Is More School Worth The Price?

Is More School WorLook at where we stand today with our higher “Priced” education system. It’s not good for a multitude of reasons. Lets look at the opportunity cost. I’ll argue, more school is’t the solution.

The solution is more education. There is a massive difference.

Imagine being 18(again). You want to go to college? Perfect! Get your degree, rack up $20,000+ of student loans, and then what? The Wall Street Journal tells us last year’s graduating class will leave with a little more than $35,000 of debt. What’s next? Hopefully the student will enter the workforce with their college education and some vigor to learn and achieve great things. What if they don’t?

What if they don’t jump into the work force? I believe too many people are choosing the easy and dangerous path of more school in the form of graduate school(for the sake of more school) and more debt without a payoff, without properly weighing the alternative.  Hard work and education.

What happened to going out, finding a job (any decent job) and getting your ass to work? Ohhhh, I get it, it ins’t sexy to post on your Instagram profile? Get real people! I can make a very good argument for not getting more “higher education” and instead getting a real-world eduction. I’ve seen it done and lived it.

Soap box rant: I started in college as an UNPAID intern. Unpaid for about 7 months (that means $0 kids). In April of my senior year I took an entry-level job with a marginal salary because I knew there was opportunity to grow.  I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity and look back upon it fondly every time I think about where I started. Fast forward 10 years later, I’m helping to run and grow businesses because I’ve been learning about them for 10+ years. Learning AND working. It can happen simultaneously. Shocking I know.

You’ve all seen the graph of Charlie and Allen as they save for retirement. Charlie starts early and saves a little at a time, but he saves often.  Allen starts late and attempts to save big chunks to make up the lost time. What happens? Time wins. Compound interest wins. Charlie wins. Charlie retires and Allen continues to work.

Conversely consider this.  Charlie goes to college.  Gets a degree and gets to work.  He has a good work ethic, an open mind, and is willing to learn on the job to grow his career.  Five years later he’s earned a couple promotions, knocked out his student loan payments, and is on the fast-track to hitting his career goals. Charlie has tremendous flexibility and a proven track record to follow his passions.

Allen graduated under grad with Charlie, but couldn’t find that “perfect” employer who wanted to pay him $60,000 out of college to run business he knows nothing about.  Awww shucks.  Guess he better go get an MBA.  Allen goes to school to get his MBA.  In the process, he racks up an additional $50,000 in debt (on top of his $35,000) that he already can’t pay because he doesn’t have a job or income.

Allen, looking for work after his illustrious MBA program is completed reaches out and GOES TO WORK FOR Charlie.  Another shocker. I’ve seen it. I lived it.  Allen is $85,000 behind Charlie and has zero real-world experience.  He’s never had to fire anyone or have a difficult (but adult) conversation with a boss or owner.

Understand this. MORE THAN EVER, you don’t need an MBA to be successful in today’s economy.

What is needed is an appetite to continue your education, some common sense, a work ethic, and some “old fashioned” backbone.  The economy is moving faster than ever, and I’d argue is more entrepreneurial than ever.  Speed to adapt is the new currency.  Can you learn at a fast rate? Can you as a person continue to learn and evolve with the changing times.

A person must also consider the resources at their fingertips to continue your education(on your own time).  I think sometimes the structure of school only helps the student know where to look or how to start the next level of learning. It’s a map or a compass for the lost young adult.

The internet has and will continue to wildly disrupt the education system.  I think this is fantastic because of all I’ve learned online in the last few years.  Where exactly?  Let me list a few resources I use.

  • YouTube – The #1 place on the internet to learn almost anything in the world.  On your own time.  For FREE!
  • Podcasts – This medium erupted over the last 5 years.  Insights, interviews, and some of the best minds out there are podcasting daily or weekly for FREE
  • Online courses – There is a tremendous market to expand knowledge and education via people who’ve already achieved what you’re looking to learn.  Find them.  Follow them. Study them. Be wise in evaluation, but don’t be afraid to invest a couple hundred dollars to advance your knowledge.
  • TED Talks – I’m not goofy enough to compare a Ted Talk to an MBA, but isn’t it exactly the style of critical thinking you’re paying for? FREE
  • Blog Posts – There are some really wonderful blog posts out there for everything under the sun. I have a few favorites I’ve been following  for YEARS and also for FREE to continue to feed my beastly appetite for knowledge.

If you’d like to argue about your Harvard MBA, I can understand that viewpoint. I can understand where you are in your career and how your MBA got you there. What I can’t ignore however, is the number of entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve met (who are tremendously successful) who don’t have post secondary education.

I believe tremendously in the value of an education.  However, I’m deeply concerned with the price of school and what this price is doing to our future.

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