Leandro from Brazil wrote in with a classic and crucial question: Do you need a college degree to be successful? Leandro is 21 and currently studies computer engineering and does NOT like it. His parents think he absolutely needs the degree – he doesn’t :o)
My take: No. You don’t need a college degree to be happy and successful.
I myself have a university degree (a masters in computer science) – but I chose my studies 100% based on my interests at the time. I was a major geek and my studies let me do some pretty cool stuff.
And while I would not have gotten my first “real” job without my degree, I would of course have gotten another job – even without the degree. And anyway, my first job sucked :o)
I believe success comes from doing something that:
- You’re good at
- You like doing
- Someone is willing to pay you for
You need all three. Does this such an area currently exist for you? Be realistic!
If such an area does not currently exist, you can make one for yourself – and one way to do this is to study.
But considering how many possibilities are out there, I refuse to believe that this can only be achieved by suffering through 4-5 years of boring, unpleasant studying, just so you can wave a piece of paper around after you graduate.
Also, ask yourself this: If you truly do not enjoy your studies – how much can you possibly enjoy working in the same field later?
For a long time we’ve been telling people that “Sure, studying is not much fun, but you just have to get through 4-5 years of it and then everything is gravy.” First of all, this rarely turns out to be true, and secondly, this tends to make higher education an exercise in conformity – not learning. Those who complete their studies are not necessarily the best and the brightest, but those most willing to knuckle under and do as they’re told.
If I were in Leandro’s shoes, I would either:
- Find a way to make my studies fun. Study with some fun people, go for some fun classes, work on my strategies and the way I spend time.
- If that’s not possible, I’d witch to some kind of studies I really liked and found interesting or to a different school, where they didn’t make things as boring.
- Or alternatively get a job or start my own company and do something really cool
What’s your take on this? Did you enjoy studying? How did you choose your studies? Are you happy and successful with or without a degree?