Student Allowance Cuts A Mixed Blessing

I plan to finish my undergraduate degree in economics this year. I have no intention of pursuing post-graduate studies. But even if I did, the student allowance cuts would have made it a financial impossibility.

So in this regard, student allowance cuts are a mixed blessing. They stop people who can’t afford to pursue post-graduate studies from pursuing it. If you can’t get a full scholarship, perhaps you shouldn’t be enrolled in post-graduate study anyway?

But for areas of study that have been flooded by a mass of undergraduates, pursuing a post-graduate degree seems to be required for entry into the “profession”.

Areas of work like teaching, psychology and the sciences are competitive because a lot of people are scrambling for the decent jobs. These students forgot to look at market salaries before choosing their major.

Even worse, because of the “everyone can be an astronaut” thinking indoctrinated in high school students around the country, they didn’t look at the market salaries before even considering university.

All claptrap about university being great for making you a contributing citizen aside, no one would attend university if you didn’t expect a higher income afterwards. University would still be reserved for the children of the wealthy to bide their time before taking over family estates or businesses.

Both National and Labour have glossed over the reality that your background has far more influence on your success in life than any one will admit in polite company.

No one wants to admit that their parents are helping them survive low paying jobs in competitive industries. I am grateful to my parents for helping me a lot over the past few years, many aren’t that fortunate.

The truth is without some level of parental support and guidance, you are screwed. You choose the wrong courses, don’t realise the importance of internships and dress inappropriately for interviews.

Cultural competency is far more important than many people realise. This is why many IT folks get crap salaries – they dress like crap and don’t play the game. Thinking that only your skills and value creation matter is childish in the extreme.

We need to stop the production line of undergraduates studying what they want. A lot of middle class students are pursuing lines of study better suited to aristocratic undergraduates at Oxbridge.

I read a lot of stuff outside of the curriculum. In a way, it has handicapped my ability to take university seriously. I deeply regret the decision to attend university without fully thinking through how it would play out in the medium term.

I’m currently reading “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy and Nassim Taleb’s “Antifragility”. I’m working through the “Algebra” series on Khan Academy. I’m building a basic web application in AngularJS and trying to figure out how to deploy it via Windows Azure with a node.JS backbone.

On top of that, I write my blog and am writing a basic eBook on due diligence for investors. I plan to publish it before university starts back in March and sell PDF, MOBI and ePUB copies.

University has helped me with none of this. University has, in fact, retarded my ability to do interesting things. I passed the “point of no return” a long time ago, where I have to finish my degree because the unreliability of freelancing and self employment means I might have to resort to the labour market if my other projects don’t work out.

In a way, stopping students from blindly progressing with post-graduate study by way of restricting their ability to finance it, should function as a “reality check”.

I know a lot of fellow students whose heads are truly in the clouds. They don’t realise that even if you do win the graduate job lottery, you are more likely to work in a call centre than a C-level suite.

But we can’t forget that the architect of this “reality check”, Steven Joyce, studied zoology. Some people are more equal than others?

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