Does Your Degree or Major Matter? Time for Schoolin’

Someone recently asked me for some career advice, as they want to get into sports broadcasting, but fear they won’t be given the chance as they didn’t take those courses in college. How important is your college major when it comes to a future in sportscasting? Is the degree itself even necessary? It made me think back to one of my more vivid memories from when my daughter was in middle school. As some of you might have similar questions, I ‘ll share my answer. So, without further ado…

Does your degree and major matter?An education is important, but it doesn't always come in the classroom.
What’s the best advice to give an aspiring
broadcast student? It might be “get out!”

“Thank you for your kind words, and – well, the easiest way for me to answer is to point out they stopped inviting me on parents day at my daughter’s school. You remember, that’s the day kids bring in their moms and dads to have them describe what they do for a living.

After presenting to the first two classes of middle school students, it was smooth sailing. And I almost made it through the third session, but at the end of the presentation – in fact, the school bell started to ring to signal the kids to move on to the next period – one student asked if I needed to go to school to do what I did.

Needed… Needed? Hmm. I didn’t want to make school seem unimportant. For all I knew, his parents already had this little 11-year old lined up for a Harvard law degree. I didn’t want to lie either, as a degree is just one of many tools. What’s important is how you use it. I thought for a second, and rushed a bit by the still-ringing bell, I answered, no. And I immediately sensed the glare of the nearby teachers and fellow parents.

Some kids were already filing out of the room, so I quickly added that you DID need the ability to tell a story, to figure out statistics and to understand the big picture as well as the little details. I stressed that school offers a way to develop all of those needs. But this fear lingers that the only word the kids (and the teachers) heard was, “No!”

It’s not a lie though. School is good for a lot of things but when it comes to the creative endeavors in life – whether artist or artisan – you always learn more by doing than sitting. So, how important is a college degree? Some companies create the artificial requirement of a degree, but many legendary broadcasters didn’t get one, and didn’t let it stop them. Heck, long-time ABC News anchor Peter Jennings didn’t even graduate from high school.

If you don’t believe me, there are many very successful people out there who are now questioning the value of a college degree. (I.e., this good read from Gary Vaynerchuk, or this article about Apple CEO Tim Cook.)

Does your degree and major really matter when it comes to getting a job in sports broadcasting?
Congratulations! Now what?

In the modern day, that might be more difficult. A degree proves you can set a goal and accomplish it. However, if you want to succeed in journalism or broadcasting, get a degree in some other field. It gives you a more unique field of knowledge and expertise.

The people you work for will teach you how to do your job. It’s what you bring to the table that makes you unique, and attractive. That might be a knowledge of the law, or a love for the beautiful game.

In four weeks at my first radio job at WCTC in New Jersey I learned more than I did in four years of college. This says nothing against my alma mater BGSU. I’m confident I’m not the only one who had a similar post-graduate revelation. I got a great education in school. But when your paycheck depends on it, the real world is a great way to bring focus and clarity to an issue. :-)”

So, there’s my answer. What do you think? How important was your college degree? Share your thoughts – and any more questions below. Fire away!

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