Success is Possible without a Degree

My time and experience at Texas Tech University was the most enlightening and eye opening period of my life as I learned to think deeper and for myself.   I was fortunate enough to have a stellar retail job I loved throughout my college career so that once I graduated (although I didn’t land one local job offer as a teacher) I was able to walk straight into a full time management position in retail. That was more than I could sadly say for a good number of my classmates that walked the stage with me, who still continue to struggle finding work in their field six years later. 8.5% of college graduates are unemployed, and they make up 40% of the unemployment line.  This number does not account for the astronomical amount that wait tables and stock shelves until they hit their big break in their specialized degree.

Another fortunate aspect was that my college was funded by the Texas Tomorrow Fund leaving me with absolutely no debt while many of my peers are still burdened with the average $33,000 in student loan debt that only continues to accumulate with interest.

Enrollment is down 10% at the University level as high school graduates are taking more time to themselves, or taking jobs right out of the gate. Perhaps a part of their hesitations are watching the classes that have come before them end up on the unemployment line harboring a insurmountable amount of debt. Perhaps they are discovering there are routes in life outside of college.

I remember once writing an article for the Jr. High School newspaper on the birth of The Beatles. My social studies teacher came in with great delight thanking me for such a great article, and how she wanted me to continue a series on other great people who went on to achieve great things without attending college; I thought she was crazy. What was the likelihood any of my classmates in such a small town would achieve stardom? How was any normal person supposed to achieve greatness without a higher education?  It had only been shoved down my throat since before I could spell my own name.

The indoctrination of the necessity of a University level education didn’t really hit me until I recently became a part of a non-profit start up that aims to help women achieve their GED’s. “But then what?” I asked my friend.

“Then they have a GED.”

“But what will they do with that GED? What’s their next step?”

“Oh”, my friend sat for a moment in silence.

“How about we help them on a career path? Let them know there are options outside of an astronomically expensive degree.”…Maybe it’s time as a country to educate students on their options outside of the university.

14 thoughts on “Success is Possible without a Degree

  1. I got a degree in accounting, but not long after I abandoned it in favor of IT work. Now I’m a network administrator. I was mostly self-taught in the field and had no certifications or degree to say I actually knew my stuff. I was blessed with an opportunity to work with a local IT contractor who gave me a couple of days chance to work with him and show what I knew. Through working for that company I learned so much I was able to move up the ladder. So technically I have a degree, but I never used it. 🙂

    There are tons of technical and skilled trades that may not be glamorous but someone can be very successful in, with learning paths that don’t include a college degree. We need to do better as a society encouraging and developing those skills too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are a poster board of achievement! (even if you have a degree ;)) I was infuriated when the school I was teaching at cancelled all technical job prep courses, wanting the focus to be on university. 😦 It saddened me. What’s wrong with working with your hands??


      1. Exactly! The world is always going to need mechanics and plumbers and carpenters and electricians and so on and so forth. And there’s good money in those trades if you know your stuff, have a little business sense, and build trust with customers.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Would be nice if we brought manufacturing back to this country given that not all work requires degrees. The other thing I have noticed is that many of my tech friends are self-taught, and only got degrees for jobs. They had the knowledge well before their degrees, and used their company’s tuition reimbursement programs to get their degrees in order to advance. To them, the requirement of the degree for those positions was a waste of the company’s money because they had the knowledge and ability prior to the degree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, most careers can happen without a degree…even those that “require” a degree. So long as you can find the opportunity to prove yourself the strong employee than anyone could find success, no matter their previous education.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Provided you are not artificially capped by policy. I’ve been in situation where my immediate supervisors ran into HR issues and had to go over them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My husband’s father is CIO of a major multibillion dollar oil company, and if I’m not mistaken he only has his GED. He got his start climbing and installing phone towers. Many policy barriers broken there. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It can happen. My rise at one of my previous jobs broke all the rules, but I just kept showing everyone how I was the best person for that job. Shame it closed, I loved working there. Although, I suppose I would’ve gotten sick and would have had to leave anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t be sad about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog today! This is what I tell my teens and other parents all the time, college does not automatically mean job security. Unless you are passionate about going into a field that requires a degree you might want to reconsider getting into the debt. I shared your post on Twitter. Nice to meet you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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