Skip to Content

A Twenty-Something’s Guide to Education versus Experience

We explored the pros and cons of each education and experience. Which will benefit you the most?

The widely debated value of education versus experience (and vice versa) has been argued for quite some time.

Parents, schoolteachers, and peers encourage millennials to transition from high school, to college, to grad school sequentially, whereas potential employers seem to harp on the importance of years and years of accrued experiences. The two philosophies respectively carry strong backing, but for the young professional blindly forging ahead, the right path appears blurry.

Where should twenty-somethings focus their attention?

Is it best to stay in school for years and years without breaking the pattern to assure we earn as many degrees, certificates, and high G.P.A.’s as possible? Or, should we instead finish an undergrad degree, gain work experience, and revisit grad school later in life?

Truthfully, the choice is yours, and yours alone. Even at GenTwenty, where we seem to have everything figured out, we cannot tell you what course of action is best. Only you know what makes the most sense for you at this point in life. What we can do, however, is offer you and other perplexed twenty-somethings a simple guide to understanding the value of education versus experience.


The value of education:

Education is one of the most important pillars of life and human experience. By becoming educated, we face challenges, acquire skills, develop deep understandings of our chosen field of study, and ultimately can theorize about the world around us.

Education brings problems to the surface while teaching us methods of solving them. The value of education is priceless. Even in colleges and universities that charge a pretty penny in the form of tuition, the value of earning a degree is something no one can really stamp a price on.

Here is a snapshot of reasons why we love education here at GenTwenty:

  • Lectures teach us obedienceBy sitting in a lecture hall with a hundred other students, we are taught that not everything is all about us. We must learn to listen to what other people say, acquire polished note-taking skills, and retain information from a brief presentation.
  • We acquire study habitsIf you’ve been student in higher education, you know how critical it is to gain successful study habits. Not only do you need to learn how to conceptualize theories and definitions, but you also have to become crafted in building connections and applying content to real life. By doing this, taking tests, writing essays, and presenting materials in front of an audience become easier!
  • Education qualifies us. How can anyone become a doctor, teacher, lawyer, or other professional without studying the necessary materials and earning the required credentials? Naturally, we all have to put ourselves through the laborious years of college and grad school degrees to get us from Point A to Point B. Our degrees qualify us on a standard level, indicating we have passed our courses successfully.
  • Education is a discipline. Sometimes college feels more like a test of our work ethic than our knowledge. The busy work, endless essay assignments, and reading materials are more of a testament to how driven and motivated we are, rather than how intelligent we prove to be. By finishing college and earning a degree, it demonstrates how disciplined we can be in a classroom setting, and how we can apply that discipline to a profession.

The value of experience:

Work experience refers to any form of experience earned while working the ins and outs of a specific occupation, field, or profession.

Firsthand experience offers young professionals a taste of the working world, demonstrating how very different it is than a classroom setting. Work experience is often an excellent shadowing opportunity to better understand the daily expectations of a specific role within the larger scope of a company. Working in a position to gather a wider understanding of how the role operates will ultimately hone your skills to polish your craft. Experience gathers the theories learned in college and applies them to real world processes.

Here is a snapshot of reasons why we love experience here at GenTwenty:

  • Experience prepares us for real life work. By gaining credible work experiences in the form of an internship or shadowing opportunity, we can safely say we have a solid understanding of how professional jobs operate. We learn that summer vacations cease to exist, deadlines are sometimes by the end of the day, and there’s often a to-do list directed by a supervisor, rather than a semester-long syllabus outlining our assignments in defined verbiage.
  • Work experience shapes our skills. By the time we finish college and begin our first jobs, our skills are fairly new and amateur. Working advances our studying, reading, and conceptualizing skills by putting our theories into real world processes.
  • Work experience turns beginners into intermediates. Rather than starting out as beginners after years and years of school, having a number of experiences under out belts makes us considerably more prepared. We are intermediates, not beginners. With hefty experiences to call upon, young professionals can enter a role with a seemingly easy transition without needing to be coddled by a supervisor.
  • Experience makes future employers happy. Employers want to see a minimum number of years of experience completed before they interview you or even consider you for the job. More often than not, they want to know you’re joining their company’s team with something to bring them. Ultimately, employers care more about what you can do for them. If young professionals have exceptional experience, their candidacy becomes more considerable compared to applicants with less background to offer.


Here at GenTwenty, we can’t choose between education and experience. Both provide endless opportunity, and both are essential in developing professional careers. We believe a combination of education and experience is the best course of action. Our advice to young professionals is to work hard at gaining both.

Choose your field of study in college and earn that high GPA to graduate with. From there, be sure you’re interning when you can and work part-time to build your nest of notable experiences.

Never pass up shadowing, networking, or internship opportunities! These little niches can ultimately become your greatest source for references and praise down the road.

At GenTwenty, we want you to be your best self academically and professionally. Choose to value education and experience to make your best self shine through!


About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.