Dear Coach Joan,
I guess you could say I blew it the first couple of tries – college that is. I admit that I was immature and a party guy, but I ended up getting a great job in professional sales. I’ve been with it for 3 years so far. My salary is actually much higher than many of my friends who did complete college. I am now 25, fully self supporting, and live fully independent from my parents. Yet, they are strongly encouraging me to complete my degree online while working full time. But I wonder, do I even need it? I enjoy my time away from work socializing, working out, watching sports and otherwise, taking care of my life.
Thank you. My parents and I will all be on the look-out for your response.
Wow. I am impressed with your honesty and candor. You realize that you missed out on college achievement at first, but you went on to achieve career success despite that. Good for you! You must have matured quite a bit to be engaged in professional sales and commanding a salary that is high enough for you to cover all of your costs at a young age.
That said, my answer to you is, the value of returning to college is based on a number of factors:
- COMMITMENT: Do you now really have the maturity and commitment to make a go of it and work hard to completion? Are you ready to devote some of your fun time to study time?
- COST: Do you have the funds to cover it? Does your employer provide the benefit of educational reimbursement, typically tied to a grade of a B or better? Will your parents help fund it? Would you need to take out loans? The financial consideration can be a big one. Can you research to find better priced/better valued online college education? And do make sure to select an accredited college so that your degree has value in the marketplace.
- PASSION/DIRECTION: Do you have a passion to learn? Are you motivated to earn a business degree to help you in your sales career? Or do you have a passion in another area of interest? As you know, college can be demanding but if you have an intrinsic interest and desire to learn, it can be self motivating.
- EARNING POTENTIAL: Did you realize that statistically you will be a better earner with a degree than without one? On average, after a 10 year career you could expect to earn at least 20-40% more in many fields with a degree. And in most fields, higher level jobs require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
- INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS: Have you met with others in your field who have progressed further? Do they have degrees? I’d suggest you do some informational interviews with people who have jobs you aspire to and find out what credentials they bring and what credentials they recommend.
Lastly, I have a strong bias in favor of more education. Education and learning broaden you and open you up to new ideas, new concepts, new people and often, new opportunities. I recommend all my clients who are ambitious to become LIFELONG LEARNERS. With a commitment to ongoing growth, development and learning, you will find life to be more interesting and rewarding. The dollars you get in salary are important, but they only tell part of the story. Try a new way to work out using your curiosity muscle : ) Check it out. Honestly, the best investment you can make is in yourself, and in the expansion of your knowledge and skills.
Onward to your exploration and hopefully, to a successful college experience. This time to completion.