The Value of Education

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

posted this on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at about 3pm.
Graduation Cap

When I was about six credits shy of my undergraduate in business administration, I decided that school wasn’t worth it for me. My grades weren’t that good (although they weren’t that bad either). I felt like I really wasn’t getting enough for my money and I thought the “piece of paper” simply wasn’t worth the cost.

In 2003, I surprised my wife when I told her I was going back to school. This time, I was going for an IT management degree. I had two more years to go to earn a degree. I was determined to have high marks on everything I did.

Something surprised me. I expected to learn about IT related things. I expected to learn about programming, network and project management. I learned all that. What I didn’t expect was how much about business I learned in my IT classes. I think that I was the only person in the program that had a strong business and sales background, so I may have been the only one to have seen so much apply to business.

Near the end of the program, I surprised my wife once more when I told her that I was going to continue so that I could earn my MBA. From a timing and cost perspective, it was not really a smart thing. However, I was confident it would help me long term.

I expected the “piece of paper” to open some doors for me. What I didn’t expect was how much I could immediately apply. I didn’t expect that I would be able to apply the knowledge from my business program into my IT responsibilities where I was working at the time. I didn’t expect it to have a direct impact on my income but, long term, I can say with confidence, that it has had a positive impact on my income by understanding better how to run my business.

Now, four years after I received my MBA, I am reflecting again on the value of my education. Every so often I’ll get a question on whether or not a good school education is worth it. I think the simple answer is, “Yes.”

But, I think that the answer is a bit bigger than that.

I think that many students are struggling more and more with structured education at a college or university because there are so many other opportunities to learn elsewhere. With the internet providing more and more education opportunities like or even YouTube, you’ll find that you can probably learn everything you want. I also think teachers are a bit lazy. Because of this, teachers don’t take the time necessary to teach the way students today need to learn. Teachers are often stuck in the past.

Even with the challenges in formal education, there are advantages to it. My experience has been that there are four key reasons to have a formal, structured education.

  1. Structured process for learning. There are certain ways to learn that make it easier for students. The structured process allows for students to learn to walk before they run.
  2. People are not self-starters. There is a lot of value in being able to take the time to learn on your own. The issue is, however, that most people won’t take the time to learn that they should. They simply will never learn without being in a program.
  3. Validation of education. When you learn something on your own you really don’t have a proof source for what you know. When you learn on your own, how do you prove that you know what you know?
  4. Collaboration. When you are a self-learner, you might be able to learn the ‘stuff’ really well. However, you may not learn how to work with other people… especially with people you don’t like. In school, you have to.

I think the bottom line is that there is great value in a formal education. Some fields will still require it (doctor, engineer, etc) however, I think that business, programming, design, etc also need the learning process to be defined.

Don’t pass it up.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

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