Although this is primarily a website based on finance and investments, students that are considering a degree should look at this first.
Growing up in the Singapore Education System and the Asian Culture, it is deeply ingrained in our minds that we need a university degree to get a job. Hence it became the rite of way for many.
Study hard and get a degree so that you can get a good job with high salary.
Then you will be successful and do well.
Those who don’t are then the opposite. Well, we know that life does not necessarily work out that way, with other aspects of life equally important as well.
Merits of University
The belief on the merits of university usually comes from the baby boomers generation where they see the obvious advantage that a degree holder can bring. However, times has changed, society has progressed and our world is different from the 70s and 80s.
Of course, NUS, NTU, SMU are wonderful universities and a university degree is important and still has it’s merits. In recent years, there have been a huge influx of for-profits education institutions selling their degrees like hotcakes, bringing the entry barrier for degrees down drastically.
To provide for the educational luxury, one will have to give up something, money.
The cost of university degrees in Singapore really depends on the university and the course of study. Public university obviously cost a lot lesser due to the government subsidies, whereas private university can easily cost 50% to 100% more.
Nonetheless, universities will definitely be in the 5-figure range and there have been arguments that these numbers are simply beyond the comprehension of the average university student, who is likely to be in their teenage years and have not really made any significant amount of money.
The Situation in Singapore
In Singapore, you would feel that our student debt situation/craze will likely not be as severe as United States.
Singaporean parents spend an average of $21000 on university fees, more than twice that of the world’s average. (Little wonder why so many private universities like to choose Singapore as a target base.)
With more than half are willing to go into debt to send their child to university.
The Real Dollar Cost
While the above survey calculates the cost of university, it certain does not include the other cost as well. Such as cost of living, cost of textbooks, laptops, staying in hall (never understood why you have to stay in hall in tiny Singapore?), transport cost and of course, opportunity cost.
All these are real cost on top of tuition fees. The number will be way larger if student venture overseas to study abroad.
Once you add them in, you would realise that the real dollar cost is a lot higher. Sometimes easily 6 figure if you study abroad.
Other Real Cost
Some other cost needs to be added on top of tuition fees. Some students, being in their teenage years or early twenties, are in a rush to enroll for university, simply because it’s time and everyone else is doing it. However, they have not understood where their real path is pre-enrollment and end up discovering their path lies somewhere else.
At that moment of time, they are already in university, should they quit or should they continue or should they switch into another course of study? If such a thing happen, these are all additional cost and time.
In our changing world, such as IOT and Industrial 4.0, it makes one wonder how would a degree aid us in the future world?
Of course, that is the intangible cost of a degree. Degrees are still valuable, at least, some of them are. (Simply too many out there)
Aspiring students should look at the real value that a degree can give you, other than the knowledge part. We have got Google for that.
Despite all the merits of a university degree, it does not guarantee a job and high remuneration in our world where everyone seems to have a degree.
Not so straightforward
If you reached here, you would have realised that university degrees are not so straightforward isn’t it? A university degree typically presents one with their first major financial decision and just like everything else, it can turn out to be as much of a disaster as it can help a help.
We have already known that for decades, school has severely disappointed us in financial education. In the 21st Century, we need to see beyond the education aspect and decide what type of value does your university education gives you in the future job market.
Do not rush into enrolling into a degree.
Do not fall for the the marketing of universities. Some universities and degrees are better and more relevant.
Do not spend too much on university, especially on loans as it can sink you faster than you think.
While we cannot help you on charting your path and evaluating the values of each and every university, we can help you check if you are over-paying for it.
Quoting Warren Buffett,