Is Getting a Degree Really the Best Option?

degreeGoing for a degree -- be it college, graduate or professional -- is just one strategy to find a job, get ahead where you already are, or change careers, says Forbes. There could be faster, less disruptive, and less expensive ways to achieve your professional goal.

As you know, there has been so much change in both the global economy and career management. Therefore, the approaches that were successful in the 20th century could just lead nowhere now. Those formulas include getting a degree. The mindset of the 20th century was: the more education the better. No longer.

Before you decide to commit to a degree program, first think through what you are attempting to accomplish. Once you identify that, then you probably can put together a quicker, more affordable route there.

For example, you want to enter the field of financial services. An MBA seems a good idea. However, if you research how to get in and talk to people in that industry, you will find out you can enter through a sales jobs such as financial planner. The company will train you in its products and selling techniques. Meanwhile you will study for the licensing examinations. The next step in getting ahead will be certification in your field of financial planning. The MBA likely is not necessary and not especially useful.

There are paths, though, that demand formal education.

For example, you might want to shift from hair dressing to nursing. But you don't necessarily have to jump into a bachelor degree in nursing; there are a number of other options. You can start out with a year-long technical program, during which you likely will be able to also work part time. After you complete the program, the organization that hires you might pay for your further schooling.

Another reason for the one-toe-in-the-water approach is that you might not like the field, might not be emotionally suited for it, and might not do well in the academic part. Even if your dream is to get an MBA or a BS in nursing, you might try out a course or two at the community college, continuing education department at a university, or online.

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