You would think that dropping out of college would be the best thing that you could do for your career. The founders of Google did it. So did Bill Gates, the father of Microsoft and the modern PC.
But when you look at the figures more generally, you see that giving up on your degree isn’t a route to success – quite the opposite, in fact.
People with “some college education” fare much worse overall compared to those who graduate, both financially and elsewhere.
So what’s going on here? First, it’s important to point out that some people do just get lucky.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin never expected that founding a search engine would make billionaires of both of them. It was far-fetched. And yet it happened.
Likewise, it is unlikely Gates would have predicted his eventual financial success in the early 1980s. For him, the job was an exciting experiment.
But even in these cases, education played a role. Both the Google founders were at top universities, with one of them studying for a doctorate.
And Gates is famous for continuously reading and educating himself. He does it for fun.
So it’s not correct to say that education plagued no role. In fact, it would have been impossible for these guys to earn the success that they did without some serious learning along the way.
Education Is Not A Waste Of Time
Education can sometimes feel like a waste of time while you’re doing it. (The partying is, in large part, a way to paper over that perception).
And in hindsight, the years can sometimes feel like lost time. You could have been earning money.
But when you look at the data, it tells a different story. People who are college-educated earn substantially more throughout their lives, even when you calculate the present value of future income.
The effort is worth it, especially if you get the right qualifications for the market.
If you choose to find a nursing school, you’re actually setting yourself up for success.
Remember, some sectors of the economy are going to expand faster than others, offering those in them higher pay and more opportunities for advancement.
Healthcare is going to become a bigger and bigger part of an expanding economy. In twenty years, the sector could be double the size it is today.
Something similar is happening in technology. People with database skills will find themselves in constant demand. Education provides them with the raw tools they need.
Entrepreneurs Still Need Training
Some entrepreneurs are not experts in their respective fields, but they are a dying breed.
The opportunities for non-technical people to lead businesses are dwindling, even if they’re not actively involved in the nuts and bolts themselves.
That’s because leaders need to have a broad understanding of the goals and capabilities of their firms to make reasonable decisions.
So, even if you’re looking to go for the top job roles in society, you need some training.
It gives you a vital context for the decisions you’ll make in the future.
Educational Achievements Link Up To Provide You With Market Advantage
It’s worth noting that the broader your educational training, the more you can link valuable skills together.
Suppose you decide to go down the career route as an accountant. You can earn a pretty decent living this way.
Companies, however, would ideally prefer to employ people with both accounting and marketing intelligence.
The reason? Having both allows accountants to assess the financial value of marketing campaigns and the returns they’re likely to generate. The interdisciplinary synergies could be profound.
A similar principle applies to people who consider themselves “generalists.”
There’s massive value here too. Firms often need people who can see the broader picture and how all the pieces fit together.
Dipping in and out of multiple fields allows the brain to link concepts and generate new ideas.
These contributions can be the most valuable thing that an organization ever receives from its employees.
And they are things that are less likely to emerge from technical specialists who only focus on one area.
The Professional Halo Effect
Finally, education provides a firm grip on professionalism. This point is not moot.
Remember, we still live in a society where a person’s educational background means as much, if not more, than what they are actually capable of doing.
If you want to get into one of the professions, therefore, you have to get over the educational hurdles. Once you do, you effectively shield yourself from the competition, increasing your wages.