“How does someone overcome on paper (her resume) the fact that she does not have a college education?” is a question posed by a reader.

Overcome. It seems like an ominous word.

“One of my biggest regrets is that I never went to college. I graduated in 1976 and got married immediately (big mistake)! I am a young 51 year old and have always worked, always working up the ladder. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up….I was always too busy raising a family to figure out what I was going to do, now that I’m here…I figured I’d better do something….better late than never.”

Jenny has worked in a number of different companies in a variety of capacities. She has sales, customer service and merchandising experience and in the past held a 440 license. The fact is, Jenny has some great skills and a track record of working in at least one major company – that counts for something.

I asked her what she really wanted to do.

Her response was, “I would have loved to have done something to help people, I have a heart for the homeless and the hungry, the battered women…want to save the world LOL! But, like I said…I never went to school….what will I do…probably go back take a refresher course and get my Insurance License renewed and sell Property and Causality Insurance. It is more stable than the industry I am in now.”

When deciding to pursue a four-year degree, it is important to figure out if the risk/reward is worth your investment at this stage of your life. Let us look at the benefits or rewards first. Make your own list.

  • Pride of accomplishment
  • Better or more opportunities
  • More money
  • Prestige
  • Faster career progression
  • New career direction

The next question is to ask what are the risks or things you may give up or need to provide to be successful. Again, tailor your list to your specific circumstances.

  • Time for yourself and the family
  • Financial resources
  • Possible relocation to attend a better school
  • Self motivation

Finally, ask yourself, if you did not pursue a four-year degree, how you could accomplish everything in your benefits list. Alternative options may include (add your own):

  • renewing your license
  • working toward certification in a another field
  • getting a two year degree
  • becoming an expert in a niche market

Your passion is helping people. Think about how to navigate your career choices to meet this inner desire. It is easier to be successful doing what you love than convincing yourself why you are going to work each day.

If you are unclear about what career paths are good for you, consider taking the Strong Interpretive Report (B). Find a local or other qualified professional to administer the test and debrief the results with you. It may help with avoiding poor choices on career decisions.

Fundamentally, your statement, “I would like to do more but the education question seems to get in the way,” is more about how you perceive yourself than how others look at you.

Recognize, there are always hurdles or reasons why someone does not consider or hire a candidate. Getting a degree does not solve the problem; it simply means there is a completely new set of criteria to evaluate you.

“Even on Linked in I am embarrassed to finish my profile because I don’t have the college to show like everyone else and find myself embarrassed,” says Jenny.

Professionally geared sites such as LinkedIn can be intimidating. Everyone is touting what they do well, and you should highlight your key accomplishments with pride. There will be companies who require degrees, and successful employers know that results count for more than the degree, especially at your stage of life.

Boosting your personal confidence will come easier when you stop comparing yourself to others.  Recognize what you do well and be proud of it. Some people will like it, others will not. A degree will not change that, it only changes who sits on what side of the line. Once you master that, you be able to decide how to proceed.

To your success…Lynn