There is the belief by many that a university education is the gateway ticket to a successful career as attaining a degree demonstrates to employers that you have been dedicated to a field of study for three to four years. Obtaining a university degree is undoubtedly a necessary rite of passage for individuals who want to pursue vocations such as medicine, teaching and engineering. However, higher education is certainly not for everyone, and there are other ways to have a successful career without attaining a bachelor’s degree.
Is a University Degree Worth It?
Many young people have started to look past some of the initial appeals university boasts such as £1 drinks in the student union, four-month summers and a fancy graduation ceremony as they learn some of the hard realities that come with succumbing to university.
Over the last few years, a strong correlation has emerged between higher education and poor mental health. College students are faced with many challenges while at university such as keeping afloat with coursework deadlines, maintaining a part-time job and figuring out what they want to do once they achieve the degree that caused them blood, sweat and tears.
A study by YouGov revealed that one in four undergraduates experience mental health issues during their studies.
The dawning reality of leaving the safety of university and being expected to navigate the real-world job market with little support and lack of experience to land a decent paid job has many young people asking whether their university degree was worth it? Many graduates feel resentment that they grafted hard for a degree which was promised would open doors and instead has landed them in 50k debt.
The current unemployment rate in Britain makes many young people question whether going to uni to do a 4-year degree and even a master’s degree is both a waste of time and money.
Successful Individuals Who Didn’t Go to University
There are many examples of extremely successful people who made it in life without a college degree, proving that university is not the only means of success, for example:
The co-founder, chief executive and chairman of Apple, dropped out of university and experimented with different pursuits before co-founding Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976. He was 40 years old when he became a billionaire.
The principal founder of the Microsoft Corporation has attributed his success with being extremely focused and determined at everything he turned his attention to. Ironically, the world’s richest college dropout received an honorary degree from Harvard University in 2007.
The co-founder of Facebook, has a net worth of 69.8 billion and dropped out of Harvard in his sophomore year.
The founder of Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics did not go to university and built a beauty empire.
Alternative Paths to University
Although university is an excellent opportunity to learn valuable skills such as time management, self-organisation etc., all of these skills can be picked up in employment. The following are alternative options to going to university that a available as well as tips to build upon your skill sets and carve your career path.
Expanding Your Network
Attending networking events is an excellent way of discovering the line of work that you wish to pursue post secondary education. Networking also allows you to build up a book of contacts in that field, which is a helpful way to discover potential job opportunities.
Volunteering and internships give you on-the-job work experience that you don’t necessarily get while studying at university. Many internships are explicitly aimed at high school graduates that are not wanting to pursue a college degree. Having this experience on your CV will significantly improve your chances of employment as employers highly value experience.
Building Your Skill Set
Discover the skill set that you have and how it can be used to your advantage. For example, if you are good with people you should consider going into jobs that will allow you to take advantage of this strength and build on new ones.
Pursuing a Side Hustle
Side hustles can range from dog walking to writing, and they give you extra income and also help to improve your skill set and your CV. Side hustles are perfect if you work a part-time role and need an extra income to save.
Setting Up a Small Business
You do not need a degree to set up your own business; a good work ethic, hard work and advice is what is required to succeed in establishing your own business. Business Gateway in Scotland, for example, offer professional advice to aspiring business owners.
While there are many pros of going to university, there are also many alternative routes out there to explore and the successful individuals mentioned above are a testimony that a successful career path can be forged with as little as a high school diploma. After all, it will be your motivation, grit and determination that will carve your destiny.