Success is one of those things that doesn’t necessarily have a set recipe. While there are things that we can all do to increase our chances of being successful, success itself looks different for everybody. What I might define as being successful probably isn’t going to be how you would define success. And what you define as being successful probably isn’t going to be how others would define success either.
One of the common things that we are told we need in order to be successful is an education. Getting an education will lead to an increase in knowledge, and knowledge is power.
But education is just like success. It’s not going to look the same for two different people. I can tell you that there were many individuals that I went to school with who took away far more than I did. There are also individuals that I went to school with who took away far less. While education itself is an important part of being successful, it’s also important to realize that education looks different for everybody.
Do You Need A College Degree To Be Successful?
I attended many different colleges and universities during my late teens and early twenties. As my mental health was constantly fluctuating, fitting in and feeling like I had a place to call home was an incredibly difficult challenge for me. After enrolling in my third school in two and a half years, I finally found my fit. Even then, I still went to a few other schools to take credits and transfer them back in. After all that time, I now find myself working for a university.
The point is, I have been around education, and higher education more specifically, for a good portion of my life.
I was always raised on the belief that school was important. My parents made no mistake in letting me know that college wasn’t really a choice, but rather a must. If I refused to go to college, then I would be on my own at the age of 18.
To be honest, I am incredibly thankful that they did. I am incredibly thankful that my parents essentially forced me to go to college to continue my education.
To be fair though, I don’t personally believe that everybody needs a college degree to be successful. Not everybody even needs a diploma to be successful. There are plenty of individuals who have achieved what I perceive to be enormously large amounts of success and have done so on very little schooling.
Successful Individuals With Little Schooling
Despite what society tells you, some of the people that you and I look up to the most have achieved their success with very little schooling. Some of them are running companies that you and I use on a daily basis. How? Because school doesn’t always teach you the most valuable lesson in life, and that is hard work.
Here are some of those who we admire who have achieved success without earning a college degree.
Okay, it’s no secret that Zuckerberg went to Harvard, but he didn’t graduate. In fact, he only attended Harvard for three semesters before dropping out to focus solely on Facebook. His decision to drop out during his sophomore year has helped to make him worth more than $74 billion.
Jobs is another college dropout who left school to focus on a company (this company is what we now know as Apple). Unlike Zuckerberg, Jobs didn’t attend Harvard. He studied at Reed College, and was only there for a fraction of the time. After just 6 months, Jobs decided to call it quits and pursue something that was a little more meaningful to him.
Henry Ford was born into poverty. At the time, those who were living in poverty were usually forced to work instead of going to school regardless of their age. Ford didn’t make it the age of 15 before he left school. Instead, he left school to focus on farming and on pursuing a strong affinity for machinery – a decision that would pay off in the long-run.
Thomas Edison went to school for even a lesser amount of time than Ford. America’s greatest inventor was seen as a difficult student to teach by one of his teachers in Port Huron, Michigan. As a result, his mother pulled him out of school after just 12 weeks and taught him on her own. By age 12, he was selling his own small newspaper to passengers along the Grand Trunk Railroad line, which he would call Grand Trunk Herald.
Why You May Not Benefit From A College Degree
College can be beneficial for some, but it isn’t going to be a fit for everybody. It doesn’t always increase one’s chances of making more money. It can help us to advance in our careers, but so too can hard work and dedication.
Another reason why you may not benefit from a college degree is because you are forced to make a decision with what it is that you want to be doing with your life before you graduate. Most of us graduate around the age of 22. How are we expected to know what area of our life we want to focus on when we have lived roughly only a quarter of it?
I graduated from college with a Bachelors in Exercise Science. The last job that I ever expect to have was one that was in higher education. School wasn’t my favorite thing, and to work for a university seemed out of the question.
Well, four years later, here we are. I am now working for a university and have never actually used my degree for any job purposes. While having a degree may look good, I am working in higher education and not even all of my co-workers have a bachelor’s.
What’s More Important Than School?
No, this isn’t meant to bash any type of education. School can be incredibly beneficial for some. I am just saying that it’s not going to benefit everyone. You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you how successful you have the potential to be. Success comes from how hard you work and the steps you take to achieve your goals.
What’s more important than school or getting a degree is our ability and desire to learn. Whatever it is that we want to achieve, whatever goals we have for ourselves, we should always have the desire to learn and increase our knowledge. While school provides some knowledge, it can’t provide all.
How do you learn more than what school can teach you? By being open and seeing the world around you. Everybody knows that knowledge is power, but knowledge doesn’t necessarily come from within the classroom. It comes from putting yourself out there, doing things that you are unfamiliar with, and embracing all that is around you. So while you may not need a college degree to be successful, you do need to desire to increase your knowledge. Without this desire, life will be stagnant, and that’s what is going to kill any and all lasting success.
A college degree isn’t for everyone. And it shouldn’t be. Choose what is going to make you happy, work hard, continue to learn and provide value, and you will find the success that you are seeking.