to afford to go on a gap year but in reality I worked in various jobs as I travelled around to pay my way and nowadays it is surely financially better to only be a grand or two in debt before you start work than being 30 grand in debt when you graduate from University? Perhaps it was by demonstrating my work ethic whilst travelling that my first employer liked and subsequently offered me a job!

There is an argument that companies simply say all applicants must have a degree or even a 1st class degree to act as a preliminary cut of CV’s as they don’t have enough time to interview all applicants.

However a better and fairer way (in terms of equality and diversity) is surely to create your own pre-interview questions and have all applicants answer them, those that pass can then send their CV on to you and those that fail are not considered.

Such an approach wastes no time on interviewing the wrong candidates, it compares everyone on a level playing field irrespective of what educational route they took before applying for the job and it gives you a good idea of an interviewee’s strengths and weakness for you to delve further in the interview.

That is not a plug for eLamb‘s pre-interview assessment toolok, so maybe it is. We are experts in creating online assessments to aid the interview process, we have assessments that are already published and ready for you to use straight away or we can create custom assessments specific for your recruitment requirement.

The debate around the value of going to university is very evocative and is not something that is going to go away in the near future!

Don’t be shy say hello