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College Degree to be Successful

Do You Need a College Degree to be Successful?

With potential loan debts and tuition costs rising every year, it’s no wonder half the millennial population is asking: do you need a college degree to be successful? The answer isn’t simple. There is no definitive proof that a degree can secure you the job of your dreams or lead to the ultimate “success” (especially because success is in the eye of the beholder). One person’s idea of being successful may be different to another’s. But, for now, lets assume that it means you have effectively climbed to the top of your field and earn a reasonably high salary.

A career prerequisite

Before considering whether you wish to attend college, you may want to reflect on what you have a real passion for. This is almost always the thing you will excel at. From there, you should surmise whether a degree is necessary in order to enter this vocation. For many industries, a degree isn’t a prerequisite for an entry-level position. In such circumstances, some students may feel a degree would simply postpone any possible opportunities. However, a degree may be an absolute must for certain fields—the obvious ones being medicine, the sciences, engineering and architecture.

Having realistic expectations is important at this stage of your decision-making. This is not to say don’t aim high, but be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. If your objectives are ambitious, devise a plausible plan that will make your dreams a reality. You may aspire to be a professional swimmer, but you should appreciate that this profession may be slightly out of reach. Instead, becoming the best swimming instructor in the region may be more achievable. Identifying a suitable location with a gap in the market may facilitate you founding a swimming school, which could even lead to a franchise.

What’s it worth?

There are various elements that can determine the value of your college degree: the amount you will ultimately pay to attend, your desired career path and your post-graduation living situation—each can contribute to its worth. One way to determine whether your college costs will stack up against your potential income is to use the Major ROI tool on the Discover Student Loans’ website. The website covers the potential average salary for different subject majors. For industries with six figure salaries, you can afford to pay for a more expensive institution. If the rewards are low, you may wish to consider a more economic method for achieving your goals.

Let’s not forget that financial aid is still available in the form of scholarships for those who need help with offsetting the cost of a college degree. Community colleges and state universities are also options that shouldn’t be cast aside. Both can provide quality educational courses for people with a subject or occupation in mind.

Pro college degree

  • Shows passion and dedication to the field you are applying for.
  • Prepares individuals for the workplace by developing independence, introducing important connections and improving social skills.
  • Provides resources that students can tap into for in-depth insight into various topics—experienced lecturers stand as a fountain of knowledge and expertise.
  • A college degree has become the standard for which many candidates are measured—mostly due to the imbalance of the job-to-candidate ratio.
  • According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2016, earning potential and educational attainment are directly related; lower earners had completed fewer levels of academia in every category.

Pro no college degree

  • Free from debt and tuition fees.
  • Internship and apprenticeship programs can introduce young people into the workplace—securing such a position doesn’t necessarily require a college degree to be successful.
  • Fostering ambition and making valuable business connections is possible via websites such as LinkedIn and Quora.
  • Online courses and certifications provide useful self-educational tools, providing knowledge needed for the workplace or specific industry.
  • The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey 2017 reported that business owners without a four-year degree far outnumber those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

What the experts say

Several famous personalities have managed to prosper without the help of a college degree; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel and Steve Jobs, to name a few. This adheres with the data produced by the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey from 2017. It found that entrepreneurs who didn’t finish or attend college outnumbered those with higher-level degrees across both genders and every age group apart from the over 65s. However, all business owners who had skipped higher level education all shared common personality traits: each had a distinct attitude of independence, determination, a great idea and the willingness to take risks.

Jacqueline Gold, founder of the Ann Summers adult retail empire is another example of a self-made businesswoman, who climbed her way to the top without a degree. “I was acutely aware when I started Ann Summers Party Plan that I had no formal business training, but what started out as a disadvantage actually turned into one of my biggest advantages. I had to rely entirely on listening to customer feedback, which led to the rapid growth of Party Plan turning over £86,000 in its first year.” While Gold believes that college is undeniably beneficial, she also champions those that follow alternative paths. “I’m excited that there are individuals that want to do something different and create their own career and get straight in to the work place.”

On the topic, Chuck Runyon—co-founder of the 24-hour gym chain Anytime Fitness—commented: “If you want to get out of college and try to hustle, it still requires a great deal of capacity.” Runyon decided to leave college after he identified a gap in the market for a gym that was always open, one whose equipment focused solely on what was most frequently used by members. “I want to make it clear: you have to work every bit as hard, if not harder.”

The brain behind Microsoft, Bill Gates, agreed with Runyon’s sentiments. In a blog post in 2015, Gates said, “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.” While the majority of successful entrepreneurs show that college degrees aren’t the only way to succeed in life, none seem to show a dislike for higher education, either.

Whether you decide to get a college degree or jump straight into work, it is clear that the key to succeed in life is to aim high, work your hardest, take risks, stretch your creativity, and—no matter what—follow your dreams.

Further reading: Free Courses to Boost Your Resume

Free Courses to Boost Your Resume

Free Courses to Boost Your Resume

Job searching with a skeletal resume is hard. We’ve searched the web for some highly reputable and FREE courses that will give you the up-to-date and relevant skills you need to navigate today’s job market. Not only this, these courses will boost your resume, making you a valuable asset to companies on the lookout for grads.

Coding

Know your HTML from your Java? If you are looking to work in an industry that is tech-driven, then coding is a valuable asset to add to your resume. Codecademy.com offers a free course for beginners looking to get a basic understanding of coding and web development using HTML and CSS language. Alongside 4.5 million online students, you can crack the fundamentals of coding over 12 sessions.

Social Media

Businesses use social media to connect and communicate with their customer base. It’s also how they advertise, market their product or service and increase website traffic; nowadays, professional experience with social media is becoming increasingly important to hiring managers. While we all tinker around on our personal social media platforms every day, using it in a business environment is slightly different. Buffer.com offers a free email course that gives 25 daily “lessons” in under 10 minutes. Understand social media algorithms, brand-building and content creation to attract audiences.

SEO

SEO—or search engine optimization—is the act of optimizing website content to increase traffic and visibility. This competancy is vital for a wide range of industries from publishing to retail and it’s a nifty skill to help you brand yourself, too. Boost your resume and learn SEO with udemy.com in their free online course SEO Tutorial for Beginners. In this introduction you will learn keyword research, on page and off page optimization and you’ll receive a certificate of completion at the end.

Learn German

Knowing multiple languages comes high on an employer’s list of desirable skills, and is especially valuable in international businesses. For example, did you know that Germany is one of the largest trading partners with the US? The ability to communicate effectively with your prospective employer’s partners may just push you ahead in the resume que. Learn German with duolingo.com for free in just five minutes a day with their fun and accessible game-like lessons. The website also offers bite-size lessons covering a wide range of other languages including Spanish, Italian and Dutch.

Photoshop

For most creative industries, basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop is vital. Thankfully, the creators of Photoshop (and other useful design applications including InDesign and Illustrator) teach beginners the rudimentary principles of the software with useful videos and (you guessed it) it doesn’t cost a penny. This free course to boost your resume can be completed in little over five hours over at adobeknowhow.com.

Further reading: How to Land a Job after College

Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

As if searching for a job isn’t difficult enough, the most dreaded part of an application after writing a resume is writing the perfect cover letter. While it can be tedious, writing the perfect cover letter is also a very overlooked opportunity to show your prospective employer why you are perfect for a position.

No Experience?

If you’re a recent graduate, you may not have much real life work experience for the position you are applying for. The perfect cover letter gives you the opportunity to explain your passion for the industry in question and to further detail some of the experience that you may not have included in your resume. For instance, I volunteered at SAG Bookpals where I read to underprivileged children in South Central Los Angeles and recently applied for a position with a church where I would be overseeing the youth program. It would behoove me to mention this experience in my cover letter. Volunteer work shows employers that you have passion and compassion. Steer clear of including experience that is not relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for an internship at the William Morris Agency where you will be working in the mail room, for example, I wouldn’t mention my aspirations of being a filmmaker and my dreams of taking over Hollywood. I would instead stick to soft skills like strong attention to detail and my organizational ability evidenced in my stamp collection which consists of over 2,000 rare stamps that are all in mint condition—if you’re that way inclined!

While some HR managers may not be impressed with volunteer work or your hobbies they may be looking for evidence that you can do the job at hand. If the job requires writing, then mention your writing ability. Maybe this is the time to mention that you wrote for the school paper or that you published an award-winning article that was later picked up by a national publication. If the job requires handling social media, mention that you are familiar with Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook.

Honesty

Be honest when writing the perfect cover letter. You have to know yourself and what attributes that you have that would be good for the position to benefit both you and your future employer. Spending time on a job application is a time to really take into account if you’re the right fit for a position. Some places are not the right fit for you and that is an inevitability. I recently applied for a position and interviewed but the employees seemed depressed and stressed out. While another position I applied for in the same field the employees were happy and upbeat and seemed to enjoy working for the company. These are all important factors to think about. Research the company and use the cover letter to discuss of what kind of environment you would like to work in.

The most important thing that I think that makes a successful cover letter is that it shows your personality and what you can bring to the position you are applying for. So often when applying for a job, we recount our qualifications and experiences but leave the most important part out of the letter: This is who you are and what separates you from the other candidates for the position.

Don’t get weighed down by the formality of the job process that you leave any hint of you out of your cover letter. If you want to find the perfect job, you’re not going to get it pretending to be someone else. This is why so many adults are miserable at the jobs they have. Find your passion.

Ask for help

If you need assistance writing a cover letter, visit your career center at school for some guidance. Your local public library may have some resources that can demonstrate how to write the perfect cover letter. Remember that practice makes perfect. I look at it as something that could possibly sway you being hired for a position but not the end all and be all. Finding a job is about numbers. The more positions you apply for, the more likely you’re going to get an interview—so get writing that perfect cover letter!

Further reading: Nail a Successful Job Interview