Go To College


Kurt_Vonnegut_at_CWRUYears ago, I worked for a very wonderful woman who pushed me to earn a master’s degree in Human Resources. It was a never-ending drumbeat of encouragement. She insisted that an advanced degree was required for me to get ahead. Also, my tuition would be free.

“Laurie, why wouldn’t you do this?”

One day, my boss was harping on about my room for growth and I said, “I don’t want to get a master’s degree. I don’t care about advancement. I hate HR. I’m working for landscaping.”

It was true. At the time, we lived in the woods and were in the throes of a major renovation. Trees. Gardens. Major stones and rocks being added and removed. Foundational improvements. Irrigation.

My boss looked at me and said, “I know you think a master’s degree is dumb but your MBA would buy you more trees.”

Dang. She was right. Education of any kind — GED, undergraduate, graduate — is a good investment. Some say that depressed wages and the rising cost of an education means that the ROI doesn’t make sense for some kids.

Bullshit. It makes sense for every kid. And adult. Education matters.

I have a degree in English. There is no ROI in studying Jack Kerouac or Percy Bysshe Shelley except now I know when someone uses the words prescient or trope correctly (or not). I can guard against being impressed too easily. I can see through the fakers.

And there is very little ROI in reading Elie Wiesel or Kurt Vonnegut except I hung out with a better class of people who actually saw a future for themselves beyond the northwest side of Chicago. And by a better class, I don’t just mean money. Education exposes you to people with dreams. This is good when you’re not raised to have big dreams of your own.

Now listen, they are naysayers. Doubters. Skeptics. They have objections.

Should you be a savvy consumer? Should you do your research to determine whether or not an art history degree leaves you with enough skills to pay your rent? Should you show up for your classes and actually learn something?

Yes. You should also wipe your ass after you poop. Do I need to tell you this?

Whether it is a graduate degree or your LPN, education is the key to growing and evolving. And it also happens to be the key to earning more money — if you do it properly.

I am sorry I missed my chance to earn a free graduate degree. That was dumb.

Previous post:

Next post: