Do you need a degree to be successful?


Statistics tell us that those with a degree are more likely to earn more but unfortunately tell us nothing else.

With using tuition fees of up to £9,000 and possible higher in the future university and the cost of living increasing more and more people are turning straight to work. More than that there are several well known self made successes in business that have got where they are today without a degree such as Alan Sugar, Jaqueline Gold, Steve Jobs, Anna Wintour, Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey.

In an article for the Stylist, Jaqueline Gold applauded women who are going straight to the workforce and believes that not having a degree has not hindered her at all however I believe this may not be the case for everyone. I come from a family that was always poor, neither of my parents have a degree.

My dad was in the army, he then started his own building services company and hired a small team which were contracted for our local housing association where he struggled to get much work competing with the bigger contractors, after more than 40 years in the construction industry he was looking for a way out and by reading books, picking up business terminology, nurturing his craft after much disappointment in interviews for managerial positions he was interviewed by someone who saw his potential, we'll call this man Peter. Without Peter seeing my dads potential, my dad may still be mixing cement and struggling now, but luckily he's managing a team for a different housing association and is an asset there, his experience has earned him great respect in his position. He now earns a good wage and lives comfortably, however he may never move up from his current position without a degree, instead he's working hard to rectify this, paying an extortionate amount for an NVQ in hopes that it may aid him, but at the age of 52 he may never get the chance.
My mum left school at 16 with next to no qualifications and went to work for a travel agency, when she got fed up with this she quit and worked for my dad as a builder (no joke, my mum is pretty kick ass) she went to college part time to do her maths and English GCSE's, and then continued on a part-time basis to do her A Levels in Psychology, Sociology and English after successfully completing she went on and did a degree in nursing at the age of 40, she's now a Band 5 nurse on a mental health ward.
What I'm trying to get across to you is that neither of my parents began with a degree, my dad could suffer in his career with a glass ceiling because he has not got a degree, my mother on the other hand has a degree but at 45 will likely not have the opportunities to progress she may have had if she had pursued her degree earlier.
I am a firm believer in the power of a degree and from what you've read above I hope you can understand why, a degree is not for everyone, a degree is not necessary for all industries either but I believe doing a degree as early as possible to allow you to climb the ladder sooner is important.

Gold has openly praised apprenticeships over a degree, highlighting that experience is far more valuable. A degree, with no work experience or no industry experience is pretty worthless I agree which is why I'm such a huge fan of my university UWTSD as I find what they teach to be able to be successfully applied to placements. They are also a supporter of placements and have great international ties. I believe what's more powerful than a degree on it's own or a few years experience on their own is combined professional knowledge through a degree and practical experience in your industry. I am not a believer that a 6 month placement is adequate experience in finishing university, having a part time job whilst in university or a summer job in between university is superior.

Again, many people have supported the traditional 'it's who you know, not what you know' theory, that a degree does not matter, it's the people you know that matters more, along with your experience obviously. However, imagine having a degree, experience, an adequate network of professional associates. I love networking and through networking events you may be able to benefit from the 'it's who you know, not what you know' again university gives you access to lecturers who have a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as connections you could get introductions too. In fact my relationship with my lecturer got me an interview for a highly commended hotel chain. 

I am all about pursuing your dreams and passions I also believe that not everyone will be able to attain their ultimate success with only dreams and passions. I believe success is made up of a lot more, knowledge, understanding, experience, wide network, skills, ability to take risks, focus and commitment. University cannot teach you all these skills alone, experience is required especially when it comes to taking risks, it's better to take risks in your early career than further along when you're in a superior position.

We are all different, and we all have alternative ideas of how we can reach our success and I'd love to hear whether you think a degree is necessary for success.

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