Education or Experience… pick your poison

I have been reading different blogs and articles regarding the importance of education. I have also read various opinions on the value of experience. When you are evaluating the capabilities of an individual, both can be used as a yardstick. If you come across someone that has both, you may discover the best of both worlds.

Education is fundamental in learning the basic framework of a profession. Experience is the result of actually performing the tasks of a profession and learning how the knowledge gained through education is practically applied.

You can usually decide your educational pursuits; experience is often garnered by chance. In a perfect world, you acquire the education and then step into the professional role. In that professional role, you apply your knowledge while experiencing the events that occur in the course of you performing your job.

There are times, when life throws you experiences before you have had the time to acquire the education necessary to deal with them. In those times, you have to call on prior experience and the cumulative knowledge you have garnered in life. There will be times when you make the correct decision and there will be times when you make the incorrect decision. The event will become another learning experience.

Is there a difference? When I was a younger man, I believed that you could study and read and acquire the knowledge necessary to do just about anything. I have learned that belief was flawed. Reading a textbook, taking part in a classroom exercise, watching film or listening to a lecture never replicates real life experience.

Soldiers tested in the field of battle have a much greater understanding of the perils of war than those that have read “The Red Badge of Courage”. There is something distinctly deeper about knowledge gained through practice.

Lessons learned in classroom settings usually occur in controlled environments. An individual may learn how to perform all aspects of their profession. Lessons learned in real life situations are filled with ancillary activity that is going on at the same time. You may read how to perform each function. Experience will teach you how to perform many functions simultaneously. Lessons are learned in a sequential order. Experience occurs in a multifaceted fashion which requires you to handle several functions at one time. Classroom experience is generally one sided whereas experience occurs with the interaction of others.

When weighing education and experience during the evaluation of potential real estate agents, it would behoove the public to consider what may be needed to accomplish the task at hand. If your need can be met by one that has more knowledge than experience, that is the route you should take. If your need requires the skills acquired through years of experience, that is the individual you should hire.

How do you know which type of agent you need? The question is not easily answered. If you were to ask the agent that is educated but lacking in transaction experience, they will surely attempt to sway you with the value of education. If you ask the agent that has been working for several years, they will surely point out the advantage of “real life” experience garnered through many transactions. The truth is probably somewhere in between the two and it will depend on the market at that point in time.

If housing is active, there are advantages to both sets of individuals. If the market is slow, you may be better advised to seek out an agent that has dealt with a slow market. You see you can read about the slow markets of years past. Agents can study how others dealt with those markets. Agents that have been through those markets will be in a better position to guide you through a transaction without needing to check a guidebook.

Glib statements like “interest rates remain at an all time low” carry a great deal more impact coming from an agent that was involved in transactions in the 80’s when rates were 14%. 

The final thought on the difference of the two types… or experience involves the one thing that separates those that are successful. Focus. I truly believe that the ability to focus is the strongest asset in any professional’s bag of tricks. Focus can only be fine tuned through the understanding that comes from day to day experiences.

Although, it is in a different venue, I look at the difference between Tiger Woods and the hundreds of golfers that come through the PGA schools. He is a champion, because of his ability to focus on the task at hand. His focus is fine tuned from the experiences he has experienced. There are several components to a fine round of golf. It is necessary to understand which component has the highest priority at various stages of the round. (It does not good to focus on the though process needed to make a long putt when you are getting ready to hit a shot from the fairway.)

So there you have it. Education or experience? I am an old guy now, so I will have to fall on the experience side of the equation. As a side note, to you young folks coming out of the universities, I can remember walking 10 miles, up hill, both ways in snow that was knee deep …………

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