19 Jul 2013

Q&A: Is It Worthwhile to Pursue a Degree While Working?


Although I’ve never been to university, I’ve amassed a few good years of working experience. But I now stand at a crossroads in my career: Either stay in the workforce, or take time off to pursue an undergraduate degree. Is it worth the time and money to do so?



If you're wondering whether a degree is still a worthy investment, you’re in good company. A Singapore minister’s recent comment that a university degree wasn't “vital for success” in Singapore’s economy gave rise to fervid discussion (both online and in coffee shop circles) about the value and role of a degree in today’s workplace.


Money Makes the World Go Round
In recent years, the cost of living has been escalating, and higher education is no exception. Taking up a full-time degree will place a heavy financial strain on you, and you need to seriously consider if you can cope with the triple whammy of lost income, steep tuition fees and student loan payments (if applicable) – and last but not least, whether you can secure a job which recognises your qualifications upon graduation.


Disruption of Work-Life Balance
Although a part-time degree is now offered by many private institutions, taking night lessons after a hard day’s work will often leave you with very little personal time for yourself. And let’s not even get started on the academic assignments which you may have to undertake over the course of your study.

As a result, time management will become that much more important, especially if your daily routine and personal health are not to be negatively affected.


Opening Doors to Greater Opportunities
Like it or not, a degree is the de facto educational standard in the workplace. Positions that require a degree not only tend to pay more, they also offer better employment benefits and career progression options. If you don’t possess a degree, you face the risk of hitting a glass ceiling in your career sooner or later.

Furthermore, employers commonly perceive degree-holders as being more motivated, quicker to learn and having better communication and problem-solving skills – the validity of this is certainly up for debate, and is (unfortunately) a possible factor in your decision to pursue a degree.

Ultimately, this decision should not be taken lightly. Weigh your priorities, do your homework and conduct market research to compare the amount of money you will make in your career of choice after graduation against the cost of the degree you intend to pursue.

If you find that it is within your means, why not pursue a degree now since you’re already considering it, and do bear in mind that a university course will get harder to complete as you get on in years. All in all, if the math supports your decision, taking up a degree can be a good investment in your future career and in your personal development as an individual.


Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd