The idea that university prepares you for life after it is quite frankly, impossible. Nothing can prepare you for the sudden realisation that you are out on your own, in a job, earning money and answering to someone who could potentially sack you for no good reason. That being said, university has many benefits. It develops your social skills, gives you a new independence that you didn’t have before and the most obvious thing it gives you is an education.
In Ireland there is a certain snobbery around the idea of getting a masters and then a PhD and becoming a total beacon of knowledge before you step foot in the work place and while this is all well and good for some people, the reality is it isn’t most people’s cup of tea. If you have a gift for learning and it is something you are passionate about, then university can serve as a tool for you to expand on this to a high level. However the idea that you must have a million different certificates to prove how smart you are won’t always cut it in the workplace. Unless the job requires you to study further, then there isn’t much point in doing a masters because all your friends are doing them.
University gives students a great foundation, but it really is up to the individual to make the most out of it and perhaps to visit a career guidance counsellor instead of spending yet another afternoon in the college bar. Students who take advantage of the free CV advice and information days by prospective employers are the ones who will excel and while university provides this, everyone graduates with the same degree at the end of the day.
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college and they have been some of the most successful people in the business history, with no education to back them. The reason for this was that they had exceptional gifts in their fields and were able to use their own initiative to create global brands, but not everyone can do that and that’s why most of us need university to get our foot on the ladder.
College serves as a great stepping stone to a career and having a degree will open many doors for you that may have remained shut if you had decided not to do your studies. However, college can’t prepare you for the workplace. Nothing can prepare you for that until you walk into your first “adult” job feeling like a first year all over again. The only thing that can prepare you for life after college is the belief that you can do it, and that whatever gets thrown at you, you’ll be able to handle it. Sure you just went through three or four years of hard education with more late nights and cramming sessions than you thought was even possible, didn’t you? The workplace can’t be as bad as that.