So, it has come to that time of year again. 17 to 18 year olds across the country will immerse themselves into the long and arduous process known as university applications. And I happen to be one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s both exciting yet stomach-wrenchingly scary at the same time. My strict typical-Asian parents have been gearing me up for this moment since a year ago as they did with my older brother, and I am very grateful to them. Unsurprisingly, the next month or so is the most crucial time of my life.
Why? Because, unofficially, UCAS is my new best friend; I will sleep with it, eat with it and hate it all at the same time. I am temporarily entering a world where only predicated grades and personal statements truly matter. It’s a dreading thought but seen as a right of passage for Asian daughters and sons alike. Take a gap year and you’ll either be shunned or disowned. Or both. Unless that gap year involves a marriage in some form or another. (I’m not stereotypical at all. Really.)
That being said, what is it about higher education that both attracts and repulses young people? Well, the most obvious answer would be that gaining a university degree effectively equals some sort of solid career or job in the future; there is the unfortunate illusion that achieving a degree will guarantee a career path and long-term job security. Does having a degree in itself mean you are more likely to succeed in a career than someone who has not had higher formal education?
In short, absolutely not.
Unless, of course…. you’re doing an obvious Mickey Mouse degree.
I remember being told that some former Education Minister by the name of Margaret Hodge, during a discussion on higher education expansion, stated a Mickey Mouse course as “one where the content is perhaps not as rigorous as one would expect and where the degree itself may not have huge relevance in the labour market.” This is probably the most fluffed-up understatement I’ve ever heard.
Why in the world would you do a university degree course in ‘Surfing Studies’ or ‘Queer Musicology’ or God forbid, ‘David Beckham Studies’? The mere thought of completing that last one is ridiculous.
But thankfully, it seems universities are putting an end to these irrelevant choices, which is obviously bad news for young people who are trying to ‘dodge the draft’ and will have to find other obscure ways to spend the taxpayers’ money for three or four years. ‘Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said degrees in celebrity journalism, drama combined with waste management, and international football business management – all of which exist – should be “kicked into touch”.’1
As my mother comments: “Those students should not be at university in the first place!”
Maybe a little harsh but well said, Mother, I agree.
And so sorry, Beckhamologists, you’re just going to have to try and find something else to waste your time on.
1 – The Guardian, found in article by Jessica Shepherd.