Face Off: Do you need a university degree to be successful in life?

YP ReporterSnehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic. This week ...

YP ReporterSnehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari |

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Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari, 16, South Island School

I am a strong believer of “chasing your dreams” regardless of your education, but getting a good degree at least gives you an advantage. It will help them thrive within their competitors – a pool of equally diversified individual with equal or more talent.

Having a degree can improve the chances of employment. Although a degree does not guarantee success, it does improve chances of getting noticed. This can be considered a success in itself considering how much competition there is for jobs. Plus, a degree gives offers individuals with extensive options to explore opportunities of their choice. They’ve got the fundamentals in hand through the degree, it now gives them a chance to experiment.

Furthermore, a fundamental degree helps boost literacy rates and thereby helps with economic growth. In the real world, we’re faced with so many low income countries around the world. A notable example would be countries within the continent of Africa who have some of the highest unemployment rates. The unemployment rate in Mauritania in Western Africa which a staggering 30.9% of it’s population of 3.89 million. That puts around 1.2 million of it’s citizens in unemployment.

One of the main reasons for this is due to the lack of education, skill and work experience. Countries in Africa often lack the resources to provide proper education or help citizens make a living. If everyone living in these countries had access to education, they would have better chances for employment around the world.

The philosopher Plato once said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life”. Degrees may not be essential for success but they surely make it easier.

Tacye Hong, 18, University of Toronto

What do Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? Well, other than the fact they are all successful, wealthy entrepreneurs? They are in fact all college drop-outs. Most people will already know this about them, as they are commonly named to show that we don’t always need degrees to succeed in life.

Of course not everyone who drops out of school will end up becoming a billionaire, and you don’t have to be on par with these people to be considered “successful”. However, I do believe that degrees aren’t absolutely necessary for success in general.

First of all, there are careers that you really don’t need degrees to be successful in. As a matter of fact, having a degree will never guarantee success either. For example, it takes skills and talent to be an actor or athlete. Leonardo DiCaprio barely finished high school but he ends up winning an Oscar (eventually) anyway. Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10 in the Olympic gymnastics competition also has nothing to do with her degree, or lack thereof, but has everything to do with her talent and endless hours of practice.

The digital age has brought many new professions that do not require higher education. Even a decade ago, people would have never believed that “vlogging” – making videos and posting them online – would be a future career option. Now, some vloggers pay the bills uploading YouTube videos alone can pay the bills. Having a degree or not has no impact on your popularity.

As someone who has recently applied for summer internship positions, I know that having a degree does not directly lead to a successful career. Many employers place higher value on experience, which could mean volunteering, work experience or general experience of life. With a mixture of skills, hard work and luck, I believe that people will do just fine even without degrees.

They are obviously going to have various degrees of success, but the same can be said for people who have graduated from university.