Is University The Be All And End All?


We believe in bringing fresh talent into the business as often as possible. Ella Fraser, a recent business management graduate, is our latest addition, so we asked her to provide her thoughts on the role a university education plays.

From a young age, not going to University was never an option. My parents had both gone to University, all my friends were going to University and my secondary school frowned upon people who didn’t want to go to University. 

Age 16, I was told to choose a degree that would frame my life for the next few years (and beyond!). I never wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or vet, so no degrees instantly jumped out at me. 

Why Business Management?

When my dad was younger, he set up his own business. This, alongside my love for The Apprentice, has always been a big inspiration for me. Growing up, I aspired to work in a city and spend my days going to various meetings wearing a suit, armed with a briefcase. 

I wish I could be writing this saying I always desired to undertake a Business Management degree, but unfortunately, that would be a lie. Business Management is a generic course offered by every University to attract people like me; people who didn’t necessarily know what they wanted to do in later life. 

After numerous open days (where all Business Management courses turned out to be the same), I chose my favourite University based on which city appealed to me the most rather than what the course actually offered. 

£9,000 a year, worth the money?

Fast forward a year or so, I was accepted onto my chosen Business Management degree and as a young faced fresher with the hope of finding a passion to pursue as a career, I made the move to a city 3 hours away from home. 

An early observation of my degree was the measly amount of contact hours I had. Paying £9,000 a year, you would maybe expect more than 9 hours of lectures and seminars per week. I can’t lie and say I attended all of these either as the reality of first year isn’t so much course focused but instead more partying and making friends! I was more enrolled in the ‘University of Life degree’, so to speak!

My Business Management Degree

My degree was centred around the literature of Management from the early 1900s with the odd accounting equation thrown in, rather than how to manage a business as there is no one size fits all guide to being a manager. 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my degree and the University experience but I wouldn’t necessarily say it set me up for ‘life’ as much as I had hoped, that is unless you count knowing where to buy the cheapest bottles of wine with the highest alcohol percentage! 

University Study Books

Each year we had a choice of 3 modules to explore areas we have a particular fascination in. For me, that was marketing, but the degree only offered one module in its second year, then they removed the third-year module due to us ‘not choosing a marketing degree’. 

I found this particularly frustrating. After all, people were able to focus their degree on Accounting and Finance yet we hadn’t chosen an Accounting and Finance degree?! 

I did enjoy my degree but I personally feel that some of the course content is not as current or relevant as it could be. Although the Japanese production methods are fascinating, the chances of me using this knowledge again are slim, but never say never I suppose!

There is a lot of pressure from a young age that we should know what we want to do. We are expected to pick a career and stick to it for the rest of our lives. For me, this pressure still exists now as I am trying to get onto the first rung of my ‘career ladder’. 

From speaking to friends at different Universities, it is apparent that there is a different level of support when trying to find a job post-University. Some of them, a year after graduating, are still in contact with their career advisors who actively help them search for new opportunities. 

At the other end of the spectrum, I have friends who haven’t gone to University and currently have no big debts and are very happy earning considerable amounts of money. 

Is University a rite of passage rather than a necessity? 

I would never change my time at University nor would I have chosen not to go, as it truly was the best 3 years of my life. It may not have felt that way when I was learning about Henri Fayol’s 1900s management theories, but the whole experience – from meeting friends for life to blurry nights out – was unforgettable.

Equally, if I left school at 18 and did not go to University I would have even less of an idea of what career to pursue. 

So, where am I now?

I graduated last June and only now do I have some career direction in which I wish to explore. If my degree had been more encouraging to real-life experience like other Universities, would I still be where I am now? Who knows is the real answer. 

I have spent the last year doing a ski season and travelling the world, which I personally feel has shaped me into a potential career just as much as my University degree. 

I chose a very generic degree due to not knowing what I wanted to do. The issues with doing so is that it doesn’t take you into one particular vocation. However, it does give me the opportunity to explore lots of different career options.

Marketing is something that has always captured my interest. I had never explored the digital marketing realm until I came to Knapton Wright to get some work experience. Alex was kind enough to give me the opportunity to get first-hand experience of what it is like to work in a digital marketing agency. Having enjoyed my time here so far, I can confirm this is something I can see myself doing as a career! 

Ella Fraser