Beyond Graduation – Does Having a Degree Guarantee a Good Job?
Every September and January, high school graduates embark on their university or college journeys armed with the well-advertised notion that simply attaining a degree or a diploma will land them a job in the future, and a good one at that.
Many students are told by their parents, educational institutions, and the rest of society that landing a good job and becoming successful is pretty straight forward – all you have to do is graduate high school, work hard to achieve good grades, enroll in a university/college, and once you graduate, the world and all the jobs it has to offer are yours for the taking.
They also tell you that working hard will get you far. As it should, right?
While that is true, that is only half the story and a portion of what will eventually bring success your way. Of course having a degree or diploma is a major part of career success. However, equally important is:
- Having a well thought-out plan for your career goals,
- Knowing how you are going to use your degree/diploma of choice to achieve these goals, and
- How you plan to market and position yourself to get your foot in the door (of meaningful employment).
Experiential learning opportunities like co-ops, internships and volunteer placements are offered by a few post-secondary programs that see the value in positioning you for entry into the workplace (by giving you the chance to gain relevant work experience before graduation). If your program offers any of these opportunities, you will come to appreciate their importance, if you don’t already.
Unfortunately however, most programs of study do not have experiential learning opportunities attached to them. This means that most students graduating college/university have little or no relevant work experience, making it increasingly difficult for them to break into the job market.
When I was a recent graduate, I could attest to the fact that many of us were highly UNinformed or MISinformed. The emphasis was on merely attaining a degree, without equal emphasis on important factors such as self-discovery, career exploration, career planning, and gaining relevant work experience that would position us competitively in the eyes of employers.
Countless students find themselves in a similar situation, graduating unprepared for entry into the work force, never having imagined being in the position that many of us found ourselves in upon graduation – underemployed or unemployed altogether.
The Missing Piece of the Success Puzzle
There is a lot more to landing a job and achieving career success than simply possessing a degree or diploma. If you don’t have a solid career plan, start making those connections early enough, and gain some relevant work experience, you greatly reduce your chances at seamlessly entering into the workplace after graduation.
Finding success in the career of your choice requires early and long term investment. The networking needs to be started early and the connections made slowly over time. Just because you graduated with a very expensive piece of paper doesn’t mean you will find a job in your field, unfortunately.
The primary objective of universities and colleges is to fill their seats and increase enrollment at the start of each school year. Whether the program you’re enrolled in is right for you, or whether you’re certain of your chosen career path is not their primary concern. They assume you have done your due diligence when it comes to your program selection. As long as your tuition is paid, they will gladly let you take any program you choose.
And if along the way you happen to realize that your true passion lies elsewhere, they will allow you to change your program, adding yet another year or two of study and costing you an extra $10,000 – $15,000 in tuition, books, transportation, housing, and food per year.
Many of today’s graduates are drowning in student loan debt with full time and long term employment increasingly difficult to find. It’s also taking young people longer to find meaningful employment, and even longer to pay off student loans. Not only do you need to recognize the importance of adequate career exploration, career planning and workplace positioning, but you need to be encouraged to plan and prepare for your future before enrolling in a university or college program.
The trial and error approach to choosing a career path (once already enrolled in a post-secondary institution) not only costs time and money, but motivation as well. Most students take five years or more to complete a four-year degree, but this does not always have to be the case if you plan ahead.
Making a Plan
Why not discover your interests and strengths, explore available career options, look into the labor market’s opportunities, and develop a solid career plan early? This would help you avoid costly career changes and give you a higher chance of successfully landing a job upon graduation. Investing in career preparation while in high school will save youth the potential trouble of changing majors in University, especially since each extra year of study costs over $10,000 if you include living expenses. This process may also save you the job-search stress later.
Are you a High School student who is:
- Uncertain about what career path you want to take?
- Unsure of what program to take in college/university to get you there?
- Having challenges making good career choices and need help making this important decision?
- In need of help researching Universities, Colleges, programs, and getting prepared for post-secondary school or the workplace?
Are you a College/University graduate who is:
- Unemployed and actively looking for work?
- Unemployed and tired of job searching with little or no prospects?
- Under-employed and working a job that requires no post-secondary degree/diploma?
- Employed on contract with little job security?
We would love to hear your story and opinion on this topic!