2 July 2013

Degreeless.

People often seem surprised I don't have a degree.  That's because they don't know how old I really am. It wasn't so de riguer to have them in my school leaving days, even though childrens' chimney sweeping days were well behind us.

I went to Grammar school, did well and didn't really understand what 'University' was.  It was assumed the clever ones in our class would go, but it escaped my presence of mind as a child to ask what it was - it seemed something so out of reach and alien.

I knew it meant more studying and when I talked about leaving to go and work in a Bank like almost everyone else seemed to be doing at the time, the Headmistress sat me down and said it would suit me to go to University.

That chat was wasted on a 16 year old without a clue.  My mum and step-dad would have made more sense of it, but weren't there.
They said I could go anyhow, but it still meant so little I shrugged it off.  It would be years later that I discovered that just being at a Grammar School automatically meant being one of the clever ones anyway.

Banking exams included a Business Diploma, which is something that's still useful because it covered a bit of Economics and Law and there certainly never used to be any shame in not being further educated than that.  I used to wonder about more Finance training but those days are behind me now.  

Kate Sutton Graduating 2010. 
It's not something that has to be ruled out for ever though. Many people I know have undergone life-changing studies and altered their careers entirely in their thirties and forties and not always with a supportive partner in tow to pick up the inevitable slack that will occur in other areas of an already established life with a family and home to run.  University is so much more attractive where no other ties are restrictive.

Nowadays, there seems to be a stigma around never having been, generating feelings of insecurity previously unfamiliar to me and when you know people like Kate (Wit Wit Woo) Sutton - who wrote her Single Mum's Story for me here and mentioned in it how she graduated as a mature student a few years ago, the cogs and wheels are inevitably inspired to turn.  

I quite fancy a degree now and as you get older, less and less seems out of the question.  One day it might just be me in one of those funny hats and gowns! 

What do you think? If you don't have a degree do you have an 'issue' with it or do you find it relevant or helpful if you do?

17 comments:

  1. I did a masters degree in my late 30s. I only did it to prove that I could. Since then I have taught English in colleges and universities where I wouldn't have been employed without the second degree. It cost a lot of money and the time commitment nearly drove me insane but I don't regret it one bit. It has def enhanced my life in terms of job opportunities and self esteem.

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    1. Ouch! That's an interesting thing - just to prove that you could. Glad it opened doors for you and that you're glad you did it. Thank you for your input :)

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  2. I do have an Economics degree but it didn't in any way shape or form help my career, so thank God it did not leave me in debt like it does with students nowadays.
    I do LOVE my cap and gown photo though :-)
    Liska xx

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    1. It must stand you in good stead in conversation though and I'd love to see that pic. Good point about the debt - a real issue nowadays! :)

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  3. I went to a grammar school, I left at 16 (against the wishes of the headmaster, as schools were paid extra for 6th formers!) to work in a bank. I married at 20, had two children, married again at 40, had two more children, so with my youngest now aged 22 and living at home I've been parenting for 42+ years and never had the time to think about any further education. I did a short OU course about 3 years ago, it was just 10 weeks but gained me a few points, but it has never otherwise occurred to me to want or need a degree. I think most kids these days are told they'll never get anywhere without one, but it seems that even having one is no guarantee for success. My OH has a degree, and in all his working life of over 40 years has never been asked to show it. I can understand, I think, why older people might choose to go back into education, but it wasn't for me.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Gosh that's is really interesting Joy - I removed my comment because there was a spelling mistake and I didn't think it was right when discussing Education to leave it there! I can't imagine 42+ years of parenting - the University of Life, they call that, don't they? They do seem increasingly irrelevant, so perhaps I just need to catch up with the trend! :)

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  4. Do it, definitely. It will change your life, and maybe not in the most obvious ways. I felt the lack of one, and did it when I was 25. It was something I needed to do, regardless of what the outside world thought about that. I'm glad I did. xx

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    1. Thank you Polly - I do feel the lack of one, but once everyone started having one, they do seem increasingly worthless in the outside world, so I'll give my own feelings some more consideration. Congratulations btw xx

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  5. Do you know what? I wished I hadn't done my degree when I did (18-21), I wasn't that interested in it at the time although I came out with a decent grade, I spent most of my time partying. But I am FAR MORE interested in studying now, and I think as a mature student, you have so much more desire, life experience to apply yourself to your studies. I was in my mid thirties when I studied/trained for a diploma in psychotherapy. Just love it. And if I had the money now, I would love to do a creative writing MA. I say GO FOR IT! XXX

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    1. Thanks for that Sarah - you've hit the nail exactly on the head and when you get your book deal there'll be nothing stopping you! xx

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  6. I have two diploma's from different college programs, plus many a certificate certifying me an expert in this and that, and that is enough for me. I do love school, and if I could afford to go back, I would, but it is not a necessity for me to have a university degree. It won't change who I am on the inside, it would just be another piece of paper.

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    1. Thanks for that Catherine - sounds like you've got enough paper to last a lifetime and perhaps you don't need to change who you are on the inside! I don't know if it's just a temporary thing, but it definitely has become more of an issue to me - or perhaps a niggle trying to lead me somewhere? xx

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  7. I did a History degree at 18-21. I didn't really know what else to do and I enjoyed it. It was from a good uni, and I did well enough that it got me some good offers for graduate training programmes - a definite door opener in that sense and helped me get on the 'graduate career path' in a big company. After I had Pip I decided on a complete change of track and started to study for a degree in Acupuncture. Who knew you had to have a degree? I was so up for it, but the course went bust 6 weeks in. This is because it was run by a private institution and with the end degree awarded by a university. (Who as it turned out, showed no due diligence in understanding whether the organisation they had partnered with for the course could actually deliver it. Which they couldn't because they were financially going down the pan)

    I mention this only because, if you were looking at a course to do with alternative therapies etc, I would not want you to fall foul of the issue I had. I lost thousands of pounds in course fees -and never got them back.

    One advantage for you in not already having a degree is that you would qualify for loan funding if you decided to do a degree. I didn't realise this but if you already have a first degree you don't qualify for a student loan if you decide to do a second.

    I would love to do a degree again, for the mental challenge it would hold and to be able to absorb myself in a subject that really interests me. Not right now, but maybe in the future. Given the costs involved though, I'd be making sure I could use it to make money and equally, that the organisation running it would be able to deliver it to the end! Good luck if you decide to take up the challenge. I am sure it would be an amazing experience. x

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  8. Thank you so much for all that - am so sorry that your course didn't work out and you lost all that money that could have, perhaps, paid for a different one - that's terrible. I know that Acupuncturists are highly qualified and there is a great deal of training involved. Thank you for remembering my interest in Alternative Medicine and those pointers - really good. :)

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  9. I think it is fab to go back and do a degree if that what takes your fancy but no I haven't got one and have no hang ups about it.

    I did used to joke that women once turned or nearing 40 it was a d or d, divorce or degree. It was a strong theme running through nearly everyone that I knew that hit that age. Me I broke the rules and did neither but that is just the kind of person I am ;-)

    P.S Kate looks great in her grad swags x

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  10. Surely, this elusive degree is no more than costume jewellery.

    If you've created your own opportunities, and are making the bucks, what difference is a degree going to make?

    Except debt, and a waste of 4 years of your life.

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