Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Further Education, is it worth it?

I’m a bi-product of the Labour generation’s motto ‘education, education, education’. I can count up to twenty without needing my toes, and I can spell count as well. So hurrah, I’m a success according to their system. I’ve been to university and come out with a good degree. Shouldn’t the world by my oyster?
    Of course not accounting for the current recession, and youth unemployment hitting record level, this leads to problems for graduates getting a good job. Long gone are the days when a degree is actually seen as worthwhile by employers. I’ve had the answer from my own parents’ who have run businesses for most of their adult lives. They would rather get someone without qualifications and train them up from scratch.  My parents thankfully are the kind of people who always encouraged me to what I wanted and never showed anything but support that I went to university.
    But I became disillusioned in my last year of undergraduate study of what I actually wanted to do for a job. Journalism never appealed. My dreams of being an author have not taken off the ground, and I don’t fancy being the starving poor writer. I might be twee at times, but I’m not cliché.
    So here I found myself applying last minute for a Master’s degree in creative writing. It ticked al the boxes. It would only take a year, classes were only four hours a week, I could just about afford the tuition fee and I’d got in before the great big hike in tuition fees.
    Sadly the course has now lost some of its previous lustre. It promised that I was going to be a published writer this year. Another hurrah! Even if it was a little book of poetry, I could proudly claim I was published! It said something about getting an ISBN number too. Even more official and shiny.
   It however has transpired that the promise of being ‘published’ is literally to print the work off the computer and staple it together myself. Perhaps that is publishing in the proper sense, to ‘make public’ my work, but it doesn’t quite feel the same as going through a traditional route.
   This brings me to the point, is further education worth it? Perhaps if you wish to study for a PHD and become a lecturer, but this is a narrow route few can afford to take. I know of friends who are going about their careers in a purely practical sense. One friend who wishes to work in heritage has been volunteering tirelessly, and is seeing great results. Sadly there has been no job offered, but her experience and knowledge will put her well above someone with a qualification. Another friend has always wanted to be an editor, she works in a shop, but saves up to go do internships in London, which will look great on her CV. In this case they stand above me with their experience and extra activities.
    My CV looks terribly bare in comparison. Perhaps I should stay true to my creative writing, and fabricate some lies to pad it out. The kids I babysit could now be the child I tutor in English (and manners in general-messy eaters who never keep their elbows on the table.). The poet who I’m working for, well now I’m a mentoring him.
    I guess it’s all about how you look at it. I try not to wonder what I would be doing otherwise, or what I could do with the money. I’ll have MA after my name, and I’ll probably still be pouring beers in a year’s time.

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