Bachelor’s In Borrowing, Master’s of Debt9 min read

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degree with debt funds

Value Proposal:

  • Shaping what you should know with what you already know
  • Few minutes of your time for a plentiful of mine

In this piece of article, I am trying to appeal more to our commonsensical side than the factual interpretation of things, which however in this scenario paints a similar picture. It’s not news that the student debts are at an all-time high and the ROI is at an all-time low on an academic degree. So the discussion will not be centered on the debt side of it.

If your expectations while reading the title of the article was a little different and now you are feeling a little cheated by the bait, it’s done on purpose and as a subtle reminder that how it’s not exactly what it seems to be, just like an academic degree, however here you are getting an early disclaimer.

Breaking the Basics

If you are stuck somewhere trying to find a degree that would get you the job and make you the money to get the lush life, take a step back and think again, and this time in retrospect, think about all that you’ve already spent, trying to be the person who’s going to make it big, don’t just think about the monetary investment but also the time and efforts that went along.

Feels like one step forward and two steps back, doesn’t it? It will until you comprehend our dynamic world than changes with a flick of the fingers and you’ve been chasing the lost wave, hoping to get the kick start!

Now before going deeper into the subject, I would like to define the three terminologies important to this discussion.

  • Education
  • Social Construct
  • Academic Degree

I know that it all seems very familiar but we seldom take a minute to think about things so trivial and as a result, we are in the dark about a whole lot that shapes us into what we are and what we aspire to become.

Going forward with Wikipedia, “Education can be defined as the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Methods of education include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research.”

Now comes the Social Construct, this seems like the term we are all familiar with, yet it’s harder to put into words. Let me press your refresh buttons!

Social constructionism examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that forms the basis for shared assumptions about reality. The theory centers on the notion that meanings are developed in coordination with others rather than separately within each individual. Social Constructs can be different based on the society and the events surrounding the time period in which they exist.”

An Academic Degree can be explained as an award or accolade signifying the completion of a particular course of study of the recipient.

If you went through the above definitions, it doesn’t take a genius to tell that education seems more like a natural phenomenon whereas degree seems like an artificial construct which could be included in the list of social constructs.

Acquisition of skills, knowledge, values, beliefs, and habits is a daily occurrence, it’s not limited to the duration of time spent in schools and colleges, neither it is proportional to that.

The rigidity of how one should be educated through the medium of schools and how it should be validated by a degree is nothing but a popular perception that has seeded in our human minds, mostly because we are accustomed to the normal way of living and afraid to stop and challenge it.

We try to be better than the last generation, it’s silly because we strive to be better using the same tools and mediums that they had access to, expecting a drastic change. We should look at how the world has evolved and with it the means to succeed.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” So let me save a thousand words here and also your limited time.

degree a social construct
“It’s a big world out there. Go explore”

Success & the Degree’s Dilemma

Whatever one does in life, the ultimate chase is for success, the definition of success varies from person to person but in a broad sense, it can be categorized. Let’s break it down into three.

For some of us, success (mathematically) is any function that maximizes the monetary gains.

For some, it’s the freedom to do anything without any budgeting constraints.

Now comes the majority for which success is acceptance by the society, whose standards are ever-changing and appeasement lasts a little more than an early teen in bed, we all know that’s very limited!

So it’s hard to please that girl we call ‘Society’ you know and hence you never become as effective in accomplishing your goals as you think you could be.

The first two are hard to accomplish but once you make it, it’s sustainable. The last one is easier to achieve and yet harder to sustain given the nature of it.

Now some of you must be wondering why the success talk and society bashing? Well, it’s because all of it is so deeply connected to what we started our discussion with. Sadly to most of us, a successful future seems just a degree short and this notion is very deceptive, to say the least.

Having a particular degree in today’s scenario is like a status quo which gives you exclusive access to a certain community or a group of people who hold it in high prestige and their acceptance seems like a big deal. Unfortunately, this community is not just a bunch of people but millions of people who have defined their eligibility criteria to join the premium club.

Let’s think of something that you learned for the sake of a test at school, now try to recall all that. Seems a little hard doesn’t it? So you learn before the test just to forget it later, what’s the point? This will keep going on until you learn something you care about enough to try and find out more of and more often.

So what do we need the degree for? Most of us will come up with the obvious answer, to earn the paycheck and pay the bills. That seems like a genuine answer, and fortunately there are many ways to earn a living and I am not talking about surviving, am talking about thriving with it, thanks to the internet!

Now some will say that it’s not just limited to money, the job they get through their academic degree gives them a sense of purpose. To them I would like to ask if fruits of your purpose are limited to the beneficiaries of your capitalist employers aren’t you failing in your purpose to find a purpose?

When I think of a word so deep as ‘Purpose’ of a human being, I suddenly start picturing somebody trying to find water on Mars or a different energy source to save humanity or something synonymous. The bottom line being, it’s on a grand level of things and not something so minuscule that a robot might replace it.

Changing Times & the Way Forward

This last section brings up an important question, what is the alternative?

People might say that in a practical world it’s not so practical. I agree with you, to think that it’s easy would be very naïve of me to say. It’s hard but if you keep an open mind, your practical thinking would also compare the opportunity cost with benefits of having a degree at present, and in a world full of billions of people its favorable to a very few, who are nothing less than a prodigy.

 This doesn’t mean that the ones who don’t get into the top institutions don’t deserve a life equivalent to those who do get a chance. It’s just one parameter of judgment and there are numerous parameters which might have different rankings but it’s not very prevalent just yet. 

There is good news for people who can relate to the idea but also have their skepticism. Renowned companies like Google, Apple, Hilton, IBM to name a few, have flexibility in hiring people with adequate skills and having a college degree is not a necessity.

The degree will take a second place to skills, so eventually, in the war between degree and skills, skills will be triumphant.

After all, in the long run, people are compensated for the value they add, not for the validations they bring.      

The most important investment is the investment of your time, investing time to learn and acquire new skills to adapt to changes and other self-improvement techniques, adding to the skillset is always beneficial to personal development.

You need to be wise with how much time you are spending to learn something and how beneficial it is to you.

If you take a moment to think about what you need for self-improvement and what you need for social acceptance you will find that difference to be paramount.

If you are passionate about something, you are inquisitive and you want to know more about it. Let us take an example, think about your favorite sports, don’t you know everything about the players and all the updates on the matches? Now you see how easier it could be to learn what you want to and be extremely good at it. The point here is if you excel in it you don’t need a degree to show your competency.   

In the dot com world, we have a plethora of options for learning new skills with a marginal fee or even free of costs. Social media platforms like YouTube are one of the best platforms for freebies. We have websites like Coursera, Simplilearn, LinkedIn Learning, edX to name a few that provides a precise learning experience for a nominal charge or even for free.

“The emphasis is not much on saving money that’s spent on a degree but on saving the time wasted doing what you might not like and regret later in life about what all you could’ve done.”

It’s only your limited time, nothing much 🙂

Click the link below for the recap!

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