The value of our college degrees is decreasing. More often than not, employers are seeking individuals with M.S. or even PhD degrees to fill their open positions. Does a measly bachelor’s degree or servant-level associate’s degree hold any value at all in today’s education-driven world?
Does your degree matter, period?
What does school teach us? As I reflect back on my years in school, as someone with only an associate’s and a bachelor’s, I realize 99% of what I know today wasn’t taught to me in school. When I really think about it, school taught me very little. Looking at the big picture, the primary thing I learned from school was how to be stressed out and high-strung. It taught me how to bite my nails and how to cry myself to sleep.
The most important skill I’ve had to learn in my life is how to be a self-starter. School certainly didn’t teach me how to create tasks for myself to do. Every class has a syllabus and a core list of assignments that must be completed by specific dates. News flash: The real world isn’t like that. Sure, you might have bills that need to be paid by a certain date, or a presentation that must take place on a certain day, but many of the tasks we’re faced with don’t have deadlines.
Learning how to keep myself busy was the hardest task I faced when I started my job. I had no idea how to self-start, and I would sit around waiting for my boss and other colleagues–who were very busy doing their jobs–to task me with something to do. I was new to the company and knew little about the industry, so I was clueless. I expected to be handed tasks and told what to do, because that’s how I had functioned all through school.
It took me a while to learn that being a grown up means that someone isn’t always going to be there to hold your hand, and often times you have to design your own task list and create your own deadlines. My task was to build a social networking site in a world I knew nothing about. I had virtually no contacts in the community, and I felt roadblocked. I’m extremely social online, but within my communities (which mostly center around animals and fictional worlds.) I couldn’t market my disability social network in those communities, since, for the most part, it was not relevant to them. Also, the content on the site I’m marketing is generally specific to my geographical location.
I sat around and waited for my colleagues to present me with resource fairs and contacts, rather than seeking them out myself, because I didn’t know where to start! I realize now I could have gone so much farther had I been a self-starter and started the networking process on my own.
They said in college that networking was important, but I laughed it off at the time. It wasn’t until I entered the work world that I realized truly how important networking truly is.
Working also taught me how important it is to choose a career path centered around your interests and hobbies. You need to choose a career that lights your heart on fire. Working in an industry that you know nothing about isn’t the way to go. Occasionally, you’ll discover a hidden passion, but more often than not it will only make it harder for you down the line. Even if it isn’t your dream job, you should choose a company to work for that you were familiar with prior to being hired. Or at least choose a company that does work related to your interests. It will help you be able to motivate yourself, because you already know a thing or two about the industry, and you may also have friends who know the company or use their services.
I love learning, but I feel like life experience will teach me more than any class, so is it really worth my money to go back to school for another degree? You tell me.