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Does your Choice of University Affect Your Career Options?

Your Choice of University is a Pivotal One

A recent report by the Sydney Morning Herald has revealed interesting statistics about how your choice of University can have a very long-term impact on your earning power. There was a significant gap in the median earnings for graduates of the two cities’ leading sandstone universities, with the University of Sydney’s class of 2014 now pulling in a median salary of $73,000, compared with $65,000 for the University of Melbourne.

choice of university

Why Do Outcomes Differ?

What the research cannot fully explain is why there are earnings differences. Factors other than university attended probably play some part. As the salary analysis suggests, people with a relatively high Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) are likely to have skills and attributes that would be remunerated in the labour market irrespective of which university they choose.

Although personal abilities are certainly important, it’s possible that some universities might be better than others at developing students’ knowledge and skills. This is hard to quantify, but universities differ in things like student-to-staff ratios and student satisfaction with teaching.

Also, some universities may do better on other non-academic factors that help students. These include social opportunities with people who may be useful in a future career, work placements while studying, and careers service departments.

Equally, it could be that on average, the student experience is comparatively similar between universities, but employers believe – rightly or wrongly – that graduates from some universities are better and pay a higher salary accordingly. In other words, employers may take degrees from certain types of universities as a signal of ability and talent.

choice of university

Leveraging Your Resume to Even the Playing Field

Ultimately, as a graduate, your career choices and chances are limited only by your chosen field, willingness to travel if necessary and ability to self-promote. The fact is you can overcome almost all the statistical pointers, prejudices and trends as long as your resume captures the employer’s interest and makes a great first impression with substantiated content.

Your educational profile should be leveraged to the fore to show that you have completed – or about to complete – your degree or diploma and are ready to enter the workplace. At Select Resumes we suggest that you highlight your academic achievements by providing some detail about your course major, key subjects and any good results or substantial projects you completed. If your degree is completed, list four to six main subjects, the ones for which you achieved the best results, and the ones most relevant to the position you are applying for. Do not include your transcript unless asked to do so.

Beyond your educational qualifications and work practice whilst studying, the prospective employer will want to know about you as an individual – what are your core strengths and beliefs. Are you a good communicator? Can you work well unsupervised or within the structure of a team? Are you flexible to changing demands? Do you possess critical thinking skills that enable to you to use your initiative under pressure? These qualities are all essential elements to be weighed up as well as your academic record.

choice of university

Do Your Due Diligence

Whilst research on graduate outcomes by university type has interesting results; it should only be a very general guide to your choice. It is inevitably backwards-looking, mainly due to the fact that universities are constantly changing and innovating. Future income is only one factor to consider, and not necessarily the most important. Think it through.

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