With more and more people going to college directly from high school, a bachelor’s degree has become the new high school diploma. Many employers require one, but many also state that equivalent experience would also be ok. With the cost of the education being on a fast rise, some people are deciding to instead go straight into the work force and use the equivalent work clause to guide them through their careers. Some people with Masters degrees and PhDs find themselves to be considered overqualified in this economy and still without work. So, why does higher education matter?
1. Higher education gives people time to hone their skills before deciding a career path. Many students don’t choose their major until the end of their sophomore year, allowing them to take classes in a variety of subjects that might interest them. During this time, a student can change their mind hundreds of times if they wish or even double major to put the decision off longer. In the working world, changing jobs that many times becomes a big red flag to employers that this person is either flaky or unhireable due to past performances.
2. Higher education allows graduates to have a broader range of skills, opening up more job opportunities. When you get a degree in a scientific field, you are taught a variety of concepts that open up more fields. Scientific employers have a specific area of science that each job is looking for and “equivalent experience” means you have to have covered that specific area in your past employment. That’s a tough order as no two pharmaceutical companies, for example, do the same areas of science. For those with degrees, the basic concepts were covered. Because you covered almost all of the applicable skills that area of science requires, you can build on the knowledge quickly in the workplace. Even if you decide to change your career path, your degree may still help you. For example, I got a degree in chemical engineering, but I decided I wanted to go a more business route and got a job in technical sales.
3. Higher education allows graduates to change their career path. This is probably the most important piece to me as I start putting together my applications to go into an MBA program. If you don’t like the career path you are on, you can go back to school and start over. My mother was a special education teacher and decided to go back to school to become a lawyer (and now uses the skills from both educations nearly everyday). At any point, people can go back to college in order to push the restart button on their career paths, although it does take some work. My goal is to move from sales to finance. A friend of mine wants to move from finance to law. Higher education allows this.
So, as I study for the GMAT exam or work on applications for MBA programs, I remember why I am deciding to do this rather than solely using the “school of life.” Although I might not be the best student, higher education still matters and can get me to where I want to be.