14 Aug 2015

Polytechnic Students: Should I Go Into the Workforce or Pursue Higher Education

As a polytechnic student, you are given the luxury of choice after graduating. You can choose to dive straight into the working world or pursue further education.

The knowledge you’ve gained at the diploma level will adequately prepare you for your first career. In addition, the internship you underwent as part of your curriculum will give you an insight into the challenges of an executive. It is thus common for polytechnic graduates to choose to gain an edge over their Junior College (JC) peers by taking a step onto the corporate ladder earlier.

But as a polytechnic graduate, here are some things to consider before making a decision.

Your Financial Situation

Many polytechnic students marvel at the prospect of being able to draw a monthly income at a young age. This situation is a stark contrast from having money drawn out of your (read: your parents’) bank accounts to cover your hefty university fees.

If you have a financial concern, it might make good sense to work first and earn some money before investing it on your education.

Your Time

Of course, the picture painted above would not be appealing to many. This includes people who have to take a longer route to arrive at the degree level – for instance, males who are required to spend two years in the Army.

Some Army recruits sidestep this unsavoury situation by pursuing higher education while serving NS. They turn towards private education institutions to pursue a part-time programme. This allows them to gain an income, maximise their time, and gain a qualification simultaneously.

Your Career Path

On top of that, you might also want to assess the career path you intend to tread. If you are looking at pursuing a career that requires you to wield technical skills, consider gaining a year of work experience before pursuing higher education. This will allow you to enter the job market after graduation with both work experience and a relevant qualification.

However, if you intend to pursue a role that requires you to tap on proficient knowledge, such as in the business and finance sectors, your competitive edge will be in the form of a relevant degree from a recognised institution.

Your Priorities

For a clearer perspective, write down a list of pros and cons of both considerations. The variables will differ from individual to individual because everyone has a different set of priorities. Talk to your seniors who might have been at a crossroads once, just like you are. After all, the experiences of others hold many lessons from which you can learn. 

If both work and study do not appeal to you at this point, consider taking a gap year to give yourself a break from the academic treadmill. Use your gap year to pursue hobbies and interests, volunteer, travel or even take up a part-time student job. Your exposure to the outside world will push you to become more self-aware, and possibly prepare you better for your future school or work environment.