Saturday, October 10, 2015

Higher Education: Yes or No?

Before I get into my blog post, I must share this fabulous video I found on Vimeo the other night. I highly recommend watching it because not only is it good, but also because I'll be discussing some of its points in my post. :)


Wasn't that great?! While I understand this video was produced by a career technical college, and I'm certain they're trying to increase their enrollment numbers, it makes some really valid points about our economy.

My experience with one point in the video is this: my husband has two bachelor's degrees and an MBA, but he didn't receive a raise after he graduated with his MBA. Also, Greg received his initial offer of employment from his current company based on his two bachelor's degrees and the years of experience in his previous jobs—meaning, he didn't need an MBA to land his present job.

But back to my husband's non-raise... When Greg received his year-end review the year he graduated, I thought for sure his MBA degree would automatically translate into a heftier paycheck. I thought a raise was a no-brainer because Greg was an even greater asset to his company. Sadly, I was super disappointed when he didn't receive anything(!) for his MBA degree other than a very heartfelt "Congratulations!" from his boss. (I appreciate his sincere support of my husband!) I was also disappointed because we had (and continue to have) a significant student loan payment due monthly, with no way to increase our income other than Greg finding a better paying job or having me go back to work—neither of which will happen until our children are grown.

So. Here is my husband with all of this great knowledge and a nice "car payment"—except we don't have a new car to show for our monthly debt! It's a frustrating and budget-wearying situation we find ourselves in. This is where having me teach piano lessons comes in handy. Even though I'm only teaching three-and-a-half hours per week, the money I bring in is very helpful for our family. I'm truly grateful for that benefit!

The irony of this story is that my husband recently began online distance education classes with Harvard University's Harvard Extension School! Please don't choke on your chocolate milk! Ha ha. Don't get me wrong because I'm extremely pleased with Greg's choice. I'm very excited about the fact that I married a Harvard man! Ha ha. Just kidding. I'm eternally happy in my decision to marry Greg with or without his many university degrees/certificates! For a good chuckle, please read The Harvard Crimson's article, "Marry Me? Show Me Your Resume."

If all goes well, Greg will receive a Professional Graduate Certificate from Harvard in Organizational Behavior, in 2017. Yay! It's not a traditional bachelor's degree or an MBA (because he already has both), but it's one of their programs meant for business professionals, and I say it totally counts! We also hope he'll receive some reimbursement from his company for good grades—especially since his company sponsors the program for their employees and that's how Greg found out about Harvard's programs in the first place.

*Side note: Greg had to provide documentation of his MBA, i.e., transcripts, in order for his company to enroll him in Harvard's Organizational Behavior program. It's nice knowing Greg has been vetted and found worthy to join Harvard's illustrious ranks!

It's been fascinating to watch Greg do schoolwork again, in addition to his full-time job and his part-time church service as our ward's executive secretary. Greg performs his "juggling act" very well. He works hard to keep every "ball" moving at the precise moment and in the proper direction. It's like we've gone back in time to our life in Colorado (circa 2004–2008) because he was doing the same lineup as previously mentioned—except that he was enrolled at the University of Nebraska, not Harvard! Greg's work, school, and church responsibilities are each time consuming in their own right. He is busy! I'd forgotten how much responsibility rests on me when he's enrolled in a university. It makes me tired just thinking about it! Ha ha.

All of that said (the "Success in the New Economy" video and our experiences with Greg's university degrees), I wouldn't change what we're doing. I love that my husband has such incredible depth and breadth of knowledge! I love knowing that if Greg were ever laid off again, he has the credentials to apply for nearly any job he wants in the business world. I have such a feeling of security that I'm not sure would exist without Greg's university degrees and the vast knowledge he's gained from them. And believe me, I understand that everything my little family has can disappear in a flash because we've been there, done that, before. I'm not deluded in any way! Thus, I appreciate what we do have so very much! :)

The other benefit Greg has gained from his broad education is the fact that he can blend into virtually any environment. He is capable of reading others to a degree that I cannot—which I believe is a direct result of his education and employment experiences. His educational and employment history has prepared him to handle literally any scenario that comes his way. Greg's ability to finish so many university-level classes (with excellent grades to boot!) proves that he has amazing dedication and follow-through. He can successfully complete whatever assignment he's given.

Based on Greg's and my experiences with multiple universities, and the information presented in the video above, I believe it's vital to really figure out who we are. We must understand our strengths, weaknesses, talents and abilities, and proceed with our lives accordingly. In the process of those wonderful—and sometimes hard—moments of self-discovery and true understanding, we shouldn't let others' choices or opinions affect our lives in negative ways. We must look for the best in each other and ourselves!

I'm going to spend some quality time pondering what educational path I'll take when my three children are raised. I've pondered before, but I keep bouncing back and forth between medicine, education and psychology because I love them all! It's been very hard for me to decide what my career choice should be when my nest is empty, but I know there is definitely something I am supposed to do on this earth, so I really want to figure it out. Of course, I know my most important priority is raising my children, and I will focus on my babies until they have moved out of our house. :)

My patriarchal blessing talks about my future career quite a bit, and I believe its words because I have faith that it is truly inspired from our Heavenly Father—I will seek out its "advice" as well. Plus, it's pretty hard to debate my patriarchal blessing when it has never been wrong in the 24 years since I received it! Yeah, that's an astounding track record!

Thus, when the question is asked whether individuals should seek out higher education or not, I say absolutely yes!!! I think everyone should extend their education as far and wide as they possibly can. *I fully understand student loans are inevitable for the majority of students, but I say those costs are worth every penny! Well, provided the institutions aren't overpriced and they're not trying to swindle everyone! By the by, no college, university, financial institution or government entity is paying me to endorse higher education. It's all me! Ha ha.

Even though I know it's not realistic, I dearly wish everyone could attend the college, university, or technical school of their choosing. I honestly believe higher education makes us much better people. Yes, a well-educated society is worth everything!

P.S. I can't wait for the day I graduate from college, or a university, and receive that lovely (and expensive) diploma!! Until then, this fun Harvard t-shirt my husband bought for me will have to suffice! ;)

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