A Master’s of Bauhaus or a Master’s of IKEA?


There’s a strong correlation between education and the evolution of technologically advanced societies. That’s why governments mandate attendance at and fully fund primary and secondary schools and provide financial support to post-secondary institutions. But they make no guarantees of employment.

At the end of World War II, entry-level work with lifelong and promotional potential could be had with no more than a high school diploma. Twenty years ago, employers were already upping the ante by picking and choosing from among undergraduate candidates—because there were so many to choose from. Today, they’re applying the same selection techniques to postgraduate candidates—because there are so many to choose from. But too many positions are going begging because the basic premise behind demand and supply is being ignored. Excessive supply of the wrong skills benefits no one. Except, that is, students elsewhere who, by good luck or good planning, are more in sync with what employers here need than we are.

Einstein was as much at home dealing in the esoteric as he was down to earth. He offered an elegant explanation of this raising the educational bar when he said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” He also said: “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.” One of the problems outdated thinking has created is the belief that a university degree in and of itself means the bearer stands a good chance in perpetuity of securing employment that will lead to a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence. That thinking is still alive and well in 2012. Its time has come and gone.

It might be in order to apply personal due diligence to selecting where to purchase the right to earn diplomas, undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees, because that’s what students do when they put their money down. These items have become commodities. They’re widely available in many places, including on-line. As hard as postsecondary diploma- and degree-granting institutions may be trying to become more relevant and more competitive at a time of fiscal restraint and economic uncertainty, they, too, stop short of guaranteeing that they’ll find employment for their customers. That would make as much sense as Home Depot’s guaranteeing that anyone who buys woodworking tools from them will find a position as a cabinetmaker at Bauhaus or IKEA.

The time to be thinking about what tools to buy, from whom, why and where to apply them is before committing to one institution rather than another. If the law of Demand and Supply and caveat emptor haven’t arrived on a campus near you, it’s only a matter of time. Steal a march on your competition by using that time to:

1. Evaluate, re-evaluate and re-re-evaluate your wants, needs and expectations.

2. Determine how strong and where the demand is most likely to be for your degree or diploma. If the result of Step 2 is less than encouraging, go back to Step 1 and try again–as many times as you have to.

3. Set your criteria for choosing your supplier.

The logic behind this approach is the same as the one that applies to people who are gainfully employed and looking to make a career move, to restore an interrupted income or to add to their education for business rather than private reasons. Personal Due Diligence can assist with all three.

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