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Should you continue to study after graduation?

By Nikita Jadav Dec 13, 2015
Photo: REX

Have you ever been asked the question: ‘what are you doing after university’ and felt ambushed, caught in the headlights, scrambling for words? I know that I have.

How many of us actually know what we want to do after university? I know some people who just keep studying and studying. Taking their bachelors degree, then their masters, then their PhD, just to escape the impending doom of actually making a decision about their future.

They don’t know what they want to do after university and they don’t want to make a decision that they will have to stick with. The biggest issue is commitment.

There is no obligation to accept the first poorly paid 9-5 job that gets thrown your way. You may feel that that is what you are expected to do by society, but it is ultimately your life and your decision. The aim of all this education is to secure your dream job, so you might as well do it right.

There is an unspoken expectation by society that graduates should succeed in securing their dream job straight out of university.

However, the graduate jobs market is a competitive place. Statistics from a study conducted by the New College of Humanities revealed that only half of graduates end up working in the field that they graduated in. They also showed that a massive 19 out of 20 graduates changed their jobs at least once, three years after graduating.

Comparing yourself to others in your life is really pointless. Just because your housemate has secured a fancy post grad job and you have no idea what you’re doing, does not make you a failure.

Undergraduate degrees are broad and after graduation students can realise they are interested in a new subject, which could potentially be unrelated to their chosen degree. It is completely reasonable to change career path at the end of an undergraduate degree. Some people take postgraduate courses so that they can achieve this.

Additionally, spending time in employment post-graduation can often prompt former students to realise that they may need a different skillset to succeed in their desired career.

The average person can change their job more than seven times in a lifetime. Economist Neil Howe said that just 5% of graduates consider their first job what they actually want to do. There is always the opportunity to change your career if you think you have made a bad choice.

Doing work experience is a good way to experience different career industries without having to commit to one. Postgraduate degrees can also be taken to satisfy personal interests, which are irrelevant to future career paths.

Having experience in two different fields can be a huge advantage when looking for a job. It will make you stand out as a dynamic individual and help you to find a niche in your career.

A study conducted by technology company Instructure found that UK graduates are less likely to find work in their desired field than graduates from Columbia, Denmark, Norway, Tunisia and India respectively.

Instructure claim that students from the UK tend to be “overly optimistic” about university being of any benefit in helping them find the work they want.

University is not the only factor that industries take into account when hiring. Most look for something that makes an individual different.

Work experience and apprenticeships allow candidates to learn knowledge and skills that future employers are looking for. Extra-curricular activities can set you apart from other candidates. Continuous education may not help you as much as you think it will.

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