A practice my lecturers enforced, whenever the issue of careers reared its ugly head, was feeding its students from the cradle up that their degree could give them the transferable skills to survive in an intensely competitive job market. However, for the context, they could not have been more incorrect. I still debate whether their conceit stemmed from their genuine ignorance of the competitive labour market, or if there was an ulterior and more dubious motive.
Unfortunately, much of the evidence seems to support the latter. The course had noticeably lower entrance requirements than the university it was taught at and was non- accredited – meaning that minimal work experience was derived from the degree. Upon starting the course many of the students spoke openly about being offered a place without even applying, and even the admissions tutor gave me unfounded information that a higher percentage of the graduates from the degree seemed to pursue careers in business, when that was not the case.
At its best, the course was initially marketed with the purpose of creating a new generation research scientists instilled with acumen and insight to research the causes and treatments of major diseases. However, the real context of the course was to incentivise the graduates onto a PhD; this was for the simple reason that the degree by itself was not enough to sustain a career in research. Making matters worse, the course has become notorious for being widely abused by medical school rejects, who purposefully exploit the physiological knowledge the course offers as a stop gap for their wayward medical aspirations.
Compounding matters further was the course’s bizarrely intensive teaching, which for its second year encompassed forty hours of fruitless lab practical and lectures per week. In this context and too its credit, the course disregarded economising its content for its ill-fated undergraduates, but, unfortunately, the lack of accreditation hardly did them any justice either.
For me it has been a struggle having an undergraduate degree where my casual indifference is reflected in my paltry marks and where I have not followed the well trodden paths of research or medicine. Even worse, since its consistent abuse by wannabe PhD students and doctors, the course on its own is incomplete as a standalone qualification. Therefore, it is left me repeatedly under-qualified for the workplace. Sadly, upon graduation I was largely bereft of those vital skills that should sustain a graduate in the job market. For years since graduating, I have coasted on my natural innate talents securing internships, which have given me the skills that my undergraduate degree should have taught me.
It is only now that I am ably compensating for the three year blank on my CV that is, somehow, masquerading as a degree.
Was it really worth it?