To degree or not to degree

With the arrival of A level results last week my daughter is undecided as to whether to go to university or not. A degree nowadays doesn’t always guarantee a better job.

Some of the worlds most successful business men have made it through life without going to university, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Simon Cowell.

And with companies like Ernst & Young removing their Degree classification from entry criteria  as there is no evidence that this equals success, it’s understandable why under graduates are opting for work rather than uni. Other companies who no longer require a degree education as validation for a job include: Google, Apple, Hilton Hotels, IBM, Netflix  and Bank of America.

Coming form an Asian background (my mother is Cantonese), a university degree is seen as a guarantee that you going to have a better life style, earn more money and live happily ever after.

Education in China is characterized as the “true religion of the people” and has always played an important part in Chinese culture with learning always being highly valued and respected. A poem written between 968 to 1022 AD by Emperor Zhenzong demonstrates how highly Education is revered in China:

To be wealthy you need not purchase fertile fields, Thousands of tons of corn are to be found in the books

To build a house you need not set up high beams, Golden mansions are to be found in the books

To find a wife you need not worry about not having good matchmakers, Maidens as beautiful as jade are to be found in the books

To travel you need not worry about not having servants and attendants, Large entourages of horses and carriages are to be found in the books.

When a man wishes to fulfill the ambition of his life, He only needs to diligently study the six classics by the window.

From personal experience, I spent most of my childhood with my mother constantly harping on about studying hard at school and that I would not get  a good job unless I went to university. Being highly dyslexic, I was not great at school, scraped through 8 O levels, 1 A, 2 Bs the rest Cs, A levels were really tough and I dropped out. I hated 6th form. I messed around for  a few years then went back to college to get my A levels. I moved to London in my early 20’s to take on a physiotherapy degree but then met  a couple of physiotherapists at the Gym In the City where I worked on Reception who were supplementing their salaries, one working as an Aerobic Instructor, the other Sports Massage Therapist. They could not afford to live on their less than £20k salaries. “SOD THAT” I thought and stayed working at the gym, put myself through Fitness Instructing and Personal Training qualifications and then 3 years later I was promoted to GM.

For me, having  a degree would not have got me further than I am today. My husband left school without any qualifications at all as he signed as a pro footballer at 14 and is now the MD of a hugely successful company. Some of the cleverest people I know do not have a degree, including my Boss Will who is super smart.

At OX Seven, half of us have a Degree and half of us don’t and I’m half way through one, whether I get to end or not, only time will tell.

My son has just graduated and he is the first child of three generations to get a degree much to my mother’s delight. We are all very proud. For my daughter, it is a decision she has to make for herself. Half of her mates are going to UNI, some travelling and the rest taking a year out to work and earn some money. She is going to take a year out to think about it and hopefully will make the decision based on her own beliefs and not on her Chinese Grandmothers wishes and over a thousand years of archaic thinking.


Veronica Winter

Health & Wellness Consultant

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