5 Harsh Realities about Higher Education

Although you are a firm believer of the benefits higher education can offer, you are at the same time cautious about what advice to give to teenagers (especially your kids, nephews, nieces, God-children).

The reason is that you are aware of the following 5 harsh realities.

Here they are:

Harsh reality #1:  A university degree does not guarantee a job anymore

Gone are the days when having a degree meant you can get a job as long as you wanted to work. Nowadays, graduate unemployment is around 20%. This statistic says it all. At the same time, higher education has become a requirement for getting any decent job. It is a vicious cycle.

Harsh reality #2: Higher education is expensive

Tuition fees in most of the UK will increase from a max of £3,375 in 2011/12 up to £9,000 from 2012/13. Most students will take a significant student loan (up to £50K) to finance their studies. Depending on the career they choose, it may take them the rest of their working life to repay it.  With this in mind: do you advise young people to study a traditional academic subject or one that will make them more employable?

Harsh reality #3: Job prospects vary widely across subjects

There are more than 1,200 separate degree subjects and over 50,000 course combinations within the UCAS scheme.  In addition, the long-term career prospects for some are significantly better than others. Hence, the decision-making process can be quite complex and overwhelming.

Harsh reality #4: The quality of higher education varies significantly

There are 165 Higher Education institutions in the UK and the quality of education on offer is not the same across them. Given the imminent increase in tuition fees, students need to ensure that they get good value for their money.

Harsh reality #5: What worked well in the past might not work in the future

We live a very fast-changing environment. Technological advancements and globalization are the two major forces behind these changes. Many new professions appear all the time. Others disappear.  Warning: Advice based on our own experiences might not be up to date anymore.

These 5 Harsh Realities basically say that higher education will come at a significant price from now on.

So, it becomes even more important that young people choose a subject that is right for them and that will lead them to a career they love.

Is there anything you can do to help them?


You can:

  • encourage them to explore their passions
  • help them understand their strengths, and
  • encourage them to think long-term.

It is important that we help young people make informed choices. We really don’t want them to end up with big debts and jobs they don’t enjoy.

If you know other people who might find this post useful, please share it with them.

Korina Karampela is the author of two books: the US edition ‘b4iapply to college‘ and the UK edition ‘b4iapply to uni‘.  She is a pharmaceuticals executive and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her b4iapply blog is recommended by The Guardian for professional development. This article was also published at Huffington Post.

This entry was posted in b4iapply to college, b4iapply to uni, Higher Education, Link education with career, Value for money and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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