How To Decide Between University and Work

consumed by consumerism There is nothing more euphoric than going out to have cocktails and cheesecake whilst catching up on the latest trends. My friends and I occasionally enjoy a girls night out – we certainly wish we could do it weekly but we can’t. The amount of money spent on weekly entertainment sure ads up, but also and can be used alternatively to pay for an online course or even my next trip. Every dollar has a value and can be allocated to something else. As much as we enjoy unwinding, some things just cannot be done continuously, if we are to make meaningful progress from which we will benefit in the medium to long term.  You must give up one to attain the other. By the nature of mankind and through the power of our imagination, we have unlimited wants but by our very innate limitations as humans, it is impossible to fulfill all our wants. It all boils down to choices. We all make choices daily and the impact (positive or negative) of the choices we make can be measured against having lost an alternative opportunity to have made a different choice, otherwise referred to as an opportunity cost – the benefit you could have had or demise that was avoided by choosing a particular course of action.  Simply stated – opportunity cost is the alternative choice that you decided to forego when you make a decision. I say this to say – choosing to go to university versus earning an income is one of the biggest challenges you will face. In any and every decision that you make there is always a CHOICE. You simply choose one thing over the next based on your current priority and/or future goals. Is your priority higher education – do you have a targeted career path or goal? Do you just want to earn an income to build a life? Are you skilled in something else? Can you do a trade? These are the mind-boggling questions that one must consider when deciding.

You choose! Why? Because you can never have everything you want. You must choose between A and B.

Every decision has the next alternative and it depends on your priority at the time.

3 things to consider when choosing to go to university instead of going directly to work and earning an income

  1. Why do you want to attend
  2. How do you get there
  3. What benefits you will receive


I chose to go on campus abroad to further my studies instead of working full time and earning an income and doing four years online. Why? – Because I had a plan – I wanted to build a foundation for my future career. I want to become a coach and consultant and I know acquiring the pre-requisite – that is of higher education, a wealth of experience and the technical expertise is essential to my success. The opportunity cost was the loss of two years income but, I gained invaluable knowledge and experience by choosing the alternative – that is going to university. Trust me, when I chose I had no idea how I was going to pay for it but I did. The socio-cultural benefit will be getting exposed to multiple cultural experiences. That will broaden your thinking and encourage you to try new things – understand the why, how and what of things. Learn to become more independent and immerse in new dimensions with multiple like-minded individuals all pursuing a similar goal. During my time, I participated in my hall – Milner Hall annual concert. I did drama, dance, and sports. We had grown a close bond and being a Milnerite is such an honour to me. Every time I meet a past Milnerite I get excited. Imagine I went to an interview in Trinidad and my interviewer was a Milnerite. He asked about my hall name.  It was an advantage for me. I cannot explain it but it was truly a HOME AWAY FROM HOME. We are connected all over the world.


Many people look at the cost aspect when deciding to pursue a higher education. Whilst some do not have the financial capacity to go abroad for three to four years, others look at the years lost by giving up their day job. If your issue is financial capital, there are so many scholarship opportunities – make use of them. The European Union, Canadian and US government usually provide scholarship opportunities for Caribbean students. You just need to know where to search and apply early. It is wise to simultaneously apply for multiple scholarship opportunities. If you cannot secure an academic scholarship, take a student loan – invest in yourself and strategies to gain a return on your investment. Consult a student loan adviser at your local bank and do a comparative analysis to figure out which ones are better for you. Even after receiving a part-time scholarship, I took out a small student loan to further my studies on campus instead of doing four years online whilst working full time. I started online but needed to transfer in order to complete. Tweet this – Always try to take less student loan than what is required then find a job to earn the remainder.  If you need help in preparing, shoot me an email here and I can help you strategize. You have to choose wisely because this is a huge step in your life.

WHAT Knowing the benefits of going to university instead of working will definitely help your decision. One of the things you will learn is that your first degree is your basis for everything else.  You might not necessary stay in the field but it will be your foundation and it certainly requires a lot of hard work.  One simply does not study to pass but to retain what was taught and apply yourself in the future. Networking opportunities is a win-win: During my years on campus, I attended events hosted by department heads and Trinidad & Tobago government economists. I also made time to speak with my lecturer on certain goals. I met one of my current closest friends during my time at university. I also made some good friends and we do keep in touch. We support each other virtually – one recently launched her fashion line in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines – Tia A La Mode. She studied BSc in economics and MSc in project management but had a passion for fashion as well. Pursued a course in fashion design and is now a professional designer. It’s good to be qualified and skilled.  Do not ever limit yourself. I met students from Venezuela, Uganda, Haiti, Nigeria, USA, Caribbean, UK and more. Some of the people I met and hung out with were recently featured in Forbes 30 under 30 Magazines. Christine Souffrant Ntim is a Haitian-American US student who came for an exchange semester at UWI. Today she is Managing Director of Startup Grind Dubai and Founder of Vendedy. Calton Cummins from Barbados – Founder of Acceleron was also featured in Forbes 30 under 30. I remember Calton working relentlessly on his bike. We always supported him on hall. How exceptional. Knowledge and expertise benefit: Earning your first degree is your starting point of your career or entrepreneurial journey. I know some popular entrepreneurs dropped out of school but every person’s experience is not the same. Whatever you learn is yours – your knowledge cannot be taken away. It is your investment in yourself. The trick is know how to market yourself after university life, how to gain a job or start a business. Some people continue to pursue their MBA’s, MSc, MPhil or PhDs based on their goals. Others work and go into various industries or even change altogether.

Education does not end at university, you have to continue learning throughout your life – read, research, learn new things daily. That is how you can build on what you already know. – Merlinda Francois

Your income earning bracket also increases – and depending on your industry or Island it might be way higher than others. A combination of education and experience and self-application will determine your return. Ultimately, when choosing whether to go university of go to work and earn an income – it boils down to what you want to achieve in life. The choice is yours. The opportunity cost is yours.