It seems these days you can’t enter a conversation without someone mentioning how a person left college to start their own business and are now on their track to becoming a billionaire. Of course, many of those dropout billionaires don’t fulfill on the promise as suggested by their innovative business or tech idea. But some do. And they are some of the richest people in the world.
That begs the question: do you need a college degree to be successful? We’re not talking dropout billionaire level of success. We’re talking about getting your GED and moving on to create something great with your life. But is it possible?
What Do Numbers Say?
Well, if you’d strictly listen to the numbers, they’d say that you have a higher chance of being successful if you have at least some college under your belt. Even a bachelor’s degree can mean an extra $1 million in earnings in your lifetime over what you’ve earned if you decided to go into business with a GED.
Of course, those statistics won’t say how much in debt your college degree will get you, or how big of a headstart you’ll have for learning some in-demand skills that college students simply never get the chance to learn. It’s a balancing act, after all, with both sides having their pros and cons.
And then there are the individuals who did wonders after dropping out of college. Those are your Steve Jobs’, Mark Zuckerbergs, and countless other successful and wealthy people who managed to achieve without having a formal education. Could you be one of them? Maybe. But do you have to? No, you don’t.
What’s Important to Learn About Academic Success
With time, the different ways we transferred knowledge have changed. Once, to learn stuff you had to find a master who’d take you on as an apprentice. The next iteration required you to enroll in an institution that would accept you if you meet certain criteria and give you access to knowledge. That’s very much the system we have now.
But we know today that this kind of system rubs some people the wrong way. It might not be agile enough, or it might not provide enough freedom and room for some early bloomers to succeed as early as they possibly can.
Not to mention that the same system is being slowly replaced by the open university that is the internet. The college diploma is slowly being replaced by a simple question: “what can you do?” It’s in that light that you can say that no, a college diploma is not a requirement for a successful career. And you still haven’t pulled out the heavy argument.
How Is Automation Changing the Workforce?
Automation will indeed make some of the manual work obsolete. It’s kinda been doing that for over a hundred years. But for the first time in our existence, we’re getting ready to delegate some of the brain-work to artificial intelligence.
Building a computer that can calculate incredibly quickly and reason based on input data suddenly seems more likely than building a robot who can do plumbing. So the final answer to the question of whether you need a college diploma to have a successful career is – it depends. But keep your eyes peeled, because things might change so quickly you’ll barely have enough time to notice.