Should students quit school to kick-start an influencer career?

Experts and influencers agree that a good education — whether done in a formal method or alternative set-up — is important in building one’s career, even in social media.

Dubai - Skipping school would also mean missing out on the best years of one's life.

By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Sun 25 Nov 2018, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 26 Nov 2018, 10:40 PM

The rise of social media has undoubtedly opened new doors and has provided fresh opportunities for people all around the world. Today, a digital-savvy society can earn money through a popular page on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, or through a blog.
Having thousands or millions of followers can attract online advertisers and generate earnings through affiliate marketing and sponsorships. Influencers with a heavy following charge thousands of dirhams for a single post where they advertise a certain product or experience for a company.
It's a money-making scheme that doesn't really require expensive degrees or diplomas - anyone with a high-quality camera, marketing skills and hard work can pull it off. But, does this necessarily mean higher education can be compromised over a full-time career in social media?
The assistant head at Dubai British School, Neal Oates, believes "we don't need to be pushing students down a formal education route".
"A career in social media sounds great and there is clearly high levels of growth in the market for tech-savvy digital natives," he said. "There is no right or wrong path for students to follow in life. The purpose of education is to encourage students to make something of their lives. For some, that means university and a more traditional route into a career or entrepreneurship. For others, this could be seizing an opportunity earlier in life and going straight into the workplace.
"My feeling is that we are looking to prepare students for life-long learning. Ending formal education earlier is not a compromise. As we can return to formal education at any point in the future. If a student is ready to start career early on, go ahead and get on with it."
UAE residents who have taken on social media as a full-time career feel that having a university degree can pay off in the long run.
Lavina Israni, a food blogger with more than 63,000 followers on Instagram, said: "Essentially, the purpose of higher education is to nurture your mind and enhance your personal attributes and skill sets. The curriculum and the environment are designed in such a way that teaches individuals the importance of professionalism, networking, teamwork, and leadership.
"A full-time career in social media requires all the skills mentioned above, along with a deep understanding of how the marketing industry works. An academic degree will guarantee a higher chance of success in this field, therefore, it is necessary to acquire higher education before you start building your social media career."
Sana Chikhalia, a travel and food blogger with nearly 74,000 followers, said: "I completed a bachelor's in commerce so that has helped me quite a bit when it comes to understanding the analytics of sales and pitching my brand to clients. There have been quite a few instances where I have had to explain ROI, brand-building and awareness of the product to a client and this understanding clearly comes from my further studies."
Finish varsity first before creating a name in social media: Bloggers
Influencers in the UAE have said that today's youth should not quit university for a shot at a full-time career in social media as it "may not last forever".
Lavina Israni is a UAE-based food blogger with more than 63,000 followers on Instagram. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in marketing and advertising and said this specific field of studies has helped her in her career as it relates to social media.
"There is no denying that in the last five years, we have witnessed a boom in the social media landscape in the UAE. Every individual and brand out there wants a taste of success on social media. Although the platform is here to stay, we haven't been able to accurately predict the future of stars born on social media. It's best to secure yourself with a degree before venturing out to make a living off social media," she told Khaleej Times.
Sana Chikhalia, on the other hand, is a travel and food blogger who is known as SanaOnFood and has nearly 74,000 followers on Instagram. She has a bachelor's in commerce and has insisted that no one must quit school to pursue a career in social media.
"Education is as important as any other thing in your life and sacrificing it for anything would be a grave mistake as this is what moulds our future thoughts and consciousness," Chikhalia said.
Skipping school would also mean missing out on the best years of one's life, she said, as this is a period where fond memories are created for one to look back on once he or she begins a working life. 
"If a person is sure they want to build a career in social media, then of course knowledge in this area via a degree would be an added advantage; but it is not a must and it is something that can be learned on the job. This career will get you involved in marketing, sales, communication and public relations, so educating yourself in these fields would be beneficial."
New technology cannot replace proper education
(Amol Vaidya, Director of Operations, Global Indian International School UAE)
The purpose of education is to help you deal with the world outside in a manner that adds value to society and, in the end, to the individual.
With time, different mediums have come to the fore. The mediums have changed through the years, so as the methods and manner in which one communicates. Each medium has given new opportunities as well as the dangers to go out of control. We have seen that with print, TV, and now the Internet.
Social media is one such medium that allows one to connect with distant contacts at all times of the day - it is more or less live all the time. It's a great advantage but it has its own pitfalls like all the mediums in the past, therefore, it has to be managed well by each of us.  Social media is informative but not necessarily educational, as one still has to know what to do with the information available and how best to use it for the benefit of all. It cannot be a substitute for proper education.
With the advent of the Internet and the world being connected 24/7, the purpose and direction of all education practices have changed dramatically.
Every child has an easy access to information, but they have to be guided on how to use it effectively. Here lies the real challenge and opportunity.
We at Global Indian International School (GIIS) campuses worldwide have a 9GEMS methodology, which ensures that sufficient scope is provided in the daily schooling from kindergarten onwards, in order to help the child grasp the larger opportunity.
More trends and opportunities will keep coming in the future as technology and artificial intelligence continue to drive life in general.
It's time to change
A good education has been a facilitator and an enabler of success in life. But with the evolution of technology, the current academic systems have come under attack and for the right reasons. We cannot go on teaching our children the way we were taught when social media has opened ample opportunities. Educators should be mindful of this change and reinvent their models. Education should not be about degrees, it should be a constant pursuit. Let's teach our children to be life-long learners.

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