There is a particular lie that has perpetuated throughout our society. It has been around for as long as most of us have been alive. I’m talking about the myth that you cannot achieve success without a college degree. It’s impossible. You’ll never find a decent job, and you’ll never be able to obtain the knowledge and vital skills you need to achieve career success. Success without a college degree is simply impossible in today’s world.
It is true that according to USA Today that pay gaps between college graduates and high school graduates are growing and bigger than ever. However, that is most likely at least in part because most people are still living in many ways are still living in the old economy. It is an economy that, in the words of Andrew Yang, “no longer exists” and has prepared people for “life in the factory” or life as a traditional employee. This path can be successful, but it takes years of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice, as we will discuss. However, there are other ways.
In previous posts, I’ve discussed several ways to pursue traditional employment through the classic job search method. I’ve covered topics ranging from how to write a great resume and planning for compelling job interview interactions as well as sharing some insight on popular job search websites online. Today, however, we’ll be discussing some alternative paths to success without a college degree for the educationally disadvantaged among us.
First, I do want to pay a quick salute to trade schools, which also a great way to obtain career success without a college degree. Though I won’t discuss this option in detail, It is a great low-cost way to achieve financial success without the burden of college debt and the benefit of high-demand skills that ensure high pay and job security. Trade schools are much more affordable options compared to expensive universities. They may even be available for free for younger students through VoTech in public schools and the Job Corps program run by the Department of Labor.
Beyond this option, however, there are only three ways I know of to achieve success without the benefit of a college education. If you have more, feel free to let me know here, on social media, or by sending me an email.
Climb the Ladder
This is the “tried and true” method probably handed down to us by our parents. It is, unfortunately, built on the idea that you will be successful in life if you just keep your head down and do a good job. Be respectful, show up on time every day, work hard, and be a good employee. Do these things and success will follow. Most Americans today are realizing that this is a lie, and many successful people agree, however, this doesn’t mean there’s no merit at all to making it up the ladder of career success the old fashioned way.
This method takes a lot of time and commitment and may involve a great deal of sacrifice. You may be required to spend a lot of time away from loved ones, put in long hours, and handle loads of responsibility Your work may even force you to relocate and travel. At first, as you work your way, you’ll receive very little in return, but eventually, you’ll enjoy a life of success at your job. The truth, this method of finding success without college works, but it takes years, and you have to put in the time and effort. You also have to work smarter, not harder, as we were told. Know where to find the opportunities, what it takes to successfully obtain them, and know who to talk to advance.
I will cover this topic more thoroughly in a future post coming over the next few weeks.
Join The Military
Joining the military is a great way to achieve success without a college degree for a few reasons. First, however, it is crucial to understand that if you are going to enlist, you have to know what your goals are when you get out and plan accordingly. You will want to research and consider each branch and what they have to offer. You’ll also want to prepare for the ASVAB as the scores you achieve will determine what career paths are available to you. Finally, you want to ensure you have at least some level of a “job guarantee” such a substantial promise is usually only offered by the Navy. However, the other branches will often try to accommodate and at very least may guarantee you a decent, but broad career path category.
Depending on your job or “rate” as some recruits call it, you may already have a clear path to success once you get out based on the job skills you’ve obtained. A navy electrician, for example, may find work as a technician without the burden of going through a tech school since they’ve already been trained professionally and performing the job for years. Military veterans also always have an advantage in obtaining jobs in part because companies will make an effort to hire veterans to honor their service, get certain tax breaks, and yes, to make themselves look patriotic in the public eye. Companies also value the discipline and professionalism that veterans bring to the table as opposed to someone who just arrived from the street.
Former military personnel can also achieve success without a college degree, almost guaranteed in the field of law enforcement. The job would probably require that you be a particular fit for the job, as some folks don’t find it a fulfilling career. If you feel a calling to police work, however, the military is the way to go. Military vets automatically receive bonus points on placement tests and priority in hiring at most stations.
Finally, even if none of these options work out for you, and you absolutely can’t achieve success without a college degree, the military still provides a way up for you. The military offers numerous programs designed to help pay college debts and provide funding for college after you get out. Sometimes the armed forces will even offer to pay accredited courses you take while serving on active duty. You’ll have a busy schedule, but you can always choose to obtain at least some college for free as a part-time student.
Become An Entrepreneur
Did you know that immigrants and refugees are twice as likely to start businesses as American citizens? There may be many factors involved in this. However, experts theorize that one contributing factor is that entrepreneurship is a clear path to success for economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals who are otherwise denied other economic opportunities. With Ecommerce and the gig economy on the rise, it’s easier than ever for everyday people to get in on the action.
I’ll be discussing more on these options in future posts that you can expect over the next few weeks. I’ll also give some focus to entrepreneurship, primarily focusing on low-cost and easy business ideas and websites that allow you to break into the gig economy. Until then, The Small Business Administration offers some great information on how to go about starting a business in the beginning stages.