I don’t think there is nearly enough focus on the harsh truth of the New Normal: forget about your hopes and dreams and focus on identifying a marketable skillset you’ll be able to develop at comparatively lower cost than people you’ll be competing against for jobs.
Use that labour market income to bankroll your “passion”, if you have one, and stop falling for the nonsensical idea that we should all work on our “passions”. I recently read Cal Newport’s new book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” and have been converted to the idea that doing hard work and developing valuable skills – building career capital – is a far more rewarding pathway to success than focusing on “what you love” or “where your passion lies”.
There is not nearly enough information for students with non-traditional backgrounds going into tertiary study to make informed decisions that lead to the sort of outcome they are looking for – a decent job at the end of the degree. There is a wage premium for tertiary graduates, but there isn’t nearly enough explanation of what sorts of “soft skills” and “hard skills” are required to get from undergraduate to gainfully employed worker.
It is deeply troubling how many people “double down” on an undergraduate degree that failed to lead to full-time employment by pursuing further study. The signalling rat race is a waste of resources in my opinion because there is a major gap between what employers need and what universities produce.