What can be more important than a college education for professional growth? Answers: Working just about any job, apprenticeships, networking in your community, volunteering, traveling abroad, learning a trade, starting a small business, developing your hobby, teaching yourself a language…just to name a few things that come to mind. College can be a very powerful tool for professional growth, but it’s not the one and only tool; and it may not even be the best tool for the job. As previously mentioned, there are plenty of people in the world who’ve become successful without having obtained a college degree; and there are far too many college graduates who are sitting on mounds of student loan debt while either unemployed or underemployed.
A degree from an accredited college does not make you an immediate professional upon graduation. You’ll still have to develop expertise and tact. Collegiate programs can teach expertise and tact, but not as well as time tested experience – it has been around longer than any college you’ve heard of. Experience and pressure dealing with difficult customers and unrealistic expectations, on a daily basis, will be stressful; however, many college courses can only hope to mimic that real world stress. If you are in a college program now, or thinking about attending college, make sure that you’re getting exposure to the field you wish to pursue. Even if it’s volunteering, filing papers, maintenance, or delivering products a few hours per week, any type of exposure to whatever it is you’re interested in will help a lot.
For example, the custodian lady in my office building is one of the nicest persons in the entire complex – everyone loves her as she’s always smiling, remembers your name, and genuinely asks about your well-being. She has more tact and communication skills than the desk jockeys with college degrees hanging in their cubicles. She understands how the business operates, and has developed tact by communicating with all types of personalities in the company. May she be an example to all of us – especially to those who are considering college.
If you plan on going to college, start gaining experience now, before you enroll.
Don’t bother going to college if you are not taking the steps necessary to get your hands dirty now. Take a lesson from the custodian lady mentioned above. You may make more money than her in the long run, but I’ll tell you this – she’s the happiest person in that entire building, because she is grateful for her job and she sees how miserable many of the ‘overqualified’ college graduates are.
College plus experience equals a good thing; but the truth is, experience still trumps most college programs.
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