Insufficient Education: Then and Now

Steve writes about the “31 Causes of Failure” included in Napoleon Hill’s seminal work on financial success, Think and Grow Rich.  High on that list, holding down the #4 slot, is education. The discussion of education tends to center on keeping your mind active with constant learning activities, or on “continuing education,” which can amount to community college classes, seminars, or self-help books. There are many professions, nursing and teaching among them, that require some element of continuing education as a prerequisite for retaining a professional license.  Accounting is another, and you can get a degree like Warner Pacific’s bachelors of accounting for adults as a great start before pursuing advanced degrees.

But there is also a case to be made for redefining insufficient education within the context of the economic changes that have swept this nation over the past decade. The last three years have seen a prolonged financial and employment downturn, but in both cases they are signs of trends that have been underway for some time. The offshoring of the U.S. manufacturing sector has been devastating to millions of wage earners and (former) homeowners. Nonskilled jobs have been followed to the developing nations by skilled positions including IT jobs, accounting and actuarial jobs, many other white collar support roles, even freelance writing: I am constantly underbid on writing gigs by people in Bangalore or some other exotic time zone.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that insufficient education today may be because a job for which a bachelor’s degree was sufficient a decade ago now requires a master’s degree. That may be due to the increasing complexity of some professions – civil engineering comes to mind – or it may mean that employers can be more selective in their baseline requirements for professional employees. The IT requirements for many jobs have shot up over the past ten years; today you can find graduate degree programs in nursing informatics and financial engineering – two examples of professional niches that didn’t exist for the last generation.

For someone who is currently unemployed, has gotten through college and put in several years of successful work experience based on those undergraduate studies, the suggestion that they lack sufficient education isn’t a fair statement. The education that many of us obtained prior to entering the work force simply isn’t applicable in today’s domestic economy or doesn’t meet newly established benchmarks for professional advancement. Fixing a situation like may require a more concerted effort than continuing education.

Today a wealth of online graduate degree programs designed for experienced and/or working professionals exists. Many are part time, for those of us who are still working; others are accelerated programs that can get you through a master’s program in a hurry. And today, most of them are offered by traditional universities that have expanded into distance learning. The morphing job market can be a frightening situation, especially for people who have embarked on a career track. Sometimes the best insurance for someone who has to change direction is an advanced degree to bolster those years of experience.

Article Source: Bob Hartzell is an in-house editor for Masters Degree Online.com. He writes about the current state of traditional and for-profit education including student loans, scholarships and distance learning.