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Name Brand Universities

Nick is attending Texas State University and is having second thoughts. He's considered transferring to a more well-known university but wants to know what the value of the degree is depending on the school.

QUESTION: Nick in Austin had a college fund to go to school. He’s attending Texas State University and is now having second thoughts about it. He’s considered transferring to a more well-known university but wants to know what the value of the degree is depending on the school.

ANSWER: Between two different schools, almost none, except in about 3% of the jobs. In other words, if you were to apply to go to work for us, we don’t hire people in water, but if you were to apply to go to work for us, we really wouldn’t put a lot of weight on whether you were an Aggie or whether you went to State. We would say, “Okay, this guy got a degree in this field. That means he should at least have a clue in that field.” That’s about what it means to me as an employer. Past that, I’m going to do a lot of interviewing to find out if you have a freaking clue because you and I both know people who get through college and still don’t have a clue.

Your indication of your future success has more to do with your ability to work with people, your ability to be a continual learner, your personal perseverance and drive and ambition more than your education. However, education does give you the key to the kingdom, and the key to the kingdom is not the degree. The key to the kingdom is knowledge and the ability to acquire knowledge ongoing. Not many people get paid anymore for what they do. Most people now get paid for what they know. Knowledge is the currency. The trick is this: Getting a degree and having a college education is not a magic pill. It’s one cut. Success is death by a thousand cuts. It’s one of the one thousand cuts. It’s a cut you want to make, and I’d recommend it.

The problem, the fallacy, the mythology is when someone believes that they got a degree and it’s over. And everybody just hands them money. You drive down the street, they have a parade, and they throw money at you. That’s just a freaking joke. That’s how you end up with people with PhDs who are broke because they don’t know how to live their lives in spite of the fact that they have intellect.

I would say get a degree. My 20-year-old son’s finishing his now. Both of my daughters got degrees. Sharon and I both have degrees. Is that what caused me to be a success? No. There are a whole lot of people who graduated in the same degree and the same year that I did who don’t have squat. Has it helped me in business because I have two years of accounting? Yeah. That’s a tool in your belt. Has it helped me in business that I’ve got multiple quarters of marketing, finance and statistics under my belt? Does that help me analyze things and have logical thought as I execute as the CEO of this organization? I use my education every day in that regard.

What we’ve been discussing is called a cost-benefit analysis. Do you get benefit for the cost? That was your question. Is it worth it to get a degree? You ask yourself the same question about grad work because there are some areas where grad work is absolutely necessary. Again, knowledge I’m a fan of. Is it absolutely the only way you can win in your field? Are all the doors shut, or is that just somebody’s perception? You really need to get in and challenge that and think about that. Then you make that decision. For instance, I’ve got several people with MBAs on my team. I don’t have an MBA. I’ve learned some things from them. One of the things is that almost every MBA is classically trained in strategic thought. They know how to get above a problem and look down on it. Guys like me get in the middle of the problem, and we get a knife and a bat and a gun out and we shoot our way through there. Some of these MBAs, I had to teach them how to work. Some of them had to teach me to think strategically. So we’ve learned from each other. Has it kept me from being a success not having an MBA? I think we can all agree that it has not. Education is a tool in your belt. You have to take the tool out of your belt and use it or it doesn’t do anything. A hammer that hangs in your belt and doesn’t drive a nail has no value.