Societies Class systems have changed. The Aristocrats and the clergy that used to sit on top of the social pyramid in societies around the world have been replaced by the businessman. Perhaps a direct result of the shift of the world order from focusing on military control to economic control.
In the world today, there are more billionaires than have ever been on the planet and the advent of the internet has created what I would argue is essentially a new dimension to our reality. One that has possibilities and markets yet to be discovered.
The children of the baby-boomer generation have an unprecedented opportunity to create billion dollar businesses with the click of a button and they are making money doing it. Lots of it.
So it comes as no surprise that we are facing a generation of wanna-be entrepreneurs, for most of whom what used to be the traditional route of establishing yourself in a profession or career as a means to financial stability is now just a stepping stone in their grand plan…
And what’s the plan? To take over the world of course pinky! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist… Pinky and the brain? Anyone?………..Ok I digress.
Back to what this article is about, young people all over the world are now more pressured than ever to actually seriously consider the wisdom of a university education. With the world just beginning to recover from a global economic recession which saw massive reductions in social spending including education in the world’s most developed economies, this has had a draconian compound effect on your typical middle-class university aspirant, whose parents may be investing their hard earned savings at a time they should be enjoying their lives work and if this is not the case, the student will be mounted in debt with facing dire employment prospects. Even what one would consider traditionally safe careers such as law, doesn’t offer the security of getting a job as it once did.
Considering that a lot of high profile businessmen such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs dropped out of college, entertainers like a lot of A-list movies stars and young musicians with large following are happy to brag about their wealth without having to duke it out in the library leaving their impressionable fans feeling taunted for not being “brave” enough to go out on a limb and follow their dreams.
Knowing all of this, why am I still touting the school route? Well at this point I think I should qualify this and say I don’t necessarily mean one has to dole out excessive amounts at a university. Self-education I think is good enough if one has the curious mind and the discipline to reach their goals this way. But generally, I think it’s a worthy investment that a person spends their late teens towards mid-twenties, developing themselves from an educational standpoint as much as possible.
If we are to compare the incomes of those with advanced degrees and those without in proportion to their population, those with advanced education are more well off. For every success story of a person making it without formal education, there are millions who did not because they have no qualifications.
It is not correct to measure the value of an education solely on its chances of getting you employed.
In a way I concede this is not entirely correct especially for vocational education, which one seeks out specifically to be employed in a specific profession. But education in general, I believe, is a lot more than just passing exams and getting paid.
In fact, as I was reminded during my undergraduate graduation, the designation of bachelor’s degree actually means “ready to learn” and this is what I want to emphasize.
A university degree first and foremost teaches you how to learn. This is especially true of liberal arts courses that focus on human philosophy and equip you with tools for understanding human interaction through different lenses. This means important lessons in discipline, time management, social awareness, emotional intelligence, writing and research amongst others; basic skills needed to source, process and disseminate information which is vital for anything you do in life are required to graduate.
The point is it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a historian if you studied history. These skills are transferable for even the aspiring athlete, who could use his research skills to seek motivation from the biographies of successful athletes that have come before. These skills will make you a better plumber if that’s what you end up deciding to do. Heck they will certainly help you be a better gangster if that is what floats your boat.
What it will certainly do is help you be a better businessman. A lot of the most famous university dropout’s did not drop out because they thought university was useless they did because they had to strike while the iron was hot so to speak. And the iron became hot largely because they already mastered the important lesson of learning how to learn in their fields and had self-educated themselves to a point where they had created opportunities for themselves before they completed their education. This is what we should be learning from- their successes and not dropping out of school.
I always compare going to school with growing up, an essential part of growing up is understanding life, humans, and the environment a little bit more. Inevitably we all learn from our life experiences. So whereas someone may not go to university they can learn from work and their own life experiences. The habitual reader is able to download so to speak, the life experience of other people to add to their own experience essentially making them more diverse in their awareness and consequently “older” than a non-graduate of the same age.
An analogy from renowned author Deepak Chopra that best describes this, is a story involving a businessman sitting in business class on board a flight, your average gentleman sitting in economy class, the pilot and an airplane engineer also sitting in economy class. Chopra argues that all these people have varying levels of consciousness which form their in-flight experience.
The Businessman has a different in-flight experience. His consciousness, and awareness informed by the luxury in-flight services in business class, is able to access that which others in economy cannot access. The average joe in economy class has his own in-flight experience that informs his consciousness about the flight; the pilot, also has a different in-flight experience as the person in control of the machinery and the technical knowledge. His awareness of the flight experience is also different from the other passengers. He probably has cameras in the cockpit and his instruments inform him about what’s going on in the engines of the aircraft.
But finally, there is the airplane engineer who designed the plane himself. He probably has an even more nuanced awareness than the pilot, understanding all the inputs that make up the aircraft perhaps. All of these passengers have a different awareness, but if it is my belief that it is the airplane engineer who is having the fullest experience in terms of understanding his present environment, his knowledge puts him in a place of consciousness superior to all others in terms of what is going on in his in-flight experience. What is this superior awareness worth? It doesn’t necessarily make him richer than the businessman. The average joe in economy might be having more of a blast than the businessman chatting up the pretty lady he is sitting next to, but it just is, the same way a child can be born into a rich family and be richer than an adult, but there are certain knowledge and awareness that only comes with age that child’s money can never get him; the same way money in itself cannot buy the superior consciousness gained from getting an education.
At the end of the day this is simply an opinion piece, and I am only sharing my opinions with our readers, but I for one will not give up the awareness I gained from a university education for a million dollars… (do not ask me about a billion!)
Granted there are all kinds of relevant education you do not get in school, I hear this thrown about a lot. However, learning how to learn is the one thing schools are good for. I think this is most important.