Benefits to having a degree (with steps to earn one)

Updated 17 April 2023

If you're considering your career path after finishing secondary school, deciding whether to attend university is important. Earning a degree unfolds a variety of options and opportunities in life and prepares you psychologically and socially for your career. Learning the benefits of having a degree can help you understand the rewarding opportunities available and assist you in deciding if a degree is something you may wish to pursue. In this article, we define a degree, provide the benefits to having a degree and outline steps to earning one to help you improve your career.

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What is a degree?

A degree is an academic certificate a university or college awards students to indicate the completion of a course or the extent of their academic achievement. Pursuing a degree allows you to specialise in a subject of your choice during a three or four year educational programme. A degree programme can equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a specific profession and help you begin a new career in a field that interests you.

Related: What is a bachelor's degree?

Benefits to having a degree

The following lists several benefits to having a degree:

Offers more career opportunities

A bachelor's degree can lead to many rewarding job opportunities. More well-paid jobs are available to degree holders compared to graduates from secondary school. Even when jobs don't require a university degree, some employers prefer hiring candidates who have one. A degree also offers you more flexibility in choosing your location for work, depending on your preferences.

Prepares you for prestigious careers

A degree can be a starting point for some high-status professions. For example, a university degree may be key if you plan to work as an engineer, physicist, doctor, therapist, finance manager or other related occupation. These professions often require candidates to have essential skills and expertise taught in universities or other higher education institutions. Pursuing a degree provides a platform to learn these skills from industry experts.

Offers better income potential

Pursuing a degree can be a route to a career that pays better. The job you find yourself in often depends on your skills and level of education and knowledge. Pursuing higher education can give you the advantage of better compensation for your work over someone without a degree. Companies may also offer candidates with a master's degree more compensation than those with only a bachelor's degree.

Related: Benefits of a master's degree (with steps to earn one)

Ensures job security

Job security is important, especially when looking at your long-term career goals. Pursuing a degree provides practical skills that enable you to be effective in the job market. When you harness these skills and utilise them effectively in the workplace, you could become a key employee in the company.

Enhances job contentment

A university education allows you to gain education, skills and knowledge that match your future career goals. When you pursue a degree, you have the option of choosing which fields in certain industries you may wish to pursue. When you pursue a career in your area of study and interest, you're likely to be more content in the workplace. Finding job satisfaction can help you be more productive and propel you to seek career advancement opportunities.

Promotes personal growth

Besides finding a good job, your four or more university years can help shape and prepare you for the working world. Attending university can mean spending your college years far from your family and living alone for the first time. This enables you to grow as a person, discover more about your strengths and forge important connections. University education teaches skills that may help you analyse and resolve problems in the future.

Improves self-esteem

Gaining a degree boosts your confidence and provides a sense of achievement. A degree is a constant reminder of your efforts to get to a particular place in your life, especially if it helps you find a job. The self-confidence you gain from earning a degree stays with you even when you encounter challenges, giving you the self-assurance that you can overcome obstacles.

Offers networking opportunities

Pursuing a university education provides a platform to create and maintain mutually beneficial connections. Former university classmates and acquaintances can become your network of associates and customers in your career. You can also access various professors, mentors and college advisors who could become part of your professional network during and after school. These contacts can open doors for you, provide career leads and connect you to other industry leaders. They can become people to share ideas with and explore new ventures. You might also rely on recommendations from friends to secure your first client.

Related: Types of degrees and how they can influence your career

Provides an opportunity for experiential education

University students have the option of experiential learning. Practical experience in your chosen field allows you to learn skills and expertise that can enable you to succeed in your career after university. You may have the option of spending a semester abroad and studying while you travel or doing a work placement to immerse yourself in your chosen field. Work placements also give you a chance to change course. These opportunities can result in job offers after college and even prevent unemployment in the future.

How to earn a degree

The following are steps you can consider to help you earn a degree:

1. Pass your secondary school exams

GCSE and A-Level exams are prerequisites for a bachelor's degree. By completing secondary school, you build the maths, science and language skills to pursue further education. Finishing secondary school can enhance your ability to think critically and solve problems. It's an important step to a better future.

2. Research courses and institutions

Finding institutions and courses that are a good academic and social fit for you is an important step. Before adding any schools to your list, do thorough research on them to make sure you're applying to schools you qualify to attend. Research can help you focus your options, allow you to customise your applications and explain to the admissions committee why you desire to attend that particular school.

Related: How to choose a university course in 5 simple steps

3. Pass the university admission test

Many universities require you to complete one or more standard entrance exams. These tests help universities distinguish the best students, particularly for competitive programmes. The prerequisites for passing these tests differ from school to school but many expect students to obtain a set minimum score. There are various admission tests for different courses. Knowing which entry test the university may require you to take is important so you don't miss its deadline, as many tests are only available once a year.

4. Apply to universities

After passing an entrance exam you can apply to your chosen university. Many institutions require entrance exam results, secondary school transcripts, one or more personal essays, teacher recommendations or interviews with university admissions staff in addition to your university application. If you already know what you plan to study, you can visit the department's website and learn about its courses and the professors teaching those subjects.

5. Establish a major

After selecting a university, you can choose a major area to study. The decision may have a long-term impact on your life, influencing future employment opportunities, economic potential and professional competencies. Choosing a major during the first or second year of university is a common requirement that often entails filing paperwork, working with faculty advisors and creating an approximate course schedule. Before you select a major, consider your interests, future earning potential and career objectives.

6. Maintain good grades

Several institutions report students' academic performance using letter grades ranging from A to F. If you receive an A, you demonstrate exceptional knowledge in that course of study. An F means your score is unsatisfactory. Maintaining good grades ensures you receive your degree at the end of your years of study.

Related: A guide to graduating with second-class honours, first division

7. Acquire the necessary credits

Many universities utilise the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme to track, document and recognise progress through a modular degree programme. This system eases mobility across programmes and institutions. For a university to award you a degree, you usually require 180 credits.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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