Sioux's blog: Academia vs The School of Life

clock Released On 16 April 2024

Sioux's blog: Academia vs The School of Life

I am not well educated. I have a few GCSEs to my name, never did A-levels and my lack of university attendance was, for a long time, a big old chip on my shoulder. But just because I am not degree level educated does not mean I am not an intelligent, productive and useful member of society and an asset to the company I work for. You’d be surprised how long it took me to realise that though and to get over my crushing insecurities about my lack of education. 

I absolutely believe that Universities and degrees have a very purposeful role to play in our society and workplace. I think we just need to expand a little bit what we need to see from a candidate before determining if they’re suitable for a role. Sometimes the School of Hard Knocks has taught us some really transferable skills and experiences that can help someone flourish in a role.

I remember when trying to enter the world of work at 16 years old, if felt like everyone wanted “degree-educated” candidates even for entry level administration roles. If you don’t have a degree then you need experience but you can’t get the experience without a degree. Someone took a chance on me and gave me my first proper office job at my local newspaper and, as the saying goes, I’ve never looked back! Please, if you can, be the hiring manager that gives the next “me” a shot!

It’s easy to see why degree educated candidates are often seen as reliable hires. Beyond what they’ve learnt about their degree subject area, they’ve also proven that they can attend lectures (so therefore work meetings), write essays (and therefore business reports) and can handle at least some level of pressure (exam week nerves anyone?).

But let’s not ignore the other candidates either who have learnt equally valuable skills in jobs in retail, hospitality or on zero hours contracts. I’d encourage hiring managers to try to interview a diverse range of people to understand what they could bring to the role. Also, consider apprenticeships as a way to upskill someone whilst still getting the work done. They are a great option to support someone in adding to their academic learning whilst they also earn a salary and gain valuable in-work experience.

So when you’re next writing a job description and thinking about who you want and what skills and experience they need to have, please don’t shrink your options. Review CVs and consider all walks of life. There are some amazing people out there just waiting for their chance to shine.


Sioux lives in a village outside Milton Keynes with her husband, young son, 3 cats and 2 dogs. When not managing the chaos of home, she works for a large housing association looking after health, wellbeing and engagement.


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