Some practitioners view continuing education as a distraction from business. Mary Whitworth, 27, snaps up learning opportunities as eagerly as she does new sales. Last year alone, she earned her ABR, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, and SFR—and her sales leaped more than 30 percent over 2011. “I gained a better sense of how a business needs to be run ethically, learned new marketing strategies, and figured out how to use new tools,” she says. “I also learned how [other agents] handle obstacles and dilemmas.” True to form, Whitworth raced through Texas A&M University in three years, earning a degree in agricultural economics. She remains connected with a robust niche selling condos and townhomes to parents of current students.