If you don’t have college, have a college attitude

1If you don’t have college, have a college attitude

In the 1980s when I was in high school, post-secondary education was optional. University was for people who wanted to become a professional—a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer.

In the 1990s, the way we viewed education changed. University (in Canada—“college” in the States) became a minimum requirement for virtually any respectable job on the market. More and more people were heading off to university. If they weren’t yet sure what they wanted to do for a living, they took a general degree like a Bachelor of Arts.

Today in North America there are so many highly educated people that companies often make a university degree a mandatory requirement for jobs. The fact that someone has achieved a degree says something about them; they are probably relatively mature and they have shown they can handle the rigours of a post-secondary education (and by that standard, of a responsible job). For today’s young adults, college or university is just as important as high school was for my generation in the 90s.

So where does that leave those of us who may not have a university degree? What happens when we want to find another job, only to be told that having a degree is the new baseline and that our decades of practical experience “don’t count”?

Fortunately, along with the rise in the demand for post-secondary education qualifications has come another trend: life-long learning. Whether you graduated 30 years ago, or 30 days ago, you can keep learning. In fact, you must.

Should you ever need to find another job you have to show that you are willing, and committed, to continue to learn; you’re willing to embrace other (and more efficient) ways of getting things done. You’re willing to grow.

Accordingly, to make sure your resume is valuable to today’s employers, you need to indicate the courses and seminars you’ve taken and the credentials you’ve earned.

Your resume

You can have all the job experience in the world, but if your resume looks like this, you won’t even get an interview:


Osgoode Township High School, class of 1983

Or even:


University of Toronto, Bachelor of English, 1987

Osgoode Township High School, class of 1983

To say that you attended high school and then didn’t do anything else for decades after that tells me a lot about you. It tells me you haven’t upgraded your skills and that you may be stuck in the business practices of the past.

Here is what your resume should look like:

Educational Workshops: Minute Taking Made Easy (2014—Certificate of Competence), The Amazing Assistant (2014), Project Management for Admins (2013), Understanding SharePoint (2012), business-related webinars: Time and Workload Management, Invisible Influence, Business Writing Tune-Up

Leadership Roles: Chapter President, IAAP Citrus Chapter (2012), Treasurer IAAP California District (2014), Association Influencer (IAAP)

Conferences Attended: EFAM (Educational Forum and Annual Meeting) for IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) 1999-2014, Women in Leadership 2010, APC (Administrative Professionals Conference) 2010-2014

Education: University of Toronto, Bachelor of English, 1987

Quite honestly, the list of professional workshops you’ve attended tells the hiring manager more about you than the degree you earned when you were 21.

If your education portion of your resume doesn’t look as good as the example above, make sure you start attending professional development courses at work. If they’re offered, you should always attend; never say no to a learning opportunity, especially if it’s free.

Find options that will not only educate you, but will make you more valuable to your current and future employers. And be sure to keep track of them on your resume.

So… is college necessary? No. Is a college attitude necessary? Absolutely!

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4 thoughts on “If you don’t have college, have a college attitude”

  1. Very good article, enjoyed reading it a lot… always look forward to your articles.

    Have a great day (despite the rain) !

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks a million for doing this article! It really is encouraging! Especially for the resume tips part! You are one amazing lady! I also love the articles you write for OfficePro magazine – you offer no-nonsense, concrete suggestions!

    Hopefully I will get another opportunity to participate in one of your seminars in the coming months!

    Wishing you much continued success!


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