Is university a waste of time?

As students return to campus for another semester, some may wonder if the degree they are looking to acquire is worth the years of hard work and the piling student debts. Studies have shown that high school grades are not indicative of which students will eventually drop out of university. There is also a lack of evidence to prove that those who do poorly at university face bleaker prospects than their peers who complete university with flying colours.

There are, however, compelling tales of high school and university dropouts making it big in the real world. Unlikely success stories like Virgin mogul Richard Branson and Tim Hortons’ kingpin Ron Joyce may cause students to make light of the D they received on their last term paper.

So, is it still worthwhile for students to toil for four to five years for a degree that will lead to more years of toiling in the workforce, just to secure a pension? Or should they tough it out in hopes of becoming one of the thousands of high-performing students who are silently reaping the benefits of a solid university education?

This editorial board is of the consensus that a university degree is essential to getting your foot through the door in the job market.

As one editor succinctly puts it: “In today’s world, an undergraduate degree is the equivalent to what a high school diploma was 30 years ago.” More and more students are graduating from post-secondary institutions each year. Laurier Brantford alone has seen a substantial increase in its student population every year since it opened its doors in 1999. It is no surprise then that employers expect candidates to show up for interviews with at least a degree or diploma in hand.

However, whether or not your grades at university matter – that depends highly on the direction you take after graduating.

“If I decide to continue on with schooling then, yes, I see my marks playing a huge role in my future,” one editor writes in an email. This opinion resonates with a majority of our editorial board members. Post-graduate studies employ analytical tools that students acquire during their undergraduate studies. The essays and research papers they write at university will have advanced their skills in thesis development, clear argumentation, critical analysis and overall sound research. Keeping a strong record of good grades at university is, in this sense, essential to get into post-graduate studies as well as successfully graduating.

But what of Branson and Joyce? How do people like them fit into the equation of success?
One writer contends that they are the exceptional few whose intuition, daring attitude and hard work landed them right on the jackpot.

“[When] it comes right down to it, not everyone is made for university and that’s okay – those people can still be wildly successful,” she writes in her email.

Perhaps these self-made millionaires aren’t too far off the mark. One of our writers can testify from his experience in the industry that when it comes to succeeding in the workplace, skills and experience trump good grades.

“I used very little of what I learned in school; just the basics,” he writes. “My grades were never brought up in job interviews or afterwards on the job.”

So grades, good or bad, largely impact you as long as you remain in academia. Out in, what many like to call the “real world,” solid marketable experiences and skills are the ingredients that will propel your career.

Things like co-ops and job placements are a great way to acquire practical skills that will give you a running start in the industry. So are extra-curricular activities that will develop your organizational and leadership skills – skills that demonstrate to potential employers that you are someone who can get the job done.

It still is prudent to equip yourself with post-secondary education. Just because you’re buckling down for another semester of lectures doesn’t mean that you’re losing out on the riches that the world has to offer the brave and daring. Just be sure to capitalize on your time here and aim for more than just straight A’s.

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