Saturday, July 13, 2024

Do You Really Need A College Degree To Succeed In Life?

For many, a college degree or formal education can open closed doors. However, it may not be the only door leading to success and a fulfilling career. BillGates, MarkZuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and the list goes on. Yes, you guessed it right; all of these people are dropouts who made it big. Of course, it may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to get what you want in life. But does it indicate something? Let’s take a closer look. Education is no doubt the most important asset in a person’s life. It might be an essential factor that can help you sustain, if not thrive, in this ever-changing competitive world. But how exactly do we define education, and what in particular is success? It is a well-paying Harvard degree? Or is it the college degree that we spend all the money that we haven’t earned in the first place?  Is education merely good grades? Or perhaps it is the extra certifications or courses that we take on the side? Well, I guess none of these are. But merely holding a degree just doesn’t mean you are educated and may not necessarily lead you to a successful career path.

Education is the knowledge or skills you gain that ultimately help you achieve your goals and live the life you desire. Let’s examine what exactly your degree gives you and how far you are from the reality of making it big?

So, What Exactly Is A College Degree?

A university gives the degree is to the students acknowledging their credits in the given subject.

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Levels Of College Degrees

The most commonly pursued levels of a college degree are the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Levels Of College Degrees-alignthoughts

Level of College Degree Completion Time (If You Study Full-time) Prerequisite For This Level Of College Degree
Associate degree 2 years High school diploma or equivalent
Bachelor’s degree 4 years High school diploma or equivalent
Master’s degree 1-2 years Bachelor’s degree
Doctoral degree 2+ years Master’s degree

Some companies require a standard score of GPA for the students they hire.

Why Only A College Degree May Not Help You To Succeed In Life?


1. A College Degree Is Expensive

Many Students Go In Debt Before Even Starting Job!

In order to pursue a degree, students take loans and go into massive debt. The situation of student loans is awful, especially in the United States.

As per a 2018 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the total amount of student loan debt is $1.47 trillion, which exceeds credit card debt.

Many students are unsure if they would be able to pursue a job immediately after college. But having a student loan does more harm than good to those kinds of students.

So before you think about lending a student loan for getting a degree in college, plan out what you want to do in life. And to do that, do you even need a college degree? Analyze, and you will come up with an answer.

For instance, you need not necessarily be an MBA graduate to learn about management. Management is a skill that you need to learn in real-time. So instead of trying to take huge student loans for a college degree, think outside the box.

2. A Piece Of Paper Depicting Your Grades Merely

When you don’t have an interest in the subject you pursue, a degree can merely be a piece of paper telling what you did in your exam. But what companies and recruiters tend to look for is what you did in the whole span of your degree, what were you as a person in those 3 or 4 years.

  • What actually you can do and manage?
  • What worth are you for their company?
  • Can you bring new ideas to the team?
  • Are you a problem solver in the real world?

So, again two different corners.

3. A College Degree Is Not A Guarantee For Your Skills

Having a degree doesn’t mean that a person is skilled. If degrees would have been the only proof for skill and talent, then ‘probably we would have never heard about Facebook or Apple.’

Because college dropouts created both these big giant companies, they didn’t have a degree but still made a life – And a really GRAND LIFE at that. But what Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs had at that time were skills, perseverance, and passion.

We call it the SPP (skills, perseverance, and passion) formula for success.

These things don’t come with a degree but with education and implementation of that education. They were just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Also, at a private university in the US, a graduate can be tagged for a total of $168,000 for four years of education. Being said that, sometimes it may not bring back so much worth to your own self and just turns you into yet another sheep in the flock.

4. College Graduates Are Just A Clone For Corporates

Earlier it was considered that if you have graduated from college with a high enough CGPA and have joined a few groups, you would be the perfect choice for employers.

But the scenario is quite different today, with multiple candidates with the same skill set coming into the picture. If you don’t have the real-world skills and do not outstand, your degree just turns you into one of the several corporate clones. This means these corporate companies hold the power to choose if you are capable or not. And they can easily replace you with someone with a similar profile. So are you really happy just being a clone like all other students in your college?

So, again the reality is highly different. Also, a typical 9 to 5 job does not make you stand out of the crowd. Really it doesn’t! It is yet another challenge to overcome all the problems you face in the corporate world. Politics is one of the problems. There are quite many things you need to consider before hitting a job in corporate culture.

5. A Degree May Necessarily Not Show Your ‘X-Factor.’

You read it right- “X-Factor.”

As told earlier, a degree is just a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers or grades printed on them. These don’t show that you have the X-Factor, which recruiters constantly sought after.

Are you someone who can handle a crowd easily while placing your point?

None of these qualities are described in your degree so having a degree hardly matters if you are skilled enough to showcase your talent.

According to the US News, all these factors justify the decreasing number of students with degrees in the US.

Real-World Skills That Can Help You Be Successful


Real-Life Examples That Shows You Don’t Need  To Attend College To Be Successful


Still don’t believe us that college degrees are not a one-way ticket to success? Here are a few things that can boost your chances of being successful even without holding a college degree.

1. Make Online Learning Your Best Friend

Long gone are days when we had to wait to go to schools and colleges to learn. With the digital age we are currently living in, information is literally at the tips of our fingers, making it easier for people to access information without any geographical limitations.

If you want to be successful in the future without relying on a college degree, you must make online learning your best friend.

Whether it is a management skill you want to learn or the top leadership skills, online education is hands down the best resource.

Here are the top online learning websites that provide world-class learning experiences at free to minimal cost:

2. Start A Project Or A Side Hustle

Working on your personal projects during the initial years sets you apart from those who spent their nights slogging to get marks.

In the real world, recruiters prefer candidates with experience. As much as it sounds harsh for freshers with no prior experience, having a few internships or job skills under your sleeves helps a lot during the hiring process.

So, don’t hold yourself back from starting your own project or a small side hustle business before you step foot in the world of jobs. There are countless ideas to start an online business today, even if you have little to no knowledge about entrepreneurship.

3. Start A Consulting Biz

As per the statistics, the size of consulting market in the United States was valued at 64.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

If you feel you have a skill and it can solve a problem, don’t wait to start providing consultations. If you genuinely believe your skills can solve problems and help your clients attain their professional goals, capitalize on those skills as soon as you can.

The sooner you start, the better the chances of you being successful irrespective of having a college degree or not.

On The Flip Side, What Are The Benefits Of College Education?

Although college is not necessary for guaranteed success in the future for everyone, it does open multiple avenues for students on the flip side.

For instance, students graduating from ivy league colleges like Harvard University get better exposure to excellent opportunities than at a regular university.

Also, a college education is a must for people who want to opt for professions like:
  • Teaching
  • Medical
  • Lawyer
  • Chartered Accountant
  • Company Secretary
  • Cost Accountant
  • Psychologist

Talking about the benefits of college education, here are some top advantages:

  • According to reports, 65% of the total employment is helped by postgraduates.
  • A person with post-secondary education has better chances of getting into STEM, Healthcare Professions, Healthcare Support, and Community Services.
  • As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, better education is directly linked with better pay.
  • Another research finding from Pew Research Center shows that only six percent of them live under the poverty line for people with a college degree. On the contrary, people without a college education contribute to 22% living below the poverty line.

Final  Thoughts – What Actually Makes You Different Other Than A College Degree?

If you want to experience real success, then instead of blindly running after a degree, try to do something out of the box. That can actually raise your value and get you noticed.

At the end of the day, it’s not the certifications or degrees that add power to your knowledge base, but it’s the true potential and real-world skill that one has.

So before you step into investing time and money for a college degree, give it a second thought and analyze what fits you the best. Spend time learning yourself and your interests and keep working on it. You are not born to strike off a life checklist, to complete school, join a university, get a job, and die someday. Rethink and re-evaluate!

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Key Takeaways On Being Successful Without College Degree

  • Holding a college degree doesn’t guarantee a successful future.
  • A college degree is nothing but a written proof that the university gives to the students for acknowledging their credits in the given subject.
  • Furthermore, the most sought-after college degree levels are the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
  • The first, foremost reason for a college degree not being enough is because they are super expensive.
  • Another reason shows that employers mostly prefer graduates with practical experience like internships, jobs, and volunteering.
  • People like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are real examples that you don’t need college degrees to be successful.
  • A college degree doesn’t show that you have the X-Factor, which recruiters constantly sought after.
  • Moreover, people can do a few things that can increase their chances of leading a successful life irrespective of a college degree.
  • It is necessary to embrace the power of online learning apart from a college degree if you want to be successful in the future.
  • Furthermore, invest your time in the initial years on working on your personal projects or starting a side hustle business.
  • And lastly, if you have skills that can solve real-world problems, monetize them.

Who are some successful people without a college degree?

  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
  • Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple
  • Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of OYO Rooms
  • Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft
  • Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter Inc.
  • Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp

Do you need a college degree?

College degrees are a must for the following professions:

  • Teachers
  • Doctors
  • Lawyer
  • Chartered Accountant
  • Company Secretary
  • Cost Accountant
  • Psychologist

How to be successful without a college degree?

  • Make lifelong learning your best friend.
  • Start a side hustle business and learn in real-time.
  • Venture into the consulting market by solving problems with the skills you have.

Before you go, read this: Life Skills Every One Must Learn To Be Successful.

Kanika Gautam
Kanika Gautam
Kanika is an enthusiastic writer and blogger. She shares her thoughts mainly about positive parenting and workplace trends. She is also a technologist, speaker, educator, writer, and online entrepreneur.

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