This student life: A plan for the real world

What exactly is everybody getting a degree for?; Spring term, week 5 at the Manchester Student House

THESE DAYS, everyone's got a degree. Put a non-vocational honours qualification on your CV and any prospective employer will just assume you've been living it up for three years and now you're drowning in debt. It's hardly impressive.

Which is why most of these students have taken up vocational degrees, or at least have a clear idea of what they want to do when they leave university. Dani wants to work as an environmental biologist; Ian is planning on being an air traffic controller; Robbie is interested in the City; Alistair and Dave hope to be more entrepreneurial. Only Rachael, Tasha and Rosie seem less sure of their future.

Rachael, who's studying art history, doesn't have a definite career plan in mind. Her approach is more fluid than that of some of the boys in her house. "When you're at college you can try out different things that you wouldn't necessarily have the time to do if you were working. I'm thinking of going to singing lessons with Leona, Tasha and Rosie, and I've just got a job with Pop, the student magazine, doing fashion illustration."

But she doesn't want to be an illustrator when she leaves college. "I want to find something I really am going to enjoy," she continues. "That means you can't just sit around watching TV all day."

This is a far cry from the Rachael whose plans for putting a band together were put on hold, while she sat about for four months doing nothing but watch TV.

Conversely, Ian is far more organised about his career and isn't leaving anything to chance. "I am somebody who likes to plan ahead," he says. "I'm doing geography, because it was the course most relevant to what I want to do, which is air traffic control. I reckon employers will want experience in team work and management skills."

Ian is a no-nonsense lad who can't understand wishy-washy people who make arbitrary choices for their degrees. "I'm an odd case," he says. "I've asked lots of people why they are at university and they don't know. I find it quite disconcerting." Today they've got no excuse: Ucas offers courses in everything from psychology to boxing studies.

``My management course teaches you how to market things, and how the economy works," Dave says. "We're also taught to work well in groups. I suppose I really came to college just to improve my social skills - in management, one of the most important attributes is the ability to communicate well."

So has it worked? Well, Dave has developed from a painfully shy boy from Sunderland to an extrovert of epic proportions. "I've met such a vast diversity of people," he explains. "I had a nice breakthrough in the first year, when I moved into a really cool flat with group of three lads and we all had a good laugh."

But isn't the real motivation for studying management just a basic desire to make money? "It's not the money that motivates me to do the promotions," argues Dave. "It's really all about building up experience. I used to want money so that I could have a big house and a flash car. These days, I don't think that's so important. If I had money now, I would go travelling and expand my mind. That's what it's all about - life experiences."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests