How Much Schooling is Enough?

I was listening to Dave Ramsey this afternoon and he fielded a call I’ve heard him take several times in the past–“Should I quite my job (or sell my house, or cash in my savings, or sell my kid, etc.) to go back to school and get a master’s degree?”  I think this is a pretty tough question to deal with.  On one hand, there’s a ton of knowledge to be gained by going back to school, and the fact that you’re paying to learn in an intense environment means that at least some of it will soak in.  On the other hand, is there any information they are giving you in school that you can’t get in a book or online?

I’ve considered an MBA several times.  It’s easy to talk myself out of it since my brother-in-law is storing his entire Duke MBA experience in our garage right now–all I have to do is open up boxes and start reading books.  But the advantage I see of going back to school, especially for business, is the connections you can make; the people you meet.  Those connections are a little tougher to make out in the real world, but it can be done.

I guess I tend to believe that the value is in the information you have and the people you know, not in the piece of paper you earned.  A degree doesn’t always imply an education, and an education doesn’t always imply a degree.  There’s no denying the fact that the degree can open some doors that the knowledge itself can’t.  Then again, the people you know can probably open more doors than both.  However, in the long term, it seems like knowledge and talent are ultimately going to trump everything.  As Dave Ramsey says, “Your raise will be effective when you are.”

And if your abilities are going to be discounted based solely on the fact that you don’t have the right degree, you probably aren’t keeping the right company to begin with.

At this point, more school almost seems like a luxury purchase to me.