Private University Degree: Postponing Disappointment

By PengYou

Far beyond its educational value, the university degree in our Asian society had always confer too much prestige. Over the years, especially in the early days, we had so many under-performers who successfully climbed the corporate ladder just because they were graduates.

Long after graduation, the actual value of a university degree would have come unstuck, yet the very positive "notion" of possessing this piece of paper remains stuck in the minds of many.

People will pay up for status. These days more and more families can afford to send their kids everywhere to get their degrees if they fail to get into our highly ranked local universities. For too many, they are just postponing disappointment. They will face the hard truth once they start looking for a job.

This is a long brutal and costly road to disappointment. Many a university graduate who does not succeed in securing a well-paying job sadly becomes a shadow of his/her former self. I think everyone knows this by now but the supposed social status "bestowed" upon a graduate is just too irresistible. In fact, truth be told,announcing yourself as a university graduate wouldn't suffice. You must also let on that you attended a good college, preferably an US Ivy League institution. Yet at home, having a good degree from NUS, NTU and SMU is good enough. I hope by then we would have a huge cadre of non graduates who are equally capable as graduates drawing decent salaries. For those who are caught between now and then they have to make the hard choices and I am afraid many will continue to waste time and money on poor quality or quickie degrees. While perhaps we can't avoid becoming laden with a generation of lost souls, in comparison with other societies with plenty of unemployed or under-employed graduates, we are rather fortunate to be faring better.

The faster we stop overemphasizing the prestige/status of university graduates and instead focus on rewarding workers according to performance levels, the better. Since we run a good-enough meritocracy, not unlike bidding for COEs (unless you need say a top lawyer, doctor or accountant, most times someone good enough will do) we already have many non graduates who can more than adequately discharge the responsibilities of their university graduate counterparts. As such, someday eventually, I would really like to imagine between two equally good candidates where one is a non graduate, this person would stand an equal chance of receiving promotions just like his university graduate colleague.

It takes courage not to pursue a university degree for superficial reasons. I only wish there are more of such types around. Try to beat the university graduate at his/her game not in terms of senseless academic achievements, but rather at the workplace. And I hold the belief many can indeed be beaten.

This post first appeared on Blogging For Myself. It is reproduced with permission.


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