Most resumes and employers place a heavier focus on experience over education on a job application. Unfortunately for studying students, it is difficult to gain the required experience while studying full time at university for 3 to 4 years. Hence the question stands, do you really need a degree in today’s professional world?
Recently many leading companies have changed their mindset about requiring degrees, including Google, Netflix, Tesla, Penguin Random House, Hilton, and Apple. As Elon Musk said, “the main value of college is to be found in proving discipline.”
One of the key criticisms of degrees is that they fail to equip students with the real-world skills they need to succeed in a job — while straddling them with huge amounts of debt.
Abbi Kavanah from Linkedin joined in on a conversation on the topic explaining her experiences on the matter and the challenges she’s facing in the hunt for a job.
“How are students who have just spent 3 years doing a university degree supposed to suddenly have 5 years experience. ‘I have a degree’ doesn’t matter to employers, they’d rather you say ‘I have experience’.”
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However, degree proponents claim the invaluable connections built-in university that will open doors and provide opportunities as you enter the workforce. Additionally, specified skills and collaborative environments learnt and practised at university will form the foundations of most industries.
For example; to some employers, completing a degree shows an individual’s commitment and ability to dedicate themself to complete a tedious task. These life skills are valuable to an employer, even if the degree specialisation does not align with the job title.
Jane Hahn, manager of graduate talent development at Deakin University said, “learning in a university setting is more about developing as a truly independent, adult learner who can engage with new content or ideas and apply them in multiple contexts.’
Some of the highest paying roles in our economy; doctor, lawyer, vet, engineer or finance accountant are unachievable without a degree. Additionally, having completed a tertiary degree can make you more employable against competitors.
In Australia, university debts are paid off against your income over several years. Educational attainment and income are closely correlated, with higher degrees typically leading to higher salaries.
Although it is more expensive to get a degree than to get work experience, there is a ‘ceiling’ that you can pass through if you have a degree, which you can’t pass through if you don’t.
There are trade-offs, of course. University is expensive, and the more years you spend getting degrees, the fewer years you’ll be out in the workforce, earning money. However, as your career progresses your education and studying practices will form the basis of prospects and opportunities.