Do I need college to be successful? That’s a common question these days due to so many factors. Factors I want to talk about so that you can make the best decision for your own circumstances.
Firstly, let me say that I’ll always recommend any post-secondary education if desired or needed for certain professions. My generation grew up being told you can’t get a decent job unless you go. And in some instances, that is still true. Think about medical professions. I don’t think you’d trust your health to anyone who didn’t have their medical degrees.
We must also remember that the style of teaching, the cost, and the time needed to get a college or university education isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. Many of these aspects prevent students from attending.
But there are also many successful people who didn’t go to college or university. Or many who started in one, but got disenchanted and dropped out. Maybe you have difficulty learning in a classroom setting?
I know everyone points to people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. And granted, some of our most brilliant minds never got a degree of any kind. But those people are the exceptions. I’m talking about you and me. People of all races and backgrounds who either can’t afford or simply don’t want to go to college.
In this article, I’d like to show you some statistics both for and against college attendance, as well as alternatives for achieving success, and my personal recommendation, OK?
If you would like to jump ahead and see where I gained success without a college degree, click here.
Statistics in favour of College
I will use statistics from 2017 USA simply because they were more readily available. The stats for the country you live in will be different, I’m sure.
- Students often worry about finding a job after college, but according to the US Department of Labor:
- 66.7% of graduated high school students enrolled in college or university.
- 77.6% of those with bachelor degrees were employed
So no need to worry. A high percentage of college or university graduates are employed.
- The average wage granted to a graduate of higher education increases with each level of degree attained.
Below, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics sites these incomes per level of education…
The picture above shows us that a person with their high school diploma would make an average of $37,024/year. The person with a bachelors degree would make $60,996/year. That’s almost $24,000 more per year and about $960,000 over a lifetime (40 years). That’s a significant difference.
- Unemployment statistics favour those who have college degrees:
- 2.5% unemployment for those with a bachelors degree or more
- 3.8% unemployment for those with some college
- 5.3% unemployment for those with a high school diploma
- 7.7% unemployment for high school dropouts
As you can see, there are higher rates of unemployment for those who don’t have any formal post-secondary education.
- Other reason to go to college could be for playing sports. If you’re an especially gifted athlete, you could be picked out by a college scout to play for their college team. And the best part is having all or part of your education paid for you.
- As a college graduate, you would have more job choice than someone without their degree. Even if you choose another profession entirely, prospective employers might favour someone with a degree to someone without.
So technically, it’s still in a person’s best interest to go to college or university if you desire a specific job that requires this education, along with a higher income.
Now let’s take a look at the negative side.
Statistics Not In Favour of College
- Let’s start with the most obvious… cost. Over the decades, education costs have sky-rocketed. 163% to be exact.
According to Trends in College Pricing 2017 Report, a student in a public 4-year school paid an average of:
- $3,190 in tuition for the year 1987-1988 (reflected in 2017 dollars)
- $9,970 in tuition for the year 2017-2018
That’s a 213% increase in only 20 years.
For a student in a private 4-year institution paid an average of:
- $15,160 in tuition for the year 1987-1988 (reflected in 2017 dollars)
- $34,740 in tuition for the year 2017-2018
That’s a 129% increase in 20 years.
This is the biggest reason why students choose not to attend college. The costs are just too high. You could get student loans of course, but then you’re starting out in life under a huge amount of debt. Speaking of student loans…
- US student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category at 1.3 trillion dollars, behind mortgage debt. Can you imagine? Even ahead of credit card and car loan debt.
So let’s put this in perspective. According to College Board, your average cost of college tuition per year can run between $8893 – $30,094. That’s only tuition, not room and board, or books. That could run another average of $10,000/year. In the end, a 4-year college education could cost you $80,000 to $160,000.
Assuming most of this is in student loans, your looking at a monthly payment of approximately $920 – $1840 for 10 years.
Is it any wonder students are moving back home after college? Who can survive with this payment on top of living expenses on their first job’s paycheck?
Did you know that this debt cannot be expunged by bankruptcy? Individuals and corporations can go bankrupt, but not student loans. You have no choice but to pay this off.
- Many college grads are underemployed, meaning they aren’t working in their field of choice and working a job that doesn’t require a college degree.
As you can see, these percentages haven’t changed much in the past 27 years. The number of underemployed grads remains about the same.
And despite a grad’s wages being better than one without a degree, this too hasn’t changed much since 2010 either.
This is somewhat disturbing. The average wage for college graduates remains about the same, yet the tuition cost is rising sharply. Your ROI (return on investment) drops every year you attend.
- After spending thousands and thousands of dollars on your degree, you graduate only to find that the material you were taught is already obsolete. This type of situation is common in the computer sciences and IT programs. The rate at which technology is changing is dramatic. Sometimes from month to month, let along over a 4-year college program.
The in-demand and high paying jobs require skills that colleges can’t keep up with. These new skills change too frequently for college courses to update.
- As a college grad myself, I found that you enter the work world with book smarts, but not street smarts. What I mean by this, is the skills to perform the tasks on the job description.
Sure, you learn all the knowledge about your chosen field, but usually not how to apply it in a practical setting. Though most grads expect on-the-job training from their employers, most employers don’t want to spend time and resources training their new employees. They expect them to be ready to go!
Alternatives To A College Education
Not everyone has the financial ability to go to college. For some, it may not be financial, but a multitude of other reasons.
And then there are those who couldn’t or chose not to finish high school. But life isn’t over for these people. In fact, college is necessary for success. It didn’t slow them down at all.
Take a peek at this video about 10 of the richest high school dropouts.
These people had exceptional talent, as well as gumption and, dare I say, luck. Most aren’t that fortunate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful without a college degree. On the contrary, there are many alternatives for succeeding without college.
- How about a trade school? This type of apprenticeship training is desired by many employers. Often times, there aren’t enough qualified tradespeople, so the wages can be quite high for someone with their journeyman ticket.
A big advantage to trade schools is that there is often no high school diploma prerequisite. At least here in Canada, lol. Many of the programs will accept a minimum of high school subjects.
If you’re just starting out, most programs, whether plumbing, welding, electrical etc., have you work for a set number of hours before you’re qualified for schooling.
So if it’s a 4-year program to obtain your journeyman ticket, you would work x-amount of hours, then take classes for a couple months, each year. Your wages go up with each year completed.
The advantage to a trade school is the cost. Here, in Alberta, Canada, you can become a plumber for the total four-year cost of $6275 at the Northern Institute of Technology That’s less than just one year of college tuition!
- Do you have a natural skill such as photography or art? If you can produce something amazing, someone out there will want to hire you. And no formal education needed.
For instance, after raising my children, I had no desire to return to my college trained profession. But I did enjoy the arts. My first was in sewing. No formal education, but being self-taught, I designed everything from children’s clothes to wedding dresses. I was able to acquire a lot of work this way.
My second passion was painting and was hired by many studios as an instructor. I eventually started my own studio and ran my own business.
If your passion is make-up, or movies, or anything how-to, you can build yourself up as a brand and have your videos go viral on YouTube. There are thousands of people making up to millions of dollars this way. So if you have the ability to inform and entertain, this media age is just for you.
- How about investing in real estate? This doesn’t require a degree. If you’re interested in building up a portfolio of investment properties without a large up-front investment, check out RealtyMogul.com. You can start investing with as little as $1000.
This is a crowdfunding platform that connects investors with real estate companies that need capital. Everything is done online, then all you do is access the investor dashboard and watch your money at work.
If you are handy by nature, you might enjoy flipping properties for profit, or possibly buy rental properties. This is also an excellent way to build up your investment income for something bigger and better later.
- Did you know that online training can turn you into an expert? The days before the internet, you had no choice but to go to school to learn a certain skill. But now, you can learn almost anything online. (OK, still not for medicine, lol).
There are many colleges and universities that offer their degree programs online if it’s not a financial issue stopping you, but a location issue. But for those who are looking to learn skills for very little money, there are plenty of online courses in many areas of interest.
For instance, if you want to learn how to code, Codecademy.com offers many online courses. You can sign up for a free 7 Day “Pro” account, which reverts to the free membership if you don’t upgrade.
Upgrading to Pro costs $19.99/month with a 10% savings if you pay every six months, or 20% savings if you pay once a year. At most your cost would be $239.88 per year.
You can learn semi-professional to professional level skills using inexpensive to free platforms such as:
- Udemy.com, and many others.
Learning new skills brings value to your resume. Because many college graduates come out of school without practical skills, this is where you can shine.
Many employers today care about value. They expect value for the wages they are willing to pay employees. They may appreciate the fancy private school education, but when it comes down to it if you can show them value with a diverse amount of skills, you can, and will, beat the competition.
- How about starting your own online business? Thanks to the internet and today’s technology, building your own business is easier and cheaper than ever before.
Becoming an internet entrepreneur is easily obtainable for even those with no online experience. Website building tools are plentiful and free. For just a few dollars a month for your domain name and hosting platform, you’re ready to go.
Building up your business and obtaining traffic will take some time to learn, but there are plenty of online courses to teach you the ropes.
Today’s internet reach is vast with over half the world’s population online. And it’s never been a better time to start an online business. This type of business gives you both freedom to work anywhere, and the ability to make passive income.
If you would like to earn a college-style education for building and promoting your own online business, I have the best place for you to learn how. This is an all-in-one platform that shows you how to build and grow your business, every step of the way.
For a few dollars a month, you get the best, updated and easy to follow training, a website, domain name and hosting. It also includes all the tools you’ll need to build your success online.
There’s nothing else like it online. And certainly not for the price. In fact, you can start with their free starter membership which includes 2 free websites. This way you can test drive the platform to see if you like it.
If you choose the premium membership, the cost of EVERYTHING is equal or less than just a domain name and hosting elsewhere. Now that’s value.
I can honestly say it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I can now earn an income through my own business, without the heavy cost of offline education. And I can work from home, or anywhere there’s an internet connection. And my audience is global. It’s fabulous!
If you’d like to read a thorough review of this platform, please click the picture below.
Are you someone who just can’t afford college, or maybe just can’t justify the cost for 4 years of your life (or more)? Or maybe you have difficulties learning in a classroom setting? You’re not alone, believe me. But there are excellent alternatives for you. Which would you choose?
Please let me know in the comments below. And if you have any questions, I’ll get right back to you.
Please share this post with your friends too!
10 thoughts on “Do I Need College To Be Successful? Not Necessarily…”
Great post, Suzanne!
It’s true that you don’t need a college education these days.
It DOES help at times and is also necessary for certain professions, but it almost doesn’t pay off considering the tuition costs. Especially if you’re an older adult wanting to return to college. Forget it if you’re returning solely for monetary reasons.
My son is one of those who didn’t finish high school and yet has become very successful. He has a high aptitude mechanically so he started a commercial handyman business. He remodels commercial outlets for clients such as Steve Madden Shoes and Saks 5th Avenue. He makes almost $300,000 per year!
Like you said, with the internet, there are opportunities to learn other skills to help you become successful in life. That’s actually what I’m trying to do right now through your #1 Recommendation mentioned above.
Very informative post! You can tell you did a lot of research for this one. Thanks for the info!
Thanks, Donnie, for your comment.
It’s so true. Just because you didn’t get a secondary education, or even finished high school… anyone can succeed in life if you have a vision. All you need is to work hard at what you love, use the technology around you, and look at what your son accomplished.
My son didn’t finish high school either but was able to be successful with his choices as well. He always had a great aptitude with computers, and now, later in life, is getting his IT certifications and loving his successes.
What nice about Wealthy Affiliate (my #1 recommendation..lol), is that you don’t even need experience to be an online marketer. If you have a passion, you can turn it into a profitable business. And with a top-notch education that won’t bankrupt you. In fact, you can start for free!
You made such a great point. If we are looking for a way to enhance our life, learn loads and meet people. We no longer have to attend University.
We can indeed grow a life that is self-started by learning how to use technology and online marketing. It’s a huge field that has unlimited potential.
So glad you did this article,
In peace and gratitude,
Hi Ariel, and thanks for your comment.
Yes, there are lots of ways to get an education, other than college or university. And there are many less expensive ways too. I’m not saying a college education isn’t needed for many professions, but the alternatives can be really exciting.
I wish I had learned about online marketing years ago. It’s such a lucrative business, that offers flexibility and freedom.
There are definitely too many young people strapped with years of student loan debt and a degree that’s only worth $30K per year. I don’t regret my college days but I only had 10,000 to pay back. Times have changed. I wonder if technology will make Universities obsolete one day? Food for thought.
I know eh! When I went to college, about a 100 years ago, lol, it was just a few thousand. I can’t believe what they have to pay now. And you’re right, their income doesn’t justify the cost.
Your food for thought is very interesting. You’ve got to wonder when these schools will drive themselves right out of business.
Thanks for commenting,
Thank you for your thought-provoking article. Yes, there are many alternative ways to succeed in life apart from achieving a degree or diploma.
One thing you should mention about plumbers is that they receive on average about twice the annual income that most professionals do. At least that’s the case here in Australia.
I agree with you that the internet is possibly the best tool to use in order to gain an education or to start a successful business. One only has to look at the names of those that ‘made it’ in this world using the net.
Your video was most informative. I hadn’t heard of most of those names, except for Foreman and Branson, but there’s no doubt they did well without an education.
Thank you for your well written and informative post.
Thanks, Jim, for your comment.
Yes, you’re so right. Some of these tradesmen are making $60 – $80 per hour with their journeyman ticket.
I believe anyone can become successful online if they have the desire to work hard and be persistent. It’s worth it, in the end, to create a passive income for your future. That’s my goal, to create several passive income streams to help with retirement.
Not everyone will be as rich as the Foreman’s and Branson’s, but you can sure earn enough to live comfortably with no worries.
Lots of information that is really helpful and informative.
Easy to read, the layout is easy on the eyes.
And I learned a lot reading about tuition cost.
Thanks, Rudolf, I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to tuition fees. They can be so outrageous, it prevents most people from even considering college.
Thankfully, there are many alternatives which can still make you a really good living. Personally, I recommend online marketing because it’s working so well for me, lol. The fact that I can work from anywhere is such a blessing. I have more time with my grandchildren which is great!
With the number of people online, and the amount of shopping, learning, researching, etc. that’s available, it’s only going to become more and more important to our futures. Now’s the time to jump in!