The Value of a University degree

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    The way I see it having a University degrees is like reading the rules to a game. You can most certainly succeed having not read the rules but you are putting yourself at a disadvantage and having read the rules there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be good at the game.

    with University degrees becoming more of a commodity these days how important is it that everybody graduate university? We should be encouraging people to enter professional fields such as doctors lawyers accountants ex. but anyone who is not looking to become a professional are they wasting their time going for the degree without first having work experience. Even professionals, with today’s economy there are many unemployed lawyers and CPA’s looking for work.

    So I ask, how much value do you place in a university degree?

    A Heimishe Mom

    Here in the US of A we call it a “College” degree – so you are marking youself as a foreigner :-). That said, my husband had TEN years of experience, but never finished his colllege degree (other than BTL which is worthless in the business world). He COULD NOT get so mush as an interview, forget about an actual job for months! He took a job that was paying less than his previous job with considerable more traveling expenses. So I would say, yes, you DO need a college degree to get a good job. If you are the go-getter type who can open your own business, well then, no, you don’t need one. Most people need to be employed by others.


    Hi Anonano,

    It depends on the individual. If their profession requires a serious commitment to study, then we better be grateful people who will charge money for their professional services have been educated in their respective field.

    Knowledge is a good thing and the rigors and challenges one takes on in college does make them a more skilled and capable person in the workplace than had they not had the experience of completing degree requirements. I see this all the time. There is a stronger foundation that workers have who have completed college degree requirements. Those who have succeeded at earning a degree will know what I am talking about.

    Is there a lot of fluff and expense that is not necessary? Are there some professors who are less than professorial? Sure! But I would not throw out the baby with the bath water on this.

    But overall, no matter what degree someone takes on. To me, it’s common sense: Imagine a smart person. Now imagine that same smart person with 132 credits and a BA/BS degree in any respective field. How can they not be seen as a more competent person at any job they take on?

    Whether they use the specific details of all their classes or not, they will be more resourceful, better problem solvers, have more objectivity, etc., if not only because they completed the requirements of a degree program.

    old man

    A university degree is of tremendous value. The value may not be appreciated for years, even decades, but it is there. Don’t belittle it. Once you have it no one can take it away. Go and get it; one day you will probably say, “Thank God I got that degree, I would never have been here without it”.


    ANONAO: I think having a degree is a good thing. However, you’re right about people working before they get their degree.

    When someone is in, say, high school and passes all science subjects with flying colors, dreams of being a doctor, goes to med school for a couple of years, finds it not what s/he thought it’d be and drops out. This is why i think working before getting a degree might be a good idea for some.


    miritchka: “working before getting a degree” in MEDICINE?


    Per recent figures published by the Dept of Labor Statistics, The current overall rate of unemployment in the U.S. is 9.1%. The rate of unemployment among college graduates is 4%. In engineering and IT, the rate is even lower.


    1. For some jobs, particularly in government, any college opens doors. For these jobs, even a “Bachelor of Talmudic Law” based on four years of yeshiva study will work.

    2. For some jobs, a degree with a specific major counts, though often the employer will be impressed with specific courses or skills, and will overlook the lack of a degree especially if it allows one to pay you less.

    3. For some professions, a specific degree from an accredited school is a requriement and there is no way around it.

    4. In general, the more prestigious degree, based on major and the prestige of the school, matters greatly in a tight job market, especially if you aim for the sorts of jobs that frum people rarely get (especially if you aspire to be part of the 1% who allegedly get most of the income in America – actually its more like the top 20%, but that’s not so bad either)


    netazar: lol! not that way! I meant maybe working in a medical office (receptionist or clerk..) to see what its about. Or maybe become an MA, which requires much less schooling, and before continuing, work a little as an MA to see what you’re getting into.


    My tax acountent has a degree. But to run a gesheft you need seichel and a gemara kup.


    netazar, it’s not as strange as you might think. I was actually in this exact same situation 30 years ago. I wanted to be a pediatrician. It’s all I talked about when I was a kid. I took every science class that I could take. I even thought about taking German just to be “prepared” for things in college. I was planning to major in biology/pre-med in a good university and go from there. I thought though that it might be a good idea to get a little experience working in a doctor’s office first before I put myself in a position where I was going to be in school/training for a minimum of 10 years before I would have a real job. It was a huge investment. Now I obviously had no previous experience in a medical office since I was only 17, but I did now how to type. Obviously it was immature and unrealistic to think that I would get “experience” in medicine by working as a secretary, but I had no other great ideas at the time.

    Well, I got a job working as a transcriptionist in an office and actually continued to work in that capacity there for more than 10 years. It was pretty easy work for me and I made a decent salary. I realized that too much blood was not going to be a good idea for me, so the office management side was more practical. I went from working part-time to full-time even after I graduated from a different university with a completely different degree than I had originally envisioned myself getting. This turned out to be a pretty good choice for me at the time, boring but paid well.

    Well, fast forward about 15 years after I stopped working in that medical practice due to the fact that I came to EY, studied in a BT girls school for 2 years, got married, had 6 kids and worked a different job from my house for 10 years. I got a call 1 day that my “job” was over. The company was closing the next day.

    It became obvious in the next few weeks that HKBH was the one who was makdim the refuah to the makah. I was soon back working in my same medical transcription work, but now in my home in EY. My salary increased at least double over the next two years from what I had been making in my previous job and my husband and I were finally able to buy an apartment in EY. All this happened only because I had so much experience from my previous work 20 years before.

    So yes, I think that getting experience in any field is a good idea. It can lead a person into a field they had no idea existed because it was more hidden than the obvious up front occupations that they saw before.


    It also applies in the Modern Orthodox world of Chinuch and Rabbanus (and the dollars that go with it!) , college/university degree adds a ton!


    I’m sure someone can google it, but studies have shown that hiring managers favor resumes with college degrees than those that dont.

    A Heimishe Mom

    netazar: there are a lot of places and jobs one can do in advance of committing to medical school. Even if it is a clerical job you do get to see what it takes to do the job. Aside from looking good on applications, it shows a commitment to the field as well as interest in it.

    Working on it

    As some other people pointed out, it really depends on your personality and what you want to do in life. If you want to be a professional then you will need a degree just to be competitive with others in the job seeker pool. However, if you are good with people and are a good persuader, maybe you should look into sales, where a degree does not mean as much.

    I will give you a good example of two people I know: One has a masters in the “therapy” area. She currently has over $40,000 in student loans but cannot get a full time placement for work. As a result, she nets under $2000/month.

    The other person was a housewife for the past 15 years. She did not want to be a secretary, to work for $10/hr, so she decided to take a shaitel macher course. Now, she charges about $35 per shaitel and more for extra things like haircuts, colors, etc. If she only gets 25 shaitels per week, that comes to about $3500/month. That is clearly more than the first example and she doesn’t have a huge debt looming over her. The best part is that its all in cash, which is not reported (not that I condone it but that is what she does).

    At the end of the day, who do you think is better off?

    Again, I am not saying that it is for everyone, but in some cases it makes more sense to forego the degree. You just need to figure out what you want/need to do


    Hi MoodcheDoovid.

    Yes, you are correct, but the reason I dont generalize in general, is that there are no absolute

    rules. For example, seichel and a gemara kup is where it is at. Yet, there is a term batted about called “heimishe” which I am gathering implies a lack of professionalism.

    Thom Finn

    I wish I had a degree. Many employers today won’t even look at your resume without one.

    old man

    A shaitel macher who makes $3,500 a month under the table is not better off than someone with a degree, she is worse off. She is spending her life stealing from the government, hardly something to be proud of. The fact that a given “therapy” person has not yet found full time work is hardly a statistical survey. Anecdotal evidence is worthless.

    Go by the numbers and common sense. Degree bearers make more money in the long run, and it’s legal.


    I will also give you a good example of two people I know: One has a masters in the “therapy” area. He currently runs a therapy business and makes high six figures.

    The other person was a housewife for the past X years. She did not want to be a secretary, to work for $10/hr, so she decided to take a shaitel macher course. She was unable to “make it” due to saturation in the field (too many women trying to be shaitelmachers), and ended up as a part time secretary.

    So obviously, shaitelmachering is a bad business, and all therapies make high six figures 🙂


    Considering the employment numbers for degreed vs. undegreed, It becomes clear that the parnassah heter for college is stronger than ever.


    Heter or not, few from Yeshiva/ish high school and BM backgrounds are competent enough in secular studies to make it in real college. The question then is what about a BTL or the like (Frum and/or community college and/or fraudulent)? What are the statistics of those? I would think lower than the average non-graduate in the secular world.


    frumnotyeshivish: You don’t need any preexisting knowledge to succeed in college. If one is not especially intelligent, then such knowledge may help, but I trust that most (not necessarily ALL) yeshiva bochurim are sharp enough not to need that crutch.


    Do you need preexisting knowledge? No. Does it help? Yes. I considered myself to be at a large disadvantage to my classmates in graduate school, and I was at least average in my Yeshivah class both in intelligence and in secular knowledge.

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