Recently, ‘Poor Boomer’ left the following comments on AFM about education:
What’s with all the education hype? I have an awful lot of education and a minimum wage income – so what’s so great about education?
Education does not equal a great income.
Have you ever asked yourself why you only make minimum wage?
It’s obvious why I make only minimum wage – I have no marketable skills and no career-related experience. (I got a liberal arts degree with law school in mind, but couldn’t afford law school, so my degree is now worthless.)
His answer bugged me so I sent him an email and asked him if I could post about his experience. This was his response:
Hi, no problem – you’re welcome to it. I think a college education is, generally, an excellent investment, BUT one entailing huge downside risks. I can now say that NOT seeking an internship in college (I was sure I couldn’t afford unpaid work) was one of my biggest mistakes. Also, I think there is a moderate time window in which one must “do something” with their education or degree in order to have meaningful career prospects. This time window for me lasted roughly five years, during which obtaining an interview was not especially difficult. After roughly five years, the interviews abruptly stopped coming.
Instead of me addressing this myself, I decided to ask Larry Winget for his help. For those of you not familiar with Larry, he has written a ton of best-selling books. His latest, People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It!, will be released next week (see Larry’s website for details on special he’s running). I like Larry’s style because he doesn’t sugar-coat his advice. He tells it like it is.
So, I sent Larry an email asking him for his opinion and this was his response:
I hear this argument a lot. Rarely do people actually work in the field in which they get a degree. Degrees in education, liberal arts and the like are typically not the educational path to high-paying jobs. In fact, in my opinion, the whole reason for a college degree is the education in discipline it requires to get the degree – not what your area of studies were. It takes personal discipline, personal responsibility and accountability, the ability/willingness to study, the time and effort to get to class and sit through class, the skills to test, the ability to work with others, the ability to set a goal and achieve it, to manage your time and a variety of tasks, and on and on and on. Those skills are the ones that will make you rich and the skills most beneficial from earning a college degree and those are the skills that can make you rich if applied.
People need to realize that “being excellent” at something that no one is willing to pay for is of little value if you measure success in terms of financial achievement (and most of us do.) One really marketable skill – again one and only one – can make you rich.
If someone has a real desire to be successful, all they have to do is ask themselves what skills are people willing to pay for? I will guarantee they are the skills I listed above. All other specific/technical/job-related skills can be taught and most employers are more than willing to teach job-related skills to anyone who has the ability to set and achieve goals, be responsible, manage their time, handle a variety of tasks, work well with others and so on.
Another comment on the posting is this: Anyone – again ANYONE who makes minimum wage is only putting out minimum effort. Tough approach I know, but it is true. Minimum wage jobs are STARTING places – they are entry level jobs into the employment pool. The people who get them and stay in them are the people who aren’t willing to go beyond minimum effort and show their employer they have more than minimum skills.
By the way, my degree is in Library Science. Do you think I would be where I am today utilizing all the marketable skills I learned in that degree program? No. I never worked a day with that degree. I also never used it as an excuse. Instead, I quickly realized that in order to be financially successful, I was going to have to apply myself in other areas and do things that had nothing to do with a library! You don’t get a degree and think your education is over. Education is a continuing process. Therefore, I have read over 4,000 books since I got my degree. I have listened to 5,000 hours of audio and watched that much educational video. I still read every day to make sure I am current on what my audience wants from me. In my world, my audience is both my customer and my employer. This concept must apply to everyone in the workplace. I continue to learn so I will have something of value to offer my employer and my customer. Everyone must ask themselves if they are doing the same thing.
What are you reading? What are you watching? What are you listening to? Will it make you a better employee? employer? manager? salesperson? janitor? or will it only entertain you and leave you as stupid as when you started?
Before you blame your degree for your success or lack of it, go to the mirror and take a good hard look at yourself and answer those questions. Then you will have a clue as to why your life looks like it does.
Larry said it better than I could have said it myself. I appreciate him taking the time to respond to my email.
Now, let’s open this up for discussion. What do you think of Larry’s thoughts regarding ‘Poor Boomer’s’ situation?