As a parent, you have probably focused a huge amount of mental energy on thinking about your child going to university. That’s where most people focus; on the moment they cross the threshold to the university of their choice, embarking on the education that is going to enrich their lives no end.
In fact, this focus on starting university — and achieving the grades to be able to do so — is so dominant it can lead to the loss of other crucial considerations. When you’re so locked into one goal, it can be tough to ask yourself… what happens next?
One day it will feel like your teenager is just heading off to university, but then you’ll blink and find yourself at their graduation ceremony. Time passes quickly, and many parents find they haven’t particularly thought about what happens after that graduation.
If you have a child who is at, or on the brink of attending, a university, then considering the post-university decisions might seem a long way off– but these days will come faster than you might think. It’s at this point that many parents find themselves wondering all kinds of questions about the future. To try and ease this stress, below are some of the most common questions about what happens next when your child has graduated– hopefully, they will be able to settle your mind.
What are the options when your child has graduated?
Most graduates pick from one of these options:
- Moving into the workplace, either by finding a place on a graduate scheme or just applying for jobs like any other jobseeker.
- Continuing education, usually to a Master’s degree. Many graduates now feel they have to obtain a Master’s degree in their chosen field just to be able to compete with a degree-saturated marketplace.
- Taking a gap year and working abroad for a while, prior to entering the workplace.
It’s worth taking the time to talk to your child and see where their inclination is leading them, but also be aware that decisions can change– their current plans should be taken as guidance, not set in stone.
Is it easy for a child to find a job right out of university?
Sadly, it’s never easy to find a job, and this is no different for graduates. The hiring process for jobs can be long and arduous, and the average job hunt lasts for around six weeks. The chances of your child graduating and then immediately being able to walk into a job are slim, so you will likely need to support them during their job hunt– plan for this now, so you’ve got savings to rely upon.
Would your child be eligible for jobseeking benefits right out of university?
Potentially, though it depends on your overall household income if they are living with you. They may also receive less money if they are under the age of 25, which most graduates will be.
While there may be some financial support available from the government during your child’s job hunt, it’s unwise to rely on this. The claims process is long and the ultimate award may be low after household income and age are factored in.
What happens when your child has a job?
In truth, you will likely need to continue to support your child somewhat even when they have found employment. Wages are stagnating while property costs — including rents — are skyrocketing, and this is unlikely to change in the near future. You may need to be prepared for your child to live at home for awhile and save a little money, or continue to offer financial support as and when needed.
There is also the fact that a huge number of jobs nowadays are very unreliable– so-called “zero hours” contracts. If your child moves into this kind of role, you will, again, likely need to support them until they have managed to build up their savings.
What are the benefits of Master’s degrees?
More people have Bachelor’s degrees than ever before, so many students feel they need a Master’s degree or post-grad diploma to appeal to potential employers. Studying subjects in more depth is beneficial from an educational perspective, too; post-grad qualifications are very in-depth, burrowing deep into a subject in a way that a Bachelor’s degree can’t manage.
What are the downsides of a Master’s degree?
The first concern that you will need to be aware of is cost. There is funding available for post-graduate degrees, but — and this is crucial — there is no maintenance funding for Master’s degrees or diplomas. Your child will likely have a little leftover from their loan money, but this is usually less than £2,000– not enough to feed and house them for the course of a one-year degree. Many Masters students move home to study, or work a part-time job to support them if they choose to continue to work independently.
Do Masters degrees make a difference in job applications?
There are no figures to confirm or deny this, but the general consensus is that yes, Master’s degrees are worth doing. Masters degrees tend to be more specialised, which is very helpful for employers.
What your child has changed their mind about what they want to do for a career?
This is a frequent issue that parents have to face, and it’s never a simple one to navigate.
Your child may find themselves with a degree that is of little benefit to their newly-chosen career. If they did a degree in English Language but have since decided they want to be a Project Manager, then this can be problematic. Many parents find themselves facing this situation, and there’s no doubt it’s difficult.
In this scenario, the best decision is likely to be pursuing a post-grad qualification in the specialisation your child now wants. Many Master’s will accept people with degrees that aren’t particularly relevant to their Master’s subject. If your child did English Language, then there’s a good chance they would be accepted to do a Project Management Diploma as the skills are quite transferable.
There are, however, circumstances where this would be unlikely, especially with the sciences. It is unlikely that the same English Language graduate would be able to undertake a Masters in microbiology; these highly-specialised Masters degrees rely heavily on the knowledge that has been gained during the Bachelor’s degree. If your child has decided to move into science, and has a BA (which stands for Bachelor’s of Arts), then this may be problematic. If you find yourself in this scenario, your child may need to retrain, or arrange work experience or study that helps bridge the gap between their qualifications.
What if your child decides to travel and work abroad?
There’s no doubt this decision can be beneficial to your child. It gives them a chance to explore the world, experience different cultures, and solidify their plans for the future.
However, there’s also no doubt that such a decision is tough for parents. We never lose that protective instinct, and our child venturing off into the unknown can be extremely worrying.
One of the best ways of calming this fear is to ensure that your child has a job before they depart, rather than seeing what they can pick up when they’re on the ground. Holiday and tourism companies are usually the best places to contact; they can hire in the UK for jobs that exist abroad. From that first, secured job, your child can then save money and travel taking on traditional backpacker jobs if they so choose.
Will you have to financially fund your child’s travel?
This is entirely your decision. You can contribute, or you can ensure that they take a part-time job for a few months to fund the initial leg of their expedition. If you feel they genuinely have something to gain from travelling and want to chip in, then that’s fine too– do whatever works for your family.
The above make a few pertinent points clear:
- You will likely need a little money set aside to support your child after their degree. This can be tough, especially as you have already had to find funds to help fund their time at university, but it is better to be prepared for this than surprised when it becomes necessary.
- Your child might not settle into a full-time job in their chosen industry immediately, so be prepared to have other options. One of these options is likely to be that they will need to move back to the family home for awhile, so if you’re planning on downsizing your home, it might be wise to wait for awhile before you do this.
- Your child may decide to pursue further education, which again, could be expensive. It’s wise to find out if this is their intention as soon as possible, so you can start financially planning to cope.
Hopefully, you are now feeling a little more confident about the possibilities and your options when your child graduates from university. Ultimately, it’s impossible to predict the future, but if you follow through these steps, then you’ll be in a better situation than most parents. Good luck!
Disclosure: Contributed post