Is College Necessary To Be Successful in 2018? (And Beyond)

     I would just like to start off by saying that yes, this is an opinion article. The views expressed are my own, and the experiences are my own. Everyone has their own path, everyone has their own goals, and their own dreams. Do what you must to get there, everyone deserves to reach your goals. Find your own path, and follow it.

     I started working for my current employer as a summer job when I was 15 years old. I was young, I wanted a summer job, and I found one. Now when I say I found one, I mean I applied to many jobs, and I didn't get one anywhere local. I ended up getting my job through someone my grandfather volunteered with for a local baseball team. By being persistent, applying to the company, and then later proving myself as a good worker, I earned a spot when they invited people back the next year, and the next, and the next. Until eventually I became a full time employee of the company. 

I wouldn’t wish any specific thing for any specific person - it’s none of my business. But the idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane. It’s insane.”
— Mike Rowe

     Now, this wasn't an easy road. I would work during the summers, 35+ hours a week many times, and at the time, I would live about an hour from home. So I really didn't get to see my friends much during the summer. I worked, and I sweat my ass off, and I learned many of the things I know on the job, through trial and error, self research, listening to others, and asking questions I learned the ins and outs of the properties that we manage and maintain. I had grown up learning construction from my father, so learning the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing trades basics were something that interested me. Landscaping and using my hands were things that appealed to me. Now, if none of what I have said sounds good to you, maybe this blog isn't for you. This blog is for the kids, getting ready to go to college, or a trade school, or who are not sure what they want to do.

     To all of you, I want you to follow your dreams. Evaluate your goals, and reach for them. Work towards them. We live in a time when people look down upon the trades, and we go to schools were you are told over and over that college is the only way to be successful. I want you to know that that isn't always the case. There is nothing, repeat NOTHING, wrong with going into a trade. If you have made it this far into this blog, then I am going to assume you know who Mike Rowe is. Which would also mean that you know he is out there preaching to kids to look at other opportunities than just going to college, and if you are going to college, look at the job market for the major you are going into. Are you sure there will be a job? Are you sure that job will allow you to reach your goals? What is the salary? What are the requirements? Will you need $80,000+ of debt to get there? Will you need more? 

“We’ve waged war on work. We have collectively agreed, stupidly, that work is the enemy.”
— Mike Rowe

     There are many questions that should be asked. I find it weird to think that not long ago, I was going off to college, I was going to be a criminal justice major and I wanted to be a police officer, in the end, I found out that that degree wasn't a requirement. Honestly it wasn't really what I wanted to do. So I transferred to a college to study Construction Management, and finally ended up studying Building Construction Management at the same school. Even at that point, I didn't know I would end up working in property and facilities management and maintenance. What I have been able to do however, was use the knowledge and skills I learned throughout my college career in my workplace. Do I have a degree? I don't. Am I the smartest person in the room? Nope. Am I willing to give it my all at work? Yeah I am, and it allowed me to work my way up from the kid who was new on the crew of guys, to being confident enough to be able to run the crew of guys, help put plans in place, and evaluate our current systems and make changes to them. Am I the best at it? No. There will always be room for improvement. I have members of my staff who love to joke about how you cant be successful, or live a good life, without a degree. The joke is on them though, I am proud to say that I am able to live a good life, enjoy every day, and know that I am happier than many people with degrees, because I get to do something that I enjoy. 

     That is why, I do not think you need a degree to be successful in 2018, or beyond. There are so many other career options out there if you look for them. I would encourage everyone to get out there, take a look, and explore these other career opportunities. One of the sad realities is that tech and shop classes are disappearing from our schools, and these are the classes that could help you explore these other paths to take.

     For those of you looking for scholarships to help you get into a trade school, please check out: mikeroweWORKS

     Although with all that being said, there is one thing that I want people to know as well. Just because you didn't go to college, doesn't mean that you cant, wont, or shouldn't be able to get the job of your dreams. Is my current job the job of my dreams? Nope. I'd love to turn the work I am passionate about, like running my blogs, producing videos of places I travel to, and trying to help others find their path into a career. Will the fact that I don't have a degree hold me back in some regards? Yes it probably will. At some point though, the work that I have put in hands on doing what I love, will be enough to offset the degree that I do not have. So while you may not immediately be able to get the job of your dreams, and just to make a point a degree doesn't guarantee a job either, you may be able to get it in the future thanks to the hard work you put in now. Get out there, chase your dreams, and write your own story.