Whether or not you need a degree is a constantly debated topic. With endless pathways and “ways-in,” a degree is looking to become less and less crucial to career success (in most cases). However, getting into your career field through a degree can make things a little more streamlined. We got two of our writers to weigh up the pros and cons of having a degree as opposed to not having a degree, based on what they chose to do.
We know this isn't applicable to everyone and if you're looking to study something like medicine or teaching you're probably scoffing at this whole article. But in areas that are less cut and dry with qualifications (industries like marketing, journalism and business) there's a lot more grey area surrounding what is and isn't necessary to get ahead.
Ben - dropped out of uni
I dropped out of uni after a week or so. I was completely terrified about making such a major life change, but looking back, I haven’t made a better decision since. Not being tied down to a degree has given me time to explore what I want to do with my life with space and time.
The sense of independence you feel when you have to figure out your career on your own terms is freeing. You’re thrown into the deep end in the best way possible. I’ve forged a career by myself in the creative industry without a HECS debt (yet). I can only see myself going up.
While I'm a strong believer of not needing a degree to achieve successes, that statement is true to a certain extent. I’m pursuing something in the creative industries, which means that it’s easier to kick goals and get jobs based on my own work and merit. However, you can’t really become a surgeon with a portfolio.
Not having a degree means I’m potentially limiting my career options in the future. I think one of the biggest things that bums me out is that I’m also missing out on uni culture. I can’t join clubs, or go to uni parties unless I manage to snag an invite by one of my friends and I'll never get to experience living on-campus.
Josh - studying a double degree in Law and Journalism
I’m one year away from getting my degree. Well, two degrees since I committed to a five year stint studying a double degree. And when I finally graduate, I’ll have more career options than some due to the requirement of having a degree.
While I chip away at the time I have remaining at uni, getting a degree has given me the opportunity to experience uni life–the usual piss up at the uni bar, the parties and making new friends. It has given me expert knowledge that I can apply in my work. But most importantly, having a degree will be a testament to myself. Sounds egotistical, but the fact that I survived uni is an achievement in itself and I'm pretty damn proud of what I've done.
On the other hand, there are some downsides. After making it through to the end of your degree, everyone just assumes you’ve got it all figured out. You’ve studied, submitted a countless number of assignments and done a few internships. But in reality, you don’t have it figured out. You're probably still just as confused as you were when you started.
I feel like I used uni as a scape-goat–a means to not deal with my future. Studying felt like a safe option. Now, I've racked up a massive HECs debt and have a degree that I might not even use in the future. Even if I do use my degree, I’m still competing with a cohort that have the same degree. It’s not a certainty to getting a job but it can help.
Whenever you decide to start the next chapter in your life, make sure you do something for yourself. If you’ve got a dream of becoming a solicitor, you’re going to need a degree. And while you’re at uni–enjoy it and make sure you take the opportunity to gain crucial knowledge. However if you feel like uni isn’t for you, don’t fret. You can explore life and decide what’s best for you through a tonne of different options.