For your whole life you’ve been told that you won’t get very far without a college education. Well, I’m here to break your heart: they lied.
Despite your youthful indoctrination to the contrary, here are some really good reasons why you don’t need a four-year crash course in sex, drinking, and a bunch of BS classes to make something out of yourself:
Employers Hire Based on Skill and Talent
I went to college, and graduated with a degree in English literature; the teachings of which have assisted me exactly zero times in my adult life — except when I’m playing bar trivia. Today, as a successful entrepreneur, I can sum up my college experience like this: It was a great place to get wasted and laid, but it’s not an institution that prepares you in the best way for the workforce — which is why most employers today only want to know: Are you talented? Do you have a portfolio of work to prove it? Can you meet a deadline?
Emmanuel Ley, cofounder of Fashion Stork, agrees. “My hiring isn’t based solely on their education; more importantly, it’s their experience,” he says. “That’s because college doesn’t prepare you for a job, but only industry fundamentals.”
Brandon Baker, owner and head chef and NYC-based Loveletter Cakeshop, seconds Ley’s sentiment.”Some of our best employees never attended college,” Baker says. “Yes, college gives you an education, but it’s not the only education I value; especially because today’s college grads have been conditioned not to think outside the box.”
Most Resumes Are BS
Resumes have become a ridiculous concept. First, most potential employees don’t care what their resumes say as long as they’re semi-accurate and sound good.
Furthermore, few hiring managers do a deep dive into resumes. And among those who do, most are focused on the experience you can bring to the position. In essence, your college education is for absolutely no other reason besides “this position requires a college degree.” But if you do decide to spend a few years in college, there are plenty of online services to help you.
Plenty of Successful People Don’t Have College Degrees
Let’s get something clear: I’m not saying you’re going to be successful without a college degree. Rather, I’m telling you that you don’t need a college degree to be successful. There’s a difference, and there are plenty of examples. Peep this shortlist of badass folks who didn’t waste four years smokin’ up in their dorms rooms and getting fat on Pirate’s Booty:
- Steve Jobs
- Richard Branson
- Dave Thomas
- Michael Dell
- Rachael Ray
- Henry Ford
- John D. Rockefeller Sr.
- Steven Spielberg
- Mary Kay Ash
Many Great-Paying Jobs Don’t Require a Degree
Have you ever investigated all the things you could be — and be happy doing — without going to college?
Gabrielle Loehr has; she works with people who are overwhelmed and want to be happier. “When it comes to careers, people forget many have no need for college at all,” says Loehr. “For example, any of the trades — mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and plumbers. All of those jobs have fairly good salaries and offer a great deal of independence.”
You Learn More in the Real World
You learn by doing, not by watching somebody tell you how it’s done.
“I’m a 30 year-old dropout and proud of it,” says Taylor Alexander, co-founder of Digital Masonry, an agency that specializes in crowd-funding marketing. “I’ve always told people that a degree might help open the door — but your talent, ability to learn, and work ethic are what keeps you in the room.”
You’ll Be at Least $100,000 Ahead of Your College-Bound Peers
You don’t have to be a math major to crunch the numbers and come out way ahead of your college-focused friends. You know what you can do with the $100,000 you don’t have? Not go into major debt at 18 years old.
There are lots of great ways to make money these days using the resources you already have — like loaning out your home; your car; or your personal belongings, like bikes and musical instruments. You can also be a dog sitter in your neighborhood, for example, and you can sign up to be somebody’s buddy if you’ve got an outgoing personality.
None of these require a degree.
Entrepreneurship Isn’t a Teachable Course
You also can be your own boss without a college degree. In fact, if you want to be an entrepreneur, carefully weigh your options — because you won’t learn what it takes to be successful as your own boss in college. Granted, you can learn plenty of basic skills that will assist your endeavor, but entrepreneurship is a personality trait that cannot be taught.
Alas, don’t take it from me: Inc. magazine knows what’s up.
You Use Very Little of What You Learn in College
As a writer, I learned very little of what I use today in my work in college. Blogging, for one, didn’t even exist back then, but I’ve managed to become a paid professional at it. Sure, the basic grammar course I took helped a bit — and I never had to rely on a paper writing service — but what I didn’t already know I learned threefold at my first editor job out of college. Master the curve, or stand in the unemployment line — that choice wasn’t hard.
Most People Are Unsure Why They’re Going to College
According to fact-based research from Olenka Cullinan, CEO and founder of Rising Tycoons:
- Many business concepts are perfected by practice, like speaking, negotiations, and calling for leads.
- Most students go into college blindly, not knowing what they want to do; many will change majors at least once. If time is money, it’s a waste of both.
- 60% of US college graduates can’t find a full-time job in their chosen profession after they graduate.
Degrees Are Becoming Less Important
I’m just going to leave you with this sobering headline I found from years past: “Dear Class of 2012: Your Degree is Worthless, Now Get to Work.”
There are plenty more like it. Optimistic titles like:
- “5 Reasons Your New Bachelor’s Degree is Worthless”
- “My Degree Has Pretty Much Been Worthless”
- “How I Ended Up with $30,000 in Debt and a Worthless Degree”
Godspeed and good luck, Class of 2024.
Photo Credit: Chovee
Done by Forty says
While you certainly don’t need a college degree to succeed in your career, it helps. Not to make a causation/correlation error, but people with college degrees have higher average incomes, and lower rates of unemployment.
Of all the things to spend money on, I think a degree is one of the best. And I say that as a fellow English Lit major. 🙂
John Rocks says
Depends what you major in!
Although I definitely don’t think 18 year olds should blindly attend college (and I really, really think that parents need to help their kids grow up prior to age 18), I actually do use my degree (economics). I probably didn’t need quite as many philosophy classes as I took, but now I have a blog, so there’s that 🙂
I think the main factor to consider when you or your kid attends college is ROI. Most 18 yr old kids are not yet mature enough or have enough life experiences to answer the ” what do you want to do with your life” question. So although a degree isn’t necessary a degree with a high ROI may be worth the $.
It depends on what you’re training for. I took the studio courses for graphic design, (not the academics), obtaining a certificate in the field. Very helpful.
you don’t need a college degree to be successful in life. Sure, there are certain professions and industries that require certain degrees and levels of certifications, but its going to cost you (or someone else) a lot of money and its only going to get worse as far as costs go. People think you need to go to college to make more money. You don’t always need to spend more money to make more money. Many of us are being brainwashed into thinking that is the truth and how it works, but the truth is its NOT. All you need is motivation, a willingness to succeed and ability to obtain information and utilize it. There are millions of resources online and in libraries where you can educate yourself. I have a big problem with college professors, who think they know everything and get paid a lot of money teaching students about how things are in the real world. Truth is they know books, but we can all read books like them and know what they know. Knowledge takes time. But if you obtain enough knowledge and do enough research on your own, you can be a guru/specialist that knows more than a lot of the certified and degreed people out there. You don’t need a degree(s) to succeed in life, plain and simple. If you let people make you believe that, they are winning and you are losing. Its as simple as that.
I have a difficult time right now deciding whether I should continue with my bachelor degree as my parents and people I know insist or I should drop out and follow my long time will and interest of doing the things that I’ve been dreaming of doing ’em which doesn’t need the college degree I’ve been wasting my time doing it,it real stress me up and make me unhappy most of the time because my parent believes that having a college degree can earns you respect in the society and dropping out will be considered as a failure and shameful to me and to them too,but I’ve now decide to stand for what I believe and I believe i’m going to succeed without a college degree coz I know what i have to do to get where I want to be and for sure I’m going to make it as long as i have a strong passion for it.
YOU FORGOT BILL GATES IN THE LIST
Jimmy Ekwere says
Your 65% right, for me i believe that if one is able to read and write than your good to go. Hence if we could teach our children how to communicate and enroll than on an handwork it could help reduce the rate of unmployment, perhaps they could decide to go for a college degree them they are of age.
Len Penzo says
Thanks for the comment, Jimmy. However, I hope you’ll forgive me for pointing out that your response comes with just a slight hint of irony.
Beau W. says
I agree that most of the people who go too college have no idea what they are getting into. If more people got introduced to the blue collar jobs in would be a great benefit for America. Think of jobs that are always going to be needed no matter what the economic situation is. From plumbers too AC techs too C.D.L. truck drivers. These jobs pay very well. But you have too be willing too get your hands dirty.
You don’t even need a college degree for most tech jobs anymore. A lot of places prefer certifications instead.
65% of my co-workers work without even an approaching apprenticeship in software engineering. Unfortunately, current universities don’t have the time to develop curricula fast enough and it’s quite a shame.
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