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Your Degree (Or Lack of It) Should Not Dictate Your Future

Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Rat Race Running

Many people graduate in college with a degree that we’re chosen for them.

Since I’ve become a teacher, I always ask my students why they took engineering.

And as an engineering graduate, I am not entirely surprised to learn that many of them were influenced by others or by circumstances to take engineering rather than their own conscious decision.

Some are through their parents or relatives, friends, a scholarship opportunity, or other external influences.

The problem with this is, after graduating, many of them may be forced to go into an industry that they were just pushed to.

Your Degree Should Not Determine Your Life

Degrees may be important in some aspects, but they should not be the absolute determinant of one’s success.

College is only four or five years of our life, and if we’re going to align the next thirty or forty years to something we don’t really like, time may come when we may have regrets.

The Sunk-Cost Fallacy of College Degrees

People are often influenced by the sunk-cost fallacy that they would rather live the rest of their lives based on the actions where they invested time, money, or effort in.

They would maintain their current situation because they don’t want everything they worked hard for go to “waste”.

That’s why many would continue with the job they hate, study for a degree they don’t like, or maintain a toxic relationship – all because they don’t want to waste their personal investment.

This is also one reason why college graduates will choose to work in a job they hate, simply because they studied for it.

Your Lack of Degree Should Not Determine Your Life

On the other side of the coin are the people who could not get a degree because of internal or external circumstances.

I believe that our society placed too much value on a college degree than people’s potentials, which I find unfortunate.

There are people that I’ve met who excels in programming, business, or arts, who makes a decent living even without finishing college.

And with the vast resource of information available on the Internet, learning about a particular skill is more accessible than ever.

Survivorship Bias and Success

Though I already made my argument that a degree or lack of it should not dictate your future, it is still essential to know what you can bring to the table.

I often read some acquaintances’ posts on social media about how college dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs still end up successful.

However, they haven’t considered that more people failed. They only look at the outliers who became successful while unaware of the stories of people who took the same leap of faith but ended up in failure.

So it is vital to take examples of these successful people as an exemption and not a rule.

Education is Fast Changing

Since I started teaching, I observed that our educational system’s current structure is no longer designed to adapt to the modern world’s fast-changing landscape.

Though there are still people who want to change in response to the times, there are also those who are deep in their comfort zone. They don’t want any disruption on how things have always been done.

Success is Subjective

Success is personal and should not be dictated by other people.

If others think that a huge house, a fast car, and exotic vacations are what success looks like, let them be.

If others believe in a simpler lifestyle, and peace of mind is what success looks like, let them be.

What is essential is to have your personal definition of success that is not based on other people’s standards.

We will all go through crossroads in our lives when we will have to choose between difficult options.

It can be about your career, your love life and relationships, your education, and more.

Hopefully, when that day comes, you’ve already defined what success means to you, then you’ll have the courage to take God’s purpose in your life.

Final Thought

Education and getting a degree is important. However, you should not just align your life around it.

And just like what Miguel and Paolo Guico of Ben&Ben said,

“Sometimes, our dreams change, and that’s OK.” 

So if the time comes when you realize that what you are currently doing no longer points you in the direction you want to take, don’t hesitate to make the change.

Don’t wait to grow old and live in regret. 

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