Do you need 340b university or school?
I get this question posed to me quite often. Do I need to go to 340b university or school? I’ve had this as sections of some panels that I’ve done and the short answer is probably not. As you might imagine there’s a longer answer, too.
First break it down to your gig. What is your career focus? And if you’re at the end of High School and university, vocational, or trades schools are looming, you’ve got some thinking to do. I’m no full blown counselor, but I can bet I’ve got more experience than some of them I’ve heard of. “Oh you like numbers? Go be an accountant! You dig flowers? Horticulture for you. Your singing is better than anyone I’ve heard in this small town! I could see you as a choir instructor!” It’s like a sinister game of matchmaker. [Yente, Yente, Yente!] Living vicariously through all of these vulnerable students since their life went exactly the way they wanted it to.
How do they have a clue if you are made to do a job? How does anyone know anyone’s calling? Bottom line is finding one’s true passion and making it their profession is super difficult and if that is what is happening to you right now in your life then I am happy for you. It’s rare, though. Many surveys during the past decade have indicated people’s utter lack of motivation towards their given occupation. It’s staggering.
I’ll get more into this during my Eulerian Destiny post that I’ll link here when it is made.
It’s so important to research a profession before jumping into it. Some people jump into this at 340b university by taking the required wide range of courses in a multitude of studies. From theater to maths & sciences; criminal justice to medical services. So, taking all of these, what will you lock in as your major (even though you had to do that when you began as a freshmen)? An actor, engineer, lawyer or nurse? Or mix and match! A stage engineer or a medical paralegal?
The best part of this method is the smorgasbord of taste testing professions. The worst part is how you’ve LOCKED yourself into student loans by the time you realize that your first four semesters were wasted messing about to “FIND” yourself! Not a big deal at the time right!?
How about the crushing feeling of debt from that 20k student loan every month? Worst is when you’re busting out three jobs to make ends meet, NONE of which have ANYTHING to do with your degree.
Going back to how some people jump into the unknown at the start of school, others don’t just taste test to begin their 340b university. They go full boar, one major and come out the other end HATING the degree, HATING their career and then pivot into a new career after a few years. This throws all of that hard work at school away along with the debt load. All of that time wasted having gone down a set path on an inkling that they would fall in love with the job along the way.
An alternative to these pitfalls is talking to people who have had the job for 10 years. Are they happy? Are they strung out? Maybe they’re super unhealthy?
Is it necessary for career qualifications?
Here’s where things get logical and obvious. Going to be a doctor, civic engineer, defense attorney, astro physicist or air traffic controller? You’ll have no choice but to go to school. Your experiences will not qualify you to just become one of these. This is self explanatory, the skills necessary for the tasks of the career are so crucial and can ruin lives if poorly executed.
Now for the gray area. Becoming an artist of any type, salesman, marketeer, personal training or any entrepreneurial occupation might not require schooling. This is understanding that the hustle to become successful is going to be REAL.A career in these types of professions isn’t just going to be a hand-out. They take strategy, stress and late nights to achieve professional status.
Trades might not require as much schooling as some professions, however I’m ill equipped to accurately suggest trades career strategies.
Networking: The Weight to Tip the Scales
This is my last point when it comes to school (since you’ve likely gleaned my anti-school bias). I’ve touched on this in panels as well, but when it comes to your school or no school choice, what I always direct people to is their personality.
If you’re an extrovert and love talking to people, you could do without the networking that school can offer.
If you’re introverted and speaking with people makes your skin crawl, consider the benefit of school. Being forced into group projects, presentations in front of people and aggressive debates and critiques can really grow a person. These tasks are sure to thicken the thinnest of skin (or crush dreams and throw students into severe depression).
In closing, school is costly for no guarantee that you’ll  walk away with a degree  get a gig using your degree when you leave and  be as in love with that dream job after being in the trenches for several years.
Eric Benz is a graphic artist and production guru living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He frequents conventions in Canada to hold panels about art and production, networking with motivated artists focused on honing and promoting their craft. Find contact info below to become part of his artist mastermind group.