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Should I get a degree?

Discussion in 'POC Section' started by AverageJoe, Dec 11, 2019.

  1. Trooper149

    Trooper149 Member

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    The big one I always consider is what are the legal obligations when making a career path. Some oppertunities require you to go into debt. Some require you to sign a contract. Some require you to make up front deposits. If there is anything legal involved, think carefully because you won't be able to just "change tracks". Royal Marines is a minimal 4 year commitment (which is fine for me) but for some might be too long.
     
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  2. Not_Real_Name

    Not_Real_Name New Member

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    Thought I should add my little bit of experience on this subject. I am currently going through the officer selection right now and am also currently studying at university.

    As part of my degree, I did a year in industry. I worked a real job doing real useful work and being part of a professional team. Loads of universities and subjects offer these. I think my application would have been lacking without that experience. It matured me a crap ton (Definitely more than my previous work experience of summers on a farm). Just taking me out of that school and then student bubble did me the world of good. It gave me a lot of experience looking at a variety of leaders with different styles and degrees of success, helped me realise what I was good and bad at in a real-world context and helped me build a better professional deminer.

    On top of that, it helped me confirm that I really want to be a marine or at least military above anything.
     
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  3. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    I understand that university tuition fees are not charged in Scotland for students who are ordinarily resident in Scotland for three years prior to the start of a degree course.

    Such a 'plan' would require considerable foresight and I'm not aware of further terms and conditions but it could be an option for some.
     
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  4. Trooper149

    Trooper149 Member

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    Indeed, I live in Scotland and it is a pro. The two debts you get at uni are tuition fees (cost of the education itself, typically 9/10 grand per year) and your living allowance (money loaned to you so you can sustain yourself, typically 3-5 grand a year). Scotland the tuition fees are paid for by the government, provided you have lived here as a citizen for 3 years prior. In Scotland, a 4 year course will leave you with 20 grand max of debt. In England it will be 60 grand. Bottom line, what is the percentage number of people on your course, achieving jobs within a year of finishing the course, and what are they paid? Work the averages and find what the freedom is for surplus effort equaling progression?
     
  5. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    My bold. To be more precise I think it's important to consider how many grads achieve a job within their desired occupation and at what they consider to be an appropriate salary.
    This is possibly where expectations are severely dislocated for some.

    Some schools and colleges remain apparently blinkered to the modern world of work, almost as if they are stuck in the 1970s when a university degree almost guaranteed a lifetime salary advantage.
    We've had several forum users in recent years who were dismayed because their school regarded their not considering university as a badge of failure. -banghead-
     
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  6. ThreadpigeonsAlpha

    ThreadpigeonsAlpha Royal Marines Commando

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    Because they weren’t good enough.


    You pass the standards. Or you don’t get in. It’s that simple.


    This ain’t no granola eating, spiced pumpkin latte drinking socialist state. It’s a meritocracy.
     
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  7. ThreadpigeonsAlpha

    ThreadpigeonsAlpha Royal Marines Commando

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    Nothing is free.


    The taxpayer foots the cost.


    Tuition isn’t free in Scotland, the Taxpayers pick up the bill.
     
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  8. Chelonian

    Chelonian Moderator

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    Out of interest, how do devolved matters such as further education appear in taxes? Is the cost transparent and identified or hidden away within the tax system?
     
  9. Major_Disaster

    Major_Disaster New Member

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    This post wins.



    Three years at university is seldom wasted socially. It helps you build a network, helps you grow up and could help you when you leave.
     
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  10. ThreadpigeonsAlpha

    ThreadpigeonsAlpha Royal Marines Commando

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    To be honest, I’m not sure. But I will Definately go and look now. I would imagine it’s covered by income tax. I hate that they offer free tuition. I would support STEM, medical topics being free. But not all the basket weaving nonsense. Same with prescriptions, why am I paying for some junkie to get their methadone hit. And the SNP introduced an additional tax bracket.

    Public services like NHS, Police, Ambulance and Fire Service are all devolved too, and the SNP have ruined them. Not to mention they blame Westminster for their own mismanagement of those services.
     
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  11. Trooper149

    Trooper149 Member

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    I was at a mid tier Uni in Scotland for 1 year (got out ASAFP) and to simply provide my experience: I was in student accommodation, sharing a flat with 16 people equipped with 1 kitchen. 7 of those 16 where druggies, getting messed up and not getting out of bed until 2pm. The rest were kinda ok but not one had any discernible aspirations. Most were doing woo woo subjects like film studies and art, 2 were doing STEM subjects (good on them). The kitchen was a slum. The floor for the first month had a 5mm layer of "slick" left over from coagulated alcohol due to the amount of drinking that was occurring. It had 2 full sized fridges that were packed with rotting food, I actually ended up getting poisoning due to spores because one of the druggies used my drying cloth to wipe mold off a saucepan.

    Honestly, I have a very low opinion of Unis. I am all for education, but education without experience = useless. Much better if the system simply got people into jobs, and then offered qualifications and education based on merit. I mean we have a workforce shortage in alot of areas by the looks of it. Probably because most of them are away using other peoples money to pursue useless degrees.

    Rant over, off to make a tea.
     
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  12. Parhelia

    Parhelia Member

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    I don't post much but wanted to add to the points made by @Chelonian , @Ninja_Stoker , @ThreadpigeonsAlpha , @JWJ and @Trooper149 above.

    Sorry for the long post ahead:

    Personally I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't go to uni unless it is necessary for the job you want to do after graduating.
    As others have said, there are plenty of other avenues into qualifications and good jobs without having to spend 3+ years doing a degree, not earning any money whilst doing it, and accumulating student debt in the meantime. That being said, I look at my student debt as an investment towards my future career, and I stand by that. It doesn't give me any grief because I consider the payments towards it as just like another tax. Having the loan allowed me to get my degree.

    I think it's widely understood now that gone are the days where a degree guaranteed you a job. But what sort of surprised me during my final year (when I was applying for graduate jobs at the beginning of final year) was that it's still hard to get a graduate job when you have a STEM degree - despite all of the news articles etc. stating that more and more students are applying for STEM subjects because of the understanding that it is a more employable field. This is true, but it still doesn't mean it will be easy.
    I did a degree in an applied maths and physics discipline at a Russell Group university, and one of my best friends studied maths at another Russell Group university. We spent months being rejected from jobs we applied for, or not getting further than assessment centres or interviews. I probably applied for 3-4 times as many jobs as those I got interviews for, and this was despite not having a 'Mickey Mouse' degree, and also despite knowing how to 'play the game' when it came to applications, assessment centres and interviews. It was tough and pretty demoralising. Fortunately I did end up getting job offers, and I am currently employed doing the job I went to university in order to get. My friend also got a job, but it was her only offer and over a year later she's not particularly enjoying it and is applying for other jobs now whilst the graduate schemes are open for 2020 graduates.
    This isn't to scare you or anyone else, but it is just a cautionary tale that a gaining a STEM degree does not mean employers will be scrambling to offer you a job.

    Also worth pointing out is that some people don't enjoy uni. I'm not trying to make this a doom and gloom post, but think it's worth letting it be known that for some people uni isn't 'the best years of your life' and full of parties and fun and endless good times with the odd bit of stress and studying. I didn't enjoy uni for a couple of reasons, and throughout my 3-year degree there was not a day that went by where I didn't hate being at uni. I think at least once a week I considered dropping out, but what kept me there was knowing that I started uni because I needed my degree to get the job I had wanted for over 10 years. Had I dropped out, I would have instantly regretted throwing away all those years of hard work leading up to uni, and all of my future aspirations post-uni, purely for 3 years of dissatisfaction. I considered that in the grand scheme of things, 3 years is nothing (and it's even less when you consider all the time off for Christmas, Easter and summer), and that the end result of getting my degree and my dream job would be worth every day of uni that I hated. I'm glad I had this mindset because I absolutely love my job. Do I wish I enjoyed uni more and had less of a crappy time of it? Of course. But in the end it worked out, and that's what I kept telling myself during my degree.

    @JWJ , I'm so glad you seem to be making the best of uni and you're really grabbing every opportunity. It made me smile to read of your experiences and I wish I had done that myself! I'm certainly not trying to undermine what you said.
    I thought that maybe I was weird for not enjoying uni when all you hear is that everyone loves it. I wish I had been told before I started that it's not that unusual to dislike uni; but it can say a lot for your character if you stick at it despite not liking it.

    Again, this isn't supposed to be a doom and gloom story, just me speaking from my own experience about how it's not all fun and games. It can still be difficult to get a STEM job with a STEM degree from a 'good' university; you are unlikely to just walk into one. Luck, persistence and networking are still just as necessary and relevant for getting a STEM graduate job as any other job.

    I think you'll have more determination to get through uni - particularly the bad days - if you have a goal at the end of it. I knew lots of people at uni who had no job or career plan both when they started and when they finished uni: "I think I'll just get a Masters and figure it out then" was a phrase I heard a lot. (That's not me having a dig at masters students, by the way.)

    To reiterate my first point: From personal experience and observation, I don't think you should go to uni unless it is necessary for the job you want after graduating/further down the line. If I could have done the job I'm doing now without a degree, I'd have never gone to uni. It can be a really enjoyable 3 years, or it can be a chore and a time in your life you wish you could just fast forward through. Chances are you'd enjoy it, but don't feel weird if you don't. But it's a lot easier to get through uni if you seize opportunities like @JWJ has, and if you have the determination to get through all the hurdles because your end goal is worth it all. I hated uni, but it was worth it because I wake up every day happy to start work because I love my job. Believing that that would be the case got me through uni.

    Again, not trying to be a downer, just trying to add an alternative perspective. I think schools and colleges can paint too much of a rosy picture of uni and I'd rather people be informed and not feel like they have to go to uni in order to be successful, nor be told that if do they go they will absolutely love very moment of it and have a job the day after they graduate.

    Whatever you decide to do: take opportunities, look at the big picture, and (if appropriate) stick with it even if you're having a bad day, because it will be over eventually and you'll be both proud and glad that you got through it.

    I hope this helps at all! (Sorry for the long post!)
    :)
     
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  13. JWJ

    JWJ Active Member

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    Absolutely, no path is ever the same for everyone. I’m not trying to paint the picture university is some sort of yellow brick road pathed delight, but just offer a alternative view often seen on this site. I’d certainly say you’re not in a disproportionate minority of people who really didn’t enjoy it.

    Even though it’s only been the first term, I’ve had week after week where I’ve not had a single penny, with just pasta and the occasional chicken breast etc. However I’m determined to make a good go of it all, and perhaps that’s one of the real benefits of both allowing yourself to develop and doing a 3 year degree; especially if you want to go to RT etc.
     
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  14. Johnny_Anonie

    Johnny_Anonie Moderator

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    Absolutely amazing post!
     
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  15. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker Admin

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    An excellent insight by @Parhelia.

    It pretty much undelines my thoughts on the subject. Spinning back to my second-hand experience of university through my son, and the relevance and value of vocational degrees.... He went to one of the top-performing grammar schools in UK where the average student was expected to gain between 11-13 GCSEs (at A* or, at worst B, in 'old money') and gain 4 A Levels at A or B. The pressure to achieve this was significant, to put it mildly.

    The students coped pretty well in the main as it was one of those schools, unlike mine, where it was cool to be a geek and excel. In fact, the reverse of my school.

    Where some students became unstuck was at A Level and there were two main reasons:

    Firstly the method of teaching for A Level is quite different to GCSE and the onus for study & research is very much left to the individual to achieve. If you were a bit lazy or not particularly academic, then there was no equivalent vocational qualification available. BTECs, HND/C's or baccalaureate, were not on the curriculum.

    The second reason, more importantly, was students took subjects they needed to achieve their career aspiration rather than subjects they were good at, liked or were remotely interested in.

    Very often students were influenced by their parent's profession and the associated income potential (surgeon's, barristers, etc). The thing that surprised me, for example, was someone would take Biology and literally hate the subject and invariably crash and burn.

    The lesson I learned from this is if you don't like the vocational subject, then the odds are, not only will you struggle but there's a strong possibility you won't like the job either.
     
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  16. Rover

    Rover Moderator

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    upload_2019-12-15_11-43-44.png

    A few observations.
     
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  17. Rover

    Rover Moderator

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    Against all odds: how going to university changed my life

    If you've ever dreamt of going to university, but felt that it wasn't a path open to you – think again. Meet Annaleigh Wynn and find out how she overcame the odds.

    I’m obsessed with education and the affect it can have on people. Whatever education you have, no one can ever take it away from you.

    Annaleigh talks passionately about education and the power it has to change lives, and she speaks from experience. She grew up in an area where, she explains, the “school drop-out rate was high, there were high levels of crime and a lot of adversity.” None of her family completed their GCSEs and university was never on her radar – “not even in a ‘reach for the stars’ kind of way,” she says, “but it changed my life.”

    upload_2019-12-15_11-50-18.jpg

    “Something like a laptop and internet access can take a child from average to outstanding”

    Growing up in a disadvantaged area was challenging and impacted on Annaleigh’s attendance at school: “When you live in an area that’s high in crime, it is distracting. Education and employability isn’t always a focal point. It’s chaos – there’s always some fire, and things like crime, anti-social behaviour, blue lights and police helicopters are the norm.”

    There were also financial restraints which meant that access to basic resources was a constant pressure – she qualified for Pupil Premium, was part of the Gifted and Talented programme, and attended the school’s ‘Get up and Go’ programme which provided free breakfast and enrichment opportunities.

    In secondary school, Annaleigh was given a free school laptop and internet access which, she says, “was possibly one of the greatest resources” for her, and something that people usually take for granted. “I’ve never been shy of hard work,” she says, “but something like a laptop and internet access can take a child from average to outstanding in the work that they produce.”

    upload_2019-12-15_11-50-18.jpg

    “Education was a positive coping mechanism for me”

    Despite the challenges, Annaleigh found that she thrived at school and education became “a positive coping mechanism” for her. She always had ambitions to go to college, but it was expected that she would get a full-time job after that – paying university tuition fees just wasn’t an option.

    It was while she was at college studying towards her BTEC national diploma in Sport and Exercise Science, that Annaleigh was encouraged to apply for university. Annaleigh was achieving good grades but says she just applied because she was told to: “It was more of a life-skills exercise”. It wasn’t until results day arrived, and she found out that she’d been accepted, that university became real possibility.

    She was apprehensive, but told herself that “if you’re that nervous it must be something worth doing,” so she accepted a place to study Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity at Durham University. She qualified for the highest level of financial support, without which she simply wouldn’t have been able to go, but said “it was never about chasing an academic dream.” For her, “it was an escape route.”

    upload_2019-12-15_11-50-18.jpg

    “I was made to feel on the bottom of the food chain, but I’m stubborn”

    The transition from council estate to university wasn’t easy and Annaleigh describes her first year as a “slushy” period. Not only did she have to deal with the usual pressures that face every student going to university for the first time, she also had to deal with the increasingly apparent socio-economic gulf between her and her new peers: “I was surrounded by people who had a lot more financial security than I did. I was comparing myself to all of these people and wondering what I could have been if I’d had what they had."

    “I was made to feel on the bottom of the food chain,” she says, “but I’m stubborn and I thought, ‘I’m going to work my way to the top and pass you all on the way up there!’”

    It was during her second year that, with the help of her professors, Annaleigh had what she calls a “psychological transformation” that rocketed her self-esteem. She realised that growing up around adversity had given her a different but no less valuable, skillset than her peers: she was elite in her own way. “I had gratitude,” she explains, “I was streetwise. I had unequivocal bravery, determination and grit. I was resilient. They couldn’t match my relationship with reality.”

    Once Annaleigh changed the way that she looked at herself and her background, there was no stopping her: “I became more comfortable with the world, who I was and what I was there to do. I realised that education has the power to make you significant.”

    In her third year, Annaleigh was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome: “It was frustrating because I had this desire inside to do things and I dreamed of being this highly functioning, intelligent and successful person, and my body and my mind just would not let me do it.”

    She had to step down from her role as Captain of the university netball team but, against the odds, she completed her course and graduated in June 2015. “It was,” she says, “arguably one of the greatest days of my life, and the sacrifices and fight I had put up to get there made it all the more satisfying.”

    upload_2019-12-15_11-50-18.jpg

    “If you’re big enough and brave enough to think about it, why not apply?”

    In her work at the football club, Annaleigh empowers her students by sharing what her life experiences have taught her so far. She teaches them that, “The bigger you become, the smaller your disadvantages become. You outgrow them with strength.”

    “I can’t take away their disadvantage,” she explains, “but I can help them accept it and turn it into something stronger.”

    Now studying part-time towards her PGCE, Annaleigh is passionate about sharing the message that a university education is accessible to everyone, no matter where they’re from. She tells her students that, “If you’re thinking about university, that’s enough. If you’re big enough and brave enough to think about it, why not apply?”

    “You hear so many times that ‘education’s not for everyone’,” says Annaleigh, “but it actually is. Education is a right, not a privilege. Everyone has the right to be in the college, in that uni.”

    upload_2019-12-15_11-50-18.jpg

    If Annaleigh’s story of overcoming the odds to get to university has inspired you, you can find more information on the UCAS website.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zjtkbdm
     
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  18. Johnny_Anonie

    Johnny_Anonie Moderator

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    There is little doubt as to why a good standard of education (not necessarily a degree) is required for the role of Officer. While there is little certainty about future challenges the Royal Marines will face with their re-role but the nature of conflict is inherent and does not change. It is political, human, involves uncertainty, chaos, chance and I guess... luck. Similarly, the fundamentals of military Leadership will endure regardless of the situation, but young officers must adapt to changing circumstances, encourage innovation, invest in understanding new environments, explore new dimensions and embrace technology. It’s definitely an exciting time to think about commissioning.
     
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