Should you stay in school or should you leave school early and enter the real world if you want a better income?
There are arguments in favour and against the school versus experience debate. The increasing cost of tuition means more debt after graduation, but a stronger promise of a career with a good income.
On the flip side, for certain careers like business, many entrepreneurs without a college education have established a stable income for themselves – and in some cases, become millionaires and billionaires.
Watch this video about whether to choose school or experience.
The real debate then, shouldn’t be about school versus experience. The other perspective is formal education (school) versus self education (experience, self taught knowledge). If you want to pursue a profession that requires a formal education such as a degree, then you need school. For example, if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or architect.
If your goal is to be an entrepreneur or start your own business (or something away from the traditional path) then school is not as important. If you’re working right now and you’ve already graduated from high school or college, think about what you learned. How much of your school education helped you in the real world?
Whether you stay in school or leave early really depends on the career you want to pursue. So whether you choose formal education or self education depends on the results you want. Here are three examples to show how results help you to determine which path to take.
Formal Education, Self Education and Results
I didn’t have a lot of formal education. I dropped out of college before getting a degree but it doesn’t mean I don’t value education.
If anything I highly value education, self education specifically. Some people read thousands of books to broaden their knowledge. In my life I’ve collected over 2,000 books in my library and I’ve got hundreds of books on my in my Kindle account.
I have gone through so many different workshops and trainings, including when they had courses on cassette tapes because of my hunger for knowledge and building my career and businesses.
I looked for mentors to teach me how to develop my skills because they had real world experience, and I could see from their success that what they would teach me would get me the results I wanted.
What Makes You An Expert
So instead of debating whether school or experience is more valuable, I want you to use a different word and that’s results. What kind of results are you trying to produce and what kind of education do you need to get those results?
What kind of skill sets and mindset do you need to produce those results? Let’s say I’m going to teach an audience how to grow their YouTube channel. Well, I better do something to grow my own YouTube channel if I have only 20 subscribers. People won’t want to learn how to grow their own channel from me.
But if have over a million subscribers on my YouTube channel, then I’m definitely qualified to teach people how to grow their YouTube channel, especially when I grew it from zero to two million subscribers in record time.
The choice of school vs self education is also about who you learn from and who do you need to learn from in order to produce the results that you want. Will you get the knowledge you need from school or from a mentor?
You need to be absolutely clear and results driven. Then your path will be clear when you have clarity of where you want to go and what you need to learn to get there.
Formal Versus Self Education: A Case Study
A survey of over 56,000 coders showed that software is “invading” all professions, so that “software developer” has become one of the most common job titles in the USA. That’s not the most interesting statistic, however.
What they found was
Self-taught developers dominate technology: 69% of the developers who responded to the survey are at least partly self-taught, and fewer than half hold a formal degree in computer science.
They defined self taught as taking online courses, attending bootcamp, on-the-job training, and collaborations with peers. Now the big question remains – did the self study make a difference income? Did their college degree counterparts have a greater income?
At the time of the study, in 2016, self-taught software developers were making an average of $104,000, while developers with PhDs were making about $122,000. Is the five extra years in school worth the difference?
Another startling discovery about the survey is that few developers found their jobs through job listings. More than 28 percent found work through a referral from a friend.
But the statistic that really makes people stop and think is the average age of people in the industry. The majority (28.4%) are males between the ages of 25 to 29. A close second is 23.6 percent in the 20 to 24 age group. In the near future, few people from this industry group will be able to tell you what it was like to live in the 1980s.
In this field, it seems possible for a self-educated person to get an income close to someone with a formal education. But this is just one field and one group of survey respondents.
Final Thoughts on School Versus Experience
Choosing formal education or self education is a decision only you can make. It depends on what results you want, the income you want, and how you can get the education you need.
In the software developers case study, developers were able to get the education they needed to make a solid income, no matter if they chose to go to school or to find other ways to learn their profession.
In my case, I dropped out of college and built a business empire through experience and help from my mentors. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, however, school may be your best option.
Focus on the result you want, and then decide on which path to take, whether it is formal or self education.
Do you have a mentor to guide you in your career? Comment below.