Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned. — Mark Twain
Our world is going through a major transformation. You can hardly sense this unless you reflect on your life and how this transformation has changed the way you live now vs how you lived just 10 years ago.
With that said, I believe that the transformation will make you think about some pervasive notions that have still influenced our lives. Having a college degree is one of those stereotypical notions that we never take time to challenge.
Think about it. We, the mere mortals, have been told that having a college degree is the surest path to financial well-being. Those who belong to academia have reason to reinforce this stereotype — along with major corporations who only hire graduates for high paying jobs — to justify insane cost of education.
Unless you want to become a doctor or a lawyer, you can begin reaping financial benefits from these technological transformations now without feeling stigma of not having a college degree to brag about.
I have an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering. Luckily, I have not paid much to earn these degrees as during my undergrad studies, merit based education was subsidized by Indian government. When I pursued my grad studies in the States, I worked as a graduate assistant. Nonetheless, what I am earning today has no nexus to my education as an Engineer.
A knowledge based society
America has been considered the land of opportunities for good part of last century and even now. It’s considered a melting pot of talent that has fueled its economy for a long time. With the technological changes in the last decade, our world has become a melting pot of talent that was once confined to the boundaries of this great nation.
More companies are realizing that the knowledge based workforce is the key to their bottom line. It’s no longer enough to have a degree without knowledge in your chosen field to secure a high paying job. Instead, having a niche based expertise almost ensures a six-figure income in any economy.
With these changes in the competitive landscape, most companies want to hire someone who can make direct impact on their competitive advantage rather than to hire a jack of all who has an outdated degree from a well-respected university.
Growing influence of the global middle class
The notion of a middle-class largely relates to a country and its population. With recent technological advances, we are seeing a world middle-class that has earning power to buy merchandise from anyone selling products or services on Amazon or eBay.
The massive diffusion of powerful, cheap computing power via cellphones and tablets over the last decade has dramatically lowered the costs of connectivity and education — so much so that many more people in India, China and Egypt, even though they’re still just earning a few dollars a day, now have access to the kind of technologies and learning previously associated solely with the middle class. — Thomas Friedman
As Tom Friedman observed during his recent trip to India, our growing world middle-class has thirst for knowledge and intense desire for a better financial future for their families. That translates into a work force with intense work ethics and laser sharp focus on learning skills that are essential for success in today’s economy.
Chandoo.org is one of those shiny examples of these technological transformations. Purna, who lives in the remote part of India, has proved that you can live anywhere in the world and, with access to a laptop with Wi-Fi, you can make six-figure income by doing awesome work.
You can launch a blog with less than $10 investment and start sharing your knowledge with others. Your blog becomes your resume. Your blog becomes your own knowledge based business that can not only enrich your life financially but also makes you a sought after individual who can demand handsome fees for the service.
Another central part of the transformation is the way ideas become reality. Not too long ago, if you had a great idea, you would have no other way to fund your business unless one of the major investment firms shown interest.
Not anymore. With Kickstarter, anyone with great idea can get crowd funding to launch a business. With the explosive growth of these mini-businesses, a knowledge based worker tends to reap huge benefit: by providing skills that are essential to a business with limited capital infusion.
It’s no longer financially savvy just to attend a college for the sake of a degree. If you want to become successful in this new economy, learn those skills that are in demand due to a growing global middle-class. Think of what you love doing and find a suitable marriage between your practical skills and its viable demand.
I am not against formal education. I believe that having education is essential, but you don’t have to follow stereotypical path to educate yourself to make six-figure income.
I have started teaching a small group of individuals without any formal education with the aim to have them earn six-figure once they master the technical skills needed for their success.
If you think that you can’t succeed without a college degree — because of self-imposed thoughts and limitations — you are living in the past decade.
The College Conundrum @ Jlcollinsnh
Help Me Fina a Career @ 101 Centavos
Ridiculous Student Loans vs Future of the Education @ Mr Money Mustache
photo by: University of Houston Honors College