Recently, my husband panicked over the rising cost of university education in Singapore. Partly because he has been reading unsolicited advice by insurance companies, trying to scare him into parting a portion of his salary to invest in some kind of long-term investment plan. Partly because he loves our 1-year-old daughter and want to be able to provide the best education for her.

Not uncommon that parents will want the best for their child. But I disagree in scaring yourself silly for something that is unknown in future. Sure, I would want her to arm herself with the best but what if, the best for her is not through a paper qualification? There seem to be too many examples of people who are successful and happy are those not pursuing a degree. David Geffen of Geffen Records and Dreamworks is one of the many, not to mention Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. Closer to home, we have Creative’s Sim Wong Hoo, Royston Tan, Lawrence Leow of Crescendas Group and Lee Li Lian, a member of Singapore Parliament.

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Sure, they are like less than 1% of the world population but I’m not going to start undermining my daughter’s future capabilities when she is only..erhm..one year old. Realistically speaking and according to statistics, she is probably going to be an average Singaporean who follows the traditional route of getting a degree, getting a desk job, get married, coop up in a shoebox apartment and have children. Just like many Singaporeans are.

However, I’m seeing a shift towards work life balance, a move towards flexi-workforce, a period where there are more entrepreneurs risking everything to pursue their dreams.

This is now.

Where technology, millennials, instant gratification, commercialism society rule the economy. Unless a Third World War breaks out in the next 30 years, these aren’t going to change. Not when China is gear steadily towards becoming the next Big Super Power, perhaps replacing America one day. China is even bigger on technology, millennials, instant gratification, commercialism. And even if Third World War did break out, it is skilled workers that will survive, not the ones who hold the papers.

Of course, I will never deny my child of the education she deserves. I will work hard for her future and if she wants a degree, I will strive to make that happen for her. But I want her to want to study for a degree in a subject she loves and not because it will bring her a much more stable job or a higher salary. Definitely not because she needs to fulfil her parents’ dreams or expectations. Not because of following the society’s herd. Not because the government say so.

And definitely never threaten her with “If you don’t study hard, you’ll never amount to anything good.” A statement that was repeated to me when I was growing up. By teachers, role models and parents.

Before I entered the workforce, I truly believe that without a proper degree from a good school, I won’t stand a chance in life. I’ll be mediocre, I won’t be special. Inside me, somehow, I didn’t believe this and I struggled with my purpose as I stepped into the workforce.

Fortunately, I met wonderful mentors throughout my life, my true personality didn’t stay buried and I discovered my passion. I ended up a wonderful career with one of the most sought-after companies in the world, earning more than many Masters graduates do.

Now, I control my own destiny, time and effort with my successful freelancing career, achieving many personal milestones and overcoming challenges, being satisfied and happy, more than I can say for many graduates in the workforce right now.

Right now, I rather my husband and I be there for my daughter, spend quality time and cultivate, teach, instil proper morals than not able to come home early every night to tuck her in bed because we need to work 2 jobs in order to save up for her education.

What is more important: a degree or a compassionate righteous soul? Let me know in the comments below.


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39 replies on “Is A Degree A Must In This Time And Age?

  1. I think I would totally agree with your view on this one. I’ve gone to college and I know I’m going to be paying back my debt for a while. But if my future child tells me they want to go to beauty school, or they’re interested in flipping cars, I’ll let them do it! As long as they do the best they can at whatever they choose. Great post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Jess. So going to show your comment to my husband. The show of support! I rather my daughter be happy than to do something she hates. 2 – 3 years doing a degree you hate is a totally waste of time.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I also felt the same way. I thought if I didn’t get into a prestigious University, my life was over. But there is so much to life than the school you go to. I feel like it’s more important we teach children things like attitude, consistency, effort, and etc. It is always good to set goals and work towards them. I believe in following your dreams much more than “Get a good education so you can get a stable job”.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I believe you only be happier if you follow your dreams rather than to chase the paper dreams. In fact, I only did my further education after I entered the work force, gain experience and know what I want to study instead to blindly pursue something my parents wanted.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I believe in spending quality time with my daughter too! In fact, I am extremely grateful that I can choose to stay at home and spend her growing up years, bond with her, guide her, teach her. I think it is much more important. Thank you for supporting my decision, Pablo! It is good to know I am right.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am trying to enjoy every moment with my little girl as much as possible. She’s growing up soooooooo fast! On one hand, I’m happy that she is growing up well but another part of me is sad because I don’t want to lose the baby part of her. Silly me!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Coming from the side of the fence where I don’t have a degree, in hindsight I wish I would have gotten one. If nothing else, just to be able to get a foot in the door. When applying for jobs online, the search engines look for that degree and immediately throw you out of the running even if you have 20 years of experience in a certain field. It’s unfair and the “system” of choosing employees needs to be changed. My father made a great living being an aeronautical engineer after completing a technical school, but that was years ago. He never would have made it by today’s standards. I think it all depend on what field you want to go into. The degree will always give you a leg-up on your competition, whether you have experience or not. But having a skill is always good to fall back on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m on the same side of the fence as you, Lisa. 🙂 I don’t have a degree either but my husband does have a good one. I wish I have gotten one but just because I want to feel like a student again after working for 20 odd years. My husband calls it my wishful escape from reality. (Reality being stuck at home with my baby girl) Haha!

      I did asked two of my mentors (both been my bosses before) if I should pursue a degree and both told me not to waste my time and money. In fact, the advice from both of them is to put my money in enhancing my skills ie. taking skill courses, language courses, professional certs.

      In my humble opinion, if those HR only vet people based on degree or no degree, I wouldn’t want to work in their companies anyways. 😛

      I do agree that the degree does give you a leg-up on your competition but depending on the industry you applied. For me, I have built a reputation on sales and customer service in IT industry and you can never learn people skills, sales skills and management skills from a degree. So a degree will not set me apart from my competitors. But if I want to go for jobs like accountancy, a degree is the only way to go.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Lisa V & Kally, you both raise super important points — whew! makes me glad I’m not a parent LOL!

      LOLing aside, I totally agree that the more passionate one is about their pursuit, the more inclined they are to either at least enjoy it & better yet, to excel at it

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I became a management assistant at high level without any specific degree for that function/job. However, I do have degrees to rely on, if I ever should need a job again to pay the bills. So, I think it depends on the circumstances in your life.

    Liked by 2 people

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