Is a College Degree necessary for Success – Yes

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I will stop short of saying that someone without a college degree cannot succeed, because it simply isn’t true. But, as in many areas of life, outcomes are about opportunities. Increase the opportunities, and you may have more opportunities for success. Therefore, a college degree puts someone in a much greater position to have success. There are certainly exceptions, anecdotes, and famous stories about uneducated people who were innovators, pioneers, and change-agents. They represent what is possible, but they do not represent what is probable. We take chances in life and we all take risks, but we should seek to understand the numerical parameters of those chances, and the scope of those risks.

What is success?

I could spend a great deal of time debating what “success” means, because in this context it could mean anything from knowledge, to vocation, to personal development. For the purposes of this article, I’ll define success as the ability to reach ones goals, whether they be wealth, happiness, fulfillment, or personal meaning.

No guarantees…but more possibilities

As an educator, I will admit that a college degree does not guarantee anything. A student can float through the college existence, skip a lot of classes, attend a lot of parties, and basically miss out on any opportunities for skill development and personal growth. But again, we’re talking about increasing opportunities, and broadening the options for success.

Broadening your horizons

I would suggest that the greatest value of a college degree is an expanded world view. That isn’t to say that you learn everything in college, because you don’t. That isn’t to say that you will gain an appreciation for all walks of life and develop limitless academic and vocational skills. What a student does get is the opportunity to experience a wide variety of perspectives, insights, knowledge, and thought-processes. They have opportunities to write, read, reason, think critically, and study culture and history.

Other pathways

Now, can someone gain much of this just by working and experiencing the world? Sure. Can they skip the expensive education and just read a variety of books in the public library? Also a possibility. But again, we’re talking about increasing your chances for success. A college degree puts an individual in a position where, fair or not, they are provided with more opportunities for success. Sometimes in life an increase in possibilities translates to the classification and the pursuit of what we deem as necessarily.