Dear Danielle: Education vs. A Future Career That I Love?

I had been in talks with Danielle, a life coach/relationship expert, for a little while about possibly starting a new “column” on Wonder Forest to answer some of your questions. The truth is, I get a lot of questions from readers and don’t always know how to answer them. Thankfully, people like her exist and can offer far better advice in different areas than I can, so I’d like to officially introduce you to Dear Danielle, a monthly post dedicated to answering your hard-hitting questions. If you’d like to submit a question of your own, you can do so at the bottom of this post. We will both be reading them and picking one or two to answer, and it all remains anonymous. You can see what else she talks about over on her blog.

This original question has been edited to protect the identity of the submitter.

Q:  Hi, my name is Amanda and I am 16 years old and need some advice on my future career. I’ve been raised with not very much, and my family always said that the key to happiness later in life is getting a solid education. Although I think this is true, I don’t want to work for someone until retirement. I want to actually go out and see the world and spend my days traveling with a camera and recording everything I experience on my very own blog! I know many entrepreneurs have made a successful career and life for themselves doing this and believe I could too. What do you think? Is this possible? Where do I start and do you think I need formal education?

A: Thank you for writing in. What a good, young woman you are for already putting so much loving thought and consideration into your future! It can be so challenging to balance the advice of those around you with what you feel strongly about in your heart, yes? You know they want the best for you but you also know what you are deeply passionate about.

Well, the exciting news is that you can absolutely do both and it doesn’t matter if you were raised in a 5 bedroom luxury condo in Manhattan or a modest home in the middle of Montana!

It seems you have a real love of fashion, travel, photography and blogging. It is the fuel to your fire and you’re ready to fan the flames of your desires! I admire a woman who knows what she wants, is open to learning and poised to go make her bigger-than-big dreams happen.

Firstly, I would agree with your parents that education is important and can really expand your perspective and deepen the breathe of your knowledge and skill set, however, I don’t necessarily think you need a strict formal education to lead a happy, satisfying life.

Education comes in all sorts of beautifully wrapped packages. There are a myriad and plethora of ways to now sharpen our skill sets and expand our soul’s desire. If you want to go to a 4 year traditional college and then onto a masters or doctorate you absolutely can and you don’t need to be wealthy to do so! Think about applying for grants and scholarships. What about a part time job working for the school? Many times schools will reward their employees by offering a discounted tuition.

But if you are more of the artistic, creative type, as I sense you are, there are fantastic, less traditional educational programs out there for you. What about a 1 year course at the local collage on basic, intermediate and then advanced photography? I would also look at photography schools as well. These types of courses will be less expensive at a local college than a big university. I would also look for online photography programs/courses. Do you have a camera? Instead of purchasing a new one, which can be expensive, I would look on EBay, Craig’s List or a local vintage shop for used cameras. It’s a great place to start without emptying out your wallet.

Blogging can be so much fun and yes, lucrative for sure!
Wonder Forest offers some VERY affordable blog templates that are beautiful, easy to navigate and don’t cost a lot of money, whereas a custom built blog can cost upwards of $5000! I would scan through Dana’s offerings and see which template best speaks to your creative spirit. Want to learn how to run a successful business online? I would check out Sarah Von Bargen’s website, Yes and Yes, as she shares some of the best tricks of the trade at being awesome on the internet. Really want to learn how to knock your blogging business out of the park? Take a look at Marie Forelo’s B School program or Gala Darlings Blog Academy. Both programs are fun, educational, interactive and a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education in  marketing and communication.

Love to travel and photograph your travel? Scour the internet for people doing what you want to do! Read their blogs, watch what they photograph, pay attention to how they market themselves. Lean in and learn. And then begin taking photos where ever and whenever you can!

This life is yours for the crafting.
You can absolutely do what you love and get paid for it.
Millions of entrepreneurs are living examples of it.

Yes, educate yourself; we always want to be “leaning in” to our craft but also realize that education comes in all shapes and sizes. I offered you a few alternative thoughts here but continue to get excited and dive in to more internet research… design your own curriculum… carve your own path and s-t-r-e-t-c-h!


Want to submit your own question about life, love, or business? It will remain anonymous and may just be featured here! Click here to submit!

Dr. Danielle Dowling is a life coach and psychologist. Her goal is to motivate women to live inspiring lives and to help them achieve their dreams, whatever they may be! Connect with Danielle on Twitter and Pinterest. Ready to step up your game? Hire her. You won’t regret it.

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By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.