To go to School or not

15 Sep

As I watch Austin and Ally with my children, I find it easy to identify with Ally and her decision. Not to spend too much time breaking down the options of a fictional character (though it made Sophie famous), she basically was accepted at the best music school in the country and she had to either go to school or continue working in music with her friends.

Just as it is with all difficult decisions, there are real benefits and detriments to each decision. It is similar to the decision I hear about when a good athlete is considering leaving school to “go pro” instead of staying in school. There are certainly benefits in each place.

The first question that must be answered is “What is the purpose of education?” Obviously, the altruistic reason of wanting to become better and more educated people should drive us, but the reality is that for most people, education is a means to an end. That end is usually to provide a comfortable living for those to whom we need to provide.

It is true that most athletes will make far more money playing professional sports (and from the ancillary opportunities that will provide) than they would from the use of their degree. Similarly, this Ally Dawson character is less than likely to achieve a better paying gig because of her degree in music than she had achieved working with Austin Moon. Therefore, the economic decision can often lead people to choose against the education.

It is also likely that getting a further education is likely to help people that get these opportunities make wiser decisions to prepare themselves for after the current money-making opportunity dries up. It is also likely that further education can improve the end product. But it is my belief that education is under-valued in this society.

I hear more people talk about the people who made tremendous success stories without an education. This is certainly possible. Yet, the real question should be, “Is it a general rule that people without education can be successful?” I think asking that question would yield a better answer.

If you look at those select few, however, who can be a success, the question should be “Could those people have been more successful with a better education?” And then, if the answer is yes, then is the increased productivity likely to find its way into making a difference in an area that we care about (like more money) and if so, would that increase be worth the delay in making the increase?

The reality is that the vast majority of us will philosophize on these issues and never be able to exercise our decision other than our fan mail to the superstar who doesn’t care what we think. So, in your own life, determine if education would help you, and realize that the answer is almost always yes!


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