Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Why I valued my NVQ more than my degree.

In my opinion, far too many people go to university at the age of 18 these days. There are many good things about a university education, I'm just not sure 18 years old is the right age to make best use of the opportunities that university offers.

On the social side, I think that university makes a superb step between living at home and adult life. But the social side was a by-product of going away to university. It is also a hugely cost-intensive commitment today. (Unless you are being bankrolled by The Bank of Mum and Dad).

It's the academic side I'm not so convinced by - unless it is for a professional course that leads to a professional career.

Many years ago, people went to university and, after graduating, were pretty much guaranteed a step on the first rung of the ladder of their chosen career, with a clear path for progression.

Currently, many people leave university to what? Some come out and go straight into 'graduate jobs', but many more don't. Most are usually saddled with significant debts.

In addition, because so many people have degrees, the value of having one deflates.

So what is the point?

Back to me. I went the traditional route of school, university, job. University was a given extension of school. I don't think I really wanted to study and I didn't particularly enjoy the course I did. In hindsight, I'm quite ashamed of the opportunity I squandered. How my friends and I chuckled at the mature students sat at the front of lectures, busily scribbling notes and asking questions long after the lecture finished. Don't get me wrong, I had a brilliant time socially. Academically, for me, it was not a good use of four years.

Roll forward a few years and I'm working for a freight company. I was offered the opportunity of doing an NVQ and, later,  assessing NVQ's. I jumped at it! I spent many evenings cataloguing my evidence, writing statements and generally arranging my folders. I wanted to study and was interested in the course. In addition, I could also relate the course to the job I was doing. I had to invest my evenings and weekends in the course and did so gladly. I valued it and felt a certain pride at my achievements.

There is no doubt having a degree has value but I am becoming more and more convinced that there may be a better way than the traditional route of school followed by university.