A master’s degree isn’t always more valuable

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A master’s degree isn’t always more valuable

Pressure from employers and peers to get higher degrees can leave students with more debt but no better jobs.

 

Are You Doing a Master’s for the Right Reasons?

In recent years, we hear of more and more people around us going abroad to undertake a masters’ degree. While many will attribute this trend as an indicator for Kenya's development, the question is whether that’s really the case?

While the accessibility to higher education, specifically higher education abroad, has definitely increased in the last couple of decades, there are still a few alternate reasons as to why the number of master holders might be increasing.

Job market standards

Our job market is very archaic in its beliefs. I have seen openings for starting positions in organizations requiring a master's degree, for a minimum salary. Moreover, the job description will tell you that an undergraduate degree, let alone a master's degree, is definitely not required to execute the type of required tasks.

Having spoken to multiple HR experts over this issue, the reason seems to be the same in most cases. Using a master's degree to filter out potential candidates for the job is easier than conducting an in-depth evaluation test. As a result, some workplaces look for master's candidates even if the job does not require that level of knowledge.

A route out of the country

We have all heard this: apply abroad for higher studies so you can "settle down" there. Many Kenyans believe that leaving the country is the smart thing to do, especially for future generations.

For many, life abroad is much better in comparison. We need to re-evaluate, as a country, whether educated people leaving the country is truly an indicator of long-term development. Are sufficient opportunities not available for these individuals domestically, that they feel the need to emigrate?

Master's or marriage?

Many young women feel compelled to go for a master's degree right after their undergraduate degree, for fear of being forced into marriage. Our social and cultural issues have long put pressure on young women to be married by the time they are nearing the end of their studies.

The other side to this, is where women are not allowed to pursue a master's, specifically abroad, without being married first. These situations are unfair to the women in both scenarios and we need to re-evaluate our social norms to encourage women to freely choose what they want.

The consequences of an increasing number of master's degree holders can also be detrimental. If this becomes the standard requirement for entry-level jobs, the situation becomes unfair for those who do not have the luxury to afford a master's degree. At the same time, the value of these degrees will continue to fall, with employers seeing it as a minimum requirement, therefore salaries offered will be even lower.  We should ideally ensure we are doing master's for the right reasons. Whether it's to become specialized in a certain field or to branch out into different territories from your undergraduate studies, the degree can be extremely useful. That is exactly why we shouldn't just apply to one without considering what it adds to your individual academic and professional sides.

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