Is Higher Education Truly Even Worth it?

[Featured Image Credit: Ben Stephenson]

It’s July, and half of our summer vacation is now over. Courses have been enrolled into and we’re slipping into the last few weeks of summer before we bury ourselves into our books again…which I’m sure has got almost every student just like myself thinking…is my degree even worth it?

At some point in our undergraduate (or post-graduate) careers, we have come across the thought that the degree we’re working for isn’t exactly what we thought it would promise.

Undergraduate/Post-graduate degree ≠ Career/Job

Why am I spending so much money at an institution where the degree I receive might not even guarantee me a job or provide me with the right skill set? Why am I devoting so much of my time to memorizing these facts when I know I won’t be needing to regurgitate this information at any other point in time in my career? Am I even gaining anything worthwhile from my time spent here or would it have been better to explore my options before entering this program? 

These are just some of the thoughts that have popped up in our heads over the years…and the answer to the stated question ‘Is Higher Education Truly Even Worth it?’ is: more so yes than no.

The debate on higher education is something that is ongoing, and can open up a whole other discussion. Does it really matter where you did your undergraduate degree and in what? Shouldn’t education itself be a matter of public interest rather than private gains? Canada is not nearly as far and forward-thinking as its other worldly counterparts (due to various political, social and economical reasons). With news coming out this year that Germany abolished university tuition fees for all local and international students…it’s got us all thinking – how do I get to Germany now and more importantly…is university really doing me any good?

It depends on several factors. If you’re in a program such as nursing, medical radiation sciences, or biomedical engineering, you’ve chosen a set field in which you know you’ll be able to find specific work within. With other degrees such as with my own Life Science degree…well it has its pros and cons. I’m grateful to be within this program as it allows me the flexibility to explore several areas of science. I’m sure there are several other students out there like myself that don’t exactly know what they want to pursue. My program doesn’t limit me to a strict course list and allows me the joy of taking several different electives where I’ve gotten to dip my toes in business courses. The main downfall is that it is not a specific program meant to train me for a certain job. In this case, further and continuing education aids in allowing one to build upon their knowledge base and build up their skills needed in the workforce. In addition to your chosen program, your personal experience at your school as well as the opportunities available to you also are a deciding factor. Larger universities have more course options and extracurriculars that can help mold you into a well-rounded individual ready for the workforce. Other universities offer things like co-op (which I would highly recommend to all new students), experiential placements and programs to connect students with workplace mentors. It ultimately depends on what you make of your time at university at the end of the day.

Yes – you’ll never really need to repeat how a protein signalling pathway works for your future boss, and you may have lost out on your social life, your money and sometimes even your sanity…but it is worth it at the end of the day. Here’s some proof: University education pays off new report finds. 

Your luck may not be as good as those genius tech whizzes that earn millions through their startup ideas…and you may not have the best of journeys throughout university, but you can proudly say that you have learnt a lot and have been molded into a wiser individual. University not only teaches you the things you learn out of the textbooks but skills needed in the workplace such as: time management, life balance, teamwork, communication and organizational skills. It’s a place for growth before you enter the next phase of your life where you make new friends, are constantly expanding your knowledge base and also make memories that will last you a lifetime. It might become financially and mentally frustrating at times..but my advice to all students is that you must make the best out of it. Go talk to that professor you’ve been wanting to talk to, go join that sports or arts club you’ve always wanted to…put in that work to seek those opportunities because they won’t be waiting for you! Learn as much as you can, make good connections and don’t regret it! Any experience within life teaches you something and if you ever feel you should make an academic or career change – do it. Don’t complain, don’t wait or be afraid, explore your options, work hard and be thankful that you are lucky to be in a country where you have access to a meaningful education!

Life is what you make it, it’s that simple and plain. Sometimes we get sunshine but for now we’ve got no rain. (Guantanamo – Outlandish)

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