The Work for Myself Degree

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Pt 1: Education vs Degree

Work for Myself Degree, education versus degree

People often ask, "Why should I get a degree to be an entrepreneur if I'll be my own boss?". It's a fair question that takes a couple steps to answer since many of us have different views of what college is and even larger differences in views of what being an entrepreneur is. 

First of all, what is the purpose of college? The word university in Latin means "community of teachers and scholars" and historically universities were used to gain knowledge about a wide array of different topics. These scholars were taught about reason, logic, law, philosophy and the growing fields of mathematics and science along with other more specialized topics. The goal was to gain knowledge and better society and getting a job was a minor thought. Most scholars during this time already had a great deal of family wealth and finding a job was not much of an issue.

Today however, college has become more readily available for many different income levels and is seen as a stepping stone to a better life. The thinking goes that if I graduate with a degree, I'll find a job in the field, make money and move to a higher income bracket. This idealism has been great for colleges as we've seen campuses booming but it might be glazing over some of the large pieces of what college is all about. For example, by going to college you have the ability to meet new people with similar and differing interests, you have access to some of the countries most knowledgable people who have experienced things and can teach you from their lessons and you get to surround yourself with people who are also trying to better themselves. Outside of the social realm you have to work through problem solving exercises, you have to work with teams, you have to move out of your comfort zone and find new friends and truly understand yourself and the world. Without these tools and exercises starting a business would surely be a futile effort. 

However, everyone still hears people say, "I have a job that has nothing to do with my degree". That might be true, you may have a science degree but your job is more focused on business, but that is missing the point of the liberal arts college experience. The fact that you are able to work in a business field, even without a business degree, might have to do with being taught business classes along side your science classes, or you have learned to work with teams and customers, or you've learned how to problem solve and reason through ideas. You're job may have nothing to do with your degree but it likely has a lot to do with your education. That is the reason why the degree matters. For those working for themselves, it matters in the same way. Specifically for entrepreneurs, you will have to know how to do many different things and while your technical degree had no courses in sustainable growth or accounting, you have to be able to reason or use logic to solve those problems. Or, as many great entrepreneurs have learned, you have to hire people and work in a team with people who have skills that compliment yours - this involves many social parts of the college experience. 

What are your thoughts, do you still look at college as the education grounds or as the job training center?