Ask any graduating student to list the most pressing issues and you won’t be surprised the aspect of ‘life after graduation’ will be among the top. This is a case in most countries where unemployment is high when learners after graduation seem to be given a ticket of a ‘qualified and official unemployed’. In simpler term degree certificate now seems to be a certificate or proof of being unemployed as more often we learn of people who have such hardly earned documents not serving its purpose. . . or getting a job which does not call for one particular field of specialisation. Identifying ways that graduates can opt to buffer themselves upon this traumatizing wave of winds is paramount. In this article, I discuss my own experiences and insights on what graduates undergo once they are successfully released from tertiary institutions.
Year end indeed is the most stressful time for final year students as that’s when reality begins – with two options – perpetual stress or happiness. It is the most defining moment in life. This is most painful when one is aware of the trends on the job market [unemployment is in every country due to challenges in reaching a positive economic growth and job creation for the increasing economically active labour force].
I always remember the excitement that students have once they are accepted to study at tertiary institutions as it can be literally translated to a positive relationship towards a brighter future. However, the reality seems to be far from this. The saddest part is that some learners tend to be taken over by the waves of a student life that some do not plan for an exit strategy (after graduating). Instead of building meaningful relationships to secure a starting point after graduation, some would be enjoying like crazy (sad to note this). I am sure no one would like to be a point of reference on a bad connotation except for the celebrity.
Gone are the days when completing a degree was something one can be proud of – it resembled an achievement with a better life. This probably meant that one is about to realise the returns on investment (education). We are now in an era where education seems to be a risky investment, unprofitable to say the least to most of us. This is due to the fact that more often, one is guaranteed to plunge into unemployment after graduating with a degree unless with good support structures. This is worsened by the fact that some learners pursue degrees that do not relates to their natural abilities [e.g. a Marketer (naturally) doing Accounting just because one was told Accounting is the high paying job or due to some unfortunate circumstances when one could not secure a place in a desired course].
The trend seems to be shifting into unexpected folds. Graduating with flying colours nowadays seems to be of less value to a person who intends to secure a job after graduating with a degree for instance. Skills are essential and this calls for learners to be juggling with gaining practical experience while they are studying to stand a better chance in comparison to the knowledgeable inexperienced graduate. On the other hand, flying colours are ideal to learners who aim to pursue further qualification as this helps, at times, in getting assistance such as scholarship to further study or for meeting minimum performance requirements.
University now seems to be a hiding place or a hive to while time whilst make attempts to seek something in the highly competitive job market. This is typical in countries with high levels of unemployment coupled with minimal levels of entrepreneurial development. This would point out to learners who, at times, enrol for a master’s qualification even when an individual has no intention for pursuing masters. Getting enrolled for a qualification seem to be relieving than graduating.
At one time, I was contemplating to attend a graduation ceremony considering the time and money spent in preparation. I always thought I could use this for something more economical. This could be a detour to consider by fresh graduates. Some would even prefer not to attend the graduation ceremony due to an additional cost which would be more likely to be incurred as part of the preparations as indicated above. That little money could be saved towards simple issues such as CV printing (those still applying offline) and attending to interviews.
Parents expect graduates to be independent despite the escalating levels of unemployment in every country. When a learner graduates, a general expectation increases from the learner. Such a typical graduate will be faced with extreme pressure from all directions including starting a family.
However, this seems to be a different to someone who is doing a degree of choice, well prepared for the market not relying to the forces of unemployment. It’s unfortunate that very few falls in such a category such as the entrepreneurs. Despite the opinion that this turns to be untrue when some students feels as if they are caught unaware as if time is working against them, on the other hand, this is a bit different to some students who plans ahead of time and to entrepreneurial minded learners. It has to be acknowledged that not everyone in the world can be an employer as some have to be employed. However, naturally, there are some people who are meant to work for others unless they learn the competences and skills required. It is unfortunate that the education system supports the notion that more employees are needed yet it is now vice-versa, more employers are needed. It is painful to learn a number of graduates who sacrificed immeasurable efforts only to plunge into the pool of unemployment.
Doing part-time jobs and in-service training during the time of study is critical towards a safe exit from tertiary study.