There is a lot of discussion nowadays on whether it is best to enter the job market straight out of school or to go to university and get a degree. In the 1960s, it was feasible to go to university, buy a car, buy a house, raise a family and have job in a supermarket earning £20,000 a year. Unfortunately, £20,000 a year will now only get you a roomshare with a flatmate who doesn’t clean up after himself.

Even 20-30 years ago, going to university was a prestigious opportunity and considerably cheaper.  Going for a night out at university was a lot cheaper than it is today.

The modern system has inverted the university experience from a Rite of Passage to a Christening of Debt. The average student racks up, on average, a debt of £40,000 [1] only to never pay it back and allow it to accumulate interest.

The battle for an entry level job now appears to be fiercer than The Battle of Stalingrad, including the countless causalities of students facing the grim reality that having an art history degree, without any experience, does not guarantee them the £100,000 job they visualised whilst tripping in their friend’s room.  

So far, university doesn’t seem as optimistic as it used to, however, that’s not to say that there aren’t any pros to going.

University Pros

  • The Degree

Depending on the degree you decided to take for the years you spend at university determines your employability. I think it is without question that getting a degree in STEM by far surpasses your opportunities at finding a higher paying job than a degree doing Humanities.

Accountants, Lawyers, Doctors are all valuable in the job market as they provide specialist skills that much of the general population does not have, hence higher salaries (supply and demand). Unfortunately, writing on your CV that you read “Infinite Jest” and “Pride and Prejudice” at university does not make you more interesting or qualified to your employer.

  • Social Life

It is without a doubt the uni life is one of the most social times of your young adult life.

Freshers Week – the first week of university.

Here you are thrown into the pit of freedom, the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want without your parents say. You have been freshly blessed with your sweet government cheque to spend it on “books” and “learning materials”. You’ll have stories about how you have never felt more hungover in your life and how “it was such a great night I can only remember the beginning of it”.

Many of the friends you make, may be friends for life, after all, they were the ones to carry you back home and ensure your safety (of course whilst recording it all on their snapchat).

Yes it is considered one of the “best years of your life”, no rules or consequences, until of course you turn 25 and realise that your carefree lifestyle truly does have consequences and you are left dreading about the remaining 65 years of your life.

2 in 5 students try drugs at university and a majority of them regret doing so. Rampant alcohol abuse and drug addiction at such a young age is no secret.  [2]

  • It Makes Your Parents Proud

Graduating university makes your parents proud. Who doesn’t like to feel appreciated by their parents once in a while?

 University Cons

  • The Great Scam

I, as well as many other teenagers, were told that “you have to go to university, it is the only decent way to get a job”. Crazy to think that the education system you worked so hard to get your GCSE’s and A Levels from wanted you to remain in that same education system and pay them money to do so?

The true cost of university is unspoken about but it is no secret that it is a debt machine. It’s even worse if you are a living away from home studying in London. A regular 3 year degree course can cost you up to £63,780[3] including your maintenance loan (this, of course, is excluding the years of interest you will accumulate). It only get worse if you choose to do a Masters or a PHD.

Fortunately for you, the debt is cancelled after 30 years whether you manage to pay it off or not and they only start charging you once your salary hits the threshold of £26,575.

Many students go to university unaware of the interest they will obtain after years of finishing their course. At the moment the interest rate is up to 5.6% (3% + RPI 2.6%) of your overall debt, which means every year the amount you owe increases. Not only that, but the actual interest rate percentage changes every September depending on what the RPI is set at. [4]

In short, your £63,780 loan turns into a debt of £130,858 after 30 years, more than 2x the original loan! Not only that but the more you earn, the more you pay!

I have attached a link for you to visualise your student loan after 30 years

  • The Job Promise

Unfortunately, there is not guarantee of finding a good paying job for the degree that you do. In fact almost 1 in 10 [5] graduates were left unemployed for more than a year after leaving university. 47% [6] were underemployed meaning that they were in jobs that did not require a higher education degree. COVID19 is also not making that easier for you.

Having a law degree doesn’t make you exempt from having to wait tables or serving people drinks at Starbucks. 

You are competing against millions of other people for jobs that might even pay well and experience, as well as, who you know trumps everything. Simply having a degree does not mean you have the transferable skills that is needed. You now need to go above and beyond the expectations.


What truly is the difference between you working for 3 years vs you studying at university for 3 years? Assuming you were able to find a job at £18,000 per year, the version of you that worked would have earned £54,000 more than version that studied for 3 years.

  • Internships & Volunteering

 Having the experience to back your degree makes you extremely valuable. Even being able to say you volunteered doing something, regardless of how relevant it is to your degree, makes you more employable.

Employers are looking for skills learnt from experience working. Helping an Accountancy Firm file documents for a summer or even bringing your dad a coffee at his garage every Saturday is worth more on your CV than simply saying you studied abroad in France for a year.

Internships are fantastic for this and there is a full range that you can apply for, paid or unpaid.

Here are a few links to help finding an internship:
  • Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are truly underrated. You get paid to work and study.

I understand that an apprenticeship may not be beneficial to everyone. Depending on age an apprenticeship may cause you to struggle financially.

Apprenticeships tend to be lower paying than a regular job, depending on what market you are going into and how old you are, however, the benefits of having a qualification paid for and the potential of having a larger salary in the future, truly outweighs the sacrifice in salary for the first few years.

The company that takes you on also has more reason to see you as a valuable asset to keep as they are building you up for that specific job role.

Here are a couple links to help assist you with finding apprenticeships:
  • Jobs

As mentioned, finding a good paying job is harder than before. However, that is not to say that you need to necessarily find a white-collar job working in front of a computer for 40 hours a week.

Make yourself valuable. Build skills. A good welder or heating unit installer is far more valuable in the job market than a person who has no attainable experience or skills. Make yourself valuable. Get a skill.

As mentioned, experience is everything.

If you are at a point in life where you are unsure of what to do or where to start get up and go. Even if it’s starting out by eating healthy and lifting weights. Do something. Create opportunities for yourself.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. It is better to have something productive that you did not like for 6 months than nothing at all.

Be smart with your finances. Learn to budget and to not overspend. Learn to save and generate more wealth.

You have amazing opportunities in life, however, it is down to your attitude that determines your future.



[3] (£9250 x 3 = £27,750 standard 3 year course) + (£12,010 maintenance loan x 3 = £36,030) = TOTAL £63,780