The Relevance of The Traditional University System In An Ever Changing World

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Growing up, it was almost like every child had their future planned out by their parents and part of that future plan was to go to University and get a degree. This in itself was a fantastic idea given that back in Nigeria and Africa in general, education was perceived to be the one certain escape route out of poverty. However, in the advent technology, various sectors of the economy have witnessed drastic changes; children are growing up wanting to be YouTubers, people are becoming Social Media influencers and a career in Digital Marketing is now paying a salary equivalent to a Fortune 500 job.

Having this in mind, one begins to question the relevance of the traditional University system and the qualification it offers in the modern day marketplace. More so is the fact that potential students may have to mortgage their future by taking out huge student loans in the quest for a degree that may eventually prove to be irrelevant in no distant time.

In past, the market place relied heavily on Universities for the supply of its workforce given that students were being trained in line with the employers’ competency criteria in mind. Then, taking out a loan to attend the likes of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cambridge or Oxford was deemed to be a worthy investment with a high ROI, given that it was almost a guarantee that a job was waiting after school. Unfortunately this is not the case today. The pace of growth in various industries are proving to be so fast that the average University curriculum may not be able to keep up.

Quite recently, the CNBC published that the likes of Google, Apple, Netflix, IBM and a host of others no longer require University degrees in landing a dream job. On the flip side, Celebrity Parents are bribing Ivy League Schools for admissions for their children. One begins to wonder who on either side of the divide is right.

So for someone at crossroads on whether to get or not to get a degree, I aim to provide through this post, a guideline relevant for making an informed decision. However, I dare say that this post is not aimed at discrediting the relevance of Universities, rather it is hoped that this article will also be a panacea or a catalyst for restructuring the traditional perception of the University system and encouraging a more adaptive approach towards the current rapid changes happening globally.

In addressing this subject, I consider the following as the yardsticks for decision making.

1. Purpose

The purpose for which one is deciding to attend any University is as important as the degree itself. If the purpose for attending or enrolling is just for the sake of just getting a Degree, then I will suggest the other factors discussed below be also taken into consideration before finally making that decision. However, I would add that included in the reasons for enrolment should be to enhance knowledge, gain exposure as well as networking etc.

2. Affordability

Everything in life has a price tag and a University Degree won’t be the exception. If you have a sponsor willing to foot the bill in your conquest of getting a Degree, by all means consider the option. After all, you will not be out of pocket economically. Also the value of the relationship built whilst in University could prove vital in the journey ahead. Some of life’s greatest alliances are formed in the university environment. Mark Zuckerberg can attest to this fact with the starting off of Facebook.

3. Relevance

I consider the question of Relevance to be most vital because, if the purpose of going to the University is for enhancing the probability of employ-ability, then the relevance of such Degree in the market place is equally crucial. Today, there are a plethora of skill sets that are in the demand which may not require a University degree before being recruited such as Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Project Management, Business Analyst and the likes.  However, one must also consider the length of time needed in gaining such a skill. This leads me to the next point-Time.

4. Time

An average University Degree takes from 3 to 4 years to complete. Given the nature technology, the pace of change is so high that by the time of completion, the best practice learnt in University may be obsolete. This is the reason why some Universities are beginning to adapt their curricula to offer short diploma courses addressing the recent developments in various industries. In my opinion, except the degree is Research based such as in the Medical field, Engineering or Science based- which would involve a series of research endeavours, one may consider seeking for shorter ways of acquiring such knowledge instead of spending 3-4 years in the University.

5. Methodology

Finally, the methodology of delivery is also essential. The world is becoming highly Digitized and except the method of delivery for module contents reflects same, the relevance of such knowledge being imparted may be undermined. This digitization is responsible for the emergence of Online Courses, Webinars and even Podcasts. I believe that Institutions for learning should be at the forefront of this initiative to remain relevant. If not, one may predict the extinction of the University system 20-30 years from now.

In conclusion, it must be understood that getting a degree should not be an end itself for the art of learning should be a life long objective given that the only way to remain relevant in any chosen endeavour is to be a seeker of knowledge- not just any kind knowledge but the latest developments in any area of interest.

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Until next time, keep striving to Be The Best Version of Yourself.