For the first time in more than a generation, getting a university degree is no longer the sure-fire path to a thriving career and a comfortable lifestyle that it used to be. It is, however, an expense that pays off for many. According to the Department of Education, degree-holders now earn about £10,000 more per year than those who didn’t attend university – which is nothing to sneeze at.
Still, it’s a fact that a university degree isn’t the only path to success in the modern economy. That means it’s more important than ever for today’s students to weigh their options with great care before choosing which route to pursue. As they do so, it can be helpful to know some of the ways that they might increase the ROI of their university costs. Doing that could tip the scales toward a university degree, and provide a much surer path to a great career. Here are three ways to do it.
Choose Your Degree Wisely
The first thing you’ll want to do to maximise your ROI is to choose a degree program you know you’ll want to stick with. Since this is a decision that you need to make when you go through the UCAS application process, that means doing a bit of research in advance. Look into the job prospects and earning potential for people that hold the degree you’re planning to pursue, and make sure that the job you’re likely to end up in justifies the cost of the university you’ll attend.
It’s vital to be certain once you’re ready to choose because the consequences of making a mistake are many. You’ll notice on the UCAS’s own website that there’s a section regarding changing your course after you’ve selected it. On it, they mention that you could end up forfeiting the credits you’ve already earned, or that you may end up delaying completion of your degree. Such changes will almost inevitably increase your costs, further lowering your ROI. The bottom line: think it over and choose the right degree, or it’ll cost you.
Choose a University with a High Placement Rate
While it’s important that you pick a degree that you’ll be able to complete and that offers excellent job prospects, there’s something else to consider, too. It’s that your degree will be useless if you’re unable to find a great position once you graduate. For that reason, it’s important to choose a university to attend that has a great track record for getting students placements with top employers.
Alternately, you can consult the rankings of UK universities for graduate employability as determined by the employers themselves. Doing so should give you a decent idea of what your prospects will be when you complete your degree. It should also help you to determine if your estimate of your earning potential was spot-on or missed the mark.
Figure Out Your Real Costs
One of the common mistakes that UK students make when deciding if university is a good investment is related to how much they will pay in tuition. In reality, as most students will pay for their degree via student loans, the amount they’ll end up paying could be far lower than they may initially expect – and indeed the vast majority of students will never pay their university loans in full. That’s because student loan repayment schedules in the UK are tied to earnings after graduation, and a little predictive math is required to figure out what to expect.
If you’ve already followed the first two tips mentioned here, you should already have all the information you need. First, it’s what the tuition of the university you’ve chosen will be, and what your estimated earnings should be when you graduate. Do a quick calculation using what you expect to be your weekly or monthly income after graduation to see how much you’ll have to pay from each pay cheque. It’s that figure that you should concern yourself with. If it’s a sum that you believe to be sustainable, your university was worth it. If not, you might want to explore other options.
Time to go to Work
No matter which route you choose, it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as a final decision. You can put off university until a later date, or even study a second degree later on if the first one didn’t take you where you wanted to go. No matter what you do, though, make sure to take care to try and make the most informed choice you can, so you won’t have regrets later on. If you follow the advice given here, you just may find university to be a viable path forward – and be well on your way to the career of your dreams.