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12 Great Ways How to be Successful Without College

Set achievable career goals

Think about where you want to be in your career in the future and set objectives that help you reach your career goal. Consider the type of work that interests you and what your desired income level is. Set short-term objectives and actionable steps that outline how you’ll achieve your goal. For instance, if you’re interested in marketing and want to earn an annual income of $50,000 per year, set goals that direct you towards this outcome, such as finding an entry-level marketing position that can help you advance to your desired career level.

Once you set your goal and outline the steps you need to take to achieve it, find jobs that you can take without a college degree. Depending on your passion and interests, you can find opportunities to enter a meaningful and satisfying career across many different industries. For instance, if you’re passionate about helping and caring for others, you might consider a job as a medical assistant, which is a career option that doesn’t require a college degree.

Consider a professional certification

Another option for entering your career without college is to obtain a professional certification in a trade or specialty like construction, health care and technology. For example, many construction professions don’t require college, and you can find jobs in the industry that include roles in labor, office administration and customer service. A certification can require you to take special coursework that can vary in length depending on the profession and certification requirements.

Consider deepening your knowledge about a topic to advance your skill set. For instance, taking an online course that teaches you how to use computer coding to build websites can prepare you for a career in web development. This can lead to further opportunities to build websites for paying clients or entering a role in a technology company.

Consider careers that don’t need degrees

Wondering what the chances are of being successful without college? You will be happy to hear that many careers, like air-traffic controller, dental assistant, detective and even teacher offer the chance to train as you work, so you’re being paid to become an expert in the career you’ve chosen. Other professions don’t need degrees at all — think entrepreneur, start-up CEO, sports coach, stylist and many more.

Plus, even careers that were traditionally degree focused are now making themselves more accessible to other people: Publishing company Penguin Random House no longer requires a college degree for job applicants in the UK. The company hopes this will lead to a more diverse staff and, therefore, a more diverse book catalog.

“This is the starting point for our concerted action to make publishing far, far more inclusive than it has been to date,” Neil Morrison, the company’s human resources director, told the BBC. “We believe this is critical to our future — to publish the best books that appeal to readers everywhere, we need to have people from different backgrounds with different perspectives and a workforce that truly reflects today’s society.” Pursue one of these options and your decision not to go to college won’t be relevant anymore.

All the knowledge you need is already at your fingertips

I feel bad for more than half of the young people in college today. I’m not talking about those working toward a specific objective, like becoming a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. I feel sorry for the ones who are trying to “find their path” and racking up massive student loan debt in the process. There are so many ways to learn skills today. I’m not convinced that it makes sense to pay tens (or hundreds!) of thousands of dollars over four years anymore, only to fight for entry-level positions when you graduate. That time would be much better spent experiencing life and seeking mentors in search of your passion. Once you find it, drill down by attending seminars, taking online courses, reading anything and everything relevant, and even bingeing on YouTube videos to become an expert in that area. There’s unlimited information at your fingertips.

When I was 19, I was one decision away from going to college, but I decided not to. I had already started my own business selling rare shirts and was working at an investment sales company. That’s how I learned what it takes to run a business: practical experience, marketing skills, the right mindset, a network, and a mentor. I couldn’t get most of those things in school; so I decided to study business in real life and work for free for mentors who could teach me.

By helping those who had the success I dreamt about, I gained experiences that many people never have in a lifetime. While the real world is different than most universities predict, I also wouldn’t say that universities are not creating impact. I don’t regret my decision, but there are two ways to go, and everyone needs to decide what’s best for them.

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