As an adult (I use that term loosely) looking back on 16-year-old me dropping out of college (Aussie year 11) aged 16, I don’t regret it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I loved and still do love, money. I wanted to get out into the working world and earn money as quickly as I could. And so that’s what I did.
I was always an average performer at school, except in classes that I loved like Drama (notice none of the core subjects haha) - where I excelled. And for someone like me who had no idea what I wanted to do long term, I felt it a waste of time to continue to study at 16.
Now working as a Recruitment Consultant, a topic that often comes up is whether or not a candidate needs to hold a Bachelor Degree. I thought it would be interesting to share some of my experiences and see what others think too.
I must admit that when I’m reviewing resumes I do like to see a Bachelor Degree. It shows me someone has committed to something and made it out the other side. Whether or not they’re working in the same field as the degree is irrelevant, I still like to see a degree. Often, people get exposure to extracurricular activities through University which demonstrates to me their character. I had one graduate candidate who had completed an endurance trip and out of a group of 20 people including 7 females, she was the only female who finished the whole thing. Several men dropped out too. I was seriously impressed.
What do my clients think?
Aside from the Allied Health practitioner roles I recruit for (because these obviously need to be accredited by the health practitioner board), my clients are quite open when it comes to Degrees. Most clients expect a candidate should have good writing skills, good communication skills and resilience if they’ve completed university. You never know how a potential employer will view your resume, so a helpful hint to make a resume stand out without a Bachelor Degree is to highlight some tangible achievements that demonstrate good writing skills, communication skills and resilience. For example, the endurance trip that my graduate candidate told me about.
Clients can also have the view that they’d like the candidate to have the same background as them. One Masters of Business Administration (MBA) qualified candidate of mine interviewed with two clients recently and one loved that he had an MBA (because the client had one too) and the other client didn’t entertain any conversation about the MBA (presumably because he wasn’t Degree qualified and didn’t see the benefit). Don’t forget some of the Big 4 have done away with the Bachelor Degree entry requirement which makes me think other employees will follow suit and not be so stringent.
Studying later in life
I’m a big fan of studying later in life. I truly believe that if it takes you until later in life to find what you’re passionate about and what you can make a career out of, go for it. Some of my best Allied Health candidates have been those that have worked for a few years and even had a family before studying. I don’t think anyone would disagree that you will excel in the study if you’re passionate about the subject.
Working your way up
I specialise in recruitment in the Insurance space, and I come across lots of senior candidates and clients who aren’t degree qualified. It’s impressive that they have climbed the ranks in insurance and made it to earning some serious $$. Many people in the insurance world land a senior role that they didn’t even know existed when they were age-18. It then highlights the question, if that person had gone to study a Bachelor degree from school, would their destiny have been different? Better or worse? It’s impossible to know!
There’s no right or wrong answer to “Do I need a degree?” - it’s down to you.
Do you absolutely know what job you want to do and does it need accreditation? If so, definitely study.
Are you genuinely passionate about something that you’d love to study and decide later if you can make a career out of it? If yes, go ahead and study.
Are you not sure what you want to do for a job and/or you’re not keen on the idea of 3+ years of extra study? Then don’t feel the need to study for the sake of it.
Ultimately do what makes you happy (this is a common theme amongst my blogs…). For me, I was passionate about making money as soon as I could. I wouldn’t rule out further study in the future though...
I’d love to hear your thoughts?