I graduated from college in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing. I had a 3.27 GPA and worked two unpaid internships. I knew that getting a job in my field would be difficult, but was confident that I would get a decent job within 2 years or so. I made sure I built strong connections with my professors and did a lot of networking on LinkedIn. I really upped my resume and made sure I had great references. That was three years ago, and the only marketing jobs I’ve had were telemarketing and ‘event marketing’ (harassing people at the mall to buy something). Now this might sound whiny to some of you, but I’m okay with not having a 9-5 job in my field. I’m disappointed, sure, but I’m okay with it. It’s a competitive job market and I’m a young guy with little ‘real’ marketing experience. What I’m not okay with is how expensive college is and how a lot of programs don’t actually prepare you for an entry-level job.
College wasn’t nearly as expensive back in the day as it is today. My dad told me how he worked 20 hours a week to pay for everything. Most state schools in New York are around $15,000 a year to attend full-time. That’s $60,000 for a bachelor’s degree and at least 4 years of commitment for some people. Financial aid and scholarships can help, but they aren’t available to enough people. Private schools can be $30,000 to $40,000 a year to attend, so they are restricted to mainly kids from upper-class families. I’m not an expert in investing, but if I’m going to pay that kind of money I expect a decent return. I know plenty of people who went to school for marketing, economics, and other important industries who can’t find a job after spending all that money, and it’s unfortunate. So do I think college is worth the admission price? Most of the time, no. I think if you go for engineering, nursing, or most sciences then you will get your money’s worth. That’s because those are skilled positions that are in demand and require a lot of knowledge most people don’t possess. But for most other majors I just don’t see the justification.
Now that’s enough negativity and bashing colleges. I wouldn’t rant about a problem without offering some sort of solution. And to me that solution is independent studies. Educating yourself through books, online courses, and mentors.
Like I said earlier, I knew what I was getting into after I graduated college. I was living in a shitty but cheap apartment on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. I spent a ton of time filling out online applications, but was also thinking about how I could increase my knowledge. I was looking for a skill set to supplement what I learned in school. The first thing I discovered was a website called Udemy. Udemy offers thousands of courses that are created by knowledgeable people in their fields. Some of these courses can be a few hundred dollars, but they are almost always having sales with huge discounts. I ended up picking an SEO course for $19. I wasn’t expecting a lot for that small amount of money, but I was amazed at how much useful content I was getting. I was learning a lot of practical information about how to optimize a website to drive organic traffic to it, I use these methods to this day. From there I ended up buying 4 or 5 more courses, even finding a couple good free ones. Check out StackSkills too, I bought a computer science bundle there for about $50. I still haven’t had enough time to sift through all the useful content.
I got into buying business books a couple years later from people that inspire me like Daymond John, Dale Carengie, and Russell Brunson. This is the point where it really picked up for me. Learning from these men was a better experience than any textbook. And like I said earlier, I was learning practical information. Information I could use for my own business ideas and in real-world scenarios. I also took free Google courses and ended up getting my certification in Google Analytics, a proud moment for myself. I really encourage you all to find your own books and online courses. I’ll bet you anything that a $200 investment in the right books and online courses will give you a huge advantage. And you’ll probably learn more practical information than you did in college, all for a fraction of the price.
This is why being a lifelong learner is so crucial. College just isn’t enough anymore, I’d say it’s not even necessary. But what is necessary, if you want to be successful and reach your goals, is always striving to learn more and better yourself. You can’t just learn all you can for a few years then stop, it’s a continuous process. Especially if you’re in marketing and the business world like me. These industries are constantly evolving and changing. New data, strategies, and technologies are coming out daily. Make sure you stay ahead of the curve and on top of your game. Always be hungry for knowledge and don’t be afraid to learn something new.