I read that more students are switching from the once-dominant degrees of BCom and BA to the more practical studies of IT, engineering, health, law and the like. My heart sang at this. Degrees such as BCom and BAs are now providing less certain careers. They are too broad, too general and too impractical.

I only wish I’d had this knowledge when I chose my degree. I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications in marketing and media five years ago, and while I am grateful for this education and proud to have a degree, looking back, I may not have chosen this path.

A Bachelor of Communications is great. However, the scope and broadness of it means hitting age 25 and wondering what you are actually going to do with this $30,000 piece of paper.

People coming out with a degree which can be applied to a specific job are far better off. They have a focused, defined and secure future and something to always fall back on. I used to think choosing a broad degree would allow me freedom to choose my own path but it is the opposite and I know I am not alone.

We are the generation of millennials hitting the dreaded “quarter-life crisis”. We are one of the first “lucky” generations to have so many options, yet the least amount of idea what to do.

We graduate like blind mice, stumbling through the workforce until the quarter life hits. What does one do with a marketing degree thousands have? How do I get into marketing without experience? Do I even want to do marketing? What even is marketing? Don’t products sell themselves these days through free media?

In my opinion, an 18-year-old is not mature, wise or worldly enough to know what they want to study. I remember our teachers telling us it was time to register for university. Panic hit and I chose marketing. Not because this was my passion, not because I knew anything about it. Perhaps marketing sounded “cool”. What a way to choose your future.

There needs to be more guidance at high school to assist students on how to choose a career, more information on degrees, what careers this can lead to. High school students are making uninformed and irrational decisions, then ending up with a massive student loan and a dismal career path.

Someone once told me it doesn’t matter what you study, as long as you have a degree. Yes, it gets you the job interview, shows you can stick at something, that you have discipline, you can study and learn. Despite this, (I hope my boss doesn’t kill me) I remember little of my three years at university.

Although I am now lucky to have an amazing job in which my degree has come very much in handy, it came after a time of major self-brooding and months of the “what do I want to do with my life” question. I might also add that a lot of people are now finishing their degree, travelling, only to come back with the dreaded “what now?” question. Many are going back to re-study something they have found they are passionate about, because they are older and wiser, with life experience.

Maybe it takes time, maybe we have too many options and are spoilt for choice. I don’t know but I do know the following:

1. Get career advice before university. High schools must make this more readily available, informative and compulsory.

2. Take a gap year. After four and half years of travel and living abroad, my maturity and mind were no longer as they were before I departed.

3. Get some work experience. Work for free, do an internship, experience is more valuable than any piece of paper.

Lastly, don’t go to university because someone says to. The reasons for going need to be your own and no one else’s.

Rosy Harper-Duff, daughter of author Alan Duff, works in the wine industry on global events.

Source: NZ Herald


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