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A good education: ‘Opportunity to invest in you always there’

Bermuda needs an educated workforce. And it’s that time again for many students on the island. They are struggling with those interminable university application forms with the excruciating wait to see if they’ve been accepted at the right school.

It could be said that these are the determined ones, the privileged, the smart, or the students who are being pushed all the way by their parents. Unfortunately, there are also graduating students (or who have dropped out earlier) who will not be able to attend university. Not any time soon that is, not until they experience the blunt reality of the workforce, become inspired to achieve greater things and learn on the job with a self-motivated self-paid education.

Why bother? So many spend so much time; so many parents spend so much money (indeed all their savings) on this elusive goal. Is there really something special about a university education? Is this goal important? Yes, According to US News and World Report. “How Higher Education Affects Lifetime Salary, By BRIAN BURNSED, August 5, 2011, “Those holding bachelor's degrees earn about $2.27 million over their lifetime, while those with master's, doctoral, and professional degrees earn $2.67 million, $3.25 million, and $3.65 million, respectively. That said, the major and industry a student selects ultimately have an enormous impact on lifetime earnings. Those with bachelor's degrees who work either in management or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) earn more, on average, than people with advanced degrees of any level who work in fields like education, sales, and community service.”

Some would disagree — the time and cost are not worth it. Yet, often those who never received that further education may feel diminished, concerned that they may be perceived as a less competent, less desirable employee. Granted, education is only one part of a total personality package; however, those who missed early advanced education opportunities will often admit that the road to success is harder, more complicated, and much more stressful.

Get real — Education is About the Money.

Do you know what you will earn in a lifetime? Most people become quite nervous when asked that question. They are afraid to look inward, because the next question is, what did you do with it all? It is well known statistically that a university graduate will routinely start at a higher rate of pay than a high school graduate, and will continue to earn more throughout his/her lifetime. If there was ever an incentive to move forward educationally, use your salary history now to compute the differences in lifetime earnings at Avidtrader http://www.avidtrader.com/lifetime-earnings.html This site encourages you to grow, earn, and invest. Nothing wrong with that!

For example, age 35 earning $50,000 per year with salary increases at 3% to age 70 will earn a total of $3,163,797 over the next 35 years. Increase that salary to $85,000 per year — totals $5,378,455 over the next 35 years and earning $120,000 as a licensed professional will bring you the grand total of $7,593,113 over the next 35 years.

You get the picture — investing in yourself pays human dividends.

The University of Lowered Expectations alongside Outsourcing — the New Continuous Anxiety. Bermuda is experiencing extreme job slippage, possibly in the thousands of positions. Will there are still be decent paying jobs in certain fields that do not demand an advanced education five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years from now? Who knows? But how many pulling in good money now are mentally equipping themselves now to transition to other careers later — when their current job no longer exists. Experience shows that every time an individual makes a career change in life (or is forced by redundancy) into a new position for which he / or she is not readily competent, it takes about three years — five years just to bring those wages back in line with their previous job compensation.

What is the future of formal education? Will we see the gradual morphing of conventional learning into online mini-courses attended to day after day. Every career professional that has succeeded this way will acknowledge that it is a tough way to learn (on-the-job training), but for many it is the only way to catch up. The key is meet the challenge head on, surviving, and thriving. With the proliferation of knowledge-based service industries, and electronic devices at every level of industry machinery, everyone, but everyone needs as much continuing education as they can get their hands on.

Personally, I am tired to exhaustion reading the infinitesimal laments about Bermuda education standards. Continuous and far-reaching bold initiatives to bridge the gap for today’s students and adult learners are still terribly lacking.

Readers, if you can use a smart phone, you are far smarter than you realise. For those of you who think it is impossible to learn, that it is too late, I say, never, never, never. The time is now. The opportunity to invest in you is always there. Follow your dreams and make it happen. Make money your great motivator! Mind the Satchel Paige quote adaptation, “How smart would you be, if you didn’t know how smart you were?”

In a democracy, everyone has a Right to an Education. We are a democracy, are we not? Make your decision. Exercise your right to learn.

Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS CFP (USA) TEP is a cross border financial planning specialist at Patterson Partners Ltd providing integrated cross-border tax, estate, investment advisory and related strategic planning services for Bermuda residents and international citizens with US connections. For additional information, please contact mmyron@patterson-partners.com or call 296 3528 http://www.patterson-partners.com

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Published January 12, 2013 at 7:53 am (Updated January 12, 2013 at 7:52 am)

A good education: ‘Opportunity to invest in you always there’

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