Risk & Rivendell
Moving towards a new career involves taking risks, but the level of risk involved needs to be limited and measured. Make sure that you will be able to look back on your career preparation time with fondness rather than regret.
Planning on going to college or university? Be aware that investing in a long and expensive university education is no guarantee that you will get a secure and well-paying job in the end. In the classic manual for people in career transitions, What Colour is your Parachute, Richard Bolles mentions all the mournful letters he receives from unemployed university grads.
Signing up for a specific program of study is sometimes more of a benefit to the school than it is to the student. You have heard what the university graduate said to the college drop out, haven’t you? “Would you like fries with that, sir?”
As a result of the risk involved, and significant risk at that, it is necessary to carefully consider the formal education decisions that you make. Remember that student loans need to be repaid. Your carefree and subsidized college days will come to an end. What then? What skill will you have to offer to employers when you step out onto the street as it were, and begin to pound the pavement in search of a job.
Keep in mind that while marks and academic exploration matter a lot in college, production is more of a priority in the work place. What will you have to offer that would be of value to a company or a non-profit organization? A liberal arts education may be valuable in many ways, but it needs to be balanced with acquiring specific and tangible marketable skills.
If you see yourself as an academic, be certain that your education decisions will prepare you for a paying academic position. Getting paid matters.
Unless you have very deep pockets, I would not recommend investing more than two years in a formal program of study that will likely fail to translate into a sustainable career. Recently, I read about a new Christian-based liberal arts program called Rivendell Sanctuary. It is named after the elves’ sanctuary in J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings and is located in Bloominton, Minnesota. I mention Rivendell here because their program is limited to 18 months for this very reason.
Try to balance intellectual exploration and development with acquiring practical skills. A college education should launch you out into a productive and satisfying life, and this includes getting a real job in the working world.
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