Education Quandary: Our son graduates this summer and is thinking about doing a Masters. But will it improve his job chances?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Hilary's advice

You say your son does not know what to do, but taking an MA is a very wrong-headed way of finding out, especially as the subjects you say he is considering – media and business –sound much too general to be of much use in the job market.

Under normal circumstances it would be far better for him to get out in the world and find out more about what working is like. That way he could start thinking about finding a career that fits him. But things are really tough for this summer's graduates, so I can understand why he wants to shelter at university for another year.

I would suggest you encourage him to focus hard on the additional debt he will be taking on if he decides to do a Masters and has to fund it himself. Today's young people are often not good at looking to their financial future. If, on the other hand, you are willing to finance him, I would suggest you urge him to find a good, practical niche that will help him to offer valuable skills to future employers -- not just a media MA, for example, but one oriented to digital media; not just a general business course, but one tailored to e-marketing or human resources.

Or maybe he could think of going abroad to for a year and acquiring a second language, which would make him a much more attractive proposition to many employers?

Readers' advice

I told my parents I wanted to do an MA in journalism and they went ballistic and refused to pay for it. They said I was just putting off getting a job. I was so angry I did not speak to them until Christmas, but I found a job in PR and my career took off. Now I'm 29 I can finally admit they were right to push me into work.

Fiona McKee, Glasgow

You are seriously undermining your son by not supporting his efforts to get a postgraduate degree. Many graduates take an MA and although it is a pity that young people have to go on studying, and cannot get on with their lives, this is the world we have created by having so many students in higher education, and nothing will change until it is made harder again.

Sonya Temperton, Wiltshire

We told our children that we would only help them do a postgraduate course if it was vocational. One did not know what she wanted to do, so she did a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. She did not think she would go into teaching, but she enjoyed the teaching practices and is now teaching in Manchester. Our older daughter is thinking of doing an MBA after 10 years' of working and we have said we will help her because she knows exactly why she wants to do it.

Jo Edgerly, Birmingham

Next Week's Quandary

What's wrong with giving primary schools more independence? I think the Conservatives' idea is a good one, but my sister, who is a primary school teacher, says it is a daft. My husband thinks that teachers always hate change, which is why schools are like they are. Who's right?

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at where they can be searched by topic.