I'm a self-proclaimed nerd who loves to learn. For the longest time, I wanted a Master's degree. Not only would I learn more, but I'd probably end up making more money too, right?
There were just two problems: I didn't have the time or the money. Then, I started my own business and realized if I did have a Master's, it probably would've been a waste of time and money.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still spending money to learn. But instead of learning things a program or school dictates, I'm choosing what I need to learn to grow my business and make more money. I'm being strategic and I'm doing it through online courses.
For me, an online course is a better investment than a Master's degree. This is why.
Getting a Master's degree could take years. Yes, I like to learn, but not that much. A lot of that time could be spent learning things I may already know or not need to know.
As a business owner and mother of two, I am very mindful of the way I spend my time. The last thing I want to do is spend months and months in class or completing assignments questioning if this cookie cutter formula will help me, and if it does, when.
Then, I discovered online courses that offered exactly what I needed to learn, with a time frame to complete the course, but also have lifetime access if I ever wanted to revisit a lesson.
Jorden Roper teaches writers how to make a full-time income and is also an online course buyer.
"As an entrepreneur, success is less about formal education and more about being hyper-focused on your goals, Roper said. "With online courses, you can learn exactly what you need to learn to reach your business goals. You don't have to waste time and money sitting in college classes that aren't really going to make a difference in your career."
For example, this year I went through extensive SEO training. I learned from a man whose site brings in more than two million visitors a month. I also learned how to create an online course from a woman who makes six figures a month selling online courses. Both of these things are helping pay my bills and I don't think I could've learned them in a Master's program.
Who has tens of thousands of dollars laying around? Not me. When I looked, I couldn't find a single grant or scholarship for people wanting to earn a Master's degree.
Online courses are not only a small fraction of that price tag, they also range from just a few hundred dollars to thousands - depending on the course.
Lisa Richards is a publicist for health, fitness and wellness entrepreneurs and has bought three online courses.
"Not only is it far less expensive, but it gives you the opportunity to pursue the path of entrepreneurship, rather than leaving your job prospects and earning potential in the hands of an employer," Richards said.
Before buying, you can research the teacher, hear successful testimonials, and ask specific questions that pertain to you and your goals. With an online course, you can pay for what you want and save on what you don't.
Not too long ago I inquired about teaching a media class at a local university. As a former TV reporter and anchor, I thought I'd be a great fit. I was told I could not teach at that level, or even adjunct, without a Master's degree.
This bothered me and made me question if the person I would be learning from to earn my Master's had any experience in what they were teaching, or just studied it. There's a big difference between the two.
I don't know about you, but when I learn something, I want to learn from someone who has been there and done that successfully.
If you're going to teach me how to read a teleprompter, you had better read a teleprompter a few thousand times before - with practice, cold, and when the operator falls asleep in the control room and you are forced to figure out a way to adlib through the problem on live TV.
If you make six-figures a month blogging, I don't really care if you have a fancy degree or not. I want you to teach me everything you know.
Charity Preston, M.A., who works with K-12 teachers, believes online courses and Master's degrees are independent of each other, and for her serve two very different purposes.
"My investment in my Master's degree gives me the framework of understanding the theory behind what I am teaching, while my investment in online courses is a far more practical application for my personal interests to further my professional development," Preston said. "I need the diploma to show I have mastered the concepts which are based in research over time. I also need the hands-on how-tos to show I can apply the newest concepts currently in the field."
While obtaining a Master's degree was a goal of mine for a few years, now I'm glad I couldn't swing it. I think it would've been a waste of time and money. For you, maybe not.