Unused University Degrees

A mini pumpkin pie - warm and ready to eat with double cream

 Hi folks

I work with so many people who are not using or have never used their university degrees and working in totally unrelated fields - was is that?!

After some long contemplation about the 'whys and wherefores' of this phenomenon, the penny dropped. Consumerism.  Over the last ten years there seems to be a massive shift in education, its aims and curriculum. It is pretty easy to see it is now a huge money spinner.

Pumpkin biscuits

I am lucky enough that two of the HM daughters are finishing their nursing degrees which have a specific end result, yet the pathways the other three HM daughters have chosen at university may well become blurred and unclear if due diligence and career determination is not applied. An unused degree is a big waste of $30K plus when our children walk out of university (college) at 22 years of age.

Folk returning to university as matured-aged students usually have a more focused outcome but even then, I have highly qualified friends who earn less than me and struggle to find and keep satisfying careers. Go figure.

Just about everyone has the chance to go to university nowadays and many do, some jumping from course to course and racking up almighty education debts with no outcome at all.  I hear all too often "Oh, don't worry, we don't need to pay for it till we are earning $30k a year" (or whatever the figure is). Hello! It is still a debt that is legally payable, and whilst not charged interest, is certainly CPI adjusted year on year. I shudder at the thought of so many young folk having $30K plus debt before even being employed.

Baked quiche made from fresh eggs
from our hens.

Don't worry - I am a big advocate of being as well educated as we can or need to be, but I am not a big advocate of racking up a debt with some education provider based on scant pre-thought about the tangible return on our education investment dollar. I have heavily encouraged my five HM daughters to get degrees and forge careers for themselves so they can be self-reliant in this new and uncharted society that we all live in. However, I have insisted that they study something that they can use and build on in the future and are passionate about. Nevertheless, they will still need to play hard for a position in their chosen fields post graduation.  University is no longer a ticket to a better pay packet or a better life like it once was....from what I observe.

Pre-baked quiche base ready to pour the egg mixture
over the top and bake in the oven.

I look around and see trades people with better incomes and happier lives than many university educated folk.  I also see people who are courageous enough to put their hand up to take on the unlovely jobs within a corporation doing better than those sticking to their chosen disciplines.  There might be a lesson or two in that.

Pie anyone? Pumpkin pie and Autumn
go hand in hand.
(It is Autumn here in Australia)

I see many educational providers with profit as a huge driver of their institutions rather than the quality of their courses and development of their students. So many courses are offered when universities know there are simply no jobs at the end of these degrees - its is a marked shift in approach. Maybe it has always been like this and I am only noticing it now with five daughters currently in the 'system'.

Moussaka being layered up.....

I know there are many exceptions to what I have written today - but I am just saying what I see.  I guess I directy benefit from 80% of my staff being highly qualified and certainly over-qualified for what I employ them to do. My gain, their loss and disappointment. I could not imagine having a double degree in some discipline and having a job sitting answering phones in a call centre all day long....and yet that reality is rife.

Sweet potato - a new hero in our kitchen these days.

Lots to think about.......anyway -

Take care folks and stay nice


P.S. Oops...lots of food pictures again.


  1. You speak a lot of wisdom in this topic Mr. HM. I didn't know situation in UK is also mirrored in Australia....I don't think many people can see what you wrote here...but I say you nailed it all! We really need all the wisdom these days in guiding our children and I'm glad you are there for yours.

  2. Student debt is a huge problem here in the USA. I think that most young students do not see the big picture and there's no one to guide them.
    In an ideal world the personal enrichment and critical thinking skills one gains from university education might be enough, but in the real word when it cannot pay bills, racking up debt to go to university for any degree is not the answer.

    If everyone is graduating with a degree in X, there are more graduates than the number of jobs available. At that point, the degree in X becomes just the minimum requirement.

    Mr. HM, do you know why your over qualified employees chose those jobs? Could it be due to personal reasons?

    I've met people who do not want to move out of the state for better paying jobs, or they prefer less demanding schedules due to family obligations.

  3. Oh my gosh...we just had this conversation about half an hour ago! On the news they announced more hikes to University fees, and I basically concluded that these institutions seem to be business/profit focussed. Added to the equation I was speaking to a mother of a grown up son who did Economics at Uni, he isn't in the job he was aiming to do, and his best mate who did Law can't get any work at all (in fact hardly any of his fellow Law graduates have employment in Law!) We need to educate our children on the risk to benefit ratio of a University Education i.e. debt v's employment prospects v's job passion/satisfaction. A Uni Education certainly is not the be all and end all of life, and it is so sad to see the negative changes in the system. I'm University qualified, back in an era when it cost nothing to get a nursing degree, I was one of the lucky ones. I worry so much for the future generations, greed is dictating their prospects in all areas, not just education...housing...environment...world peace :(

  4. The opportunity to go to university is something I will always treasure. It gave me the chance to gain qualifications that got me a job that I can rely on and fall back on as a teacher (from which I am currently on extended leave). I am the daughter (one of three) of a single Mum who worked and worked just to provide the basics. I know she is very proud that, on the smell of an oily rag, she got me there. I had a debt too, when I'd finished, and we paid it back quickly to get it off the ledger. I see that the government is talking about increasing the cost to students of university degrees in the as-yet-unleashed-budget and what worries me considerably about that is the impact that might have on the prospects of children, from backgrounds such as mine, to go to university and craft themselves a better life. Meg

  5. We told our children that we would pay for four years of college. One went five and one half years, one went four and one went two. The one that went the longest is a teacher. With student teaching and not being able to get into classes, it stretched out. She picked up the cost of the last year and ,unbeknownst to us, racked up more debt on credit cards and loans. I feel that the people who are in 'charge' of guiding these young adults don't have a clue, themselves. Our one son was told a class did not transfer, so he took it again, to the tune of 1,500.00. When asked about it later, a different counselor told him it did transfer. I am so happy that my children are done with college. I think trade school is the better option for many, many people.

  6. Hi Mr HM
    I was watching this today and thought it related quite well to do this post:
    It's by a comedian who seems to have grasped how pointless some college degrees are.
    (I'm not sure how to make this post look less like spam!).

  7. I have worked with a lot of teaching graduates over the years who could not cope with teaching in a classroom. I think there are many people who make great students but who find making the transition into the working environment very hard. However the jobs really aren't there anymore. It is becoming more necessary for people to create their own jobs/businesses. Vocational education is also becoming hugely expensive - I guess that is why some RTO's rely on government funding or co-payments and then are prepared to pass students regardless of whether they are competent or not in order to meet targets. I do think tertiary education is really important, it widens people's perspective and develops critical thinking skills as well as many other benefits - I just don't think that those benefits are economic benefits for the majority of graduates. What we do see though is employers increasing the educational level required of new employees - jobs that only required high school level qualifications ten and 20 years ago now mysteriously require tertiary level education.

  8. If you are fortunate enough to land a job after Uni, it's the conditions that end up getting you. I know people who go for employment which doesn't require their degree, simply because it offered better conditions for family life.

    Unlike our day though, Uni students aren't allowed unemployment benefits anymore, if they can't land a job. So they have to do jobs no-one else will, just to pay the bills.


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