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Education

In this month’s Tatler Magazine 23-year-old actress and Pirates of the Caribbean star Keira Knightley admits that she has “a chip on her shoulder” for not going to university.

Knightley, who dropped out of school before finishing her A- levels in order to pursue an acting career, says she tries to read as much as she can in order to prove that she isn’t dumb.

This got me thinking. Going to university does not make you a whole person, neither does it make you smart and clued up about everything.

Ultimately, university isn’t for everyone. A work colleague of mine told me that he didn’t go to university because he wanted to do a more manual job in printing and design. Sure there are courses for art and design but hands-on experience proves to be vital. Without any regrets about not going to university, my colleague is very successful in what he does and also runs his own small business.

The idea of going to university to obtaining a degree is instilled in us from a young age and if you don’t achieve this then society often frowns at you. Most people go to university because they know having a degree could mean a £10,000+ difference in their salaries and thus a more financially comfortable life.

The cynical side of me thinks that going to university is a way of the Establishment preventing a low job to employee ratio in the workforce. After compulsory education, finishing at the age of 16, there would be such a high demand of jobs. Subsequently this would see unemployment rates rocket.

Admittedly, many professional jobs these days require that you have a degree or an equivalent qualification, which often holds back those who didn’t go down the higher education route.

In fact, many graduates leave university without basic skills. When you go into a new job you have to start from scratch anyway- learning the ins and outs of the company and its procedures.

I know of a few people who describe their decision to go to university as a waste of time. Have you ever looked at the jobs section in a newspaper and seen on almost every advertisement: “Minimum of _ years experience only” ? Having a degree usually proves you have theoretical or textbook knowledge in a particular field rather than practical experience. Employers ultimately want the latter.

Personally, I’d prefer to have Keira Knightley’s job and success (and money). Being educated academically isn’t half as valuable as being educated through experience.