When is your graduation date?

Dear Friend,

Do you ever come across individuals’ personal branding which goes over-board in flaunting academic accomplishments, be it on LinkedIn, Twitter, email signatures, personal introductions and business cards? I recently saw an email from an individual that listed a master’s degree accomplishment in the email display name!

Educational accomplishments should indeed be celebrated and credentials are important. That said, in my opinion going to extremes in highlighting academic accomplishments sends the wrong message.

What education has taught me, both as a student and employee working for fine respectable business schools, is this value of lifelong learning. Therefore, my ultimate graduation date will be either when I have dementia or die. I believe that what we learned in the past was good for yesterday, perhaps relevant for today and most likely out of date for the future.

Earning degrees and graduating from respectable universities indeed looks impressive on a resume. But what I want to know is how up to date you are about what is happening today. A PhD in economics obtained in 1982 is fine and dandy. But do you understand how globalization is impacting financial markets today? A doctorate in marketing clearly demonstrates knowledge of the field. But is that person up to date with the ever-changing social media space and how that is impacting consumers in different parts of the world? Good for you if you have a MD from the 90s and are a practicing pediatrician. What I want to know about is how current you are on the research of children’s vaccines.

(Separate tangent, somewhat related – I don’t understand why when I bring my infant son to the doctor’s office, the pediatricians always have to introduce themselves as “Doctor Last Name”. I would think the doctor / patient relationship could be vastly improved if there is not this natural hierarchy and false superiority that a doctor creates through initial introductions. I encourage patients to list their academic achievements, whatever they may be, and use only their last name once introduced to Dr. Last Name).

Graduation dates and educational achievement are only the beginning. Higher education should be the impetus for lifelong learning. Socrates is attributed with saying: “The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing.” I believe that we all need to have this mindset. Contrary to “look at my educational accomplishments and know that I have the right answers”, this Socratean attitude shows humbleness, openness and a willingness to collaborate with others to find the best solutions to problems and issues that are far-ranging and complex. Ideally, the most educated and prolific achievers in school realize this to be the case.

Best regards,

Kevin Anselmo

Lifelong Learner, 2071 (ultimate graduation date – expected year of death)

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About Kevin Anselmo

Kevin Anselmo is the Founder and Principal of Experiential Communications, a consultancy focused on education. He helps brands within academia - whether individual or corporate - communicate with stakeholders. He also teaches communications and public relations workshops to different individuals and groups and just launched an online media training program for academics. Previously, Kevin was Director of Public Relations for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and prior to that managed the media relations for IMD Business School in Switzerland. In addition, he was an adjunct communications professor at Nyack College in New York. Currently based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Kevin lived and worked in Switzerland for eight years and in Germany for two years. He has led public relations initiatives in various countries around the world.
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