What place does a formal education have in IM?

by 70 comments
Do you have a formal education, maybe up to degree level? Has it been useful for your online career?

I ask because there seems to been a marked increase in the number of UK universities offering a degree in Entrepreneurship. It just got me thinking, what use is a piece of paper saying you can be your own boss - when you're going to be your own boss?

No doubt the course content is useful (debatable how relevant maybe) but why a degree?

And then I remembered; a couple of years ago I actually gave a talk to a group of 2nd year Entrepreneurship students. My topic was on being self employed. There was about 120 of them. I asked them a simple question,

"Who knows what business they're going to be running once they graduate?"

No-body put their hand up. So, I asked a question I was confident of getting a more positive response to,

"Who's going to run their own business after graduation?"

Guess how many hands went up this time?


What's the point of that? Why learn Entrepreneurship if you're not going to put it into practice. And you know what, their tutor was surprised too, he'd never asked them that question before!

Certainly makes me wonder the point of some so-called education. I mean, how much of your formal education are you using now and how much have you never used and never likely to use?

#internet marketing #education #formal #place

  • Profile picture of the author jan roos
    School is over rated but education is not
  • Profile picture of the author Bishop81
    I agree. It's not the paper you're after, but the education that leads up to that point. In that Entrepreneur track, you'll likely learn accounting, business management, sales, and many other points that will help your business succeed right away. You can learn all this on your own, but it will likely cost more and take longer in the end.
  • Profile picture of the author Ricter
    Agreed. The paper proves you went after the education, and got it. Much like a first sale proves you took action.
  • Profile picture of the author Daniel E Taylor
    I've never been a big advocate of formal education past
    high school.

    I'm bigger on self education. I rather go at my own paste
    and learn the things I <<KEYWORD I need to learn in order
    to progress in MY LIFE specifically. Obviously you're not going
    to get that in a classroom.

  • Profile picture of the author Ricter
    Everyone gets self-education to some extent--all you have to do is not die. The formal degree demonstrates that you stayed the course, you persisted. Maybe everyone can learn to fly a plane on their own, too. Most folks still want to see their pilot with a license. Even if half the stuff taught in flight school will never be used (God willing).
  • Profile picture of the author sylviad
    I have a good answer...

    For the first 25 of my working years, I held basic level jobs because my education was minimal. In year 26, I took Journalism and my entire life changed for the better. It removed the barriers that had blocked me all those years. By its nature, Journalism forced me to learn new things constantly.

    An additional 25+ years later, my brain is loaded with all kinds of information that comes in handy in more ways than I can say, from repairing my house to finding my way around the online business world.

    Journalism gave me the tools to conduct effective research and write to sell. However, my determination enabled me to learn all about computers - from installing programs and learning programs to a certain degree of troubleshooting.

    Had I taken computer-related courses, I could have gained that knowledge in 1-2 years instead of 10.

    Today, I struggle with marketing - painfully. Had I taken some sort of formal marketing, business or entrepreneur course rather than go the self-education route, I would probably be a millionaire by now, rather than...

    To answer your question:

    A formal education can be extremely beneficial for anyone wanting to have a successful business online. The key is that the education be directly related to the skills needed to reach that required level of expertise.


    A formal education certainly is not required. It might shorten the learning curve, but some people learn quite well on their own. Personally, I think it all depends on the individual... whether they are disciplined enough to self-teach, whether they know what they need and where to get it, and how to apply it correctly. It also depends on how they learn. Some people learn better with specific steps to follow while other people are quite adept at grasping only what they need and applying it effectively.

    So yes, my formal education as a journalist has helped me considerably with my online business. Had I not achieved my diploma, chances are I'd still be parked behind a typewriter while my brain turned to mush.

  • Profile picture of the author SolomonHuey
    I graduated recently with a B.S. in entrepreneurship. While I did not want to go to college (did it for the parents), but I can say that many aspects apply to internet marketing. Aspects such as management, production, law, accounting, and the concept of building wealth (versus revenue) can all be applied to what we do here.

    In fact, whenever I see "text book" concepts mentioned in products or forums, people RAVE about the information even though you could find it in any text book or library on the subject. I rarely see those concepts mentioned though.

    As for when you said you spoke to a group of entrepreneurship majors, the answer is pretty simple there. Most business majors are there because they don't want to major in something that involves great skill in math, science, or English. Most don't really have an interest in business. Kind of a harsh generalization, but that's what I've come to notice throughout the years.

    I think formal education and self-education both have their place. And both ARE useful to Internet marketing. Whether we apply it or not though, is a whole other question.

    Solomon Huey
  • Profile picture of the author promediasys
    Like most things in life the value of a college education has alot to do with what you put into it. If you play your cards right you could come away with alot more ideas/options/pathways to explore that will shape where you progress in life.


    Originally Posted by Daniel E Taylor View Post

    I've never been a big advocate of formal education past
    high school.

    I'm bigger on self education. I rather go at my own paste
    and learn the things I <<KEYWORD I need to learn in order
    to progress in MY LIFE specifically. Obviously you're not going
    to get that in a classroom.

  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    I am currently getting a degree in marketing. For the past 2 years I was Cell & Molecular Biology/Pre-Dental but once I started making some real money in IM and decided that is what I want to do with my life, I chose to just switch majors instead of quitting school.

    I am actually going to get my Masters as well. I have no plans of ever having to get a "job" but if I do, at least it might be a somewhat decent one.

    As far as the degree in Entrepreneuship goes, I don't really understand that much. It would make sense to take classes if you already have a business and want to run it better, or you at least know what business you will be running... but with no idea whatsoever of what you are going to do with the degree seems pretty pointless.
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Dittberner
    Too many factors. What school, classes, degrees, professors, effort put forth by you, etc. Probably not much, except student loan debt.

    I'd argue that two weeks (probably a lot less) on this forum would blow away any four year degree, even if the degree was specific to IM. IM is ever evolving. School programs can't change fast enough to keep up with the evolution of IM. Too much red tape for schools to comply with.

    I remember starting college for CAD, and changed programs once a professional told me that the info was outdated two years ago. Schools argue "concepts." Whatever. The tution bill doesn't say "concepts."

    Then again I am not a big fan of college. I got my degree just so when I talk bad about college, people can't say, "You only say that because you don't have one." It was my main motivator.
  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Q.What place does a formal education have in IM?
    A. It doesn't have one

    I've always thought that the concept of a degree in "entrepreneurship" was an oxymoron

    Formal education is designed primarily with churning out graduates for establishment careers.

    Qualifications are all very well, but the most important thing an education can or rather should do, is to instil a love of learning into each student. That way, learning doesn't stop when you leave college; but continues throughout your whole life.

  • Profile picture of the author angela99
    My 2 cents: IM is Internet MARKETING.

    Any courses you take in the basics of marketing will help you to succeed online - try your local community college.

    Around 15 years ago I took two courses in marketing and public relations. I credit any success I've had online to those two courses. I took them over a couple of years, but it was the best time and money I've ever spent.

    I can see where courses in entrepreneurship would be useful, in teaching you the basics of business: how to raise money, etc. Most especially: how to THINK.

    The problem with a self-education - while it's extremely valuable - is that you don't know what you don't know, so you can have huge gaps in your knowledge which end up biting you in the rear when you least expect it.:-)
  • Profile picture of the author Elmer Hurlstone
    There is nothing wrong with formal education that a serious dose of the real world won't cure--quickly.

    While many of the technical skills and some of the social skills taught at university level are directly beneficial to entrepreneurs much of the required core isn't.

    "Entrepreneurship" is a state of mind. A way of doing. It's part of one's basic make-up.

    It can be learned but not taught.

    Done right it requires guts, stamina, dedication, perseverance and complete and utter belief in yourself and your abilities.

    Elmer Hurlstone

    PS. Please bear in mind I last attended college a bunch of years ago.
  • Profile picture of the author DougBarger
    Interesting topic.

    Let me just preface my thoughts by sharing that yes I do have formal eductation and went to college.

    I believe that learning and having set goals for instance when doing term papers and having to really research and prepare a quality paper does well for presentation.

    The social atmosphere of interacting with others along the way can prove to be invaluable as well.

    There are many things I took in college years ago that I'm just now beginning to see show up in business.

    However, anyone who hasn't had the opprortunity to go to school,
    don't be discouraged as you can still achieve anything you set your heart and mind to do with faith and if you want it bad enough.

    So, yes, while although thankful for the perks, formal instruction is certainly not a prerequisite for following your life's callings.

    Be encouraged,
  • Profile picture of the author summer07
    Originally Posted by angela99 View Post

    My 2 cents: I can see where courses in entrepreneurship would be useful, in teaching you the basics of business: how to raise money, etc. Most especially: how to THINK.

    The problem with a self-education - while it's extremely valuable - is that you don't know what you don't know, so you can have huge gaps in your knowledge which end up biting you in the rear when you least expect it.:-)
    another 2 cents: The trick is to get good education. A lot of colleges and universities in the US, at least, are now in the business of making money instead of educating.

    And most gear their business classes toward corporate career paths, since the schools get funding from corporations. Entrepreneurs fit into the corporate model as managers of new ventures, which are fully intended to grow big and become -- large corporations!

    Still, good education and mentorship can save a lot of time and money spent reinventing wheels when you learn on your own.

    Do I have a formal degree? Yes, in psychology. And some of my coursework related closely to marketing, actually. Does it help me in IM? Well.. it hasn't help me keep my wallet in my purse while reading some of those long sales letters, even when I know better.

  • Profile picture of the author Bishop81
    I did say earlier that I feel a college education is worthwhile, however I never mentioned my status in that area...

    I am a programmer with no degree, or even any college programming education. I'm completely self-taught in all aspets of my current career. That said, I do still feel that a college education is important for some people. Only you will know for sure. I am more successful than others who do have a degree, but there is a lot involved there.
  • Profile picture of the author Andy Money
    I just wanted to open this thread to brag about how I'm going to take an actual, real-life IM class at college in the spring quarter I hope, I'm incredibly excited!
  • Profile picture of the author Mac Wheeler
    I have two degrees, one in business studies and the other in philosophy, both of them help me in my working life every day, simply due to the fact I learnt how to perform research, how to think analytically and how to formulate ideas into concepts.
  • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
    Interesting responses. I don't think anyone is arguing against education per se, but in my experience, once it is formalised by a college or university, they quite often fill the curriculum with irrelevant or erroneous information - stuff, at least, that you'll never use again.

    The case for self education is that you can pick and choose. Angela argued:

    The problem with a self-education - while it's extremely valuable - is that you don't know what you don't know
    Well that's easy to solve. If you think that a particular course is going to teach you what you want, then look at its structure, its curriculum. You'll find what they plan to teach you, and then go find the latest thinking on each of the topics.

    The Entrepreneur Degree course that I spoke of in my OP was taught by two college professors who'd been in academia their entire lives. I shudder to think who wrote the thing!

    Obviously it is horses for courses. Some people like being taught to, while others learn more experientially and can earn while they learn.

  • Profile picture of the author strive4impact
    The best thing college teaches you is how to learn.

    So many people come out of college and formal education not having learned how to use the tools they've been given to learn everything (and anything) they want to learn.

    I think the skill of learning how to learn is really one that can be best gained from a formal education, and it can be applied in Internet Marketing in a HUGE way, but most people don't realize that's what their formal education is really about...

    It's not "what" they're learning necessarily, but the skills they're learning for how to learn that are the most universally applicable (and least used/understood) skills that can be gained from a formal education.

    It's those skills that will be the most beneficial in an arena which changes as rapidly as Internet Marketing.

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