The Importance of a College Education… and it’s not what you think!

“According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.”Read more here…

If you’re hoping to attend my alma mater, Mary Baldwin College, in picturesque and historic Staunton, VA you will find the price is even higher at $39,331 per year.

By now, you’ve probably calculated this small fortune in your head and have become distraught, depressed, or just another angry customer of Sallie Mae (or Navient as they are calling themselves these days).

Despite the rising cost of education…college is still very important for the current or future BizEMillenial…but like the title says, not for the reason you may think.

Though the shake of your college president’s hand & the thick paper your degree is printed on may make you feel accomplished on graduation day, you have really only just begun. Getting a four year degree will not make you an expert in anything–it’s just not set up that way. All four years (or more) was a dabble into many different areas of higher education with a few extra courses to deep dive into a particular major. You are no more an expert in Biology or History as I was in Psychology or Economics. That’s what grad school is for.

So if you go on an interview and proclaim to be an expert because you majored in this particular job field…halt! Yes, you have a college degree but you are NO expert!

Your college degree, however, does tell a lot about you. Let’s discuss the top 5.

  1. Persistence – You have proven ability that you can finish what you start! Many people are great starters yet poor finishers. These people are oftentimes difficult to work with and must rely on others to finish theor tasks. But not you college graduate, you’re a finisher, and every employer can appreciate that.
  2. Multitasker – Between class work, social clubs, and the “frequent” parties you definitely did not attend, you somehow managed to get it all done and here you are proudly showing off your degree at the head of your resumé. Kudos taskmaster!
  3. Networker – Along the way, the hope is you have picked up some valuable friendships & associations that may benefit you in the future. You are social. You get along with people, even that roommate who used to eat your food and eavesdrop on calls to your parents. When your hall got caught breaking the rules & you stood up and asked for change. You were shot down & the entire hall was still punished, you still proved you were bold, and you got major respect for that. These people still look up to you. Winning people over is a great trait. You will probably need that.
  4. Purpose – You understand that there are means to an end. Hard work is rewarded. You also probably have some student loans that need to be paid and mommy and daddy have grown tired of footing your bills. So your purpose has morphed into responsibility. You actually need this job so you aren’t homeless and walking around with a framed degree as your only solace.
  5. Self-identity – When you entered college, let’s face it, you were lost. You didn’t know the difference between the Dining Hall versus The Pub food, you didn’t realize that you really had to pay those parking tickets, and you definitely didn’t know a thing about who you were and what you wanted out of life. But now things are different. You’ve heard great speeches, spent time with some overly intelligent professors, perhaps visited some places you never have, and immersed yourself in different cultures. You…know…more. And it’s a glorious feeling. This is a plus for you because your employer has no time to help you find yourself, they’re hoping for a package that is already wrapped with a bow. Thank goodness that it is you.

Even after reading this, Sallie Mae/Navient will still be calling for their money back, but I do hope you feel that the handshake and the thick paper is just a little more valuable than you thought it was a few minutes ago. I will leave you with this last thought… “of all the things that you accumulate in life, education IS the only thing that can not be taken away from you. Money may go, as well as the house, the car, the spouse, the kids, the dog, BUT once you have truly LEARNED something it is yours to keep forever.”

Raise your degrees high,