Investing in your happiness: The true value of further study

The true value of further study. Source: Shutterstock.
The true value of further study. Source: Shutterstock.

Making the decision on whether to gain a postgraduate degree or not has never been more difficult. With degree costs skyrocketing in the UK and US, taking into account the financial side of higher education is crucial.

A masters degree promises higher-paid jobs and faster career advancement. But does it always deliver on this promise?

To put it bluntly, no. Whilst often a masters degree does provide graduates with better opportunities, an MA isn’t necessarily a fast-track ticket to the top of your chosen career. Experience is often just as valued, if not more.

Jade Hallie embarked on an undergraduate degree in Psychology; before taking a three-year diploma in Nutrition. Hallie decided to forgo masters in favour of a diploma. Although, she claimed that, even with two qualifications under her belt, she “would not rule out doing a postgrad in the future.”

Hallie decided to study Psychology when she left school as it was a topic which interested her. Her decision to undertake her Nutrition diploma stemmed from a growing interest in the field and a desire to enter into the sector. Because the courses were in different fields, Hallie decided that a diploma would be more beneficial than a masters degree.

Investing in your happiness can be expensive, but it is invaluable

A passion for a subject is paramount. Hallie feels that the opportunity to expand your mental horizons is priceless. If you study what you love and work hard at it, a career will most likely stem from that. It’s all about choosing what’s right for you.

Hallie’s work encompasses many things, but it is simplest to call her a nutritionist. Speaking to Study International, Hallie said:

“I think for me, my degrees certainly opened doors. Psychology enabled me to work in mental health”.

“This led to a wider interest in general health and wellbeing, which is why I invested in further study. As a result of this, I have been able to undertake work where I am able to improve people’s health with a very person-centred and holistic approach.”

A qualification can be used in many ways

“The jobs I undertook straight after uni did not necessarily require my degree, but as I have climbed the career ladder it has become more important.

“At the time of studying, I was not quite sure what I wanted to do with my life,” said Hallie, “but my education has enabled me to do all sorts of things, from running various community programmes, to working with individuals, to lecturing, all of which I have found to be incredibly rewarding.”

Many graduates, however, feel just as pressured to embark upon a postgrad degree as they did on their undergraduate course. Many young people are steered by their uncertainty. The allure of university is strong; the chance to do something positive, meet new people and often get a little freedom away from mum and dad.

Students then often pick courses which sound good but are not necessarily beneficial to their futures. For postgrad and undergrad, there is little point in studying something you’re not fully invested in.

Source: Tumblr/phdstudents

You will either be miserable in your job post-graduation or enter into an industry which is completely irrelevant to your degree. In the latter case, many students could have saved themselves huge amounts of debt and found their ideal career straight from their undergrad.

Being specific pays off

Ask yourself: what do I want to do with the qualification? If you know the exact answer to this question then pick a course which will best match your career choice.

“You have to be clear about your objectives and the positions you’re targeting,” said Wendy Enelow, an executive résumé and career consultant.

It is also wise to ask yourself if you can get to where you want to be in your chosen career without a masters degree. If you can, is the cost of the course truly worth it?

Studying for a masters is a fantastic chance to further your knowledge and boost your career prospects. But, the key is picking something which will benefit your future.

Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should embark upon a masters or not. However, it is important to remember that further study is always going to be an option, but you can’t get the fees back once you’ve started a course which is wrong for you.

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