We’ve reached the end of the academic year and the completion of your degree program. I remember approaching the end of a degree program feeling as if a heavy weight had fallen off my shoulders. Relief – pride – accomplishment – sadness. Yes sadness because I would miss the stimulation of learning, the company of my classmates and the sense of being very aware of my place in the world. Perhaps I chose to live and work in academia to keep that sense alive. How about you – how will you keep the stimulation of learning alive in your life?
Allow me to offer some food for thought on this topic. The secret is “investment”. We are encouraged to invest in retirement savings, our homes, antiques & collectibles, coins, artwork…all good ways to increase the value of our assets. But what about our most valuable asset, ourselves?
Each of us is a unique resource; a bundle of talent, creativity, history and experience wrapped in a physical presence with a personality all our own. No one can duplicate you because there will only be one YOU. No other asset comes close to the value of your personal portfolio of talents and abilities. And this brings us back to the topic of investment.
When we think of ourselves as a unique asset then the hours we spent in the classroom (when we would rather have been watching our kids’ soccer games or sitting home by the fire finishing that great novel) were an investment, perhaps our greatest. The good news is that education is a no-risk investment that only increases in value over time. Congratulations graduates on your great investment acumen! What happens next?
When your retirement investments show record returns do you stop investing in your retirement account? Of course not! When your education investments result in the completion of a degree, do you stop investing in your education? Hmmm. You hadn’t thought about that? Well here is some great investment advice.
Investing in your education does not necessarily mean enrollment in another degree program. Learning can take many forms; formal and informal. Consider your 401K portfolio that you carefully diversify over a range of products designed to serve your short- and long-term needs. The same approach works for your education plans. Here are some categories for your consideration.
- Another degree program – by all means keep working on your formal education when the credentials will open new doors for you. Or when you want to self-actualize by achieving a new level of accomplishment.
- Professional credential – when your chosen practice is supported by a professional association there is a good chance it offers a professional certification in your field. Professional certifications authenticate that you understand and are competent to practice the highest standards in your field. Some common certification opportunities are for human resource professionals (PRC, SPRC), project managers (CAPM, PMP) and xxx. The certification exam generally follows a course or exam preparation study process, both of which are often available in person and online.
- Post-baccalaureate certificate – many universities offer certificates that build upon your formal degrees with a shorter sequence of courses designed to update existing skills or add a new layer of expertise. Some credit certificates will also prepare you for another degree if you choose to enroll in the program. List some examples.
- Villanova alumni activities – networking is a form of learning that often leads us in unexpected directions. As a graduate of the university you have access to one of the richest human networks on the planet. Take advantage of the network to stay in touch with your classmates and create new alliances that might just open exciting new doors.
- Leisure learning – learning is learning so don’t overlook courses and programs designed to tickle your mind, improve your skills or improve your fitness. Some of my personal favorites are home brewing, jewelry making (therapy with rewards!), gardening (Master Gardener program) and yoga.
So dear investors, what will your education portfolio look like a year from now? Don’t let the glow of accomplishment fade into a distant memory. Keep learning, keep networking, keep investing.