You already know this: education is not equal to success. It can even be argued that educational success itself is not success, or at least not the epitome of it.
What is Success?
According to my favourite source, Dictionary.com, success is:
- The favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
- The attainment of wealth, position, honours, or the like.
- A performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honours.
I can confidently say, as a statement of fact, that education does not guarantee you any of the above. Education can, of course, prepare one’s mind and help to develop the necessary skills or build the foundations of knowledge that can lead to acquiring such. But this is not a promise.
But maybe I’m not being specific enough; after all, education is simply the act of acquiring knowledge, a term used to describe the process of teaching and learning. Learning is something that comes with life’s experiences- if of course, we choose to reflect and acknowledge the lessons. So with this view, I am forced to admit that education is probably the only thing that can actually lead to success. What I probably should have said is that a university education is not equal to success.
I know I know I know, just last week I told you that university was worth the stress and endless debt! I still stand by this, but university is more than just formal education.
Degrees are not Diamonds
That degree, those letters and numbers scribed onto that scroll that will most likely collect dust, stuffed into the back of a drawer, is not your ticket to “the attainment of wealth”. Your university qualifications probably won’t even guarantee you a job in your chosen field to kick-start your career. As obvious as this seems, many of us have come from backgrounds where university is the only way- these other options don’t even exist, you dare not mention then in conversation and you’d be a fool to suggest your interest.
Maybe once upon a time, when a university degree was somewhat rare, it may have served as a stepping stone into the working world where the majority believe that success has confined itself to. But today, where a large proportion has such qualifications, it simply isn’t enough.
“Want a good job? Get a good degree”
“Got a good degree? Get some experience”
“Want some experience? You need to already have experience”
But we only have 18 years to do all of this… So I need to come out of the womb with a careers guide in my hand and of course the ability to read. Problem: I didn’t figure any of this out until I was 16 and so now my supposed success is very much delayed. Damn.
The point is that your university degree is not the golden ticket that it once was. This is not to downplay university at all, if I thought it was a complete waste of time I wouldn’t be drowning in debt. But you can’t rely solely on it and this is why I think it’s about time parents (especially those of African and Asian descent) finally accept this so we can all live happily ever after.
Not everyone will excel academically. Shocker!
I know some people that just didn’t do well in primary school and went on to do pretty well in secondary school; I know some people who were in ‘bottom set’ during their GCSEs and came out with A grades at A Level; I know people who did relatively badly at both and went on to achieve 1st class degrees at university; I even know some who started off as geniuses and barely passed their GCSEs. Everyone is different. There are so many social factors that affect our academic performance. There are those with all the knowledge and ability that just can’t pass exams and those who always achieve a perfect score on a test but have no practical or social skills.
By confining so-called success to a degree that unfortunately leads to uncertainty, we have completely disregarded the non-academically gifted.
“You cannot judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree”- Einstein
The impression you give a child of their abilities and prospects can stick with them for life. An environment where success is restricted to a very bias set of skills and achievements can literally destroy a person by completely diminishing morale.
The education system all over the world has MANY fundamental issues. I could write a rant about this that would be longer than my dissertation. Instead, you can watch this TED Talk.
The learning objective (as the school system seems to refer to them) of this post is that no, education is not pointless neither is it a lost cause. But it certainly isn’t a guaranteed key to success.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the hard work and grinding stops just because you got a piece of paper. Don’t limit your ability to your academic capabilities. Don’t lose confidence because you aren’t an A* student or because you didn’t go to Oxbridge.
A few weeks ago we defined what success means to us and you don’t necessarily need a degree to achieve these things.
You can still be a success… however you choose to define it!
All the best!
If this post interested you, here’s a book you might want to read: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are on education and success.