What are you prepared to lose to get a university degree?

You read correctly. “What are you prepared to lose to get a university degree?”

I was at a convention last week where hundreds of students had the opportunity to talk to representatives of various universities. I talked to a number of teenagers. Here is a snapshot from a typical conversation:

  • What degree do you consider?
  • History.
  • Why?
  • I enjoy the subject.
  • Have you thought what career path you want to follow when you graduate?
  • Not a clue.

It is interesting to see that even during these highly uncertain times, we cling to the old formulas although there is clear evidence that they don’t work anymore as well as they used to.

We encourage young people to get a university degree (any degree irrespective of their strengths/passions/employment prospects) despite the high graduate unemployment rate and the increased tuition fees.


It is a matter of incentives. Schools will do anything to boost their league table position. Politicians want to ensure they get re-elected. Universities have places to fill to survive. The situation will only change when the right incentives are put in place.

So, what’s the conclusion?

It is very simple.

The responsibility about your future is shifted to you, dear student. It is up to you to think long-term and link your education with the career path you are dreaming of. This is great since you care about your future more than anybody else (including your parents).

As I said in a previous article called ‘Is it worth going to University?‘, there is no answer that fits all. Each of you has to consider your individual circumstances and make your OWN decision.

Investing in higher education is similar to investing in property. In principle, the benefits of both investments are many. However, a positive return on investment (ROI) will be achieved only if you invest in the right property.

Same principle applies for higher education. Prospects vary across subjects and universities. If you study a subject that you are passionate about and it has good future prospects, you will have a fulfilling career. On the other hand, if you get qualifications in an area that is not in demand, then you will have problems finding a job. Hence, you need to be selective about what to study and where you study.

A question that you also need to ask yourself is ‘What are you prepared to lose to get a university degree?’ Think of the worst possible scenario (not great job prospects and a big debt). Think also of the benefits of studying the subject you have chosen. Then, make your decision.

This is what successful entrepreneurs are doing; they have an idea of the maximum they can afford to lose when they invest in a new venture and they are happy to take the risk when the upside is significant.

Korina Karampela is the author of two business books for teenagers: ‘b4aipply to college’ and ‘b4iapply to uni’ for the US and the UK respectively. She also runs workshops to empower young people and their parents to make informed decisions about education and career choices.

This entry was posted in Career Advice, Higher Education, Link education with career, Value for money and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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