Education is Key to Success: But What Does That Mean?

You would probably expect a life-long educator to write that education is key to success, right? But I’m going to dig deeper than that simple five word phrase — education is key to success — and explore the many dimensions of what it means to be educated and how we become educated.

I won’t go into my credentials here because you can find them on my ABOUT page, but I’ve been an educator for a very long time in many different roles and capacities.

And I want you to know right from the start that I will NOT try to convince anyone that a formal education is the answer to success for everyone! Education is key to success — YES — but there are many dimensions to the kind of education we need to succeed.

books clock green plant zippered notebook glasses and a framed chalkboard that says education is key to success all sit on a wooden shelf
Let’s explore the many dimensions of education and examine what it means when we hear Education is Key to Success.


What is Education?

Some people immediately think of school when they hear the word education. But education is far more complex than school. Education goes far deeper than what you can get from elementary, secondary, or even university schooling.

My favorite definition of education comes from Wikipedia:

Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators; however, learners can also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings, and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.

an image with black silhouettes of heads against a blue background with a hand writing words that are associated with education is key to success
Education is key to success … but where do we get educated? How do we get educated? What does it mean to get educated?

What Does It Mean to be Educated?

Education is about discovering new things. It is the process of developing enough insight and curiosity to formulate questions, draw conclusions, and understand possibilities.

It’s about increasing your knowledge-base so you can influence and shape the world around you. You can educate future generations and bring about positive change.

Education is about life experiences. It’s getting to know the world around you, going on crazy adventures, and experiencing different cultures. It’s about socializing with people in a variety of settings and learning to appreciate others. It’s also about learning to treat ALL people with respect and dignity.

It’s about getting to know YOURSELF — your strengths, weaknesses, desires, dreams, and inner soul. It’s about developing positive attitudes, values, and morals that align with peace, happiness, and harmony.

Education is about taking responsibility for your own personal growth, developing essential life skills and coping skills to handle difficult times in your life, and unlocking the right doors of opportunity.

Of course, education means you also need to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic! (I don’t want anyone saying Mrs. Ballinger never mentioned school stuff in her article!) Plus, I better not forget to mention Social Studies and Science. The teaching and learning that occurs in schools are important aspects of education, too. This is your academic learning.

But I want to emphasize that far more learning takes place outside of a school building than most people realize. In fact, you might want to read my article about going on vacation during the school year because you’ll never worry about taking that vacation again!

a classroom of students raise their hands to answer a question and the teacher stands in front of the classroom pointing to someone to answer
Formal schooling is just the beginning of our lifelong educational experiences. We become educated via many other opportunities and experiences as we interact with people and the world around us.

How Do We Become Educated?

From the day you are born to the day you die, you are continuously being educated.

You are constantly learning how to interact with the great big world around you and the circumstances it throws at you.

From the time you start learning to sing the ABC’s until the time you walk across the stage to collect your diploma — you are learning. These are your academic years. While you may have 12 years of schooling in classrooms, you also have a lifetime of learning outside of a classroom.

Whether you are taking your first trip to the Emergency Room for a doctor to cast your first broken bone, or you are planning your wedding to marry the person of your dreams, or you are broken-hearted because you’ve just lost a parent — you are learning.

If you are dealing with a bully on the playground at school, or an adult bully in the workplace — you are learning how to deal with bullying (and hopefully how NOT to be a bully). You are learning that not everyone in the world is KIND and you will face adversity throughout life. But these experiences help prepare us for the next hardship.

When you meet someone with differing abilities (aka: disabilities) such as someone with Down Syndrome or Autism — you are learning. You are learning about their behaviors and how to relate to them. These life experiences will teach you far more than you can learn in a classroom.

If you decide to go to college to become a doctor or a lawyer, or you decide to go to trade school to become an electrician, or you decide to attend an ivy league university to become the President of the United States — you are learning.

When you retire from a long career and don’t quite know what to do with yourself, you have a LOT of learning to do. In fact, you have to do a lot of reflecting so you can redefine your personal growth, and find your passion and purpose all over again. I know this from experience! And here I am writing — something I’ve wanted to do my whole life!

four business men and women in suits are clapping for someone's success
Some jobs require a higher education degree but this is not the only avenue that leads to success in life. Education is key to success can mean different things to different people because success can mean different things.

Education is a Lifelong Process

I’ve always considered myself a lifelong learner and as I’ve navigated my way through the online world of blogging, I’ve proven this to myself. Education is a continual process that keeps the mind healthy and the soul happy.

Education does not stop. Whether you are in school or living life on an iceberg in Antarctica, your education continues. You are developing your skills, knowledge-base, and brain power.

Education provides knowledge.

Knowledge is power.

Together, they can turn dreams into realities!

The more knowledge you gain, the more opportunities will become available for you to achieve success in career, personal growth, and happiness.

So when you hear “education is key to success,” be sure to understand that education does not just mean formal schooling or a college degree. Learning comes from many sources and requires a lifelong commitment.

Education is Key to Success: But What Does That Mean Today?

Education is Key to Success

Now that we’ve explored the meaning of the statement, education is key to success, let’s look at some benefits of being well-educated that will help you meet with success in life.

By developing your knowledge-base through diverse and multi-dimensional academic opportunities and life experiences, you are expanding your mind and opening doors to your future.

For example:

  1. Traveling across the country will give you great perspective about how people co-exist in different kinds of communities. You’ll learn first-hand about geographical and weather variations in the United States. You’ll be expanding your knowledge-base far beyond anything that could happen in a classroom. When will you be off on your next adventure?
  2. Volunteering in your community will help you develop an awareness of what’s happening in your little part of the world and how you can promote positive change. You’ll learn about the politics of your community and the generational traditions of its people. Again, the first-hand knowledge you gain while being among the people can’t be matched in a classroom. You are learning via authentic community engagement.
  3. Enrolling in classes at the local community college will open your mind to opportunities and career choices. You may happen upon a new topic that interests you and decide to make a career change. The college experience alone will provide you with many learning experiences even outside of the classrooms. This is one part of your intellectual wellness.
  4. Choosing a new hobby will even help you develop knowledge and enhance your educational experiences. You’ll need to read directions, comprehend tutorials, talk with people, purchase supplies, and problem solve as you learn a new skill. You’ll learn about taking pride in your work and feeling accomplished when you finish a project. These emotions are important to your emotional intelligence.

Remember, ALL of these life choices. opportunities, and experiences are part of your education. You are developing knowledge daily.

Now let’s look at some specific benefits of education (both formal and informal) that have been proven to help you succeed in life:

  • education promotes an awareness of the world around you;
  • education is a resource for developing skills that help you advance in the world;
  • education helps you develop the confidence and knowledge to achieve your dreams;
  • education gives provides you with the ability to be financially responsible;
  • education helps develop flexible thinking skills;
  • education provides you opportunities to explore your creative thoughts and ideas;
  • education helps build your social circle;
  • education promotes an exchange of ideas:
  • education is a source of self-identification;
  • education promotes the development of your authentic self;
  • education helps develop a nation of successful, intelligent people who can care for themselves;
  • education builds confidence and resilience;
  • education empowers you to thrive on competition and success;
  • education ensures you have control over your life in the for of financial intelligence; 
  • education increases your earning potential;
  • education gives you opportunities to learn about conflict resolution;
  • education helps convert ideas into reality;
  • education supports a growth mindset;
  • education promotes morality and good citizenship;
  • education improves critical thinking and problem solving skills;
  • education makes it possible for intelligent debate;
  • education leads to innovation;
  • education develops risk-takers and curiosity;
  • education lessens the challenges you will face in life;
  • education promotes emotional intelligence.

Sharpen your skills, develop and maintain your determination, set big goals, and work hard until you meet with the success you want to have in life.

And remember, your academic skills and your life experiences make up your education!

Enjoy your journey in life and understand that education is key to success.

a beach scene with blue sky sand and a hillside of trees in the background with a wooden sign in the foreground that says SUCCESS and words associated with success are printed randomly on top of the image
The phrase “education is key to success” is more complicated than one might think. We need more than just a formal education to be successful in the world today. We need life experiences, intellectual wellness, a positive mindset, a balanced life, and so much more to help us be successful in the rapidly changing world today.

What is Success?

Let’s briefly discuss the meaning of success since we have used the term so much in this article. What exactly is success?

Lifehack, one of my favorite websites, has a great article that talks about 19 new definitions of success for the 21st century. These include such accomplishments as:

  • always doing your best and believing you can;
  • managing a healthy balance between work and home;
  • understanding the difference between want and need;
  • learning something new everyday and continually improving yourself;
  • setting goals and achieving them.

Maybe some of these ideas resonated with you. I believe success looks different for everyone. One size does not always fit all.

People who do TED Talks about the topic of success also believe that success can look different for different folks. These are some ideas about the meaning of success from those highly successful speakers:

  • success is a constant journey of rise and falls, not a one way street;
  • success is that tingle of excitement about what you do;
  • success is sticking with what’s important through tough times;
  • success is creating happiness and fulfillment in your life;
  • success is living a life you can be proud of.

Let me also include the definition of success from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: 1) the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame; 2) the correct or desired result of an attempt; 3) a favorable or desired outcome.

There are obviously many ideas about the meaning of success! I’ll leave you to determine what success means to you! Do you believe education is key to success? What does success look like to you?

an old silver key attached to a note that says education is key to success lays on a gray wooden table
Education is key to success… but what kind of education is key? And what is success?

Who Said Education is Key to Success?

George Washington Carver and Nelson Mandela have both written or spoken about the idea that education is key to success. Given their specific life circumstances, it is easy to see why and how they would believe education is key to success.


Education is the Key to Success by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) has been credited with the concept that education is key to success. He rightly said, “From the poorest of countries to the richest of nations, education is the key to moving forward in any society.” He also said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

These are powerful words coming from a man in difficult circumstances. As a political leader and activist in South Africa, he wanted to see the people of his country prosper and change. He was tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Under those circumstances people needed to be educated in social justice.


Education is Key to Success: George Washington Carver

Similarly, George Washington Carver (1864-1943) believed that “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” He believed that education gives us all the knowledge we need to change the world. If we are educated, then wherever we go, or whatever we do, we can do it with much confidence and perfection. Thus, he has also been credited with the concept of education is key to success.

green chalkboard with words written on it that are associated with education is key to success
I think we figured out what “Education is key to success” means. Does it mean you need to go to college to be successful?

Education is the Key to Success Quotes

Many prominent historians, psychologists, educators, and others have written or spoken about the importance of education. Let’s look at a few more inspirational quotes about education is key to success.

“Education is the key to opportunity. It’s a ticket out of poverty.”

~George H. W. Bush

“Education is the key to self-development and empowerment.”

~Lailah Gifty Akita

“A good education is the foundation for a better future.”

~Elizabeth Warren

“Education is not a name of any degree or certificate that can be shown to others as a proof. Education is the name of our attitude, actions, language, and behavior with others in real life.”

~Barrack Obama

“The key to long-term success in life is your education and skills, your life experiences, and most of all, your personal character.”

~Robert T. Kiyosaki

“I believe the American dream is still alive and that education and entrepreneurship together are its key enablers. Through the years I have observed the power of this combination when the two forces work in tandem. Together they lead to personal success, business success, and societal success.”

~Ralph De La Vega

“Education is not the learning of facts, rather it’s the training of the mind to think.”

~Albert Einstein
two people sit outside with a laptop and some learning materials and the laptop projects the word LEARNING on the screen with multiple different icons related to education is key to success
Formal learning is one component of education. However, there are many dimensions of education that contribute to success.

Education is Not the Key to Success

There are also people who do not believe education is key to success. In some cases, those people are referring to a formal, higher education following the regular K-12 school years. And I absolutely agree that a formal, higher education is not necessary to be successful. However, I obviously believe that education is key to success in regard to the totality of formal and informal learning that equates to education. So I don’t always agree with people who say education is not the key to success.

I strongly believe I have made my case very clear that education is key to success, given that we are educated by our life experiences and mere existence in the world, as well as our formal schooling. Do you agree?

young man and woman sit together in water grasses at the beach in front of a beautiful new beach house sitting on a hill behind them
What is your definition of success? Do you believe education is key to success?

Final Thoughts: Education is Key to Success

Is education a key to success? I hope we can agree that education makes a difference in society as well in the personal lives of those who want a successful future.

I believe education is key to success because it allows people the opportunity to have a better future, plus develop the skills they need to follow their dreams.

Investing time and energy into taking your academic education seriously, as well as experiencing life to the fullest, are valuable measures for anyone who wants to reach their fullest potential and be successful.

I hope you have found value in this article and understand the importance of education — both formal and informal. I encourage you to remember to take time everyday to learn something new and appreciate every learning opportunity!

Love to All! ~Susan

Education is Key to Success: What Are You Doing Right Now that is Helping You Became Better Educated and How is it Contributing to Your Success in Life?

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