How Much Formal Education do I Really Need?


By Revival Ojedapo

Formal education has become the backbone of our society today. It is that which supports and enriches other sectors, upholding other structures that make up a society. In short, formal education is indispensable to the growth and development of any nation. In Nigeria, the educational structure has grown so much to allow for anyone to reach the highest level of their selected field, and also help them rub shoulders with scholars from other countries. However, the question still remains for many out there, how much formal education do you really need?

To understand this question, you would have to ponder on what it is your ambition is. Gone are the days when Bachelor degree was enough to secure any corporate job out there. Nowadays, the requirements are more; corporations and several other organizations insist on a second degree from prospective workers. This factor has prompted many students to further their studies beyond a mere first degree. This would help not only to put them above their peers in the labour market, but would also give them a better focus in their field of study. A master degree has been the go to for many, but there are also those who opt for professional courses, specifically designed for their intended careers.

This leads us to another factor that has since been touted to disrupt the order of learning. It is none other than skill acquisition. It is true that professional courses have in mind to strengthen one’s skill. But, most of these courses are less practical than traditional skill acquisition methods. Skill acquisition requires training on the very function one wishes to be good at. Thus, there’s constant repetition of a specific task till one becomes a professional. Acquisition of skill is fast becoming an indispensable venture for the young person.

In Nigeria, several people have established businesses, groomed it from a small scale to a larger scale, and they usually attribute their successes to a set of skill or another. Some graduates have ventured into enterprises that are completely outside their area of study. This has made many people to question the relevance of formal education beyond the secondary school level. But, is it all right to forsake tertiary education because one could end taking a different trajectory in life? Or should one substitute a master’s degree in order to pursue rigourous training to acquire a certain skill? As stated earlier, this could be a personal decision, depending on your ambitions.

However, it should be noted that skill acquisition is not, and never should be, a substitute for formal education. Both are not mutually exclusive. Formal education is specifically structured to build the citizen for a fitting position in the society. It is not only expected to give knowledge, but also build character. Therefore, it should never be substituted. But, you can appropriately ask, how much of this formal education do I need? It has become a norm to see most of the people setting their targets for a first degree. At this level, it is believed that one would have developed a general knowledge of the course pursued. This knowledge should be enough to set anybody up for opportunities in the labour market, depending on the niche. However, a masters degree will narrow the course pursued, pushing you further the ladder of expertise. Then, a doctorate is expected to make you a specialist on a very specific area of study. So, the choice is ultimately yours.

You could be encouraged to pursue a second degree and all that, but if your heart is not set on acquiring the needed knowledge (that is, if the school doesn’t go through you), you’ll find yourself no better than someone who is satisfied with a first degree. Looking at those who venture into a skill-based enterprise, one can only conclude that they would be at a great advantage, having acquired a first degree. For their businesses will stand out from among others. Also, appropriate research should be conducted regarding your desired career. It must also be noted that adequate research would follow adequate framework, which could mostly (only) be achieved during your passage through university. Thus, you should try to acquire a bachelor’s degree at the very least (barring unfortunate circumstances).

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