Be clever enough to learn from life

Be clever enough to learn from life

Should you be clever to go to university? Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, thinks so. He wants so-so students to give it a miss. He says it's better for average students to go to vocational college to be trained as plumbers, for example, rather than spend lots of time and money on a degree.

Job prospects have worsened in recent years, with many fresh university graduates finding that they're not earning any more than workers without degrees.

Studies show an "over-supply" of university places led to a rise in graduates being "overqualified" for jobs. In the US in 2010, 25 per cent of shop staff and 15 per cent of taxi drivers held bachelor's degrees; in 1970, the respective levels were less than 5 per cent and 1 per cent. Critics say there are so many higher-education establishments that degrees have been devalued.

Yet a university's "value" isn't measured only in future income and career choices. Many institutions offer a "life experience" through unique features and rich traditions you can't learn in lecture halls: the University of Hong Kong is noted for its hall culture, Lingnan University for its liberal arts, and Chinese University for its humanities.

You don't need to be really intelligent to go to university. But you shouldn't go if it's going to be all about the money and material gains it may bring. You need to appreciate the different values offered by universities. If you do, it may be the wisest "life investment" you ever make.

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