University fees are rising, purse strings are getting tighter and unemployment is high. With so many graduates flooding job centres and filling in job application forms by the thousand, it seems reasonable to cast away the idea of going to uni and getting a degree – there’s no guarantee that it will be good value for money, after all.
…or will it? Well, it depends how you use it. While it’s no longer simply a case of going to university and getting a job on that basis alone, the environment that these institutions create – as well as things you learn in them – can really be critical to future successes, if you have the chance to get yourself a bachelor’s degree in your chosen subject. Depending on where you go, and particularly in bigger city universities, like Middlesex University in London, you can really learn a lot, get involved in new things and meet the people who will encourage you to be better at what you want to be good at.
Two traditions are popular in university: societies and athletic unions (the latter known to many as “the AU”). Both are brilliant for improving your chances of getting a good job in future, and for different reasons.
Societies, for example, are usually university-run and funded, and with minor fees, people can establish their very own group and snag like-minded people at Fresher’s Fairs. It attracts a fantastic network of similarly-skilled individuals and, if it’s relevant to your degree (book societies for English students, urban exploration for photographers, etc), you can really build skills and become a leader in your chosen field before you’ve even got your first job. It also shows dedication to your field, and you can find jobs through other people you meet along the way.
Meanwhile, the AU not only test sporting prowess, but also give the chance for people to make real steps to learn new games and cultures. Whether it’s water polo, lacrosse or American football, these sports demonstrate qualities each potential employer looks for (teamwork, calmness under pressure, trust) while also giving opportunities to compete on a larger stage, travelling to new and exciting places. Again, it’s brilliant for networking.
The typical university campus also provides a huge amount of assets to anyone who wants to work hard and learn a lot. University libraries alone are worth their weight in gold, storing records and books in both hard copies and digitally, saving the average person hundreds of pounds in possible costs. This asset, alongside lectures from the top experts in their chosen field, provides a student with the ability and stimulation to independently think and ask questions, exploring new ideas and go their own way. It’s a habit best learned young, with like-minded people who too will support this growth.
Of course, many people find themselves going on to do more to separate themselves from the crowd. While a master’s degree or an MBA may look great on the average CV, getting the first three years of university right may be enough to put you ahead of the crowd and set you up for an exciting and profitable career.