Someday your degree won’t matter

Arm in graduation robe handing out a credential rolled and tied with red ribbon.
The relevancy of your post-secondary credential may not last much longer than this ribbon.

I’m a big fan of unorthodox thinking when it comes to careers (you may have noticed). So here’s another counter-intuitive idea to mull over: someday, your degree isn’t going to matter.

I had a really interesting conversation with a couple of business owners way back last fall at a networking event. We were joking about the irrelevancy of our undergraduate degrees. One person was an executive coach with a B.A. in Russian literature. One was a web designer and digital marketing specialist with a B.Sc. in physics. And then there was me, with my B.A. in geography, plugging away at my career coaching venture. We had a good chuckle at how clueless we all were at 20 years old.

When you’re in high school, what you plan to study and where you go seems huge. Especially if it seems like everyone knows their next steps except you. Or, if everyone seems to be going to university except you. And then, plenty of high schools add to the pressure by announcing students’ next steps when they cross the commencement stage. (Hey, maybe we’ll be allowed to have commencement ceremonies again by next June!)

Once you get to university (it’s the only game in town, don’t you know?), you’ll hear more chatter about life after graduation. Big career plans, the best Master’s degree programs, salaries. So much about salaries.

Why not?

But the day is going to come when that degree doesn’t matter. At all. Why not?

  1. You may be onto a totally different career in 10 years that is completely unrelated to your first post-secondary credential.
  2. You might need a graduate credential or an industry certification, and the first credential is just the stepping stone to getting you there.
  3. If you stay in the same industry, the amount of skill and experience you develop in the field is going to completely eclipse what you learned in school at 19 or 20 years old. In fact, there’s a good chance that your initial post-secondary education will be flat-out obsolete by the time you reach mid-career.

If you’re a parent of a teen or young adult, this is a helpful conversation to start now. Need some pointers? Try the Talking Careers with Young Adults series to give you some more ideas for having helpful conversations around career and education planning.

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