Did I Just Spend $100,000 To Land A $40,000 Job?

Value of Education

Singapore is undoubtedly a leading global consumer of education, claiming the top spot for international education rankings[1]. Statistics and numbers mean a lot in today’s context, but what is the true reason of constantly building on these digits if they are just a result of a collective effort of mechanical living? As I venture into the scrutiny and magnification of the rat race we are all stuck in, knowingly or unknowingly, do give yourself time to think, process and dwell on the issues that I raise in this article.

Let me begin with the all-time-favorite topic, or should I say despised, money matters. Have you ever wondered how much it costs for an average person in Singapore to be educated from pre-school all the way until tertiary education? Based on current prices, the sheer cost of education for a citizen costs up to about $85,000. This is just accounting for the basic tuition fee at the institutions. Adding on to that, think about all the exchange trips, excursions, camps, hostel fees and so on. Being a Singaporean parent, you would definitely not want your child to miss out on any of those, am I right? That being said, one’s education could easily cost $100,000! Shocking, it may seem to some of you, but this is the harsh reality that no one can escape.

credit: http://www.goldtelegraph.com/education-crisis-is-it-worth-it

The Price of Good Education.... is HIGH

Now assuming that one has obtained a route to tertiary education, what are the implications of this and what does it mean for the one pursuing a degree at a university? Yes, some will argue that it is already an achievement to be able to obtain tertiary education, but what do you really earn out of it? Or is it just a futile loss of resources and money? Does one really have to spend $100,000 just to realize that he is signing up to enter the rat race of life?

Let’s take the example of an engineering student at a local university in Singapore. The starting pay of a fresh grad of such qualification would be close to around $3,600 or so. On top of that, there is a declining rate of fresh graduates who start work within the first 6 months after their graduation[2]! Regardless of that, let us fast-forward to the time when he is employed. In his first couple of years his annual income would be about $43,000, not counting bonuses or increment. You may be tempted to argue that pay rise would come with time but unfortunately, that only comes with further studies, training by Workforce Development Force and other institutions, experience and so on. So far, I’ve only told you about this person’s annual income, and not touched on savings. Can you imagine how long it would take for one to save up to the amount he (or his parents) spent on his own education?

Considering the above-mentioned average person who saves about 30% of his income, his annual savings would come up to about $12,960 and as a result, would take almost 8 years to earn $100,000! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Do you realize that by the time this happens, the person may already be married, and has had kids? What about their housing and miscellaneous expenses? Housing takes up a large portion of one’s life in its acquisition and the reason behind that is due to Singapore’s high cost of living. It would be very unlikely that one can make ends meet if not both the person and his spouse are working in order to cope with their expenses. Not only does this give them a financial pressure to deal with but may also be affected by mental stress. With rising social expectations, one can only learn to accommodate to these circumstances, not evade them.

Did I waste all that time and money just for a degree?

Having said all this, it would be foolish of me to say that education is not important. In fact, education is the cornerstone of civilization and an essential avenue for one to progress. But I would like to highlight the fact that over-emphasis on such an inflexible education system may not be the best idea in bringing out the best in each and every individual in Singapore. There needs to be a change in the education style in terms of innovation and creativity, so that more people are encouraged to be the best of who they can be. We should not be competing within ourselves, we should be competing to make this world a better place to live in. Being educated is one thing, but investing that knowledge to generate ideas is what makes one different from the rest. It is time for you to be out there and make your mark to get out of the rat race.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/education-38212070

[2] https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/proportion-fresh-grads-who-found-jobs-within-six-months-dips-survey

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