Continuing Education Is Never a Waste of Time

by Hank Coleman

I was a little disturbed the other day when one of my favorite blogs insinuated that some additional education might be a waste of time because it is hard to adequately conduct a cost benefit analysis of the problem. How can any education be a waste of time? Maybe you won’t be able to quantify the payoff monetarily, but we are the sum of all our experiences and education whether formal or informal. We will all be more productive citizens when we receive further education.

I was raised in a family that valued education very highly. It was expect of me to go to college and earn a Bachelor’s Degree. My grandfather dropped out of high school, fibbed a little on his age to get into the Navy, and serve in the Pacific during World War II. He didn’t earn his GED until he returned to the United States years later. Even though he did not have much formal education, my grandfather raised three daughters who went on to become teachers, all three earning a Master’s Degree and many hours of post-graduate work. That same lineage produced four grandchildren who have earned four Bachelor’s and two Master’s Degrees among them as well. All of this education stemmed from one patriarch who understood the value of education and stressed its importance throughout generations of our family.

If you want to try and monetize the value of education, here is one example. I work in a profession with a pretty structured timeline for promotions. I am eligible to be promoted early two or three times throughout my career. The promotion would be one year sooner than I would have normally received the promotion. The only way to get promoted early in my field is if the employee has a Master’s Degree. The first promotion would include a raise of $700 a month or $8,400 a year ahead of what my peers are still earning. A second early promotion could be expected five years later for an increase of $600 per month in salary that my peers are not earning for another two years. So, now in just three separate years, I could possibly earn $22,800 more than my peers of the same age who only hold a Bachelor’s Degree. These calculations do not include a lifetime increase to my defined benefits pension program.

Expected total earnings over a 40-year working life:
High school graduate: $1.2 million
Associate’s degree: $1.6 million
Bachelor’s degree: $2.1 million
Master’s degree: $2.5 million
Professional degree (MD, JD): $4.4 million
Doctoral degree $3.4 million
Source: United States Census Bureau

No matter what the monetary gain may or may not be. Nothing but good can come from education. We should all strive to spend a lifetime learning.

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