It seems like these days many people complain about how useless their degrees are and how it was a waste of time, effort and finances. I used to be the same, resenting my degree, blaming people for the arduous years of university I’ve had to endure. But now at long last, at the end of my 5 year degree, I have drastically changed my perspective, and so should you.
I realised I have developed a lot of skills from my own course (Dentistry) such as problem-solving, staying calm in stressful situations and managing problems as well as my time. I remember being told Dentistry requires a lot of problem-solving skills but I never really understood how until now, and ironically I don’t think it is the actual Dentistry that has helped me develop these skills, but more so the fact we need to be so organized and efficient as Dental students to be able to complete the never-ending assignments, revise for exams, have a social life at university AND actually graduate from the degree!
Although you may resent your degree for not being able to immediately land a job in your chosen field, with a decent salary or even any job because you don’t have experience (which is a common problem my graduated friends tell me), you should realise that there are skills you have probably developed as a university student that you wouldn’t of otherwise. These include being an independent adult with responsibilities of living away from home (which may sound trivial now, but it isn’t at all – just think back to when you first moved to uni from home, and how difficult that transition was – living alone, away from your family, having to cook for yourself, no one telling you what to do with your time), controlling your finance, as well as actual skills from your course such as being able to read scientific literature for example if you are a science student, or being able to organize your time effectively, which I’m sure most students can relate to.
It is not so simple to say that a typical 3 year degree is worth the time, effort and money spent in exchange for these soft skills, or a piece of paper (which seems to be the standard for employment these days unfortunately). But do not look at your degree you have achieved in hindsight with regret and resentment – doing so will get you nowhere. What’s done is done, you already spent 3 years of your life on your degree (if you are a UK university student, undergraduate courses are typically 3 years. It’s been 5 for me!). Now is the time to move forward, not be stuck in the past with regret.
I am not in support of the notion that you MUST have a university degree and that it is the be all and end all of your career and job prospects. There are many successful people, very smart, intelligent, exceptional people who have not gone to university and escaped the school system. However it is wise to note that they are very exceptional, and have an unstoppable fury in knowing exactly what it is they want, which is not the case for most of us. For most people, who will go to university, there are certainly benefits. To get the most out of it, you must reflect on the many skills and invaluable life lessons those unique years of experience will have taught you, because there will be many.