Yesterday, as I sat in the purpose built studio of professional printmaker and artist, Chris Pig a thought popped into my head….”My college degree was a waste of time and money“.


Why did this thought come to me? I have recently started to make artwork again after many years of focusing on raising my children, well that, and doing a bit of writing here and there. Not quite knowing where to begin or what my artwork might now look like, I decided to spend a few months taking art classes in techniques I didn’t get a chance to explore in college. While I sat listening to Chris give instructions for the piece of “Block Wood” etching I was about to create, I marvelled at the workshop space I found myself in; magnificent printing presses, odd shaped tools hanging from the walls, mountains of different textured papers piled high, pots of inks, pencils and pens. On the walls surrounding me were framed prints of etchings from artists and students, past and present.


This was the second time I had greatly underestimated the kind of tutor and workshop facilities I would have access to during a community organised course. Chris is the second professional artists I have worked with over the last few months. This got me thinking about how I had wasted a lot of time and money on an art college degree, when I could have been working alongside professional artists in their studios, using the tools of the trade and accessing their knowledge of working in the creative industries. Instead, I spent my time working with outdated equipment, due to lack of department funding, fighting for contact time with tutors who were either too busy doing paperwork or out doing second jobs to make up for their poorly paid college tutor salaries.


The worst of it is…at the age of 44yrs I am still left with a debt of over £10,000 from the experience and for what? A piece of A4 parchment paper with some pretty writing on, stuffed in a draw somewhere twenty years ago never to see the light of day again. Another thought keeps popping into my head, “Imagine all the professional artists I could have worked with for £10,000…..damh, I could have brought my own studio and asked the artists to come to me!”. I am left feeling cross. Cross, that I didn’t understand this when I was younger. Cross, that society promotes college debt as something young people just have to bare for the sake of an education, a debt they might carry for the rest of their lives.


My advice to any young person who’s chosen profession doesn’t truly need a college degree (like doctors or lawyers) is, don’t go to college! Find yourself a professional in your chosen field and apprentice yourself to them, learn from someone who is doing it for real. Like a friend of mine who lives in the US. His son wants to be an animator so my friend saved some money (not £10,000) and enrolled his son in some classes with animators in their studios in Burbank, L.A. These animators work with Disney Studios and are enthusiastic to share the knowledge of their craft. And, if someone tells you this is all well and good for creative types who want to work in the creative industries get them to read this…..


“One of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters is to remove degree classification from the entry criteria for its hiring programmes, having found “no evidence” that success at university was correlated with achievement in professional qualifications.

Accountancy firm Ernst and Young, known as EY, will no longer require students to have a 2:1 degree and the equivalent of three B grades at A level to be considered for its graduate programmes.”

Full article here



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2 thoughts on “Why My College Degree Was A Waste Of Time and Money

  1. How lovely that you have some time to focus on your artwork again, Luminara. I know exactly what you mean about degrees. My law degree set me on a conveyor belt towards a career I hated yet did for 8 years (“oh, you don’t want to throw away all that training!” … yes but I don’t want to throw away the rest of my life either on a job I detest!). Then I trained to be a cognitive hypnotherapist in 10 weekend modules! (plus self-study time) That’s great news about EY. Hopefully more employers will follow suit.

  2. Agree. But everybody always mentions doctors and lawyers. My major was in elementary education (note that I am unschooling my son now, lol!), and I don’t think school districts higher teachers without a college transcript. I’m not even sure you can take the teacher certification tests without a college transcript. But that they make you attend 4 yrs of higher ed. to “qualify” is BS. You don’t need 2 yrs. of liberal arts courses that have nothing to do with teaching, in order to do the schoolteacher thing.

    All that said, like Lucinda, I ended up despising my career early in the game (made the mistake of reading John Holt, lol). I wouldn’t have needed a degree to do what I truly love: writing and speaking.

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