Your whole life you’ve been told that you won’t get very far without a college education, and I’m here to break your heart: That was all lies.
Perhaps it was true in the 1990s or, heck, even the early 2000s, but nowadays, with every modicum of knowledge just a click or flick away, a university education is becoming — dare I say it — obsolete. At least for many professions; you can’t become a surgeon with an Internet degree, of course.
Despite your youthful indoctrination to the contrary, here are 10 reasons you don’t need a four-year crash course in sex, drinking, and a bunch of BS classes to make something out of yourself:
Stop the Presses! Some 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. I enjoyed the college experience, for sure, but I didn’t really learn anything useful. And 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, when I’m hiring, a college degree is moot. I’m only interested in a few things: Are you talented? Do you have a portfolio of work to prove it? Can you meet a deadline?
And I’m not alone.
Emmanuel Ley, cofounder of Fashion Stork, a subscription service for men’s clothing, has the same school of thought. “My hiring is not based solely on their education, but also, and probably more importantly, their experience,” he says. “College does not prepare you for a job, only the fundamentals of an industry.”
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 by no means the only kind of education I value. College grads know how to think creatively, but they’ve also been conditioned not to think outside the box.”
Most Resumes Are BS Anyway, So What’s the Point?
Resumes are increasingly becoming 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, not a lot of HR people dive too deep into resumes, and even when they are, the hiring manager is focused on the experience you can bring to the position while using your college education for absolutely no other reason besides “this position requires a college degree.”
Plenty of Successful People Before You 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
There Are Lots of Great-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
I’m 100% confident that at some point in your life someone has told you that unless you have a college degree, you won’t get the job you want: “You’ll be flipping burgers for the rest of your life.” But did you ever investigate 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. So she helps put them on a path of success — which isn’t always toward a college campus.”When it comes to careers specifically, 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’ll Learn More in the Real World Than You Will in the Classroom
A classroom can’t properly prepare you for what’s waiting for you out there. You learn by doing, not by watching somebody tell you how it’s done.
“I’m a 26 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 keep you ‘in the room.'”
You’ll Already Be About $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.
Degrees Are Becoming Less and Less Important to Employers
I’m just going to leave you with this sobering headline from three years ago: “Dear Class of 2012: Your Degree is Worthless Now Get to Work.”
There are plenty more just like it if you do a quick Google search. 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 2019.
We Live in a World Where You Can Monetize Your Regular Life
I started a successful media business six years ago with the only$2,000 I had to my name at the time, but I’ve also found ways to earn extra income, thanks in large part to the new “sharing economy” — the concept of sharing what you already have with others for a fee. For example, I rent out my condo in Manhattan on Airbnb. In turn, I was able to save enough money to purchase another home on the Jersey Shore which I also sometimes rent out to vacationers.
What I’m getting at here is that there are lots of great ways to make money these days using the resources you already have — like loaning out your home; your car; your personal belongings, like bikes and musical instruments; and more. You can be a dog sitter in your neighborhood, and you can sign up to be somebody’s buddy if you’ve got an outgoing personality.
All of this with no degree required.
Entrepreneurship Is a Personality Trait, Not 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’ll Use Very Little of What You Learn in College in Your Actual Career
Nobody has asked me to read Chaucer like I had to in college, I’ve never had to apply voting mathematics to anything, and I sure as hell haven’t slapped an oxygen tank to my back to dive for shipwrecks. (Because sharks!)
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, 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.
Do You Even Know Why You’re Going to College?
I leave you with fact-based research from Olenka Cullinan, CEO and founder of Rising Tycoons, an organization that helps teen leaders become successful:
- Many business concepts are perfected by practice, like speaking, negotiations, and calling for leads. While you can simulate these processes in college, they’ll never compare to the real experience.
- Humans create best out of a place of nothing (the “playing it all out” mentality) — think Tesla or Apple. College trains you for secure placement in your career and a safety zone.
- Most students go into college blindly, not knowing what they want to do. Most will change majors at least once. If time is money, it’s a waste of both.
- By the time they graduate with a career, 60% of U.S. college graduates cannot find a full-time job in their chosen profession.
With that I’ll simply say, wherever life takes you, be the best you can be.
Photo Credit: Chovee