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'Do I need to go to uni?'

Ask Jo

‘My parents think I need to go to uni to get a job but I’m not so sure. What do you think, does everyone need a degree these days?’

Jake, 17


That’s a good question and my answer really depends on knowing what type of job you want in future. If you’re aiming to be a lawyer, doctor, psychologist, physiotherapist, architect, accountant or teacher, you will definitely need to complete a university degree.

These days there’s a lot more pressure and expectation to go to university when you finish high school. But having a uni degree won’t guarantee you success. Other factors, such as your drive and ambition, will play an even more important role.

More and more people are going to uni than ever before (140,000 in 1985 compared to 932,000 in 2011), and the numbers will continue to grow – but that doesn’t mean that you should study just because everyone else is! But you need to be aware that your competitors in the job market will have increasing levels of education.

Research does show that people with degrees will generally earn more throughout their careers. You need to do your research and be realistic about the type of jobs that you will be able to apply for. Look at the requirements for the kinds of jobs you’d be interested in to see if they are asking for a specific degree.

Undertaking further training can open up doors that would otherwise be closed, but you don’t need to limit yourself to only university degrees; consider all available options, including TAFE and other training institutions. You might find it better to start with a certificate or diploma and use it as a pathway into further study.

If you don’t want to study on a university campus you could also look at studying by distance education. This will enable you to study in your own time and give you more flexibility to work. Another option to consider is completing an apprenticeship or traineeship, which will give you the opportunity to combine training with practical hands-on experience.

Your decision will come down to what type of occupation you want, but remember that even if you don’t go to uni straight after school, you can always go back later down the track. Good luck! 

Jo Messer

Jo Messer is a Career Development Specialist who has many years of experience in supporting and guiding students and graduates of some of Australia’s most respected universities, as well as mature-aged clients, across all facets of their career. She is a Professional Member of CDAA and an active member of NAGCAS. Whether you have a specific question about how to achieve your career goal or something more general, Jo is available to provide you with up-to-date advice.

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