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Was My Degree a Waste of Money?

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For those of you who don’t know, I studied a Bachelor of Science at University in my home town of Christchurch. I enjoyed university quite a lot, mostly because I didn’t take it very seriously (whoops) but also because it was a really interesting, practical and engaging course.

I focused on the biological sciences, with a strong emphasis on genetics, microbiology and biotechnology.

After I’d finished my science degree, I decided to do a year of law to test the waters out. I had wanted to be a lawyer because I figured scientists didn’t make enough money to live my dream lifestyle and because I like arguing. Great logic, right?

Well turns out I didn’t really want to be a lawyer either, so I spent a total of 4 years at university, earned one degree and walked away with $30,000 debt.

I honestly don’t think I’ll ever use my degree. While I used to really love science, now I much prefer the industry I’m in. Maybe one day I could see myself being a science teacher, but for now I wont be using it for the next few decades.

So Was my Degree a Waste of Money?
Maybe. If you look on pen and paper it probably was a pretty big waste of money. When I traveling, I often thought about how much travel $30,000 would have bought me – probably 1-2 years of full time, constantly-on-holiday, travel.

I don’t use my degree, so surely it was a waste?

To be honest, I don’t think so. Before I went to university I could barely write a decent article. I consistently mixed up “there” ” their” and “they’re”.

At university I learned a pretty big lesson, too: I figured out what I didn’t want to do.

I wouldn’t be where  I am right now if hadn’t studied and where I am right now is pretty good. 

If I could do everything all over again, I think I’d choose a more practical degree. I’d probably study an economics degree or something related to finance as that’s my passion now.

My Advice for Those of You Who Are Heading to Further Education
Be practical about it – further education is probably one of the biggest investments you will make into yourself, both in terms of the time you invest into it and of course the money as well. Think long term! I was only considering what I like when I went to university and didn’t really think about whether it was something I wanted to do as a job, day in and day out.

Make Sure There’s a Demand
Sure, if you’re good enough at anything, you’ll find the work regardless of the job market, but it might be really hard. A number of my friends studied graphic design and the vast majority of them aren’t using their education; they’re working in retail and customer service based roles. There’s nothing wrong with that – at all – no judgement here from me, especially as I understand how bad the job market is, but what a shame to not be using your degree and to be working in a position that has no entry requirements that’s not your passion. The arts tend to be relatively hard degrees to use, but things as a doctor’s degree, teaching, economics, accounting, and certain science degrees seem to attract jobs pretty easily.

Minimise Your Student Loan
I didn’t really think of my student loan as a “real thing” because I didn’t ever see the money and just signed a few pieces of paper. Well, now the debt is very real I wish I hadn’t spent so much money on unnecessary things. Just be mindful that you’re going to have to pay it back and it’s going to be a lot harder to pay back than to take out. Try working while you’re at school or over summer to keep the loan balance as small as possible.

Did you study at university? Do you use your degree now or has it lead to where you are? Do you think university is necessary anymore in this Internet-lead world?

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