Do I need a college degree for the work I love?

Last week I mentioned that Ernst & Young (a major finance and accounting firm) is no longer requiring a college degree as part of their application process.  A few months ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers )PwC) – another big player in financial services announced they would no longer be using The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) scores as a part of their hiring process.

Gaenor Bagley, PwC head of people said: “As a progressive employer we recognize that talent and potential presents itself in different ways and at different stages in people’s lives. Removing the UCAS criteria will create a fairer and more modern system in which students are selected on their own merit, irrespective of their background or where they are from.”

Even though college graduates are less likely to be unemployed, research shows that fifty percent of recent college graduates are working at jobs that do not require a degree.

In this week’s podcast I share an update from Joshua Kemp – a young guy who went from being a blacksmith to an $80K position by training himself in software development over a period of 7 months in his spare time.  All using free online courses and tutorials.  His enthusiasm and initiative allowed him to bypass candidates with professional degrees and years of experience.

I also played an audio question from Amy, who has over $200,000 in student loan debt for her doctor’s degree (Pharm.D.) but doesn’t want to work in that industry any more.  She’s already making $7500/month in her little Amazon online business and I encouraged her to go ahead and make the full transition to building her online business that she loves.

Here are 10 recognized companies that don’t have a degree requirement for job applicants.  They question the connection between success in their companies and having a college degree.  They are recognizing that “life skills” can be found in lots of smart, enthusiastic and hard working individuals.

  1. Google
  2. Ernst & Young
  3. Penguin Random House – Here we’ve got the biggest book publisher in the world. For an industry that involves education and literature, this is a pretty bold move. The HR Director of Penguin Random House Neil Morrison said, “This is the starting point for our concerted action to make publishing far, far more inclusive than it has been to date. 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.”

4.  Costco

5.  Whole Foods  – They call their employees team members and take pride in having being included in Fortune Magazine’s, “100 Best Companies to Work For” every single year since the list was started.

6.  Publix Super Markets

7.  Apple

8.  Starbucks

9.  Nordstrom

10.  Home Depot

One of Home Depot’s main tenets is to have “greater diversity in their people.” Our local Home Depot has a permanent sign out front that essentially says – if you’re 16 years old and can breath, we want to talk with you.degrees

This just reflects our changing times and workplace.  Do I still value a college degree – absolutely.  It shows goal setting, persistence and a whole lot more personal skills. 

I loved my time in universities – first at The Ohio State University where I got my B.A. in psychology, then at Western Kentucky University where I got my M.A. in clinical psychology, and then at Oxford where I completed my doctoral studies in religion and society.  But I never pursued a degree because of a career path.  It was always for personal growth and development.  I never applied for a job based on my degrees.  I’ve always been self-employed but believed the continued process of study would add to my success.

I never had student loan debt.  I was raised to pay for things I could afford – thus I worked (and Joanne worked) all through those university years.  I always painted houses, flipped cars, and mowed lawns in order to pay for school.  I went back for my Masters four years after graduating with my Bachelors degree – so I sold our house and my Jaguar to pay for that next degree.  I started my doctoral studies eighteen years after completing my Masters.  By then I was already writing, speaking and coaching, so I was able to pay for that program as I went.  I didn’t complete any degree program burdened by debt that limited my future choices.

Would I get all those degrees again – probably not.  Information is so much easier to access today.  I was married by the time I as a junior in college so I wasn’t looking for lots of social events – just the learning.  But I don’t regret having taken that route at all. 

Be realistic about why you are going to school.

  1. If you are going to get a degree so you can get a better job – you’re likely to be disappointed.
  2. If you are going for the personal development, the social connections, and the broadening of your options – you’ll always see yourself as more prepared and having more options.

How does traditional “education” tie in with your path toward work you love?

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