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Investing in your future

Pursuing higher education means different things for different people.

For some, it is getting a degree in a chosen field from a university; while others consider it to be a formal qualification in a field related to their preferred career. Some others apply to internships, where they can learn on the job while getting paid for it and at the end of it, earn a suitable certification.

No matter the means, pursuing higher education is often considered an investment for a better future. However, you could always skip further study and go straight into the workforce. 

Unsure of which route is best for you? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here's a quick list of questions to ask yourself to arrive at the right conclusion.

  1. Do you have an end goal in mind?
    If there is a particular career or job you want to do, then a university degree, or a specific education qualification is essential (e.g. a degree in veterinary science for a career as a vet).
    There are other career options that might appeal to you, for which a higher education qualification is not essential. You could secure an apprenticeship, or apply for a job where formal training is provided while you work.
  2. What motivates you?
    Your motivation could be to give yourself the best chance of securing a job in your preferred field or sector.
    If you are considering investing in higher education a while after finishing your secondary education, your motivation might be to train for a different career, or to bring your knowledge and skills up to date.
  3. What are the alternatives?
    If you decide not to study further, you could choose to do the following instead:
    • Take up a job directly, perhaps a trainee position designed specifically for entry level candidates.
    • Join an apprenticeship scheme in a sector or industry that interests you.
    • Start your own business or enterprise.
  4. How much will higher education cost?
    For many young adults, pursuing higher education is one of the biggest financial commitments they will ever make. However, tuition fees and living costs are not the only financials to consider before deciding whether or not to go.
    An important consideration is your future earning potential. With the right degree or qualification, you may be able to access more specialist job roles, commanding higher pay or salary. Studies throughout the world also indicate that over a lifetime, graduates earn more than people without further or higher education qualifications – and they are more likely to be employed as well.
    Deciding whether or not further education is for you can therefore involve comparing what your studies might cost you, with additional opportunities that will be available to you, and the extra earning potential you might achieve.
  5. What's right for you?
    Pursuing higher education can be expensive, and some are put off by the thought of starting their working life in debt. There is no single solution that is right for everyone.
    Ultimately, it's a personal decision that only you can make. If you already know the career path you want to follow, and have researched the qualifications that potential employers expect, your choice may be straightforward. You may also feel ready to start working and earning.
    Both of these options have merit, and are worth taking time to consider carefully.

Financing higher education

Once you decide on studying further, the next consideration is how to fund it. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to finance all, or part, of your studies through:

  • A government supported student loan, which you can delay repaying until after you secure employment.
  • A bank loan, which can be repaid in instalments while you study.
  • Sponsorship, from a current or future employer.
  • Bursaries, scholarships and awards - usually from the college or university where you plan to study.
  • Support from parents or other family members.
  • Part-time jobs (e.g. bars/restaurants/cleaning) during evenings and weekends to fit around your study schedule.
  • Financing from your current employment, while you complete your course or qualification part-time.

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