Image courtesy Sony Classics
The other week I watched ‘An Education’, a movie about a brainy high school girl who abandons her ambitions for Oxford to marry an older man. She falls madly in love with him and thinks by marrying him, she will have a more exciting and cultural life, and escape her relatively dull and conservative upbringing. I’m not going to spoil the movie, but lets just say she gets quite a lesson in life and pines for Oxford again.
Even though it wasn’t a core theme of the movie, it got me thinking about tertiary education and whether it really was THAT important. I was brought up by Tiger parents, so it was instilled from an early age that university was the only option after finishing high school – I really had no other choice. My parents believed that it was the only pathway to ‘success’ and would offer me endless opportunities. Opportunities they never had.
But after 10+ years of work, I realised that there are many people around me that took vastly different paths but have become remarkably successful and dare I say perfectly happy? And most importantly they aren’t resorting to scrounging around in rubbish bins for scraps in order to survive – something my parents threatened would happen to me I didn’t go to uni. Many of my managers never even went to university, but worked damn hard and got lucky with the right networks to get to where they are.
In my case, where I studied and my qualifications isn’t even a factor anymore to the job I have now. Instead, work experience and ultimately who you know, has counted more. But I know its not like that with every profession with a lot of my friends heavily relying on their qualifications as the ONLY means to get to where they want in their career. And I guess you can argue that my qualifications got my foot in the door.
But is it crazy to admit that I still would prefer if my kids did go to university? University for me was such a great experience – and aside for getting that piece of paper in end – I made lifelong friends, got the chance to study abroad and went to some pretty awesome parties! But I know it’s extremely competitive now and you need to start thinking about university education for you kids as early as pre-primary with ties to the right school (i.e. extremely expensive private schools). And there are lots of opportunities and life changing experiences which don’t involve university anyway.
What do you think of university? Did you go and did it benefit you in the end? Would you want your kids to also go to uni?