Matthew Murchie, 15, St Joseph's College In a society where education is free, easily accessible and well-rounded, being uneducated can pose an enormous hurdle to success later in life. A couple of decades ago, getting into university was considered a great accomplishment. Getting a master's degree used to be a really impressive feat, sure to earn you a big position in a prestigious corporation. But these days, such qualifications are often seen as the basic requirement for many good jobs. In a developed, modern society in particular, it is essential to have some sort of academic qualification, as this is the first thing potential employers will look at. Academic qualifications are the only easy and reliable way to find an efficient, dependable employee. What's more, having earned such qualifications, it follows logically that the person in question is reasonably disciplined, and knows how to do a good job. These qualities are great assets in life, and can greatly increase your chances of success. Of course, you can be successful without academic qualifications. But the road to success would be risky. A proper education gives you a head start and makes success easier to achieve. Academic qualifications really are the only way of ensuring success, mainly because of the knowledge you gain while learning, and due to the official label demonstrating your ability to succeed. Ronald Ling Pak-ki, 19, University of Hong Kong What we need for success is quite a philosophical problem. Different people have different criteria for success. Some may give family the highest priority while others put their careers first. Academic qualifications do play a vital role in most professional careers. For some jobs, such as lawyers, doctors, teachers and so on, you need specific academic qualifications. But these qualifications are only the 'admission tickets' - they do not guarantee success. In the recent economic downturn, many professionals lost their high-paying jobs. This proves academic qualifications do not guarantee you will keep your job. It is equally important to learn to work with others and boost your communication skills. Attitude and experience are far more important than just qualifications. Not everybody wants to earn money and have a powerful career. If those things are not important to you, academic qualifications are no more than a few sheets of paper. Academic qualifications will not teach you how to get along with your family or be a good person. A 'successful life' includes many things that cannot be measured or examined. In short, there is no doubt academic qualifications are beneficial, but they cannot guarantee all-round success or, more importantly, happiness.