Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 30 Apr 2009

Our son graduates this summer and is thinking about doing a Masters. But will it improve his job chances?

Hillary's Advice

You say your son does not know what to do, but taking an MA is a very wrong-headed way of finding out. Especially as the subjects you say he is thinking of taking – media and business –sound much too general to be of much use in the job market.

Under normal circumstances it would be far better for him to get out in the world and find out more about what working is like. That way he could start thinking about finding a career that fits him. But things are really tough for this summer’s graduates, so I can understand why he wants to shelter at university for another year.

I would suggest you encourage him to focus hard on the additional debt he will be taking on if he decides to do a Masters and has to fund it himself. Today’s young people are often not good at looking to their financial future. If, on the other hand, you are willing to fund him, I would suggest you urge him to find a good, practical niche which will help him to offer valuable skills to future employers -- not just a media MA, for example, but one oriented to digital media; not just a general business course, but one tailored to e-marketing or human resources.

Or maybe he could think of going abroad to for a year and acquiring a second language, which would make him a much more attractive proposition to many employers?