On December 12, 2012 I attended my graduation at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. I now hold a Master of Information Studies. I do not in any way degrade university degrees or my ability to gain one but I do wonder if we’re churning out so many of these nowadays that they are becoming less valuable. Seems to me almost everyone has one. Of course this assumption is not based on any kind of valid research but on valid perception. And believe you me I am quite a perceptive gal.
Take my case for example. Having come from the service industry (I was a hairdresser for almost 20 years before I became a qualified librarian) it’s not so easy to enter a new profession without studying for a qualification. So I studied full time for my bachelor’s degree while working part time as a hairdresser. During this time, I also managed to gain some project work (set up a library system from scratch) and some contract work at the state and university libraries. Yep I was busy but buzzing with enthusiasm and energy in my new profession. Then I took some time off to have a baby but at the same time managed to study part time for my masters degree. At this stage, my only professional activities were sporadic relief work at a college library. Now as my four year old nears his beginning of school years I am looking forward to applying my knowledge and skills on a full time basis. However, due to the state’s economic woes, librarian jobs (or jobs that I can apply my skills to) are far and few.
So what to do with my ‘valuable’ piece of paper? I know that other states and cities (especially Canberra) have plenty of jobs going but due to my current personal circumstances applying for these jobs will be a tad difficult (although not impossible). I could go back to hairdressing, which by the way pays about $40/hour – more than the entry level income of some new graduate librarians (but alas, I have already declared myself a retired hairdresser). Or I could make a paper aeroplane out of it for my son to play with… I’m kidding of course.
But hang on, is the passage to better employment opportunities the the only reason for gaining a university degree nowadays? What about for the sake of learning and gaining knowledge in a particular subject of interest or life in general? What about the knowledge one acquires when you take on a field of study? Are you not a better person because you know and understand how things work? Education should help us to seek meaningful outlook to our lives and how we fit in to our world. We seemed to have lost the sight of this importance in education. I for one love to study and learn – anything. I could be a ‘student’ till the end of my days and would not be bored of this vocation.
So yes I value this piece of paper for two reasons. One, my degree represents a symbol of my personal and professional achievements and two it has helped me discover lasting values and significance in my life; thus creating wholesomeness to what and how I do things whether they are on a personal or professional level. How about you? What does your university degree represent? Is it a ticket to a new and exciting career; a mere financial burden or a more meaningful outlook to life?