Passion vs Return on Investment of Selecting Bachelor’s Degree

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My main consideration when selecting a bachelor’s degree was ROI, not passion as many would state. I was highly passionate about many things – medical science, poetry, history to name a few. 

But I made up my mind to critically think about my higher education. The choice of the degree is attached to a lot of money and time. You will spend 3-4 years on the degree you select. The amount of money you spend has a huge range depending on your choice.

I looked at the options available, I also tried to understand the employment opportunities attached to those options. I started with my passions. Medicine – as I wasn’t selected to local universities, the only option was to go abroad, study for 6 years. I realized all the money and time spent won’t guarantee me a job in Sri Lanka or elsewhere. I would have to jump through more hoops, spending more money and time to start my career. Then comes poetry and history – again options were limited in Sri Lanka beyond the local university system. And degrees offered in local universities had very little appeal to me. On the other hand, I understood that stable career options with good growth are limited in Sri Lanka. Therefore, I rejected all my passions. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. But, today, I’m still glad I made that decision.

Afterward,  I looked at so-called ‘practical’ options. Software engineering (and other IT-related degrees) and Business Management degrees were everywhere. I opted out of IT degrees because I felt no attraction towards such a career. Growing up, I swore to not study business-related subjects – I thought such subjects and careers were beneath me, someone who has a passion for medicine! This was further established by the stories I heard at 

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school. So the decision to even consider business management degrees pained me. Yet, I knew it was the right way to go. 

Selecting the Degree Program​ & the Right Place to Study

My decision to select business management was based on a few factors. Firstly, the versatility of the degree. As my passion was medicine during my whole childhood, at the brink of selecting a degree I was a little lost on what subjects to do. When I searched for popular jobs in the World, I realized Business degrees get featured in many job categories. It also gives me the time to figure out what exactly I want to do in my future. 

Secondly, business is kind of universal. There are no limitations for where I can work, unlike medicine or law which requires country-specific certifications. Again, the business gives me more options. I can work anywhere in the world. As I had plans to work abroad and get new life experiences, this mattered to my decision-making.

Thirdly, Sri Lanka had a wide variety of degrees to choose from. I know that many of those universities/colleges offer sub-par qualifications. Still, there were a considerable number of options. I finally decided to select the Bsc in Business Management degree from University College Dublin, Ireland offered by the National Institute of Management (NIBM). 

This selection was based on the following factors. Firstly, NIBM had a solid reputation of being in the higher education sector for a long time, and they have been offering this degree program for a few years. Secondly, they offered certificates on Advanced Diploma and Higher Diploma at the completion of 1st and 2nd years of the degree program. This meant, in case I change my mind, I have the opportunity to leave the degree program with certifications to justify the time and money spent. Thirdly, there was a 3 month compulsory internship at the end of the second year, with the option of full-time employment afterward as the lectures were shifted to evenings and weekends. This mattered a lot to me. I was aware of the large number of graduates entering the workforce with similar degrees. This included not only private university students but also local university students. Therefore, having some work experience on my resume would make me stand out among all the other applicants. Fourthly, NIBM was affordable. I lost my father 6 months before I started my higher education. Therefore, my family was in a tough financial position. NIBM was affordable to my family at that time. Fifthly, this degree program is offered by a University that has global recognition. I would reap the benefits of that reputation when I am looking for higher education or employment outside Sri Lanka or if I am to migrate to another country. 

That is the summary of my decision-making process in selecting my first degree. All those factors showed the ROI – return on investment from this degree is in my favor. After obtaining a First Class for my Bsc in Business Management, I went on to complete my MBA at Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) with a Merit Pass. I currently work as a Researcher at LIRNEasia. We are a think tank that conducts in-depth, policy-relevant research on infrastructure industries in the Asia Pacific. We document regional good practices. We then disseminate independent, actionable knowledge, to policymakers, regulators, service providers, and the media. We help train policy intellectuals and, on request, provide short-term advisory assistance.

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