Why Credentials Might Not Really Matter!

AnnieBurnside3 2I have contemplated the idea of “the degree” a lot in the past several years through both my own experiential lens and through the experiences of several others whose work I greatly appreciate. Degree or no degree? Is there a degree for much of what many of us desire to offer through our work today? If so, how much does it really matter? In this “new age” of technology and expanding paradigms, can we simply share our perspective and experience without the need to validate what we know because somebody else labels us as knowing it?

I feel that these are important questions for not only ourselves, but for our youth and society as a whole in the modern world.

To be sure, I am not really speaking so much about the merits of a college degree, or not, in this piece. Collectively, most agree in our society today that a college degree is a “required” means to round out a formal education. While there is much discussion to be had on this topic, too, I am referring here more to a degree in the “abstract” sense leading many individuals to resist going for their dreams and offering their natural talents because an outside somebody, be it another individual or an institution, has not afforded them a stamp of approval that they indeed are capable in their chosen area.

While undoubtedly, there are many careers in our world today where a degree to “be” something is quite necessary – an engineer, an allopathic doctor, an accountant, to name a few – more and more, I am sensing as I work with others on soul purpose that perhaps rather than a degree for certain paths, we simply need to empower ourselves to walk through our own natural gateways.

Using my life as an example, there may come a time in one’s life where there really is no formal degree for what we desire to create. And to feel that we need a degree actually diminishes the exact message that we espouse.

Eventually, many of us must decide that we are willing to simply create from our own personal truth, soul perspective and life experience with courage and without apology. Eventually, we come to understand that there is not an official degree for sharing what makes our heart sing and our cells quicken.

In my case, I simply declared myself to be a soul nurturer for which there is definitely no degree. Why? Simply because I knew myself, in my deepest space, to be one. No degree…

From that declaration, I declared myself a public speaker. This did not stem from my having ever taken a class on public speaking, but rather because I felt called from the inside to do it, and I accepted my first opportunity to share myself in this way when it synchronistically appeared on my path to do so. No degree…

Unfolding from there, I declared myself a Soul to Soul Circle creator and leader, using my own intuition, to recognize this as the next natural step in my career. While it is true that I formerly taught fourth and fifth grades and knew that I had in me the capacity to teach, there was no manual on how to effectively open a spiritual path for others in a group setting that I followed. No degree…

Onward still, despite having never taken a specific creative writing or journalism class in my years of formal education all the way through graduate school, I chose to become an author and a blogger. While with both I was at first intimidated by my lack of schooling as a writer and had no idea of the “rules” for either, I allowed myself to grow with my writing as I went, and continue to do so today. No degree…

Finally, broadcasting had never even crossed my mind as an interest until I had a published book and my publicist recommended radio. Being a guest was one thing, but me as a host, OH MY! However, when the opportunity arose to try it, I felt a YES in my soul. Once again, learning as I went the multi-layered aspects of this medium. All was new to me. All still is rather new to me. No degree…

I share these examples from my own life today to suggest that perhaps we place too much importance in our society on needing proof, needing research, needing data, needing external validation. While there is most definitely a place for all of the above, these things all speak to the mind. And sometimes, we must decide from the heart.

As we get older, we can choose not to partake in a dream—a heart’s desire—because we don’t have a degree, and therefore, don’t have proof of our worth OR we can choose to partake anyway.

I am here to encourage the latter. We are all messengers through our lives lived. It is my perspective that we don’t need a degree to share ourselves fully with the world. In many, many cases, our expanded perspective, our inner knowing, our life experience and our sheer desire to share our authentic SELF with the world is enough. In fact, it’s more than enough!

We do not need a degree to embrace what stirs our soul. We do not need a degree to share what lights us up. If we can share from the heart in a soul to soul vibration of warmth, passion and personal truth that inspires others without attachment to agreement or outcome, then we are free. Free to BE…

Warmth and LOVE,



A modern bridge between the mainstream and the mystical, Annie Burnside, M.Ed. is a soul nurturer, award-winning author, and teacher specializing in parenting, conscious relationships, authentic living and spiritual development. Her book Soul to Soul Parenting won the 2011 Nautilus Silver Book Award. Connect with Annie on Facebook and engage with her on Twitter @annieburnside.

  • Linda

    Love this post! It came at a perfect time for me. Thank you Annie. I have been reading your posts on TDL and you are one of my favorites!

    • Annie Burnside

      Thank you, Linda, and very happy that we have crossed paths. The comments underneath a blog often uplift the blogger as much as the blog uplifts the reader. We are all in this together as both teacher AND student, simultaneously! Much LOVE, Annie

  • Adwoa Jayne

    I agree your life should speak for itself. Only you can give it the value it deserves.

    • Annie Burnside

      Perfectly stated, Adwoa… Thank you! Annie

  • wickerwalker

    This is just what I need or was destined to read and hear today. I have a two year business degree and have done fairly well with it and learned much. I feel in my heart that I am a promoter of talent. I worked one summer for Ringling Brothers Bailey Circus, as a cook. I took the summer job after a Sociology Instructor encourged me to take it for the experience of dealing with a sub-culture. I loved sitting in the different arenas in different spots and view the show, and know all that went in to it pull off. I had grown up with a mother who loved dance and music so I had a passion for entertainment already. I have found mself serving as chair person on entertainment committees for the city I live in, a music/art street festival for the local University for six years. I helped fund and start a music festival that is going into its fifth year. This started when in 2001 I heard a band at a outdoor gathering and was so impressed I took it on myself to promote and book them. I have held myself back when friends say you need to be doing this as for a living. I am a good communicator and have a good sense of people. I keep saying I do know what I am doing, and it hit me after reading your blog, that this is what I am telling the universe, so this is what I am getting back. The opportunities use to come almost like magic but after I felt afraid and said I did not know what I was doing they have slowed down and almost come to a halt.. Thanks for the new insight and inspiration.

    • Annie Burnside

      What an inspiring share! Thank you, and more than happy to be a clear mirror for you today:) Thrilled that something clicked for YOU while reading my story. Good Vibes to live from your SOUL! Warmth, Annie

  • Mike

    Loved this article! My novel “Montressa – ICE, India & Old Lovers” would not have happened without this perspective. Once I made the declaration that I was writing a novel – EVERYTHING was added unto it! There are key things that spoke directly to me in this piece: “to empower ourselves to walk through our own natural gateways.” You actually DO go through a vibrational gateway – so from my perspective this is perfectly languaged. “We do not need a degree to embrace what stirs our soul. We do not need a degree to share what lights us up.” In fact, I’d say that it would be VERY assistive IF we can connect with that BEFORE we settle on a “degree” path!! Yes, it makes the degree path superfluous, but you are fully engaged when on your path achieving it… It’s like the guy who was assisting strippers get ready for their show – his friend asked him – how much? He said, “80 dollars a week”. “Is that all you get?” He said, “No, I pay them! It’s all I can afford!!”

    • Annie Burnside

      Thanks so much, Mike! I love how you always take the time to pull out the threads of a blog that spoke to you the most. Also, I always appreciate your additions. They are right on above, as always! Mucho LOVE, AB

  • Charley Carroll

    What a great post packed with truth. I’ll be the first to say that most degrees are overrated, as is the “college experience.” Education gets more expensive while the output becomes more mundane. At any rate, I’ve been combatting a degree self-consciousness issue but from a different angle than presented in the article. I got a law degree a few years back, a time when I hardly knew myself and was afraid of the pursuit my own dreams. I knew in law school that I didn’t want to go on and be a lawyer,, and I even made a first attempt at a career in pro film acting. I retreated from that when fear set back in, settled into a temporary legal job for most of 2013 which has now ended. As I contemplate what comes next, I felt trapped by my law degree, as if I had to do something that directly utilizes it; I’m still paying for it and it did take three years of my life. Plus most look lost when I state I want to do things that wouldn’t require a law degree in the first place, further convincing me that I’m bound to this fancy degree. I also grappled with having a degree many might want to obtain but couldn’t for one reason or another, thinking for a time I had a duty to give it a solid try. But the heart just knows when something doesn’t fit. Earlier this week, I recognized that law school is just something I’ve done and doesn’t define me or my life. Yes, people see options with a degree like that, where I just saw boundaries. That love for film and acting has found me again. I always said to friends in law school that I don’t plan on becoming a lawyer, I’ll just play one on TV. Perhaps the Universe gives me the chance to pull that off or perhaps something I’ve yet to imagine. Either way, it is freeing to not be trapped by education, but to see yourself for who you are and what you love. Claim it!

    • Annie Burnside

      Charley, I couldn’t agree more with your honest share. Your insights add so much to my original blog. I hope that all read your comment, as well as the others to deepen their own truth. I wish you much success from your soul not your role:) In Spirit, Annie

      • Charley Carroll

        Thank you, Annie. Wishing you continued success and happiness as well.


  • David H. Breaux

    Hi Annie and readers,

    Thank you for writing this post and sharing your journey with the world so that we can learn from it.

    As someone who received a B.A. from a well-known, prestigious university, I’m often asked if/how what I do now relates to my major. My major was Urban Studies with a focus on Community Organization, basically urban planning/urban design. What I do now is stand on a street corner asking people to write their written concept of compassion in a notebook. Related? Hmmm…

    In asking people about compassion, I evolved into a “street therapist”–people come up to me seeking advice and growth on a number of issues: relationships, spirituality, diet, education, someone even asked me to bless his manuscript before he mailed it in for a contest. A masters in psychology? No, just an open heart to listen to other people. I figure if they come to me, there is something I possess inside that they see which creates an urge to seek understanding within themselves. It’s at the point where people know who I am in town, know my purpose in bringing awareness to compassion, and seek me out at the corner for understanding.

    A certain portion of those who approach me ask how did someone who went to such a prestigious university end up on a street corner asking about compassion, some suggesting I do something more useful in accordance with the degree I received. I choose to do what I do because it is who I am rather than succumbing to the definition of a past academic life. In surrendering to a will greater than my own, I relinquished many things and/or put them into a new perspective. I am grateful for the support of my academic history in bringing me to where I am today. An educational path is one way, one story of creating purpose. There is more to life than just one story–I choose to embrace them all.

    I share this trusting it will help bring comfort and peace to the reader.

    With compassion,
    David H. Breaux

    • Annie Burnside

      David, I LOVE YOUR POST ABOVE—YES, EVERY SINGLE APECT OF IT!!! Thank you, Thank you Thank you… It speaks for itself. I have nothing to add— Big LOVE to you! Annie

      • David H. Breaux

        Hi Annie,

        You’re welcome. Much love to you and all as well.

        With compassion,
        David H. Breaux

  • Naomi Goodlet

    Thanks Annie. It’s so validating to remove the pressure of needing to be “qualified”. I suffered with this for many years & thought I was too young, under-qualified and not experienced enough. It’s not important to me whether or not someones holds a certificate or degree but moreso, whether they can do the job well and get results!
    I found that I was quizzed about my credentials often and had to learn to find confidence to explain my situation without shame. Now I make no apologies for my lack of formal education and I have the results of my clients to prove my worth! Awesome topic!

    • Annie Burnside

      Thank you, Naomi, for sharing a snippet of your experience with this topic here. I simply love hearing how others have felt the strains (or not) of it in their own life. Really appreciate you taking the time to both read and comment! Warmth, Annie

  • Janet

    You spoke to my Soul. My Life Purpose Ear is listening. Just what I needed to hear today. I resonate profoundly to You and all You’ve shared. Thank You for inspiring Me to take action. Peace and Love,

    • Annie Burnside

      Thank you, Janet! Feels so good to resonate profoundly with another. Much LOVE, Annie

  • Lissette

    Ahhhh Annie, your blogs always bring me a peacefulness and knowing to my soul as I read them. This blog in particular. I have been on a formal educational path for soooo many years, it actually caused so much anxiety that I literally lost 14 years of my life being in a drug induced stupor. Two years ago I decided to go off the medications. Slowly, my brain is functioning as it was years ago and I have a strong desire to move forward. I know in my heart and gut that eventually (hmmm probably not a great word to be using) I would like to be a compassionate life coach and blogger serving others, and be open to other wonderful experiences that the Universe will provide.
    I keep telling myself “I don’t know how to start a blog”,” I am too old now to start something like this” (which is funny because the people I want to serve are my age group!) and many more negative things. I know it is fear, fear of the unknown to me. I have been waiting for someone to take my hand and guide me… literally, but today after reading this I know that I just need to ask the Universe to guide me and see me through.
    Thank you so much for your story, it helps me to move forward with mine!