“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education” — Albert Einstein
The greatest form of disability in life is not knowing your ability. Your winning edge in life is not the degree you have acquired or the certificate you possessed, but your ability to solve problems.
Whenever I interview graduates, I am not so keen on their qualifications; I am only keen on their special skills, experiences and their unique approach to problem-solving. Most of them cannot even apply the knowledge they have acquired in school to solving life problems. The 21st Century employer doesn’t necessarily pay you a salary for the certificate you possess, but for the problems you can solve.
The reality of life is that there are more employable graduates than the available jobs, and it is only graduates that can actually think beyond their certificate that would eventually find their own place in life. Mark Twain said: “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” The proof of going to school is your certificate, but the proof of your education is in your ability to solve problems through innovation and creativity.
Graduates that cannot solve problems are liabilities. Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree; it is about widening your knowledge, thinking creatively and absorbing the truth about life. We must see our education beyond our certificates. Many people spend their precious years in school only to end up acquiring certificate, not education. Einstein said: “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Have you ever heard of the creativity term, ‘think outside the box?’
One of the major reasons why most graduates are poor is because they cannot see and think beyond their certificates. I have seen engineering graduates work as bankers. I have seen medical doctors with great skills in web and graphic designs. I have seen lawyers that are very dexterous with finances. The list is endless!
The basic truth of life is that the skills needed to be much sought after and become more successful in life are not really found within the walls of the classrooms. Your certificate is just proof that you are teachable; it does not suggest what you are totally capable of doing. You are full of possibilities when you think beyond your degrees and certificates.
If you remove your certificate from the picture, what are those things you can do effortlessly so well? You would definitely need the knowledge you have acquired in school, but they must not define your limitations. Don’t allow your certificate to put a limit on what you are capable of doing. Your education goes beyond acquiring certificate; it is your ability to solve problems. While schooling leads to confinement, education is an adventure. While schooling makes us learn through rules and facts, education makes us learn through exposure.
I have seen many graduates being successful in areas that have nothing to do with their course of study. Most students are studying what they don’t even like in tertiary institutions, and further placing them in industries that have nothing to do with their passion and gift is a waste of their potentials. It doesn’t make much difference what you study, so long as you don’t like it.
I am privileged to be the editor-in-chief of a youth magazine called Maximum Impact, and it is amazing to know that the organisation that completely handles the design and publication of the magazine is founded by a medical doctor that graduated from the University of Ibadan.
Peter Amangbo, the Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc studied Engineering in school. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of First Bank Nigeria Plc and subsidiaries is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Ibadan. Former Chief Executive of defunct Diamond Bank Plc, Uzoma Dozie, had his first degree in Chemistry from the University of Reading in 1991 and a postgraduate degree in Chemical Research from Imperial College, London.
It is not compulsory that you practise what you studied in school. Your first degree is just for cognitive development; further development of your logical thinking, numeracy, communication skills, and networking is not something you would learn in school.
The world is full of limitless possibilities for people who can think beyond their certificates. Education is a life-long process; it is not limited to a classroom, a structured period of time or formal instruction. You must be willing to navigate beyond the confines of your certificate to really make a meaningful impact in life.
One of the most profound laws in science is the Avogadro’s Law, which proposed that under controlled conditions of temperature and pressure, equal volumes of gases contain an equal number of molecules. Amedeo Avogadro made a lasting impact in the field of Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics and also made the city of Turin in Italy popular all over the world for his famous and legendary discovery. He later became a Professor of Physics at the University of Turin.
Unknown to many, Avogadro actually studied Law and graduated in Jurisprudence in 1792 and subsequently became a senator in the Piedmont Region of northern Italy. He pursued his doctorate in Ecclesiastical Law and obtained his higher degree in 1796, but there was something missing in Avogadro’s life that the study of Law could not fulfill- his secret love for sciences.
He pursued law at the insistence of his father, who wanted him to inherit his Law firm and empire. But his heart was actually in the sciences.
His father, Filippo, was a magistrate and senator seriously obsessed with his own aristocratic background and felt that his son must follow his own trail. Privately, without his father’s permission, Amedeo created time to pursue his heart desire in Mathematics and Physics and eventually proposed a law that changed the field of science forever.
The Avogadro’s Constant (6.02 × 1023), the number of molecules in a gramme molecule or mole of any substance has become a fundamental constant of physical science and arguably the most important constant in the field of Science.
If a man that obtained a doctorate degree in Law could propose a foundational law to guide scientists, then you must also endeavor to think beyond your certificate. Your certificate may not reveal your natural endowment and unique abilities, and that is why the list is endless of people who studied something in school, but later found out that their circle of impact is really beyond their certificates.
Jim Rohn said: “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Most of the world’s richest people today dropped out of school when they realised that their schooling was interfering with their education. They came to a juncture in their lives when they needed to make a decision between formal education in school and self-education beyond the school walls.
Formal education makes you a living; self-education makes you a legend. Formal education would teach you how to conform to society, while self-education would teach you how to get out of conformity so that you can fill your life with adventure and beauty.
My own personal life trajectory has followed a pattern that I never anticipated. I studied Pure Chemistry at the University of Ibadan and also had my Master’s in Analytical Chemistry, but today, people know me as a columnist in national and international tabloids. I am privileged to be the editor-in-chief of a youth magazine and mentor to the youths on so many platforms.
Amazingly, I never learned all these in school; they were the hidden passions that I developed and nurtured personally over the years. The skills I am using today are not reflected in my certificates.
We have to be more robust in our approach to learning and must never allow our schooling to interfere with our education. Graduates that don’t think beyond their certificates would ultimately become endangered species in a world that needs multi-skilled abilities to solve problems.
I am reaching out to all the graduates out there: Stop attaching your frustration to government and lack of jobs. Stop attaching the reasons why you are poor to external forces. You are poor because the skills needed for you to be rich are beyond your certificates. Acquire experiences that are beyond your certificates. Get exposures that are different from your qualifications in school. Think beyond your certificates and your possibilities would be limitless.
By Gbenga Adebambo