GUEST COLUMN

Degrees of confusion

Students are often baffled about the next step after graduation

gallery-image Aiming High: Students of NM College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai | Amey Mansabdar
gallery-image Taking a break: Students at Miranda House College, Delhi | Aayush Goel

Wise men say you never stop learning in your life. But, for students completing their graduation, the dilemma is whether to opt for higher studies and continue learning, or to work for a period of time and gain valuable experience. The decision plays a crucial role in moulding one’s future and career path in the long run.

Knowledge enhancement is possible only through higher education, which you may miss if you start working soon after your graduation.
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” - Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn, American entrepreneur and author

Students often feel that higher education requires a huge financial in-vestment and a good number of them are unable to meet the expenses. Many students opt for jobs because they believe that the skills gained through work experience cannot be attained through education. The other major reason why students seek jobs after graduation is money. On the other hand, students continuing with their studies believe that a higher level of education focuses on professional outcomes. Postgraduates earn higher than the graduates, and many students prefer to complete their postgraduate education, and improve their earning potential. However, higher education does not necessarily mean better skills or better career. If you desire a better career, focus has to be on the kind of learning that enhances your knowledge and skills.

HIGHER EDUCATION: THE PROS AND CONS

Rishabh Mehta Rishabh Mehta

Advantages

American novelist John Hoyer Updike once said, “You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it.” There are many advantages in choosing higher education, the major ones being better employment opportunities and sure shot chances of earning more.

Knowledge enhancement is possible only through higher education, which you may miss if you start working soon after your graduation. Higher education also improves confidence and prepares you to meet the demands of a highly competitive field. It will also teach you the value of time and money. No doubt, higher education will help build a better you.

Disadvantages

Opting for higher studies has some disadvantages such as the cost, which will be higher when compared with graduation. There is an element of risk as one might or might not get the desired job or the desired salary, even after getting a postgraduate degree. It is a time-consuming process, and one has to invest two or three years more. There are chances of getting demotivated, if you are unable to achieve the desired goal after investing time and money. And, there might not be any income when you are doing your postgraduation.

JOBS – THE PROS AND CONS

Advantages

American entrepreneur and author Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Money is always welcomed happily by everyone, especially when you are being paid for your hard work. One of the chief advantages is that you are able to learn practical skills while working. You also get a chance to put into practice all the acquired skills, and become more aware about the market. Plus, the benefits that a job offers, like pension and insurance benefits, can be availed. A bigger plus is that you attain recognition in society when you start earning.

Disadvantages

One major disadvantage might be that it could affect your health as you may have to work long hours. Opportunities for growth will be much less as the resume will lack a postgraduate degree or diploma. The other disadvantage is that students might lack in-depth knowledge about various topics. Moreover, when one starts working, the urge to make money overtakes the urge to attain knowledge.

WHAT THE TRENDS SAY

While the debate over higher education versus employment is a never-ending one, reports say that there is not much difference in the percentage of students who opt for higher education and jobs. The choice seems to be dependent on one’s own interest. Students often switch back to studies after working for a year or two. Often, higher studies are taken up by students interested in research.

HOW TO HANDLE THIS DILEMMA

The issue of higher education versus employment can be taken care of, if one devotes time to knowing oneself, and to understanding where one’s interests lie. Opting for either of the two has both pros and cons, but neither has been proven to be an inappropriate or bad decision. The decision would vary from person to person, their capabilities, calibre and efficiency. The best way to approach the question is to analyse one’s goals, as this will give a better perspective of what would be of help in attaining the same. Another effective strategy is to consult people in the field of your interest and interact with them to understand the requirements, and then make a decision.

Both postgraduate education and jobs can be beneficial in enhancing your employability. But, if you are opting for postgraduation, then it is essential to know whether the stream you choose holds value, and whether it will help you to have a fulfilling career. After three or four years of graduation, there are many students who are happy to see an end to the era of assignments, college schedule, attendance and exams.

There are plenty of options available to students in their final year, if they want to start working soon after graduation. Proper guidance and support from various career guidance centers, websites, graduate offices and career fairs, either on campus or organised by groups such as What After College, are useful. You should make use of them to talk to relevant people, gather information, and figure out the best route for your preferred career path.

At the end of the day, all that matters is your being satisfied and happy with whatever you do in life. The ball is in your court, and your potential can be unlatched by combining the power of knowing yourself with hard work and consistency.

Mehta is the founder & CEO of What After College.