A College Degree Shouldn’t Be The End of Your Education

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A college education has become nearly essential in the modern knowledge economy. University programs can provide an excellent foundation in just about any subject, whether that subject is chemistry, philosophy, or business management. The foundation that a university education provides can, in turn, provide the foundation for a successful career in just about any field. Yet it’s important to recognize that a university provides only a “foundation”, and that career professionals must build upon it. If they don’t they run the risk of falling behind, and even growing obsolete in the fast changing global economy.

Everyone will pick up new skills and knowledge on the job, of course. This on-the-job learning is vital for personal growth, career advancement, and opening up new opportunities. Yet even a college degree and on-the-job experience isn’t enough to ensure that you will advance as quickly as you can, and that you will be afforded as many opportunities as possible.

It’s important to recognize that the world is constantly evolving, especially in regards to technology and the labor market. Consider that just 20 years ago computers were still relatively new tools in the office, and many people didn’t even know how to use them! Now, computers are ubiquitous, and just about everyone has a computer in their pocket in the form of a smartphone. Point is, technologies change rapidly, as do industries, geopolitics, and everything thing else.

While a college degree can provide you with an excellent foundation, it can’t fully prepare you for the future. Consider that twenty years ago, computer engineering and science courses were teaching different code than is popular among developers now. Many of the tools taught in science labs back in the 90’s or 2000’s, or even just a few years ago are now obsolete. The same is true of management practices, business software, and various other things. As the world changes, technologies and even knowledge can become obsolete.

These days, knowing how to use a typewriter won’t do you much good anymore even if it could have landed you a great job in 1985. Knowing how to use Excel and Microsoft office, however, is immensely useful. Throw in an understanding of core financial practices and auditing, and you’ll be in an even better position to leverage your skills for career opportunities and advancement.

Staying ahead of changing conditions is now vital. Countless manufacturing jobs have moved offshore or been replaced by robots. Now, software is starting to replace a lot of white collar workers. These changes are a threat to employees, but those workers whom adapt to the changes can leverage these developments and embrace new opportunities.

Constant Learning Is a Must, but Traditional Education Isn’t For Everyone

So how can you stay ahead of changing technologies, markets, and conditions? By constantly learning. With the Internet and other public resources, such as the library, there is no reason to stop learning. The world is always changing, yes, but you can change with it.

Of course, it’s easy for me to type that at you, isn’t it? Career, family, a tight budget, time constraints, there are many reasons people struggle to advance their education. When people try to learn on their own, say by picking up a book, they often end up falling behind, or failing to truly cultivate their skills. Why? Let’s be honest, when you have a teacher breathing down your neck, and an exam coming up, you’re more likely to focus on your education.

Further, what happens if you get stuck on a topic or problem? Let’s say you’re learning Excel, and suddenly come across a problem using the formulas. You play around with Excel for a bit, can’t figure out the answer. Then you head to the web, and again can’t find any answers. So you decide to take a break, come back in a day or two and try again with a fresh set of eyes. But then a day turns into a week, and a week into a month. Next thing you know, you’ve forgotten all about it.

Further, if you are interpreting all of your own information, it’s possible that you’ll misinterpret something. Perhaps you’re learning some basic accounting rules, and misinterpret a basic principle. Mistakes happen, but if your learning is 100% self directed, you might not realize you’ve made a mistake. Then, a few months down the road you might mess something up with a client or your employer!

Continuing Education Will Help You Stay Abreast of Advancing Markets

For many working professionals, traditional classes are simply a non-starter. A traditional, scheduled class isn’t flexible enough, and can be far too expensive. On-demand, online learning has emerged as a popular solution for working professionals and others short on time. Online classes are also often much more affordable than traditional college classes.

Importantly, well-designed online classes offer a structured learning experience similar to in-class teaching. The best classes from the best providers are taught by highly-skilled experts in their field. These experts know their topics inside and out, and are often amazing teachers who have worked with students before in both traditional and online settings.

Online, on-demand learning offers enough structure to provide “students” with a solid foundation. At the same time, since learning is on demand, you can work at your own pace. If you have a conference coming up and won’t be able to set aside time to study, you don’t have to worry about failing a class. Once time frees up you can start learning on your own again.

The world is constantly changing. Yet at the same time, the types and numbers of learning opportunities have also been evolving and growing. This means that working professionals have more opportunities to learn and advance their careers than ever before.