So it’s now about 6 months after I left school and I can now see some of the differences between having an education and not having one. The biggest difference is money. Yep, over the course of the last 6 months I have come to realize that I am in the very bottom spectrum in regards to salary for what I do.
So there are a couple of different ways to look at this. The first is if I had gone to college right out of high school that I would be somewhere near the rest of my peers that I work with right now making the same type of money. But that did not happen and cannot be changed. That is what I would like my kids to do and I will do everything I can to try and make sure that they are able to do that.
The next perspective is that I could go back to school now and I could be “caught up” over time. This is what I was trying to do but when you get older you have other responsibilities (like family) that can (and should) take priority over things outside of work and family.
There is also the whole cost factor that you needs to consider in regards to going back to school. I raked up almost $10K is school loans for the couple semesters that I was going. When it was all said and done it would have been about $40K that I would have need to pay back. For me I had to compare how much potential income the degree was going to get me verses the cost. When I looked at it I was not entirely sure that the cost justified the sacrifice of time with my family and cost of repaying the loans.
The final perspective is staying at my current education level and putting my efforts into doing my job really well. With this decision you look to yourself to make personal improvements in order to advance in your job. For me that was getting more familiar with what we sold and volunteering to take on more responsibility along with my standard duties.
I think this aspect needs to happen whether you are going to school or not. Even if you have a degree you still need to bust your butt to get noticed and move up the food chain in your company. I have done this where I am at right now and have begun to take on some higher level projects. For me not having the extra burden of having to go to school has allowed me to take on this little extra at work without impacting my family the way that school did.
I believe that the experience that I am gaining will over shadow the fact that I do not have a degree when I am out in the job market again someday. In fact it was my experience (8 years of experience) that got me into this job in the first place as opposed to a degree. There are several job posting that want a degree or equivalent job experience. To most companies that is interchangeable.
I guess I said all of the above to say this – your best bet is to go to school right out of high school. If you don’t do it then it only gets more difficult as you get older. You gain more responsibilities as you get older and you will pretty much always be behind those who did go to college right out of high school. For me I accept where I am at and will do the best with it that I can. Will I go back to school? There is not a very good chance of that, I have accepted where I am at and I think I will get more return on my investment of time and money by not going to school.