My resolve is weakening slightly on the question of whether our children need a degree in this employment climate.
For a few weeks now Ben has been articulating his thoughts upon what he would like to study, if he actually wants and needs to study for a degree and if so, which subject will he choose to read?
This is a crucial one- many young people will have no clear idea about what they actually want to study and almost 'fall' into higher education.
So, deciphering what one would like to study must come first and then whether they need a degree or if it will enhance their chances of gaining a more fulfilling, better paid (sorry, but money eventually has to be discussed!) job at the end of three or even, four, years.
(Of course we aren't here discussing those wanting a career in medicine, law or any other profession that a degree is essential.)
This decision will be paramount in their lives- spending that length of time studying in depth a subject of their choosing is a tall order. It may even be life changing. Much prayer and time is required for them to know this is what God wants them to be doing. Discerning their vocation is the most imperative task of their young lives.
Ben is swayed, mostly by his parents, but also now from his peers and his teachers in sixth form.
Our debates go something along these lines- I, who actually have a degree in English Literature, altercate about why one needs a degree, yet my husband, who has no A levels, or degree, argues that a degree is that passport to a more desirable job at a higher level, more stimulating and challenging work. He also feels strongly about gaining a degree (or at least a few A levels!) as he himself found it so tough getting a good job even though he was as astute as the next man.. but a majority of companies wouldn't look past the fact he had no degree on his CV.
So Ben does lots of head nodding and turning from one parent to the other in these discourses! He realises that both are valid points plus of course, every person is different and will seek diverse things.
This belief of my husband's is one to take into serious consideration though.
Places of employment are still seeking workers with degrees this is true. In a time when there are fewer jobs but so many people wanting them, a degree may still be one of the only ways to set one apart from others and give them a more fruitful chance.
I'm not wholly convinced!
Even though I often wonder how useful my degree has been to me; teaching didn't appeal to me nor did I feel any passion towards (dubious) jobs like journalism etc.
I ended up following my heart and my true passion- working with children and adults with severe learning and physical disabilities. I was 'over qualified' my new boss told me, yet nothing would have torn me away from my work.
My husband on the other hand has taught himself many demanding computer and writing courses, paid to do extra qualifications and then purely by merit and amiability he has climbed the work ladder but he claims, having no degree has been a major stumbling block for advancing.
As we battle on trying to decide whether degrees are the right course for our children, they in the mean time need to begin making some life changing decisions. Let us keep praying fervently and entrust them to the Most Holy Family to find them worthy, meritorious work in this ever changing and morally corrupt world!