Someone I once knew was always fond of saying, “you gotta make money; you can’t live on love!” He would use that line on Kollel people and working stiffs alike, it didn’t matter who you were. At any rate, that phrase was what was going through my mind when I read the following verse from this weeks’ Torah portion Eikev:
“And He afflicted you and let you go hungry, and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your forefathers know, so that He would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of Gd does man live.” (Devarim 8:3)
“וַיְעַנְּךָ וַיַּרְעִבֶךָ וַיַּאֲכִלְךָ אֶת הַמָּן אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַעְתָּ וְלֹא יָדְעוּן אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְמַעַן הוֹדִיעֲךָ כִּי לֹא עַל הַלֶּחֶם לְבַדּוֹ יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם כִּי עַל כָּל מוֹצָא פִי ה’ יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם:”
I noted that, and it resonated with me that a lot of variables completely out of our control when making various decisions in life. Gd runs the world, and controls everything, including health and wealth.
A University Degree Doesn’t Guarantee Anything
For example, getting a university degree today doesn’t guarantee instant employment, whereas in a not-so-long-ago past it did. Or even worse, you could be in the process of closing potentially the most career-changing business deal of your life and a death or terminal illness in the family occurs. Even worse than that, you can Chas V’Shalom die the next moment. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people with no formal education  , having a child at a very young age, being disowned by their families/peers and work their way up to a respectable profession. This has happened many times as well.
So, why go for that piece of paper? Good question. There still is a perceived importance to getting that piece of paper regardless as it can increase ones chances of getting hired. To a prospective employer, a degree can show not necessarily how smart one is, but more so how disciplined one is which is a big factor in the hiring process. Keep in mind though that that “discipline” can manifest itself in other ways, such as how long one has been at a previous job, or how many projects one has seen from start to end without giving up. Nevertheless, one still needs to pray to Gd at the same time that everything should work out in due time as there are no guarantees.