I’ll Never Go Back to School

…Yep, there, I said it – I have no desire to ever go back to school – no need for higher education – and see no value in putting myself into thousands and thousands of dollars in debt to walk away with piece of paper that says I’m smarter and more qualified than you. No thanks.

Nicole Crimaldi over at Ms. Career Girl – a good friend and someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with – wrote an outstanding post recently about the value of self education. I share in her initial disclaimer – if you’re seeking a career as a doctor, attorney, professor, or some other high level profession – this “screw the degree” post isn’t for you. I fully understand and appreciate the need for higher education when it comes to those specific career paths.

Take a look at your life and how you got here

To the rest of you – I encourage you to take a look at where you stand today – what you’re doing and how you got here. Odds are, your schooling had very little to do it (except for maybe impressing a few folks with your resume) – rather – it’s what you’ve done for yourself – and what you’ve taught yourself over time.

I’m living in Chicago, working as an Internet Marketing Developer and developing a name for myself as a freelance web developer and consultant – but one year ago, I had absolutely 0% experience in this field. Funny what you can do when you actually set out to do it, right?

You see, a lot of us think that extra school is the pathway to success – maybe you’re lost, wandering and confused, wondering what you want to do with your life, and in your search for fulfillment and happiness you consider going back to school because your title and credentials will guarantee you success, right? Wrong.

Experience matters most

In this day and age – its much less about the amount of school you take on and much more about what you’re willing to take on yourself. EXPERIENCE trumps formal education, hands down. Self education is, without a doubt, the highest form of learning (and yes, higher ed graduates, I’m talking to you to, and you know I’m right). School can teach you a lot, it can give you the technical know-how, but you’ll never be as successful as you can be and want to be until you take initiative to go the extra mile and start teaching yourself.

The beauty of the world that we live in today is that everything…EVERYTHING you want, all of the information you need, is out there for the taking. If you want to start a cupcake delivery company, do it! If you want to risk it all and move to another country, you can! Location independence is real, becoming an entrepreneur by age 25 is a legitimate possibility. Why? Not because of school, not because of a degree, but because people are willing to take flying leaps out of their comfort zones, ask a “shit-ton” of questions, and stay up until 2am reading marketing literature, all while saving money, surviving on Ramen noodles, and wearing that sweater their mom gave them in 9th grade.

The question is: Are you the master of your domain?

Self education is the best form of education because at the end of the day, you are the master of your own destiny, you hold the reigns, you write the papers and give the tests – and ultimately – you are responsible for yourself – the possibilities are endless.

As Nicole so aptly puts – going back to school won’t save you from the recession, it won’t help you “figure it all out”, and it should NEVER be an excuse to delay entering into the “real world”.

Maybe higher education IS for you – if that’s your passion, then who am I or anyone else to tell you that you shouldn’t go do it? But before you do – think about everything you can and should be doing RIGHT NOW to set yourself up for success…

  • Surround yourself with brilliant, forward-thinking people
  • Become close with those who will constantly challenge you
  • Stumble, fall, make mistakes, TRY
  • See everything as an opportunity
  • Develop an affinity for optimism
  • And never, ever be afraid of new life experiences

All things considered, when the chips fall – maybe more school IS the right thing for you, but then again, maybe it isn’t.

Everything I’ve learned this past year has been because I’ve put myself out there, made mistakes, and learned something from every single one of them. I still have a long way to go – but I’m excited about the life-long learning process, and I know that I don’t need a piece of paper in a fancy plaque to point me in the right direction.

Higher-education versus self-education. What value do you place on either/both?