Global economic recession, high rates of unemployment and increased tuition fees paint a miserable picture for school leavers looking to go to college or University. What’s the point? Traditionally if you wanted a good job then University was the way to go, spending at least 3 years learning the knowledge and then you were pretty much guaranteed of walking into a good job at the end of it- wham bam thank you ma’am and you’d have a good ride along the way.
I wanted to go to Uni, I wasn’t forced into it by my parents- I had a choice and I took it. I was warned by school teachers that the work will be a lot, lot harder than school and to think long and hard about it. One of my teachers said she’d only just paid off her student loan, she was quite old so that was slightly concerning but I already knew that they only took a small percentage out per month so I felt the positives outweighed the negatives. Would I make the same decision with tuition fees at 9k? I’m not sure.
To be honest I thought my University course was easier than my GCSE’s, I had to get a meagre 40% in my first year at Uni to pass through to the next hurdle. The institution settled me in gently, allowing me to spend more of my time on 3-legged bar crawls, drinking cider out my shoe and shouting our University chant like I was going into battle. Little did I know that 2 years later that I would enter a battle, a battle to get a job!
3 years of amazing and happy times later, the day of graduation arrived almost like an intervention, telling me enough was enough and now I must leave the incubator and join the workforce. After all I was brimming with knowledge, high on ambition and trained like a ninja to cover all eventualities my future job may throw at me. Bring it on.
Graduation day was a pleasant affair whilst slightly strange having my smartly dressed parents, beaming with pride walking through my stomping ground. As I walked up to the graduation venue and past the local kebab merchant, memories of the rugby social we had a few nights before came back to haunt me, 6 of us dressed in girls clothes walking/stumbling home arm in arm talking about the finer points of a good doner kebab. To distract my wondering mind from discovering any more embarrassing memories I pointed out a nearby art gallery to my parents and said “It’s really good.” I’d been there once in 3 years.
We entered the vast concert hall where the graduation ceremony was being held, we were the 3rd batch of the day filling up hundreds of seats, my seat was still warm from the previous occupier- he/she was probably worried, like I was, about the many things that could go wrong. Will i trip over, will my pants fall down, what colour pants do I even have on?! etc etc.
The ceremony was presented by the most senior University faculty who I’d never seen before but I presumed they were probably descendants of a holy nature and had full right to be presenting me with my freshly printed degree or as I jokingly refer to it, my receipt. Admittedly I spent most of the ceremony studying peoples faces as they had to cross the vast space across the stage to shake the unknown-but-important-man’s hand. Just to let you know my findings, i found that the vast majority of people locked eyes on the man as they crossed the stage, often without blinking, scared to the bone of the vast crowd to the left of them. Many people opted for an early raise of the arm, walking up to 20 feet with their hand already extended which I enjoyed greatly. A handful of people determined to make this a memorable occasion even turned to the crowd and waved, a couple of girls did a little dance and one girl roared and fist pumped the air which personally I thought was a bit too much. If she was my daughter I’d have her put down. Personally i want for an early extend of the arm and then rather regrettably patted the man on the back whilst shaking his hand, very RnB and totally inappropriate.
Graduation day came and went, I had one final furore with my fellow primates and a few days later packed up my belongings and left the place that had become my home and provider of happy times. I moved home, living like a child again in my parents’ house and embarked on the job hunt, still full of beans and optimism. However the weeks past into months and I, like thousands of other students across the UK, couldn’t find any jobs.
It’s a genuinely desperate and demoralising feeling when you search the vast number of job websites and all that you see are hundreds of recruitment vacancies. How can recruitment be so popular when there aren’t any jobs? This still confuses me. In desperation I actually went for a number of recruitment interviews and I was briefed by my recruiter prior to each interview that if they ask me why I want that job I should say “I want a big house, nice car and loads of cash.” A refreshing but slightly more cringe change to “Because I really enjoy working in a team and getting job satisfaction.” For the next few weeks I visited many offices, adopting the role of a complete tool pretending I wanted to do recruitment. I didn’t get any of the jobs, my CV was too creative and one person said I was even ‘too nice.’ I’m sorry but when was that a problem in the work place? Just to add I’m sure not all recruitment people are idiots, just the ones I met.
Take a snapshot of graduates today and you’ll see thousands of students struggling to find employment or working in jobs they could have got without getting a degree or the debt! This pool of ‘tomorrows talent’ gets murkier each day as thousands more graduate with high ambitions but no opportunities. What I’ve heard a lot from employers and job vacancies is that students need to have experience in that industry to get the job however at the same time, many times students can’t get experience until they have a degree. Come on lets be honest, monkeys could do most of the jobs out there- just give us a chance!
The average student now leaves University with around £20-25k of debt and around £30k for those unfortunates in the capital. That debt is going to rise even higher with 64 Universities announcing that they will charge the full £9,000 a year tuition fees in 2012. Is University a worthwhile investment at this cost? This is an ongoing debate and not one I’m going to attempt to answer, the full impact of the governments decision on tuition fees and the state of the economy will be revealed in time.
All I would say to people out there considering University as an option is to definitely think long and hard about it and what you want out of life. Does your ideal job require a degree? Are their any jobs out there once you graduate? Can you get into that job another way? Could you put that money, your future debt, to a better use? etc etc.
With the vast numbers of people going to University these days and the rise of unemployment, its getting harder and harder for people to get jobs. My advice is that once you’re at Uni you need to gain as much experience and skills as possible so that you’ll stand out amongst the thousands of other hopefuls when you graduate. There’s so many opportunities to make yourself stand out at University, from getting involved in sports and societies to gaining work experience in local businesses, take every opportunity- it goes so fast. Just think about the day when you’re all done, you’re sat in the sobriety of your family home and you need to get a decent job. What makes your CV different from the others.
Fortunately my extra curricular activities at Uni were the ones that got me my dream job, the degree just got me the interview. Don’t give up, keep trying and good luck to all the new students out there who’ve decided to take the plunge! Whatever happens you’ll have a great few years, trust me! ;)
Written by Ben Oliver, The Student Channel