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Everybody Doesn’t Need a Degree to Succeed

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Everyday i'm hustlin...

Before my laptop crashed, I had a list of people who made it without college degrees.  I wasn’t talking about people who dropped out of Ivy League schools.  People always want to point to Mark Zuckerberg and say, “See you don’t need a degree to succeed.”  My reply, “Aight bet, just get into an Ivy League school before you make that decision though.”  I’m talking about good and regular citizens like me and you who may or may not have a degree but we make due anyway.

I thought about this because as Black people we always stress the need for higher education.  I think that it’s important that you tell the youth to reach for the stars and so I don’t think it’s wise to tell a 10 year old, “You don’t have to go to school, you can do good all by yourself.”  That’s not the right type of motivation that the youth needs.  However, I do think that we shouldn’t think of someone as a failure or having a ceiling just because they don’t have a degree.  My family is very successful, but my grandfather didn’t go to college, he actually dropped out of high school and ran away from home in South Carolina and he did what all of us do, “he made some sh*t happen.”  My grandfather hustled numbers until he had a family and then he settled into a fulltime gig at Sterling Dry Cleaners for 30 years until his retirement.  My grandfather got me to thinking though, how necessary is the degree.  Check me out.

Despite popular belief the military is a great option – Here’s what I don’t like about the military: they put guns in the hands of young Black men and tell them to go kill their own people.  Here’s what I like about the military: they educate men and women with state of the art technology and they also teach a sense of discipline and maturity that is ions ahead of what happens at four year institutions in America.  You can go into the military, serve your country and you will exit the military either through discharge or retirement and have access to some of the best things in America.  I know a dude who retired as a Lt. Colonel and came into my firm and make 200K.  When you ask him about his degree, he doesn’t know what that means, but he oversaw over 10,000 troops in Iraq.  I don’t care what you say, you can have six degrees from Harvard, that ain’t got nothing on being in charge of 10,000 men and women’s lives in a time of war.

If you go to work everyday and you work hard, you will be rewarded – Like my grandfather, if you go to work everyday and work hard, everything will work out for you.  It’s real men out here right now without degrees who do what they have to do to provide for them and theirs.  They should be applauded.  You ain’t got to put on a shirt and tie to bring home a paycheck, legally.  If you are a contractor for FedEx, be the best at what you do; pass all your drug tests and show up on time.  You never know, one day that may turn into your own business and Kobe Bryant from the Lakers.  Now that’s paper!

A Good Government Job, is still a good Government Job – My boy told me he couldn’t date a chick who didn’t go to college.  She was a DC slim with hazel eyes, and I said, “Dog you just not from here, she probably doing alright for herself.”  If you not from DC, I’ll have to explain this later but, YOU AIN’T GOT TO GO TO COLLEGE TO MAKE GS-13.  All them position descriptions say, “or equivalent experience.”  A lot of females grow up and they know they need to get out the house as soon as possible, they graduate high school and go in the government.  You put your time in the government and you can retire.  If you are motivated you can turn a GS-3, into a 5, into a 7/9, into a 9/11/12 and then be on your way in no time.  (All that is are the GS schedules and the way the positions are in the government.  The Federal government is just set up in a way that you can keep moving up without a degree.)  My whole point was this, how can you judge a chick for not having a degree when she got more money than you?  (Sidenote: Being from here, I got too many family members in the government to ever take shots at that life, keep this in mind during the comments.)

Trade school is a good look these days – You know how much plumbers make? $80 an hour.  Yep, and I’m not talking about that guy who comes over your house and pays you in yards. I’m talking about the dude who unclogs your drains because you don’t know how to put your hair in the trash can.  You go to trade school and you can be making $80/hour for life.  That’s a skill that they can’t take from you.  Because of the decrease of men becoming plumbers, their rates are going up and so is their business.  You know how much the person who operates a crane on a construction site makes?  They make a bill an hour.  You know how much a consultant makes?  On average, about $30-35 an hour.  Think about that.

I’m just not the social type and campus life is crazy – One of my boys raps, y’all know him, but I won’t shout him out.  He was my roommate freshman year in college, he only lasted two weeks.  He couldn’t deal with campus life.  It wasn’t like he was partying or banging everything that walked, he was just not into it and it depressed him, so he dropped out.  He got himself in a good position once he left college and he started dropping these weird mixtapes and hanging around artists.  He’s making paper now.  The only reason I bring this up is because there are some people who just ain’t made for college campuses.  We force their hand by dragging them there.  They don’t do well, they may graduate, but just barely.  Those people would be better served if no one forced them to college, but instead taught them some other routes that they could go.

What do you guys think though?  Is it important that we present these other options to our youth?  Do we stop stratifying ourselves with our degrees?  What’s the difference between paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to market yourself, or just finding it out yourself?  What’s the difference between a hustler and a professional?  What you think?

Comment(167)

  1. Goood post.

    I'm critical on what people cross off their list. I'm real critical of people who cross others off their mate list or respect list just because they lack some kind of credential.
    Heck, I use to think "I can only date a college girl" but I was really saying "I could only marry a smart girl" and I was being lazy and letting the college certify a chicks brains when I could have just rated her doom myself #swidt.

    I think more important than having a degree is having some type of plan. It could be flexible, however you should be moving upwards and I think that is where degrees get their positive stereotypes from. Too often non-degrees jobs leave you trapped on the same level.

    and unless you have a billion dollar idea, don't compare yourself to billionaires. Steve Jobs don't grow on trees.

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  2. I agree with this post especially since there’s someone close to me who at the rate that they’re going shouldn’t go to college after they graduate. 

    My thing is, we need to present options to our youth. We need to have them do internships starting in high school (if not earlier). Instead of having someone come in and yip yap for 30 mins about their job for career day they need to send those kids out and explore different fields before they go out and spend  over $40,000 on an education.  They need to know that being a doctor, teacher, lawyer or a police officer aren’t their only options. 

    Regarding the military, one of the many good things about it is that they can provide guidance to those individuals who are aren’t prepared to be on their own or who haven’t decided what they would like to do with their life. They get a chance to travel, go to school for free, meet new people and learn about themselves while being in a disciplined environment. 

    1. "My thing is, we need to present options to our youth. We need to have them do internships starting in high school (if not earlier). Instead of having someone come in and yip yap for 30 mins about their job for career day they need to send those kids out and explore different fields before they go out and spend over $40,000 on an education. They need to know that being a doctor, teacher, lawyer or a police officer aren't their only options. "

      I completely agree!

      1. I see what Telly is trying to get at in the paragraph but just because you don't want to be a lawyer, doctor or police officer doesn't mean that you don't need to be in college, I think if you are unsure of what type of career you want college is one of the best options. If your plan isn't completely laid out then I do think that you need to go to college (or military) and try to figure it out. One of the best things about education in America is that you don't have to choose your career path right away and even then you can still change it up.

        And really, I think career day can be beneficial and more encompassing then sending a kid to an internship for the whole semester where they only are able to learn about one thing.
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  3. I completely agree. Furthermore, I realize that there are a lot of people who were able to rise about their situations to still make it to/through college, but a lot of folks' circumstances just never allowed for it.

    People judging others based on their degree, lack thereof, or even where they received a degree is something that you run into far too often in the black blogosphere (I'm sure that judgement exists in other blogging communities, but I've yet to see it personally), and that's when I avoid commenting. I can see myself getting into an online argument over that kind of thing.

    Great post, doc.

    1. no I agree. I was at an evnet on campus and young young man said what he needed in a girl. he said she had to go to college or atleast be doing something in her life other than working at Forever 21. The other dude was like no i dont want a dumb chick with no degree. (yet he' a super senior -_-)

    2. So if your doctor for a big surgical procedure got his degree from University of Phoenix…you would be cool with that? Let me remind you its an online for profit school. I say for profit like this because they are known to have lax course work and are known to be easier in order for more people to come in…giving them more money in pocket. Most real institutions are non profit and work based of a reputation.

      1. Sorry, but college is a business, whether it’s online or a campus institution. It’s all about the money, whether it’s through sports (we see the issue of compensating student athletes now) or tuition hikes and other issues.

        1. There is definitely a business aspect there. More funding leads to better resources, professors, facilities and eventually more students. So you have a point. And I for one am alright with that concept. I got my degree and loving every single thing it came with….and even the Sallie Mae loans don't make me angry lol.

      2. Actually, I think that some for profit schools have really stepped their game up. My co-worker got her bachelors from Phoenix, and I remember helping her with some of her assignments. Looking at her workload, and what she was doing I had to go "Well, dang." Because it was more challenging than the work I did at a private college to get my bachelors. The real "swindle" for some of these schools is not the quality of the education, it's the fact that they have a very low bar to entry. So many students pay for classes but don't get a degree at all.

        1. That is a good point. I think Univ of Phoenix graduation rate is at 4%. That shows how much the school cares about its students. But I know people that went to a for profit and he talked about them letting anyone in and it being extremely easy. I see it as an extended high school.

        2. It's one thing to judge a school based on actual reviews about their coursework/entrance requirements, it's another to base it off a type like "community college" or "online". I see Univ of Phoenix as a place for working adults to work towards a degree in their own time if there are no other options available. Also, what may seem extremely easy to one person may be difficult to others. I've always found myself finding things "easy", wherereas others find it difficult. *shrugs* It's still judgement in my eyes.

    3. "even where they received a degree is something that you run into far too often in the black blogosphere "

      But my Mexi-Lover there is a difference between telling some one they need to have a degree and suggesting which school they should get a degree from, no? If you are going to join the millitary, marines are going to tell you why they are the best. If you are going to join a frat, they can't shut up about how great their history is. If you want to talk sports teams, Lakers fans will point to their rings. If you are talking about a car, Uncle Sterling has the latest.

      Its almost silly, not to compare things. Its like we are just denying there is a difference.

      1. See up this very thread, CheekerZ, to see what I am talking about. I understand that expecting your surgeon to have done practical application (which I believe they get through residency) is important, but you hear people talking about getting degrees from Univ of Pheonix or Community Colleges all the time. It's beyond simply having pride in your alma mater.

  4. 1000% agree. unfortunately allot of ppl who say they don't need college, actually do. I am a little younger than y'all but for the ppl graduating this yr with me and people in my age group good jobs with out some paper to back you up are hard to get.

    1) Your not the only one with out a degree, there are thousands of ppl like that meaning its going to take either a lot of experience on your resume or a hook up to get you one of those non-degree government jobs again 2) trade school is def a good look. Some one has to fix the toilet install the cable be an electrician, do hair. 3) are you super smart or motivated like bill gates or diddy (he dropped out) a lot of ppl think they fit this category but don't, they need some of the skills that you get from going to college.

    (Cont below)

    1. I think we encourage our young black men and women to go to college (with such force)because of these three reasons. A lot of times if they don't end up in trade school, college or luck up on a good job (no degree needed) they end up in trouble. And aint nothing wrong with a government job. but with the market being the way it is ppl with degrees are applying to non-degree needing jobs.

    2. 3) are you super smart or motivated like bill gates or diddy (he dropped out) a lot of ppl think they fit this category but don't, they need some of the skills that you get from going to college.

      Exactly!!! Everybody does not possess that "hard on my grind" type quality so schooling may be their best option.

  5. I don't have a degree and I'm doing nicely. Neither does my dad and he's doing so nicely it's disgusting – you're absolutely right about that trade school business. So I feel you.

    All the same though, I'd tell anyone who asked to err on the side of getting one. It's not just about earning potential; higher education can teach you to think critically in a way that life experience doesn't always. And while it's definitely true that you can climb the corporate ladder to the sky without one, every now and then there will still be doors shut to you because you don't have that degree.
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    1. "And while it's definitely true that you can climb the corporate ladder to the sky without one, every now and then there will still be doors shut to you because you don't have that degree. "

      This is the problem. The closed doors are increasing. People who are in their 60s will tell you it was not necessary. People in their 30s will tell you its difficult but can still be done. With the "education saturation" I the High School class of 2012 will no way of entering certain fields.
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      1. This is the reason I tell people if you can get a degree go get one. My sister is 40 yrs old with a lot of experience in the IT and compliance field but becuase she doesn’t have a degree she can’t even apply to the jobs she is qualified for. When applying to jobs that don’t have the degree requirement she is told she is overqualified. When you are young experience is worth more but 10-15 years from now everybody will have similar experience and what will set you apart is your degree.

  6. Well let me be the bad guy here then…
    1, I judge on what degree you have, what plan you have for that degree, and what made you choose that degree, and also very important…where you got that degree.
    2, I also have said that I don't want a female without a degree…and it mostly means I want a smart female. And as there are examples of people that are successful without a degree…I want to set a certain standards for my future kids and live a lifestyle that easiest achieved when both partners have degrees and working in their respected fields.
    3, Trade school I still kinda respect…based on the trade and the school. I went to a vocational high school and many of my friends joined the union after…I only know one of them still in it. So school and trade matters if going the trade school route. Schools like ITT tech and Devry have a lot of companies that won't hire their students because they know how some they perform post trade school.
    4, Yes…you can get by and "make due" as you said, by why do that when you can make 6+ figures easier with a degree? Life will be easier if you have a degree and a good plan as conpared to just a diploma.
    5, That guy in the military…he didn't get to that position overnight and he risked life and limb for it. That rapper, he could have done school online. A lot of respected schools have online programs. Or even a commuter college would work for him.
    Lastly…if you and i both have similar skill and background, but I have a degree and you don't….who do you think will get the job?

      1. I wasn't talking about the veteran. I meant a non degree holding individual going against someone with a degree. If I was an employer, I would give the veteran the job in that case every time. Being in the army says a lot about your character.

        1. Actually… it depends on where you're applying and what position you're applying for. With the way the economy is now, the non degree holding person potentially could be more likely to get the job than the degree holding person… IF they both have the same amount of experience and the same skill set. Companies can usually get away with paying the non degree holding person less than the degree holding person because of the their lack of education.

          I worked in HR for a few years. I saw that happen alot…

          I agree with the post. Getting your education is GREAT, but its not the only route to being successful. Gaining real world work experience is just as important.

          In my years doing HR, there were many kids who were highly educated that came in to apply for jobs that they NEVER got hired for because they didn't have enough real work experience. So a degree isn't the answer to everything…

        2. That's when you go work for a company where the money isn't the issue…the quality of the product or service is what matters most….when not out sourcing. Look at Google or Apple…they pay good money. And will continue to do so in order to have and keep the best engineers. So I agree it has a lot to do with where a person is applying. But not having experience is also a part of me talking about a plan. No experience leaving college is that person's fault. They needed a better plan!!

        3. I see what you're saying here. All semantics and specifics aside, generally speaking if one holds a degree that allows that person to have a wider access of possible employment options. It's a simple concept really. If a prerequisite for a job when applying for one is "minimum level of education: Bachelor's degree" then that essestially wipes out anyone that does not hold one. On the flip side when the minimum is H.S. diploma that also includes those with Bachelor's.

          The reality of the situation that many employers of large companies when sifting through resumes are looking for reasons to throw yours in the trash to get down to a managable amount of applicants to choose from. This is obviously done through prereq's (i.e. years of experience, level of education, etc..)

        4. Exactly my point. To help friends get jobs, I work on their resumes with them. And when the only education is high school…it looks a lot emptier or weaker. But the point in college is to prepare for the future. I tell every college student I know to work internships and gain experience while in college. So you have a degree and experience.

          Right now I'm going for my masters, but I also work full time in my field. I know the importance of work experience, but I also know how important those degrees and the knowledge that come with it are.

        5. "The reality of the situation that many employers of large companies when sifting through resumes are looking for reasons to throw yours in the trash to get down to a managable amount of applicants to choose from. This is obviously done through prereq's (i.e. years of experience, level of education, etc..)"

          True story. I agree with Dr J in that we shouldn't look down on others without degrees, but not getting a post-secondary education was never an option in my household, and I definitely plan to raise my kids in that vein as well. I need them to have as many options and doors open as possible. The rate at which things are going, even a Bachelor's degree won't mean all that much in a matter of decades.

        6. In that case, maybe you are right, you are more likely to get the job. I think my point is to say, "Don't chastise those people without a degree they can do perfectly fine on their own." It's not about saying to someone, "You need to get your degree" sometimes it's about saying "OK, so you don't have a degree. What steps are you taking to take control of your circumstance for the betterment of your circumstance?" Sometimes the answer to that question is not going back to school, it's trade school, entrepreneurship, or getting a good ass job. Not to start nothing, but I know a dude who was in law school on 100% loans at GTown. He got a chick knocked up his first year, he was talking about, "I'm not going to let this kids affect my goals." I ain't say nothing, cause I couldn't disrespect, but I was like, "But your decision to not go get you a job is affect your kid's goals." Sometimes, you have to dropout because of circumstance and make due. I can't respect a cat stacking debt when he got a seed on the way. Or if his family is in poverty and he stacking debt away at the big school.

        7. I feel your point completely….and while you have a point…your mans does also. Everyone applauded Will Smith when he played that role in "The Pursuit of Happyness". Sometimes its best to hold out and get the big picture than just get the side job to make ends meet. Will Smith didn't get a job and he was educated enough to get one. But what did he do? Sacrifice and keep working to be in a situation in which they never had to worry about money again. You and your mans both have your points.

          And you are right. I would talk to a female that didn't have a degree, but was working HARD on making her business a success. That's admiral in itself. My point was just that a degree doesn't make you successful, but having one will definitely open more doors and can make the future easier for you.

    1. What? People are still under the delusion that a degree magically gets them a 6 figure salary? That's in part what the whole 'Occupy Wallstreet' thing is about. If you don't have a degree and the other person does, they'll pick the person with the most experience and better references.

      1. Lol that's why I was talking about a person with a degree and a plan. It's 10 times easier to make 6 figures with a degree than without. I just graduated and will soon have it myself. People say college is a waste…I say THEY messed up somewhere and want to pass the blame.

        So you're right…a degree without a great plan will lead you to 6 figures no faster than a diploma.

        1. Lol…college IS a waste sometimes… depending on who you're talking to. College is not for everybody. I'm glad it's working out for you though. 🙂

        2. When someone feels its a waste…chances are they messed up somewhere. Can't tell me something that has helped millions of people failed for you and its the school's fault.

        3. Chances are you that you one of them coons that went to college and forgot that people back home aint have the option or opportunity to do that…..i bet you would get paid and wouldn't even care that all ya boys is starving…..disloyal, fool ass, etc…

        4. "coons that went to college and forgot that people back home aint have the option or opportunity to do that"__Ummmm….while I am all about mentorship and "lifting as we climb" just because someone made the decision to go to college and subsequently do well for themselves does not obligate them to take care of every black person that didn't make it. _I know too many people who had to go through hell and high water to make sure they got an education. I mean these people had every reason to say F-it…i'm dropping out, "college isn't for me", and whatever other excuse you can come up with, but they didnt. They looked for scholarships, worked, and made it happen. I am not saying that a 4-year university is the answer for everyone, but like Jason said you have to have a plan to succeed period…that's with or without a degree.

        5. Lmfao @ me being a "coon". So because I went to college and became successful I'm a coon? Funny thing is, I donate to a number of charities every month. When I taught at the college level, I would mentor minority students in my department. I would go to high schools and speak to kids about life and college. And my homies get whatever they want and all they gotta do is say the word. I even help them with their resumes and to get jobs in their fields. So thank you for your fast judgments lol.

          And sidenote….everyone can go to college. The idea of having "the option or opportunity to do that" is stupid. I paid through college with student loans. High school is FREE. Getting good grades is a CHOICE. Colleges offer fee waivers for applications. And there are a ton load of financial aid programs that help (EOP, CSTEP, etc). So you must be some guy walking around screaming the world is unfair lmao

        6. "college IS a waste sometimes… depending on who you're talking to. College is not for everybody. I'm glad it's working out for you though. :)"

          Agreed. College is a waste for some people. I read an article (I forgot where) that stated if you have an IQ under 110, you probably won't get much out of college, and ideally it should be over 115 to do well. Keep in mind the average IQ is 100, yet we push all kids that college is the answer. Some people aren't book or lecture learners, and some people just don't do well on standardized tests.

          Everyone is not cut out for college, nor is it the only path to success.

        7. I saw that also in some video…but the video was also bias to people not going to college. I want to know where they took their data from. I met a lot of dumb people that went to college and have degrees. I also know people that are smarter than me, but didn't work as hard and amount to nothing. Traditional college might not be for everyone…but there are schools where you can get an altered version that fits what you're looking for.

        8. If you think college is a waste just because you don't aren't making 6 figures then you weren't trying to immerse yourself in the experience, I gained so much more for college than a degree and better job perspectives. I learned about my self and my community and the world. Some people really need(ed) college (like me), because with out that experience I think I would have been totally disconnected from my community and I would have never really been able understand or appreciate the experiences of people outside of my bubble. I ended up paying somewhere around $150,00 for school, I work in retail now (while apply for law school and preparing to shell out much more money) and it was worth every freakin penny!
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    2. Yeah…no. You’d be surprised how much personality can put you in position to have a job. Im in software development and a lot of work is done in teams and you will more than likely be interviewed by people you will potentially work with. If the nondegree is a better fit you better believe that they will get the position.

      This mentality goes across different fields as well.

    3. May I ask, why are some of the questions in your #1 particulary "where you got your degree, what made you choose that degree" so important to you?

      1. Some of them are for respect, others for relationships. Where you got your degree matters if you went to a crappy school and think you really achieved something. If you only open your book once a week…and get As on everything…I have to question your course load or your school.

        What made you choose that degree allows you to see what their plan in life is. If they chose it just because, then that tells you they don't really have a plan about life. And I don't want someone that's not heading in the direction in life that I am.

    4. Take away Jason's references to him judging and kinda respecting trade school and the sting goes away. And for the purpose of this comment, I'd like to eliminate all art-based careers, the trade schools (I agree with Doc), and the entrepreneurs who were diligent and thorough in setting up a successful business. Take away all that and you have the majority of people left.

      I went to school for HR and I work in HR now. Before this position, I was a recruiter for a staffing agency. I've seen a few things and they support what Jason is saying.

      1. The crappy economy is allowing companies to do what they want. Same way a heavily sought after dude or chick can discriminate and get what they want out of dating, companies can get what they want from people and will do whatever is necessary to weed folks out. One of the easiest ways to do that is by making a college degree a minimum requirement. A degree won't guarantee you a job, but it'll put you in the pile you wanna be in…depending on what line of work you're pursuing.

      2. Computer programmers and/or those working for the government are the only ones I've really seen win off experience alone. These professions/careers aside, a degree will increase earning potential faster. (I know there are exceptions)

      The theme I took away from this post is the value of hard work. If you have a degree and you're lazy, it'll do nothing for you. But if you have a strong work ethic and you're determined to make it, you've put yourself in a much better position than the person next to you who is blaming anything and anybody but him or herself for their predicament.

      Conclusion: Whatever your career path, have a plan and do what will make you happy. Not what everyone else says or thinks you should be doing.
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      1. In another comment I showed love to trade schools. I know multiple people that didn't go to college..but went to trade school and now making a good living for themselves. You have to go out and get trained in a skill or trade to really do something. Even if you want to open your own business…you are going to need to know the ins and outs if you really want it to be big.

        And end of the day….a plan and hard work with that training and piece of paper…and the sky's not the limit.

  7. This is great! I had a conversation with my baby cousin about my college experience verses hers and how she is on a good track. My experience, being a professional introvert, I wouldn't say was horrible. I loved the experience and wouldn't change it. However, just know that I only did a year. Just as stated about going out and exploring the different jobs, I hadn't done any of that and to this day, I'm still undecided (at [email protected] near 30, smh)

    I do believe college is overrated and I love the fact that you give the alternatives. Being a mother, I don't foresee me applying pressure for any one of my 2 to go to college. I plan to lay all options out on the table with pros and cons. I also have to explore my options being a single parent.
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  8. I think this is very true. As many of the posts presented earlier, it's all about having a plan. With so much information on the internet, you can teach yourself how to do anything. However, I do believe having a degree gives you more options and makes things a little easier, no matter what you decide to do in life you should always have a plan. Dick Gregory has a very good youtube post about advice to young black americans that sentiments this entire topic. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS! _ _http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faV69P0FX8E__

  9. Truth by Dr. J.

    I was having a discussion about college with a group of friends. My friend's wife has an accounting degree and is a CPA. She was talking about how vital college is, and my friend said, "baby, I don't have a degree and I make more than you!"

    I also never understood the degree = intelligence argument, and really don't understand why a good woman/man would be turned down for not having one. To anyone saying they wouldn't date someone that doesn't have a college degree, look at every idiot that you worked with that has ever made you wonder how in the world they got their job. They probably have a degree.

    1. "To anyone saying they wouldn't date someone that doesn't have a college degree, look at every idiot that you worked with that has ever made you wonder how in the world they got their job. They probably have a degree."

      Yup!

    2. Only thing i'll say about this is, to play devil's advocate: drug dealers make more money than a college graduate, but that don't really mean anything. I don't know if making money correlates into being successful. I think success speaks to virtue and prosperity.

      1. I'm not sure what you're saying here. I'm asking because both my friend and his wife are virtuous and prosperous, therefore they are both successful. One has a degree and the other doesn't. I'm assuming you're saying there are several paths to success, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

        I agree money alone doesn't equal success.

        1. All i'm saying is that money shouldn't determine if you are successful or not. I don't know your friends personally. But just using a different example, someone can make a lot of money and not be successful.

      2. "drug dealers make more money than a college graduate"

        Based on Levitt's and Dunbar's study in "Freakonomics" I would disagree with that statement, all things being considered.

        1. Yes, but he's talking about the lowest level of system. So when you think about it, that's like comparing the street peddler to the cleaning staff. He didn't compare apples to apples. And he made a good point, but only under the scenario he made.

        2. I believe the point was there's some fallacy that most drug dealers make a lot of money, when in reality the majority of them are at the lowest level making on avreage $3.30/hr which is about half of minimum wage in most states when you compare lowest level to lowest level.

        3. Cosign. The average drug dealer does not make that much money which is contrary to popular belief. The average drug dealers don't deal weight which is where the real money is.

        4. LOL you beat me to it! I was totally abt to quote that book too. And yeah there are a few that make way more, but most drug dealers are pretty broke.

          It is a tax free salary tho lol

  10. Overall for the most part you need some type of degree or certification to prove to ppl that you’ve been trained to do the job. It doesn’t have to be a four year one but it needs to say you’ve trained and completed your training in a select field. There’s not too many jobs left out there that will let you just walk in with a GED or hs diploma except retail, the army , etc.. But yes having a plan or working on a plan with your kids for their future is necessary.

    1. I agree with this. I have friends that go to trade schools since "college isn't for them", and they end up doing well for themselves. If not a degree…do some kind of certification.

    2. I don't fully agree with that. I work as a designer for a small web development company but I did not go to school for this work. I was hired mainly because of my portfolio. I am entirely self-taught but have taken classes here and there to improve my skills.

      I think the most important thing is to have determination and drive if you do not decide to get a certification or university degree.

      I'm not completely happy with where I am now so I'm taking a few courses to expand my knowledge but I don't plan on getting a degree. IMO It'd be a waste of time and money for me.

    1. This.

      I have a structural engineering degree from a highly reputable engineering college. My first job was as an assistant project manager on a $130 million construction project. The first thing I realized was the people out there actually doing the work knew a lot more than I did with my fancy diploma.

      Trade school is probably a wiser decision than college right now. You can't offshore the jobs, you don't have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, you get paid handsomely, and you can do several side jobs that our Uncle Samuel knows nothing about. Bonus points for minorities in specialized fields, because many municipalities have MBE requirements that need to be met.

      1. I experienced the same before I went to engineering but on the opposite side. I had so many engineers discount what I knew because I wore a uniform. I even had to train engineers to do things that were supposed to be part of their jobs. What bothers me is how people view you different pre and post degree. While working on my degree everything I actually did was discounted. With the degree I'm not questioned which I find to be lazy and shortsighted.

      2. @Hugh and @Humble

        We should link up and trade contact info. I'm always interested to link with ppl like me in this field. Is there a way to do this without blasting my info for all to see?

  11. This is a good post Doc. While I do agree, I’ll still be pushing college until my kids are old enough to understand their other options. I don’t personally know a lot of people that do well without a degree. I know its possible though. I believe it has more to do with drive than anything else. I’ll be finished with my degree when I get closer to 29 and I’m still not sure I’ll be satisfied with that job but I know it’ll be better than the jobs I worked before. I think more than anything I’ll just stress to my kids that their lives don’t have to be cookie cuttered, be that with education or anything else.

    1. " While I do agree, I'll still be pushing college until my kids are old enough to understand their other options. I don't personally know a lot of people that do well without a degree."

      I'm just going to borrow that statement as it expresses exactly how I feel on the subject. When I look at the people I know from H.S. it seems that (as a group) the ones that went on the college are doing better than the ones that didnt. That doesnt mean that there are not a few without the degree that succeeded. But yea… I'm pushing my kids to go to college.

      1. I agree. Many have mentioned the drive factor. Lets face it. Many people don't go to college not because "it wasn't for them" but because they were never pushed to succeed, do well in school, and try and plan out their life. Most people I know who didn't go to college are still where I say them where they barely passed HS.
        I think thats supports the whole "Bill Gates dropped out" thing. The people who are successful and didn't go to college and the same type of people who went to college, they just choose and different path.
        I will push my kids to college because that pushing builds a character of success. That way if s/he decides not to go he probably has a plan in place and a good reason not to.
        My recent post Childhood Stories: Immigration Sucks

  12. I don't know how I feel about this. I know that it is POSSIBLE to hustle and make it, but I feel a degree just makes things a little bit easier if you're not the hustling type (like myself). In our society, everything revolves around higher learning. Sad, but true. Things were different back in the day. We are supposed to do better than our forefathers and we shouldn't compare ourselves either. It's a different time. A different way of life. You mention those GS-13 jobs or whatever, but how easy are those to attain? I'm sure a degree would supersede "equivalenet experience" anyday. ____I'm kind of biased. One thing is for sure….The more education you get, the more snobby you get. I don't come across many men as educated as myself and I can't help but blame their misfortunes on lack of education. I know it's wrong, but I do it anyway.

    1. "You mention those GS-13 jobs or whatever, but how easy are those to attain?"

      Much easier than you'd think…all depends on your drive.

    2. I see where you are coming from, and I think you touch on what I hope this post brings out. Just because you don't have a degree, you're not a failure. I think when you say, "It's possible (heavy sigh) but I don't think it is possible." You are calling a person a failure for not having one. What if there's nothing they can do to change the situation? Should they crawl in a hole and die? Just because a person is overweight, does that mean they should just die? Nope, they should work within their means to be happy. Just because you not where you want to be or where society wants you to be, don't mean you're a failure.

      1. Not at all!!! I would never call ANYONE a failure. Everyone has their own destiny. I am just speaking in my own terms. I also believe that you can do anything (or close to it) if you put your drive, will, and mind to it. Everyone that's unfortunate doesn't have to be unfortunate. They just choose to be because that's what works for them. Who am I to judge? I just know that it wouldn't work for me.
        School isn't for everyone. I agree with that. I am a classic example of helping a child through college that doesn't want to be there. I had to stop.I tell kids to go for what makes you happy. Go for your dreams, but I also tell them to aspire to do something that's great to them. Never settle for less.

        1. All of this to say, if you are a school person (like myself), then go for it. If you aren't that's okay too, BUT make sure you do whatever you need to do in order to be successful. People are mentioning Forbes and Entertainment and Mucho money and blah blah, but it's not about money for me. Anyone can make guap if you HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE REAL HARD. I commend ppl that have the hustler skills, but i'm not one. I am a simple person. I loved college. I loved the connection. I loved what it taught me, and I love learning, but that's me.

          Noone should crawl under a rock and die.

        2. “Everyone that’s unfortunate doesn’t have to be unfortunate. They just choose to be because that’s what works for them”

          ‘They just choose to be’? I sincerely hope that in re-reading the above, you realize how ignorant and highly insensitive it sounds.

        3. As I've stated. That's what I believe. I'm talking about the welfare abusers, project housing abusers, food stamp abusers etc. All of which are supposed to be stepping stones. Some people rely on goverment assistance because they have to. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about those that make a conscious decision not to work while they are able bodied. So Yes..I do believe that some people choose to stay in that predictament when they don't necessarily have to.

          Let's not discuss alcohol and drug abusers. That is an unfortunate predictament as well. Help is out there…

    3. "In our society, everything revolves around higher learning"

      This is absolutely incorrect. Capitalism revolves around goods and services. If you take a look at the top 100 Billionaires(forbes dot com) in the world only 6 have degrees. Our country is built on generational wealth. Education became important only has a weeding process. In my industry where i enjoy the success of ownership, I hire people based on skills and experience. In the Film,TV,Indusrty no one cares about a degree…its can you or can't you period. I paid a highschool Junior in ypislanti, michigan 60k last year. He makes more than his parents and he doesnt even need to leave his bedroom. The world revolves around goods and services. all ways have.

      1. Thanks for the link. I made it to #135 and had my point proven which is the majority of those "richest people in America" aren't black. I'm sorry, but we don't have the same opportunity as others. We have to work harder. The film industry is extrememely competitive. That highschool junior got lucky. Many inner city kids won't come across an offer like that. For the majority of them (including myself), education is the ONLY way out.

        So yes I agree the world revolves around goods and services, but the reality is that majority of folk won't fit the cut.

    4. "The more education you get, the more snobby you get."

      No ma'am. My Dad has mo' degrees than a lil' bit and does not have the slightest air about him. My mom has her fair share as well, and neither does she. You are allowed to recognize when people are losing due to their lack of higher education, but snobbiness is not an automatic acquisition.

  13. "how can you judge a chick for not having a degree when she got more money than you?"

    Wellllllllll…… *churchchoirvoice*

    Back to reading the remainder of post

  14. What’s the difference between a hustler and a professional?

    (1/2)

    Difference between a hustler and a professional is that a Hustler would do what he or she gotta do to make ends meet, they become diversified so to speak by having their hands in many different pots trying to get that paper, whereas a professional IMO depends solely on his or her credentials (college degree/pedigree) to land that top tier job in their field to make that money which is why you tend to see alot of depressed unemployed bankers, lawyers, etc because they were told to go to a top tier law school or B school and get that degree to land that 6 figure a year position and when it didn't pan out they were azz out because they weren't equipped with the necessary skills and mindset to do anything else.

    Good WriteUp Dr J.

    1. (2/2)

      I agree everybody does not need a degree to succeed, My Daddy, Uncles and the Ex Husband showed me that but I would still encourage kids to get some form of higher education whether it's college or a tech school to pick up a skill because everybody does not have that Hustler Mentality, some people are just 9 to 5 white collar pencil/paper pushers (myself included) because that is what their parents worked and struggled so hard for (hustled) so WE (myself) wouldn't have to.

  15. I co-sign this post as well.

    I will say that I think a college degree in Tech/Science areas will get you more money faster. You can get the money without the degree, but you'll have to grind, grind, grind to do it.

    I was blessed to obtain a gov't position as a summer job at 17. I started the day after my birthday. It was my first job. I was a GS-1. I was accepted into a Stay-In-School position that allowed me to keep my job during senior year and my first 2 yrs of college. By 21, I was a GS-4. I accepted a co-op position that gave me a GS-5 and, upon completion of college, guaranteed me a IT journeyman position…GS-7/9/11/12…all before I hit 30. My grandmother worked for the gov't 20+ yrs with a high school diploma to do what I did in 10 yrs…and that's why she encouraged me to go to college. She wanted me to get to where I wanted to be faster than she did.

    1. I want to get on at DFAS and I’m hoping to get into a program like that. It used to be called the LIM program, I can’t think of its new name though. My hubs had gone from gs5 to gs12 in about five years. Of course he wasn’t in that program all that time but it put him on the right path. This has motivated me to get my accounting degree. You were blessed to get on so young.

  16. I love this post.

    I agree you don't _need_ one for a lot of things. I'm a first generation college head and my parents are doing fine… so I get it…

    But.

    When you come out of college and make more than both your parents combined at you first job… and they've been in their fields for 20+ years… even with one of those fields being the semi-lucrative utilities field… well… it's hard not to still be all about these pieces of paper… I think it's already documented that lifetime earnings are significantly higher for those with degrees vs those without… but who's to say _that's_ the part that matters in the first place?

    I'm a fan of trade school… my family is full of electricians and cooks and HVAC folks and carpenters, etc… However, when I declared I was going to hair and school? My fathers flipped the hell out. Now, I rebelled, and went anyway, but that's certainly not what I'm doing now, and I'm glad. I've been #TeamBookerT for a long time, but these days I'm working that #TeamWEB life, and I think it's better for me. (this is not to say that Washington's plan is anti-education, because it certainly isn't… but it was trade heavy)

    I'm not a fan of sending anybody I know to the military, but that's my personal beef. I know several men and women who have benefited from the military.

    *I say we lay ALL of the options we can think of on the table.*

    I think for some folks there's little difference be hustlers and professionals, with the exception of maybe the risk involved.

    "What’s the difference between paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to market yourself, or just finding it out yourself?"

    The answer to this question will vary depending on the field you've chosen… I actually had a choice of what kind of midwife I would be. I could go the apprentice route, and learn the profession "on the ground" with no degrees necessary… or I could go the academic route and learn it at a brick and mortar. For me, it came down to options and money. I wanted to be able to deliver babies at home, in a center, or in a HOSPITAL. Therefore, degrees were necessary. Further, the options available outside of the profession dramatically improved with the degrees… and the income, too.
    My recent post Mamas, Bellies, & Babies

    1. But you have to commend your parents for putting you in the position to go to college. Also consider this… there's college educated parents who send their kids to Ivy league schools and those kids come out making 5 times their parents. It could happen. I make more than people with Masters degrees and sometimes PhDs, that don't make a difference sometimes, you know. I think if you consider yourself successful and you attribute that to your parents, then I think your parents were pretty successful.

      1. I feel you – I wanted to go back and get a Master's but my director told me flat out get it because you want it – your career isn't riding on it your skill set and "perception" is. Changed my life!

      2. "But you have to commend your parents for putting you in the position to go to college…"

        -Yes, like I thank my mother for a library card, a ride to the library, and for moving out of my way. I thank my daddy for on time child support payments and making friends with my dad, and my dad for unrelenting defense of my dreams. And I thank them all day long :o)

        "Also consider this… there's college educated parents who send their kids to Ivy league schools and those kids come out making 5 times their parents."

        -Yep, and us ivy professional school graduates of uneducated parents also exist and while I'm not making 5x their salaries, it's close enough.

        "I make more than people with Masters degrees and sometimes PhDs, that don't make a difference sometimes, you know."

        -Sure doesn't! But again, "who's to say _that's_ the part that matters in the first place?" For real, yo.

        "I think if you consider yourself successful and you attribute that to your parents, then I think your parents were pretty successful."

        -They were. But when you ask them, *how* they were successful with raising me, it has very little to do with my college education, because in the grand scheme of things, they couldn't offer much help in that area. However, what's more important- to them AND me- is all the other ways in which they have succeeded beyond measure. Love is… everything. Integrity, compassion/empathy, and humbleness are a learned legacy that no degree I have now, or will ever get, will ever trump.
        My recent post Mamas, Bellies, & Babies

  17. Higher education isn't for everyone and self-education after highschool is real. There are so many highly intelligent people who did not go to college or went for some time but didn't finish. I respect that…especially those who read, travel alot & yearn for knowledge but just choose not to do the college part.
    Construction workers are not only sexy because of their physical looks but the fact that they make so much money…um yeah. 🙂
    My company pays the computer guy who does consultant work for us about $50 an hour–many times they try to avoid him coming in unless its "very necessary" because they don't want to pay him.
    LOL.
    My recent post MikasThoughts: I don't own any flat shoes…

  18. I love college for the experience. I met a lot of life long friends there and gained valuabel knowledge. While i would like my future kids to get a college degree its far from "needed" especially given the avenues you described. Once you enslave your mind into the college or bust mentality, you set yourself up for failure.

    However there are some professions that do require a 4 year degree, to which I say that paying a billion dollars in student loans for a degree from a school with a fancy name isnt prudent at all, or "necessary"
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  19. As somebody with an engineering degree and a certification in skilled trades I agree with this totally. One of the reasons I think college is pushed is because people that work with their hands and get dirty are looked down upon. I think the appreciation of skilled labor declined simultaneously with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing/industrial base. I've been offered positions that paid just as much as offers I've received with my degree. I made more than my ex with a master's degree working in skilled trades.

    The biggest problem I see especially in the STEM fields is that they want to get students involved too late. Skilled trades are the vestibule to the STEM fields. Most of the old (and best) engineers I worked with were journeyman or had a background in skilled trades. Frankly everyone is not built for college and that doesn't mean that they're not intelligent. Everyone learns differently. Like I always say. Everyone turns their nose up at the mechanic, construction worker, electrician, plumber, etc. until you get that invoice. If what they did was so useless you'd be able to do it yourself and they wouldn't be charging you out the backside.

    1. "One of the reasons I think college is pushed is because people that work with their hands and get dirty are looked down upon…"

      I don't understand why. Lord knows I give people who clean septic tanks, pick up the trash, clean bathrooms and etc. MAJOR props because I can't/ won't do it.

      1. I don't understand why. Lord knows I give people who clean septic tanks, pick up the trash, clean bathrooms and etc. MAJOR props because I can't/ won't do it.

        Okay, but would you honestly date and/or marry one who does any of these jobs although they can make a comfortable living?

        1. “Okay, but would you honestly date and/or marry one who does any of these jobs although they can make a comfortable living?”

          Yep! Cause a guy that can fix sh*t is attractive. lol!

        2. @Kema, girl we on the same thing! I like a man that can put up a ceiling fan. That's what I grew up seeing my dad do so I started to equate that to manhood. LOL
          Most overly educated dudes irritate me. Its like they lose touch with reality. Making blanket statements and sounding more ignant than the folks they trying to put down. But thats just my experience. I'll take a hardworking blue collar dude over mister think too much of himself but can't hook up this surround sound to save his life any day.
          Wish I could find a nice blend of the two but I digress. lol

        3. I grew up around men who didn't have jobs that many aspire to have but they love their families and were hard workers. I won't say that I wouldn't be worried about what my friends and family members think but I would still give him a chance.

    2. I think college is pushed so much because of our parents. I can speak for Black people but it's almost like, Jochebad. Black people just do the best they know how. A lot of our grandparents didn't go to college but they just wanted the next generation to be better off than them, so they said, "All I know is that an education is your ticket off this plantation, or out of the South." Once that happened then parents were like, "All I know is that a degree in medicine, chemistry, or law is your ticket out the hood." I think as we mature as a people, we have examples of ways things could work without that. I don't fault my ancestors though.

  20. In the state of NY they force students to get a Regents diploma. In the past you could get a regular diploma from your school, or you could go to BOCES and learn a trade and still graduate. Like if you can't pass Physics and Earth Science you can go to BOCES and learn how to be an auto mechanic.

    When they made the change to all Regents the test scores dropped because they were forcing those other kids to take the same tests. If we offered more education on specific trades in high school, you would have a country with people who can do for themselves. And that alone has the ability to raise the quality of life and the economy.

  21. Its true, there are a lot of jobs out there that don't need degrees, but there are a lot of good jobs that do. The average degree holders still out-earns the average non-degree holder, but I don't remember the numbers.

    I think kids should just have more time to figure themselves out before going to college. You shouldn't be paying 40K per year to find yourself, that's just silly and a waste of time and money. I wouldnt have a problem with my kid hanging out at home for a year, traveling/volunteering/reading/doing some entrepreneurial stuff for a year before he/she goes to college. That way he or she will be more centered, less likely to get caught up with all the campus drama/social life nonsense, and he or she will go in with a plan. But he or she is definitely going to college. There is no question about that.

    I think its great you have so many friends who did so well without a college degree. I don't. Most of my friends who stayed at home after high school are still there. Through school I've gotten to travel the country, meet people from all over the world, network and make contacts, and personally my life has been enriched because of my degree. Also, for my profession (medicine) no one makes it in without an undergrad degree so… there's that too.

    My friends who did the best post-college, had a concrete plan from freshman year and they stuck with it. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't have the ability to think outside the box. But I have friends who during freshman year said, I'm going to be working at Goldman post-college, or I want to be studying law at Harvard and they are there now. And they're very successful. I know more of those stories than I do the high scool/GED educated dude who's making 6 figures. But it may depend on which sorts of circles you run in.

    And it also depends on how you define success, which is a whole different conversation. Everyone doesn't define it strictly on salary level.

  22. Hey everyone…coming out of lurkdom for this.

    I agree with everything said in the original article. However, some people chose college for the networking opportunities. With the people you meet in college, your chances of getting a job because you went to school with so-and-so's kid are higher then the skilled tradesman. Think about the conferences, seminars, national meetings…these are golden opportunities and, not so (book)smart people who went to college will use these opportunities to climb the ladder. Think about interviews you've been to and the convo goes like this : "you went to XYZ? my uncle is the head of ABC department!!" That in itself just upped your chances even if your resume is not as bling-y as the guy who went to trade school.

    1. That's real. That's real. That's the same reason why people join frats and sororities. They want access to a network. I will say this though, you can still network in your city and neighborhood, it's just much more difficult. In college, they kind of make it easy for you, they force you to get along with new people. When you on your own two feet, it's harder.

  23. You speak nothing but the truth here Dr. J. Not everyone is cut for the college life and a degree does not necessarily equals success. HOWEVER, think about education as a sort of insurance. The current economic crisis makes it that much harder to appreciate a degree but typically, when you have a degree your chances of success are much higher than the person who doesn't. Sure, this is not ALWAYS the case but it is usually the case. In my job, there is a guy in our IT department who has been working there close to 20 years. Dude knows EVERYTHING! Yet, he's never going to become a manager. Why? He only has a high school diploma. Just magine his invaluable experience, COUPLED with a degree, he would be unstoppable! He would probably be the Global Head of IT. Yet that little paper called a degree is keeping him in that tiny IT office.

    I also find it interesting that a few of the engineers upthread talked about MANAGING tradesmen who seemed more knowledgeable than they were. They probably made more money too, even though they are less knowledgeable. Why? Because they got that insurance in their hand. That also seems the case for architects, construction managers etc.

    I say all to say this, we are not China. We don't have so many overachievers, education-wise, that we should be comfortable saying college is not a big deal. Our college rates are low enough that we should still continue hammering on the importance of college education. Let's just not make that the ONLY option.

    1. "In my job, there is a guy in our IT department who has been working there close to 20 years. Dude knows EVERYTHING! Yet, he's never going to become a manager. Why? He only has a high school diploma. Just magine his invaluable experience, COUPLED with a degree, he would be unstoppable!"

      That's a shame. A man fully qualified, perhaps overqualified, for the position needs to pay thousands of dollars to go to school to not learn anything, and is probably more well-versed than his professors, just to get a sheet of paper that tells HR he's qualified (when they already know that).

      I read an entry by a blogger that owned a computer graphics company. Larger companies were impressed that his small company had such an impressive team of artists. He said the reason why is because when interviewing applicants, he paid no attention to their resume. He came in the room, handed them a sheet of paper, and said, "draw something". If they could do it well, they got the job. If they couldn't, they were dismissed.

      1. Right! It is a shame. And the thing is, everyone knows that he is by far the most knowledgeable person in that department. Even the big guns ask for him everytime they have issues. But year after year, he is bypassed for promotions or fresh, young college graduates are brought in with higher pay and more clout than him. He could leave and go somewhere else but what is the guarantee that he won't be in the same situation? So sometimes a college degree might not be everything but it could be the difference between you getting sick to your stomach everytime you have to go to work and you not minding so much what you do. I can just imagine how he feels whenever his "superiors" ask him for help with an issue because he knows better than they do.

  24. Love this post! I work as a counselor at a community college by day, and it is really painful to see students who quite frankly should be doing other things with their lives. There are some who, cognitively, just can't handle it — but they do it anyway. They stay until they get kicked out for bad grades, sit out a semester, then come back to fail all over again. Then there are others who can do it if they applied themselves, but just don't do it — these are usually the young ones. I think they need to go work for a few years, find some direction, then come back if they feel they want to.

    I have several degrees and have a nice position, but make little money. I'm kicking myself for it now. Should have just gone to culinary school instead…
    My recent post Estrogen: It’s What’s for Dinner!

  25. i agree with everything you wrote but i just can't get with the military thing. i'm grateful for the military for defending my liberties and such but the man you described is the exception not the rule. how many men do you know who commanded 10,000 troops? everyone can't be a general. now how many men do you know sitting at walter reed missing a limb or worse came home in a coffin fighting a war based on fabricated facts? i'm good on armed services.

    1. The majority of your veterans are not in Walter Reed. I described a Lt. Colonel. But there are several other ways to exit the military without reaching that high rank. Not everyone will retire from the military after 30 years. Some will exit after 8-10 years and go on to have great careers in corporate America. There are tons of men and women who have fought for their country in corporate america. Some serve 2 years and then bounce, come out with training and a different outlook. Yes, there are bad sides to serving your country.

      Also, I think sometimes we are very insensitive to the troops while trying to be compassionate. I think you have to think about it this way, let's say someone lost a limb in Afghanistan and then come home and you say, "See you got hurt, that's why I always say the war is pointless." Yeah, that sounds compassionate, but if I'm that troop, i'm thinking, "Yo, did you just dead ass call my injury a waste of time? I got hurt protecting my country and doing my job, not wasting my time."

      1. I think Tunde crossed that line well. Dispite our soldiers good intentions, millitary actions should always be up for debate. If not we are going to put our men and women in harms way. They are warriors, they do what they are told well. Tunde is just pointing out that fact that people are not careful with what we tell them to do.
        To answer your question, if you fight in an unjust war are you still a hero? Yes. But you should not take the way your war in portrayed in history or the media personally. You did not make the decision.

  26. I agree with this post, nice write up.

    Both of my parents are educators and attended and graduated from a 4-year HBCU institution and drilled into me that not going to college wasn't an option. I'm pretty sure up until my freshman year of high school I thought college was just the next "grade" up and everyone went and it wasn't just an option, lol.

    At any rate, I'm seeing some comments refer to college degree/not having degree and correlating that to amount of earnings and so forth. One can be very successful financial w/o obtaining a degree, obviously, but the way I look at it is from an accessiblity standpoint. Having a degree(s) gives one a greater probability of being fluid and having access to fields/positions they normally would not have. In other words it just warrants you more options. Just by the law of large numbers in and of itself if one has more options and flexibility the probability of success will go up. To put it another way, it definitely won't hurt you (in most cases…miss me with the overqualified argument..thanks).

    1. And just to be clear, one can be very successful w/o college…but I'm speaking from a macro level here…and everyone's definition of success is subjective at best, too.

    2. "I'm pretty sure up until my freshman year of high school I thought college was just the next "grade" up and everyone went and it wasn't just an option, lol. "

      I thought that way all the way to college. lol…Not going was never an option for me.

      1. "I thought that way all the way to college. lol…Not going was never an option for me." Same here my dad was just like where are you going

  27. The one thing I have to disagree with is the military jobs. I interned abroad for the government in college so I met a lot of Marines. Many of these men are just used as pawns for the government. And the GI bill has been changed drastically over the years. There is no longer much funding for college. Many of these men were taking remedial college courses online and it takes them 5x as long to get a degree because they are only allowed to take one class at a time. And the military is full of the lower class and minority men/women who saw it as their only option. But they come out not having too many useful skills. Many of the guys I met had been in the Marines since 18, had little to no college education, and had no idea what to do when they left. One guy I know keep re-inlisting and I think its because he is scared of the real world. He is 27 now.
    The best way to succeed in the military is to do ROTC.. meaning get a college degree! That way you enter the military as an officer with responsibilities and higher chance of moving up in ranks.

    The one example I know of where not going to college worked is a young kid who works for his Uncle's carpet cleaning business. The uncle is making bank. Kid graduated and went right to working for his Uncle and learning the craft. Once the kid learns the ropes and his uncle retires, the business is his. That's a guaranteed $120k in about 10 years.
    My recent post Childhood Stories: Immigration Sucks

  28. Great post. I think some of the comments digressed from what I took as your general point which is that college is not the only option. I was raised on that mentality. I felt I would be a failure if I didn't go to college even if I didn't know what I wanted to do or be. My perspective now is to each his own. I enjoyed college and the experience it gave and was fortunate to get a scholarship to go. But its not for everyone and I don't look down upon a person who chooses a different route. Success is something you define for yourself. Everyone doesn't want a 6 figure salary. Some would like to just be comfortable. Let me pay these bills and have a little to play with on the side and I am happy.
    Some people are blessed to know what they want to be early on but I don't think there is enough direction out there for those who are just not sure. As far as my kids are concerned they have a choice. All I want is for them to think it thru and as people have mentioned above have a plan. to be cont'd

    1. I don't plan on pressuring my children either way. I have 2 cousins whose dad would press and press the older one about football and going pro. He was good but it really wasnt his passion. But to please his dad he played all up till college before finally just quitting. He finally fessed up and just told his dad that wasnt what he wanted to do. He wanted to be an auto mechanic, get married and make babies. he is so happy right now and has all three. I remember him telling me for him this is good enough. Ironically enuf the younger brother didn't have that same pressure from his dad and to everyone's surprise he went to BYU played football and now plays in the NFL. He too is very happy cause he has his dream.
      As far as discounting dating someone cause they don't have a degree. That's ridiculous to me. But I have been in circles that was a qualifier and having grown up seeing one half blue collar and one half white collar I am a lot more realistic than that.

  29. I was a military brat and was told by my parents college/Air force, pick one. I picked military because I wanted to experience seeing the world. After 8 years of military, I went to a trade school for a health field and received my first job because of my background being in the military. I decided the job I had was ok but I wanted more so I am in college and this helps because administration positions in the health field requires college and some certifications.

    Since I am a veteran it really doesn't guarantee you a job for the government. It's really hard to get a government position seeing that many civilians occupy those spots and recommend there family members. In the end, I still went to college. I wouldn't change my life around any other way because of the experience, people I met, different cultures I know more about, and the maturity level it brings no matter what position I have for the moment. Every stage of my life I never had a problem dating men educated more than me before going to college.

    Thanks for the blog and I enjoy reading the comments afterwards! Hopefully this wont be my last comment.

  30. Awesome post! I fall into the “I don’t have a degree, but am making more than most of my peers who have college degrees due to my gov’t experience” category. I dropped out of school half way through my sophopmore semester, and began contracting with the gov’t when I was 19. Since then I’ve continued contracting, and each job pays more and more (or I get an annual raise plus incentive bonuses). I have friends who graduated and can’t find a job to save their lives! They end up working a crappy job b/c they lack experience. I’m not sure how work is in other states but, in DC, becoming a fed or contracting is a great avenue to take.

    I do plan to go back to school b/c I know I could make MORE money with a degree PLUS experience (and I’m just ready to go back lol), but at the same token I don’t think a person should be judged for lacking a degree. My father makes 6+ figures, and didn’t go to college not one day! He’s a Deputy Program Manager; he hires people with 3 or 4 Master’s Degrees, and they have NO CLUE that he never went to college.

    Also, just because a person graduated does not mean he/she is intelligent. I’m very bright, and always have been. Most people would never guess that I dropped out of school. On the flip side, I know people with degrees who are dumb as a rock, and I wonder how they even graduated at all! Money and a degree don’t define success. I think that’s the problem with our society. There are plenty of “successful” people by society’s material standards, and they’re completely unhappy with life…money out the hind end and all!

    Thanks for this post, again! I hope people start to understand that college really is not for every one, and one does not have to be a BUM just b/c he/she lacks a degree!

    1. my dad's the same way. no degree, yet is a supervisor that manages people with multiple degrees. he never hesitates to tell people that while his peers were 60k in debt with student loans, he was making 60k. lol. hasn't made less than that in like 25 years. i wish i had inherited the hustle gene. lmbo
      My recent post these three words…

  31. great post.

    that plumber thing is real. i know a woman that has been a plumber for years and she only works when she wants. literally. chills at home until she feels like making money, then goes and makes $80 an hour like you said, and goes back home. i never knew they made that much until a conversation with her.

    also, the military thing is true too. my little genius cousin who carried a 1.3 GPA in highschool yet got a 36 on the ACT and a 14something on the SAT, but just couldn't get with school or college in the traditional sense, is now living in Hawaii and making over 80k at age 22 and learned chinese and japanese fluently as part of his job as a Naval Intelligence Officer. i'm amazed.

    i come from a family that i can count on one hand how many members have degrees… and i think they turned out okay. lol

    i will be encouraging my children to get an education though. i see the opportunities that come with it, and i want to give them the best advantage in life. i can't even imagine how it will be when MY kids are college aged.

    1. I think its a great outcome. His Uncle will retire in about 10 years. In the meantime he makes about 35k a year while learning the business. Considering he is 18 now he will have his own business making 120k at 28 with no HS degree. Most people who don't go to college wont achieve that
      My recent post Childhood Stories: Immigration Sucks

      1. I guess I wasn't looking at it from a comparative angle; Saying he'll be in a better position than most people with college degrees isn't the goal. My point is spending ten years in an apprenticeship seems oddly analogous to spending those years in school. Not being in school should afford you the advantage to go out and start making things happen earlier than your counterparts in college would. Imagine if he started his own thing at the 2/3 year mark, he could easily build something worth more than 120k by the 10yr mark – and in addition to that, take over his uncle's business upon retirement, no? 😀 Maybe I shouldnt have used the word 'nice' – 'expected' would have been a more appropriate word.
        My recent post Race – an illegitimate concept.

  32. Gosh right at this moment, I'm so infatuated with you for thinking to discuss this issue; Very important stuff. So many amazing opportunities out there that telling young people that they have to get into debt to acquire degrees or imprison themselves within the four walls of formal learning environments, is NO LONGER sound advice. Stuff like the Thiel Fellowship – amazing! Or resources like The Personal MBA and Brazen U that make it so you don't necessarily have to dedicate years that could be spent "doing" to being in a classroom. (1/2)
    My recent post Race – an illegitimate concept.

    1. (2/2) I always argued for formal education and it wasn't until after business school that the scales dropped and the phoniness of the entire thing became more obvious; I certainly wish I had known this prior to starting college most especially because school pigeon-holes people. Not to say that formal education doesnt have it's advantages(especially for networking and stuff), but i totally agree with you on the subject. I, for one, will never look down on anyone who has solid plans in motion simply because they don't have a degree or two or three 😀 😀 Great post doc!
      My recent post Race – an illegitimate concept.

  33. I wholeheartedly agree, I am a diesel mechanic working for Veolia Enviromental Services, and I make more money doing what I do than a lot of my friends with college degrees, and so many of my friends with degrees can't find a job right now bc the jobs just aren't there, but I can look online and every city I look at the job listings there are always great paying mechanic jobs with good benefits. The problem is that so many people look down on skilled trades that there is starting to be a shortage of mechanics, and today's mechanics aren't just turning wrenches its using a laptop to access the wehicles computers to find out whats going on, and on top of the money I make at work, I easily make more money at my house doing side jobs and charging half the amount for labor as a shop charges, Who here can honestly say that if you bought the brakes and charged you 35 for the front and 35 for the back wouldn't pay that versus paying 180+ at a shop. And I can do it in about a hour, 70 bucks a hour tax free additional free money all without a degree

    1. "The problem is that so many people look down on skilled trades that there is starting to be a shortage of mechanics"

      And the converse: there are so many people going to college, it not only diminishes the value of a degree, but increases the price. The tuition rates at my alma mater doubled since I graduated in 1999.

  34. Love this post! I work as a counselor at a community college by day, and it is really painful to see students who quite frankly should be doing other things with their lives. There are some who, cognitively, just can't handle it — but they do it anyway. They stay until they get kicked out for bad grades, sit out a semester, then come back to fail all over again. Then there are others who can do it if they applied themselves, but just don't do it — these are usually the young ones. I think they need to go work for a few years, find some direction, then come back if they feel they want to.

    I have several degrees and have a nice position, but make little money. I'm kicking myself for it now. Should have just gone to culinary school instead…
    My recent post Estrogen: It’s What’s for Dinner!

  35. This is a great post. I've always believed that success is individually defined. Sure the media likes to paint a picture of what they want the masses to believe success is (fame, riches, material things, etc.), but I personally believe success should be defined by our individual happiness. In terms of jobs or careers, if you enjoy the work you are doing then you are successful, in my opinion. A certain career path or salary shouldn't determine whether or not a person is successful.

    Like you pointed out, there are careers that people shy away from and in turn have less applicants, which equals higher pay. I would say this is a result of people not being told about these professions or being led to believe that these professions aren't even options. Either way it has led to lots of misconceptions. This just goes to show that people aren't aware or educating themselves about different career paths. They are just accepting what others are telling them and not looking into it for themselves. I hope this post will open some eyes and lead people to pursue different options.
    My recent post All Women Care About is the D(ang-a-Lang)

  36. Yes! It is very important to present a variety of options to our youth. They need to know and understand that there are a number of career paths available for them. Also, money should not be their only concern. They should either focus on something they are good/talented at or focus on something that interests them. There is nothing wrong with receiving a college education, but by no means is it the only options. Individuals should be taught at a young age what options they have available to them and then be allowed to pick the one they prefer. No longer should the youth be forced to think that they have a limited amount of options.
    My recent post All Women Care About is the D(ang-a-Lang)

  37. Good post! I agree with a majority of the comments – you don't need a degree to be "successful". Of course success is relative. However, I also think it depends on the person's natural intelligence, critical thinking skills, drive, etc. I have a friend who doesn't have a degree who's been working in the government probably since we were 21/22 years old and she makes good money. But she had to fight her way to the top because there were managers who had plans for her life, who thought she should toil as a secretary for 5 years before she could even think about advancing. She disagreed and proved them wrong. Contrast that with folks who stay GS-4s and 5s until the day they die because they don't think they can do any better. You have to see something better for your life, in whatever form and fashion that means for you, and then work, take risks, and try to get there…
    My recent post What I Learned From The PBS Prohibition Documentary Wednesday

  38. Great post except for the part about "military brothers trained to use guns to use them on their own people". I wish you would've expounded on this. Where is this happening? Anyway, Many people with degrees, myself included start their professional lives with several thousands of dollars in student loan debt to pay off well in to their 30's and beyond. I would encourage youth to be free, creative thinkers and explore entrepreneur opportunities that reap benefits before even entring college. For most, college trains you to work for someone else. Because of debt you work for someone else for the rest of your life. Youth (especially inner-city/ lower income) need to be taught about managing finances, credit, and simple banking before college. Some people with degrees don't understand these basics. How many people do you know with degrees who are completely financially free of student loans and credit cards or any obligatory debt?

  39. I have very mixed feelings about this one, because i have a degree and my husband does not. He makes more than i do, hands down. He is a skilled laborer, pipe welder. I don't feel that everyone has to get a college degree, but get something. If not anything get an associates degree and then decided if what you get your associates in is where you want to be. I don't think that a high school deploma is enough, you need more now a days, but i don't feel like a 4-6 year degree is always necessary. If and when I have children, i will make sure that they get something beyond a high school deploma, and also make sure they get some marketable skills before they graduate high school.

  40. I co-sign this 150% and I'm glad that this argument was presented from someone WITH a degree as opposed to some knucklehead that's just making an excuse as to why college is a waste of time. As a degree holder myself, I've learned that while a college degree is great, it's only necessary for certain industries. Although I graduated from college (got fairly good grades, good internships, studied abroad and became a well-rounded woman), that did NOT guarantee success for me. We were taught that we would conquer the world post-graduation because we were college graduates….we were "special" but guess what? I didn't conquer the world…the world chewed me up and spit me out. I interned and waitressed for a while, thinking wtf am I doing wrong while many of non-degreed friends were making a nice chunk of change doing stock as high-end shoe stores, real estate agents and working as a conductor for Metro-North (with overtime making 90K). The point is that a college degree is nothing more than a piece of paper showing that you made it through x amount of years at a higher institution…it doesn't make you smarter, you could have paid someone to write your papers and take your tests.

    Furthermore, (as I've had this same conversation with friends) a lot of us go to college to end up interning or working for that president, founder or CEO who has never touched foot on a college campus and they will make more money than we will ever see in our lifetimes. Also, we use that money that we earn on the plantation for what…..to buy those shoes and/or dress from that designer who never went to college. We spout lyrics from our favorite rappers who never went to college (or probably didn't graduate from hs). They're talking about a lifestyle that we may never achieve. I could go on and on but you get the point. Every career is needed, someone has to do it and success is relative.

  41. Nice post! As a service member, it's easy but hard to explain to folks how easy it is to do your time and walk away with an experience, discipline and benefits to last a lifetime! I've been in close to 12 years and wouldn't trade the experience for anything else in the world. My job has provided me training in Photography, Videography, Journalism and even Sales (as a recruiter)- those trainings are easily transferred into the civilian sector with no problems. Along with those trainings I only had to take five or six college classes to receive an Associates in Mass Communications. I'm 12 classes short of obtaining a BA in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. Now, I probably won't ever need these degrees, but just in case I NEED to work once retired from the Navy, I have things I can fall back on.

    I agree, school isn't for everyone BUT this route allowed me to obtain degrees without stepping foot in a classroom and taking few classes.

    thanks for the post!

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