Before You Do That Degree

The Road To Milk and Honey

Growing up, we are all told that getting a degree will ensure you are set for life. It would give us a big house, car, land, and all of life’s treasures. It was THE path to milk and honey.

Following this information, students from all over the country place themselves in debt and pursue a degree. After years of studying, struggling, and perseverance, many graduate with a smile. They go off into the real world and immediately ask themselves…..where is my milk and honey?

The reality they face isn’t what was promised. The jobs are either hard to get or non-existent, salaries are low, people struggle to pay bills and the big house seems like a distant dream. How could this be? Where did they go wrong? Who is to be blamed? WHERE IS MY MILK AND HONEY?

Maybe society is to be blamed, maybe family members, or maybe ourselves? There are some questions that anyone planning to do a degree should ask themselves.

Are There Jobs Available In The Field?

Seems like an obvious question to ask however few ever really stop to check. People have an interest in a particular field so they decide to pursue a degree in it. When the degree is complete and no work can be found in sight, you will see a shocked expression.

Shocked Pikachu from Giphy

This is immediately followed by complaints about how there are no jobs in the country. Ultimately, some research regarding the job market could have prevented a lot of pain. It is such a common story for people to not find a job in the field they studied and this usually leads to migration.

Nuh wuk nuh deh a Jamaica suh mi affi guh a farin

Random University Graduate

I recommend that each university prospect should sign up for LinkedIn and CaribbeanJobs. Spend at least 1 month looking at the following:

Which jobs/industries are hiring?

Are jobs in my field of interest available?

How much do these jobs pay?

My Article on job seeking provides information regarding the job hunt.

How Much Does The Job Pay?

Check. Yes, I mean seriously check. Far too often we assume that people in many of these jobs are being well paid and living lavish lives. The reality for many is much different than you would expect.

Salary information is admittedly difficult to come across. I partnered with on an article titled: What Are Salaries In Jamaica like? I won’t go over much of what was said there but some of the information will shock you. Many doctors and lawyers aren’t doing as well as you think.

There have been mixed reviews on the government’s compensation restructuring. They have provided us with details regarding the movements in salary bands that you can find here. By the looks of it, many government workers seem to be earning much more than before.

I’m happy to report to you, @NigelClarkeJa, that many young doctors feel incentivized by the Compensation Review exercise to stay. I’ve heard a lot of my colleagues say things like, ‘life might just be sustainable in Jamaica after all’ today. Next step is overtime reform. Thx!

— Dr. D. Malcolm Brewster (@dmbr_767) April 25, 2023

It’s important that whatever job you take on can cover your expenses. Here is a short exercise that you can conduct:

Get a piece of paper

Do a rough calculation of estimated expenses. Estimated Expenses = Rent + Water + Internet + Light + Loans + Groceries + Travel.

Write your estimated expenses based on where you want to live. You can check GetKeez for rent information. Also, ask people you know.

Take the salary of the job you are interested in and subtract the estimated expenses from it.

Have a friend or family review your calculation.

Do I Actually Need The Degree?

There are some fields where a degree may not be required at all. This is pretty shocking to many given the high amount of emphasis our society places on Degrees. Some companies even prefer people with certificates over having a degree.

Cybersecurity is one such field where certificates can land you a job. There are a lot of certificates in the cybersecurity field with varying levels of difficulty. You can check out this list of the Best Cybersecurity and InfoSec Certifications.

For more information on getting into CyberSecurity, I recommend joining the Caribbean Tech Team discord server.

Some Jamaican companies hire people without degrees as long as they have the skills. The number has increased over the years but we still have a far way to go. It is important to note that I am not discouraging anyone from doing a degree. You can have both certificates and a degree to help you stand out.

Why not both via GIPHY

Can You Fund It?

I know this may shock you but, many people underestimate the cost of university. It is a massive financial undertaking that forces some people to drop out. The cost(and stress) was simply much higher than they initially thought. It’s good to properly plan out this pursuit before you begin.

Here are some ways that people have funded their university journey:

Student Loan Bureau. SLB now only requires 1 guarantor.

Working part-time/full-time for a company. This can be a stressful experience trying to balance both.

Doing the Work and Travel program.


It’s common for students to use several options to fund their university journey since 1 usually isn’t enough. Aside from tuition, you will have to eat, travel, buy resources, need a good computer, and so on.

There are some miscellaneous fees that people overlook which run them into issues. It is important to gather as much information as you can regarding the financial costs of university. It could save you a headache or two.

Society Failed Us

The view we have of university is spread throughout the entire country and upheld by many. Society fooled us into believing that it would grant us all that we desire. Although university benefits from this, should it take some of the blame as well? Maybe. It is in the best interest of the institution that you do a degree. After all, how will it be funded and lecturers be paid?

University is not all about the degree. I remember a popular lecture of mine saying that you do not come to university for the degree, you come to make connections. These connections you make can be utilized to gain employment, start companies or even form lifelong friendships. If we want to see more diverse businesses then we need more entrepreneurs, check out my article here.

If I were to sell someone on going to university then it would be based on getting an experience. Experiences that you can take with you for the rest of your life. It is important to enjoy the journey, learn from it and grow.

With all of that said, one author asks the question yet again, Where is My Milk and Honey? Truth is, it never really existed.

Though society failed us, we must never fail ourselves.

Jason Williams

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