Education - Page 1 - Ask Margit

- Page 1
Ask Margit
By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer

Degree or no degree; that is the question

Joel Skonik thought he wanted to be an educator, a teacher, working with kids in high school. After completing both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he realized it just wasn’t for him. Twenty-seven years later, he has a successful general contracting business and loves his work.

Luke Martin always made sketches, covering the margins of his notebooks with his drawings. Originally, he planned to get a degree at Towson University but that changed when he took a class in screen-printing. He found his passion. Martin decided to take a year off and work at this medium he loved. Within months he was designing and printing posters for bands, busier than he ever imagined. Maybe he’ll go back, but, so far, he believes that he’s learned more in his time in business than he did from college.

With apologies to William Shakespeare, the decision to attend or not to attend college and strive for a degree is a weighty one. It seems like the airwaves – and our social media streams – are over-populated with advertisements that hype the need to attend college. The implication is that you won’t succeed without that piece of paper.

For some, that’s a very real belief, and they should thrive in the environment of an educational institution, training their brains to think strategically and garnering knowledge in a specific area. But, for others, their interests lie outside the intellectual arenas, preferring to work with their hands. There are always benefits to attending college even if you prefer the latter.

A degree, because of its structure, bestows certain skills, by virtue of learning objectives that are transferable no matter what you end up doing with your professional life afterwards. You learn how to work with a team of fellow students with varying capabilities, pulling together to achieve goals. Maybe you were often the leader, helping your teammates by bringing out their best efforts. You need to motivate yourself and, then, organize your time, allocating your personal resources to fulfill class requirements. Communication skills, always worthwhile, include listening (and hearing what someone else is saying), writing and speaking coherently.

But, are there alternatives to a university education and, if so, what are they? And how do you choose?

Ask Margit, continued on page 11