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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York