Formal education…. is it a necessity?
This page contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.
I’ve always had serious doubts about the importance of a formal education in the working world. In the nearly 30 years that I’ve been working, I’ve come across a lot of people who have gotten a formal, and at times advanced, education – yet they are not working in the field that they received their education. That is something that has always baffled me. With the rising cost of education, why pay for it and then not put it to good use?
As I mentioned previously, I had a difficult time choosing a major at college. By the time I found my vocation in life and made the decision to go back to school in that field, I was working full time so I was only able to attend at night, part-time. I did do that for a while, when I was able to afford it. After a period of time though, I ran into the problem of needing classes that were only offered during the daytime. Being a fairly new employee I didn’t feel comfortable asking for time off during the day to take those classes. Combine that with the nature of my job being daytime oriented, I gave up on my formal education for a while.
I was receiving an education though. An on-the-job education, which in my opinion, is invaluable. I learned bookkeeping, accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and payroll taxes, banking, shipping, customer service, and general office procedures… all within the first year that I worked at my job. These were all performed manually, by hand or on a typewriter. We did not become computerized until 1997 and my bosses and I knew nothing about computers… so we learned it on the job. We learned everything as we worked. We developed new procedures to fit with our computerization. Every day was a learning experience, that I can honestly say continues to this day.
Back to that formal education. I did return to school again. I tried in-person classes at Youngstown State University, and on-line classes via Indiana Business College (now Harrison College). I loved the flexibility of on-line classes, but didn’t love the cost. It was a huge struggle to pay for the two semesters I attended. Finishing wasn’t going to happen. I made too much money to get any financial aid and didn’t make enough to pay on my own. Catch 22. So that was the end of my formal education, for the most part. This is not to say that I’ve not had any further formal education. In 2000, I achieved my Certified Professional Secretary certification, and in 2001, I achieved the Certified Administrative Professional certification. These two certifications are sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (a whole ‘nother blog in itself, and coming soon), though they have pared it down to just the CAP with a specialty in Organizational Management. The CAP certification has been determined by the American Council on Education to be the equivalent of an associates degree. Holding the CAP certification requires recertifiying every five years via continuing education. I have recertified twice since becoming certified. By doing so, I have attended hundreds of hours of seminars and workshops in a variety of hard and soft skills such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. I’ve also learned about dealing with teams, improving team work, communication skills, and dealing with difficult bosses. All valuable and applicable to my job on a daily basis.
This past week I went and tested for my Microsoft Office Specialist certification and passed the Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint exams. I plan on returned to take other exams as well. I think these are as valuable as any other certifications or college courses. These are things that most office workers use on a daily basis and need to know.
So I guess I can say that I AM receiving a education, but am doing it in a non-traditional way. A way that I wouldn’t change in the slightest. I do feel education is very, very important. Not everyone is a traditional school student for a variety of reasons. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from getting the education and training that are needed to be the best employee…. the best person… that they can be.