Education is important - there is no debate about that. Especially today, when the level of competition on the labor market requires of any seeker of success not only a multifaceted education but also creativity and adaptability to fast-changing environments.
However, there are a few exceptions who haven’t received any form of higher education but are now revolutionizing entire sectors, becoming inconceivable inventors, founding some of the largest corporations, changing our way of life and our perceptions and becoming a source of inspiration for millions of people.
After seeing the success of these individuals, it’s difficult to resist the temptation and not ask yourself: Is higher education all that necessary for self-realization and success?!
The first ones who come to mind when thinking about successful people without college degrees are the Silicon Valley revolutionaries. Their inventions have fundamentally changed our everyday life and have become symbols of a technological revolution.
Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates - when these guys are mentioned we rarely wonder how many diplomas they can boast of and, even if we did, the answer would surprise us - none of them have completed their higher education. What’s more, all of them willingly dropped out of universities in order to pursue their passion, exchanging their potential diplomas for occupations that seemed completely utopian at the time.
Steve Jobs, for instance, went a long way before founding Apple with his partner Steve Wozniak and becoming one of the prominent figures of computer industries. However, formal education takes only a tiny place in the list of his long-lasting searches and experiments - Jobs dropped out of college after only six months and chose a path of self-schooling and finding himself instead. Before founding Apple, Jobs searched for his calling everywhere: from designing video games to following spiritual teachings in India. In the end, his childhood passion for electric devices played the biggest role in determining his future.
Now that Steve Jobs’ inventions take such an important place in our daily lives, in formal or informal educational spaces, it’s difficult not to share his famous phrase: “Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. everything else is secondary.”
Unlike the degree-less successes of Silicon Valley (or elsewhere), Michelle Obama can definitely be considered as a symbol of the successful modern woman and that was in big part determined by her diverse education. She had realized early on the importance of proper and complete education for every person - and especially for women - in developing a successful career and what big role education plays in establishing oneself in a man’s world.
The first African-American First Lady of the United States is a Princeton University and Harvard Law School graduate. She began thinking about her career from an early age. As a result, Michelle Obama became an inspiration and an example of success for many - especially for young women and minorities - thanks to her way of life, opinions, activism and a focus on education. Her formula for success is the following: “Practice who you wanna be, Fail your way to success, Choose excellence, Prioritize yourself, Read & Write, Be supportive, Live out loud, Know your own value, Empower yourself, Have fun.”
All examples of success begin with an understanding of one’s wishes and a journey toward a set goal. A degree might help us in this just as well as knowledge and experience accumulated throughout our life outside of college walls - often, it’s a combination of the two.
In any case, having lots of money, graduating from several universities or mastering a prestigious profession do not in any way guarantee a successful life.
Luckily, we live in a time when technology provides us with the luxury of obtaining knowledge in any way we wish. Moreover, new professions appear in the labor market every year, the mastering of which does not require a diploma and, of course, you can always develop your initial education in a whole other direction. For people with good creative skills, for example, higher education is not at all decisive in achieving success. Creating your own business, storytelling, coaching, mentoring… These and countless other professions allow people with various degrees of experience to try themselves out.
Because of the dynamic nature of the modern world and various factors that are out of our control, we often have to transform our views and wishes. It can be ecological, economic, social changes, migration or other. However, it’s in this dynamism that we may discover the job that determines our personal, universal success and makes our living environment much more diverse and interesting.