Is College the Best Approach for Your Career and Your Parents?

I’m always struck by what parents are willing to do and sacrifice for their children. This was highlighted really well in this post on LinkedIn from Josh Fechter.

I was riding in an Uber, and the driver had just finished working an entire month. No breaks.

He’s one of those people who you remember because he’s self-made and has a world of ambition.

But here he was working an insane number of hours.

To pay his daughter’s student loans.

She went to an expensive private college to study design. Without many job prospects, she went back and started her masters.

He hesitated when mentioning the student loans.

He could barely justify it.

“Why design? I understand she loves it. But it’s hard, you know? We put in all this work. Why not a doctor?”

Many students don’t realize the pain they give their parents.

We have access to Udemy, trade schools, YouTube, Quora, Stack Overflow, Google, and more.

Do we really need many of these degrees?

College is one option.

And not the best one if it requires students to step on their parent’s back when they have dreams of their own.

Maybe their parents want to start a new company, write a book or volunteer around the community.

Don’t they deserve that?

Be resourceful.

Be kind.

Especially to parents.

And rather than take – students should work a job that enables them to pay for college.

Help them understand they need to work for what they want.

Three things really stand out in this story. First, this person is amazing to be working so hard for their children. This type of sacrifice is awesome and in many ways it’s great that services like Uber make this even possible.

Second, it’s amazing the impact a child’s choices can have on their parents. While every parent understands the desire to do anything for their child, it’s hard to see how much this type of sacrifice can impact parents and then society in general. If this parent’s child wasn’t saddled with college debt, I wonder what else they could be doing to improve society. It’s an important question worth considering.

Finally, this begs the question of the importance of a college degree. In this example, design is one field where I’ve seen that a college degree matters very little. Some of the best designers I’ve ever know were awful at school and either dropped out of college or never went in the first place. I think we’re going to see more and more professions like this. It may be a better alternative to use free or relatively inexpensive online training for many careers in our new economy.

If we shift to healthcare IT, the same is not true for healthcare IT professionals. I’m not sure all the reasons why, but degrees are highly valued in healthcare. I think some of it probably has to do with doctors and nurses being some of the most highly trained people that spent such a huge portion of their lives getting a degree. In some ways that’s good and no doubt you gain credibility with these highly trained healthcare professionals if you have a degree as well.

While degrees are important in healthcare and something I’ll largely be suggesting to my children, I wonder if this should be the case. Does a healthcare degree help someone who wants to be a health data scientist or would online training be more than sufficient? How about healthcare security? Would you rather have someone who followed the “safe” path of a college degree or someone who’s been tinkering and “hacking” on technology for years as they learned security first hand? In many of these cases, the person who is self taught on technology is better than someone who goes and gets a degree.

Why is this? One challenge with technology is that it’s always evolving. If you hire someone who learned technology in college, then does that mean they need to go back to college to learn how technology has evolved? That’s not completely true, but it can be a problem for college graduates in technology. They’ve had the tech learnings spoon fed for them that they never learned how to learn on their own.

The self taught technologist, on the other hand, can easily learn the new technologies that come because they know how to learn on their own. No doubt this can go too far as well. Some self taught people always want to learn the new thing and can’t operationalize what they’ve learned. Sometimes you need someone to use their existing skills and put them to good use.

I won’t dig into the challenging topic of expensive degrees and the need to lower the cost of college degrees. However, it will be interesting to see how this evolves going forward. Will the price of college cause the next generation of employee to not attend college? Will healthcare adapt to this change? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

1 Comment

  • Even college degreed professionals need to be career learners and have a path of continuous learning. What I learned in college in computer science has no bearing or link to what I need to know today in order to help my clients. Colleges are like EMRs. EMRs are billing engines and the more you use them the more you can bill and play with levels of care. Colleges lure you in with the BA and the promise of career nirvana; you get into college and there they tell you that these years are preparation for graduate school (where we make our money). The degree is not the end game of college. An individual should make the most out of learning and do that beyond college.

Click here to post a comment