stack of textbooks


Area students will go back to school in the next couple of weeks. Since there are likely not many of them that are readers of this publication, I’ll gloss over the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 information that the $488 median usual weekly earnings for those with less than a high school diploma is less than two and half times that of the $1386 earned by those with advanced degrees. I want to focus today on lifelong learning.

Education equals investment. Investment in yourself, your future and your family.

We should learn from our own circumstances. Many are very proud of their education from the “School of Hard Knocks.” I had a coach that said the smart person learns from his mistakes while the wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Pay attention to your mistakes, ask yourself how you can do better next time, read biographies from successful people.

Learning doesn’t and shouldn’t stop because you got your sheepskin or a certificate or even a job. Employers value employees that improve themselves and increase the capacity of their output. The ability to continue to acquire skills might be the best trait that can be handed to the next generation in a changing and unknown world.

By all means, pursue more formal education. But think about the value of that skill to a potential employer. How many people recognize the value of an Ivy League art history major? Being a liberal arts degree student, I recognize the value in a well-rounded education but I also recognize that I had to be a bit creative in applying my skills to whatever employment I was trying to attain. By the way, making higher education “free” won’t force prospective students to confront this reality soon enough.

Never has knowledge been so accessible regardless of position. We live in a world where the Library of Congress is actually available to us. With three fingers pointing back at myself, stop spending hours on social media and pick up a kindle and learn. With all thy getting, get understanding.
(Labor statistics from

Greg Finke is Vice President of Stewardship Capital in Independence, Missouri. He can be reached at