SMS 188 – How school can set you up for failure

How school can set you up for failure

Once upon a time

If you remember your time back in post secondary school how you were sold the idea that if you get this diploma or degree the world would be waiting for you at the other end.

Ways that we’re sold this

  1. In high school with limited knowledge of future careers
  2. In post-secondary with a very reductionist mindset (this is what your education will lead to with very specialized programs)
  3. In post-secondary with networking events 
  4. Assignments make you feel like you’re solving real problems

And everyday

So you worked really hard and got good grades with the belief that the system would deliver what it was promising

Until one day

Upon graduating you realize that getting a good paying job is more of a challenge then you thought. You could get a job that was maybe somewhat close to your field of study but not with a liveable wage or you could get a job but not in your field of study.

Why we hesitate to work in a career that deviates from the education we received

  1. We feel like we failed 
  2. We feel like we’re off track

And because of this 

So you decided that more education was the missing piece so you borrowed more money and picked up a masters degree which you thought would solve the problem

Reasons why we feel education is the answer:

  1. It’s easy – throwing money at problems is always easy
  2. It delays the inevitable
  3. It feels like progress 
  4. We’ve always been told “education can’t hurt”

And because of this

Now with student debt heaped on top of student debt you just need a job to deal with solving that problem.

Until finally

You realize that the job market values work experience more than education, and for good reason. My educational credentials represent the price of admission to the interview. You now focus on how to get job and life experience that the job market will value. You now know that your education was the foundation on which your marketable skills can the developed on. 

How do you know if you’re going down the right road?

When you’re facing a fork in the road and you choose education (what is actually the easy path whether it looks that way or not) and you go down that fork for too long and turns out you should have went down the other path (entering the job market) and taken the lower levels jobs but you’re already so far down the education road. If you took the education road, just like hiking down the wrong trail, you’ll have to come all the way back to the fork, so therefore it’s important not to go down the wrong fork for too long. 

It’s also important to ask people who are where you want to be how they got there. If you found out that that person got to where they are by piling education on top of education then go that route, but if you talk to the individual who is where you want to be, and they got there through job experience and taking opportunities then that’s where it’s all about; it’s worth checking in with people who are where you want to be. 

Ever since that day

You realize that there is no easy path or secret formula, although some people are lucky and happen to be in the right place at the right time. However, for most people, it is all about putting in the time and paying your dues to learn from people in your industry who have been where you are. It is about moving forward and gaining as much real world knowledge and experience that you can by doing more than is asked of you and working hard even when no one is watching. The most important takeaway here is life is not a straight line. Don’t follow the money follow the opportunities.

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