The pros and cons of higher education from a graduates perspective

Many people enter higher education because they want to get into a good career after they complete their studies. Over the duration of their degree, they develop knowledge and skills and ultimately improve their future employment prospects. However, it is important to bear in mind that higher education might not be the right path for everyone and there are multiple factors to take into consideration when deciding if you should attend.

Here are some pros and cons when considering undertaking higher education.


1. You develop skills

new skills

Studying at university is a great way to develop your knowledge in the field you aspire to become established in. Universities can also equip students with transferable skills including; research skills, time management skills and improve your ability in using computers. These skills can enhance your employability by enabling you to stand out from candidates who may have not gone to university or gained these skills. To enter into professions such as law, accounting or marketing, it is highly likely that you will need a degree to be considered for an entry level position and without a degree; it can be considerably harder and take longer to break into these professions.

2. Increase your earning potential

Pay increase

Everyone would like to earn as much money as possible and a degree can certainly increase your earning potential. Although your salary will vary depending on which degree you have and what profession you enter, it has been established that graduates will earn significantly more over the course of their lifetime than a person who has not gained a degree. Attaining a degree can also improve your chances of gaining promotion and may enable you to climb up the career ladder quicker.

3. Provides an opportunity to make new friends and connections

Student friends

University is a great place to meet new people as they will be in the same boat as you and you will be sharing similar experiences. This means you will more than likely have some things in common with them and this can help you to build rapport with your fellow students. You will be attending various lectures and seminars containing different students in them, and this will give you the opportunity to meet a variety of different people. Many students form strong friendships whilst at university and go on to become life-long friends.

4. You will gain independence


When you enter into higher education, you have taken a step towards improving your future prospects and this can motivate you to work towards your goals and aspirations. Many students decide to attend a university away from their home town and this will more than likely be their first time living away from their families. They will experience living on their own and will be obligated to pay for their accommodation and living expenses while managing their finances responsibly. If you decide to attend university away from home, you will experience life as an adult and gain a new level of independence and maturity.


1. It’s expensive!

Credit card

University is very expensive and finance is a big aspect to take into consideration. Tuition fees cost thousands per year and graduates leave with a considerable amount of debt. In addition, you will need money for accommodation (if you are attending a university away from your home town) and money for living expenses. Student loans and grants can be taken to help you pay for your studies but this may not cover all of your costs. Once you graduate and find a job where you are earning over the threshold to make repayments, you will slowly have to pay off your loan and this can hang over you for years. University is well and truly an investment in your future but it is not always guaranteed to pay off.

2. You will have an intensive workload

Work load

You will be responsible for your own workload and must ensure you are fully committed to your programme. If you’re full time student, attending various lectures and seminars can be demanding and lecturers also encourage independent study so students are expected to dedicate a portion of the time in which they are not in lessons towards their studies. If you have taken a part-time job to gain some extra income, it can be difficult balancing university with your working life and this can be quite stressful to many students.

3. You may not gain any practical experience

Work experience

While reading a degree, you will learn plenty of theory in the subject you are studying but you may not get the opportunity to gain any practical experience. After completing university, many graduates start applying to graduate roles only to find out that they do not have the hands-on practical experience to be considered for positions. They may have to undertake unpaid work placements or internships to gain experience and this can be hard to commit to if they have taken up employment in another field and are no longer very flexible. After completing these placements, graduates may still not have the relevant experience an employer requires and this can leave them feeling like university may have been a waste of their time.

4. You may have a change of heart…


Part way through your degree, you may decide that you have picked the wrong course and want to change. This could potentially mean waiting until the end of the academic year to change your degree and at this point, you will have already paid for a whole year’s tuition and living expenses. You could also have a change of heart and come to the conclusion that university might not the right for you and want to leave. Many students decide that they want to go down another route which does not require a university education and though they may be exceptions, the likes of Richard Branson and Philip Green have become highly successful in their fields without any higher education.


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