Hey fellow monkeys,
Why haven't you taken that job in the field you love ? Well, according to Daniel Gulati in his HBR article, your college degree could be a much greater influence on your decisions that what you'd think, and not necessarily in a good sense. Even though academic and professional credentials can be a great fit fore many, Gulati identifies a major problem related to these degrees :
Credential overhang. Defined simply, it's the perverse way in which our university schooling limits our career options, rather than enhancing them.
So why would you want to reconsider that B-school application ? The author sees three reasons for this.
- Student debt limits your career choices
It's no surprise that the amount of money you owe is going to be a factor in choosing a job. When you have to repay part of a six digit amount of debt, you can hardly afford to risk it all by starting your own company. And guess what Gulati found to be one of the main career related regrets in people's lives ? Well let's just say that taking a job for money is high on his list.
- The Rubber Stamp Syndrome
Historically students were educated to become producers and consumers, nowadays they are progressively becoming the product of modern education. The baby boomer generation went to college to learn, we are merely getting a degree to have the job-market equivalent of "organic" stamped on our resume. In today's globalized job market, college degrees are progressively being used as a means of recognition more than an actual opportunity to learn.
- Increasing past costs influence present decisions
The more the costs of education increase, the more people want to use them solely as money generators. And these costs have been increasing slowly, the holders of bachelor's degrees are more indebted than ever, and master's degree are slowly becoming the norm for certain jobs (as it already is in many European countries). As we spend ridiculous amounts of money towards multiple credentials, we tend to sacrifice opportunities to have a more fulfilling career. Microeconomics aside, trying to find the quickest answer to this problem ultimately leads to poor life choices : an unsatisfactory job, difficulties committing to a partner, unhealthy stress levels, deteriorating relationships with others ...
To these issues, Gulati proposes two solutions. First, you should repay your debt as quickly as possible. Being debt-free allows you to make the best decisions for your career and your life. Then, instead of going for that expensive degree, why not focus on actually mastering your subject. WSO is full of examples of people who did not get into the greatest schools but who still showed enough promise and mastery to get to the top. Why can't that be you ? Do not get me wrong, a degree or a CFA is great, but do not let it limit your career and life choices.