How Can the GI Bill Prepare Me for a Better Employment Opportunity?

Dear Coach Kevin: How can the GI Bill prepare me for a better employment opportunity?


Dear Joe:


I’m glad you asked, as I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately… well, sort of. But before I answer your question, I have a similar question (for all) to consider: “How can the GI Bill prepare me for a better employment opportunity if I don’t use it?”


First, your question… 

The short answer: in many ways—some are obvious, and others are in not so obvious ways.


The obvious…

You have a better chance of being selected for a job. I’ve found from my years in career/transition coaching that employers and recruiters tend to look for those with an education first—even where formal education is not a requirement. Why? Fair or not, if there are two people equally qualified for a position, except that one has a higher level of education, the one with the higher education tends to get the nod. Again, fair or not, it is assumed that person has more knowledge and skills.


You are paid more. Over the years, many have discussed and studied the correlation between education and employment, and probably, the consensus is strong toward a close correlation. The College Board, a college advocacy and policy institution, suggests, “Individuals with a 4-year college degree earn an average of $22,000 more per year than those with only a high school diploma.” They further indicated in a 2003/2005 study that, “In 2003, the average full-time, year-round worker in the United States with a four-year college degree earned $49,900, 62% more than the $30,800 earned by the average full-time, year-round worker with only a high school diploma.” I’ve seen statistics that suggest each year of college raises income anywhere from 7.6% to 13%. So, let’s just meet in the middle. For every year of college, your pay goes up by 10%. What would that calculate to be over a lifetime? You do the math! 


The not so obvious…

I know it to be true from both experience and speaking at colleges; college is a place for self-discovery, personal development, and exploration. Despite who you are, what you do, or who you aspire to be, college offers a setting for learning and meaningful exploration. When it comes to learning, growing, and achieving, college is a breeding ground.


There are many examples, but perhaps among the best is Facebook founder and owner Mark Zuckerberg who found his “thing” in college.  Another example, and ironically, he was a college dropout, Steve Jobs, once said, “When we were designing the first Macintosh computer, what I learned in that [college calligraphy] class all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.”


I could go on about the benefits of getting and strengthening your education, but I think you get the picture.

So, let me get to my question: “How can the GI Bill prepare me for a better employment opportunity if I don’t use it?”


It can’t, and it won’t

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