A degree is a lagging indicator to your future success

It’s September, which means its back to school time. I feel somewhat obligated to write a back to school post particularly for those of you going into post-secondary or perhaps on your last semester. I’ve written previously on post-secondary education and why I think it fails most students. In short, we still talk and think about post-secondary education as though our economy is still in the industrial revolution.  That type of approach has left a lot of students frustrated and indebted, who feel post-secondary was a waste of money or worse question its value.

Education is the biggest investment you can mark in yourself. And as a former student, I know at times you can question the value of that investment (I did many times). While education is important and valued by our society, it’s certainly not free for all students. As a result, students are taking on more student loan debts with as competition increases in the workforce. Most graduates end up working term jobs or part-time jobs. It’s can be a frustrating cycle to get out of.

If you currently feel that way or at any point in your study feel that way, I offer this advice. Think of your degree, diploma or any certification you’re pursuing as a lagging indicator of your future success.

What are leading and lagging indicators?

From an economic definition; leading indicators are things that either show up right away when the economy is doing good or bad. Lagging indicators are things that show up much later in the economy to confirm that things are good or bad. The employment rate is one of the indicators economist my turn to confirm there believe on how the economy is doing. When the economy is doing bad, the employment rate is usually the last economic indicator to confirm we are in a recession. When the economy picks back up, the employment rate is again the last thing to confirm this. Therefore, when the economy is on a downward trajectory, the employment rate is unchanged for several months even though most of us know the economy isn’t doing good. The rate doesn’t reflect our conclusion as layoffs take some time to work its way through the economy to be reflected in the employment rate. Therefore, it’s a lagging indicator because it’s not something we can point to right away to support our initial assumptions.

A degree, diploma, or certificate is a lagging indicator of your future success

Most students view their degree as a leading indicator. They believe upon completing their degree they will land a good job and then move up in a couple of years, then buy a house, start a family, and so forth. Unfortunately, this belief leads to frustration because ultimately a degree, diploma, or certificate is a lagging indicator. Obtaining a degree might not help you for the first 10 years of your working career. Sure, it’s required as a competitive tool but it’s true value shows up much later in your life.

A degree shows its value later in your career as you begin to advance into more senior or leadership roles within your industry or career path. It enables you to distinguish yourself from your well-experienced peers who might not have a degree but have a similar level of experience as you. Your degree also enables you to recognize opportunities as your career progresses.

It’s often said when we have something all the time we end up taking it for granted. Education, particularly in the developed world, has fallen victim to this human phenomenon. Nothing worth pursuing comes easy and education isn’t any different. Education is about you and investing in yourself. Finding out who you are isn’t done in 4 or 5 years. It’s a long life journey and educating you provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge to unlock your full potential.

Good luck with your studies and remember it’s a lagging indicator to your future success.