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Ask Dr. Sharkey: Should I Stop Making College Degrees A Requirement?

Posted by Dr. Linda Sharkey on 8.8.2019


"Hi Dr. Sharkey! I’ve been reading various articles lately that say companies are no longer requiring employees to have a college degree. Apple, Google, Whole Foods, and Hilton are among the trendsetters. Do you think this is a positive movement going forward?"

Can you be successful without a college degree? Of course, you can! Let's look at some notable examples: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Steve Jobs, Chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc. and Ellen DeGeneres, a wildly successful TV host, writer, and producer are excellent examples. 

While not everyone without college degrees will reach billionaire status, like my above examples, some people simply have unteachable qualities that drive their success. Many entrepreneurs, for example, don’t necessarily have college degrees. What they do have, however, is incredible discipline, passion, and a thirst for knowledge in their industry. 

They’re constantly learning and trying new things because they’re not afraid of failing through this trial and error. Instead, they get back up and try again. That said, college attendance is on an upward trend and will continue to ride that wave over the next decade, according to The National Science Board. In fact, The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that in 2015 69 percent of students enrolled in college in the fall following high school graduation. In 2017, an incredible 20.4 million students were projected to attend an American college or university, representing an increase of about 5.1 million since fall 2000. 

The data also continues to support that students with college degrees will make more than those that don’t have one. However, company leaders have the power to change this for people who don’t feel higher education is the right path for them. Many companies are hiring people without college degrees and are training them to perform tasks in their culture and environment. 

On-the-job learning is critical for anyone. If you’re willing to hire someone without a college degree and train them, just as you would anyone else, it opens the door for you to hire and retain even more qualified and dedicated talent. 

Let me emphasize the word “learning” here. To succeed in today's world, you must have employees who maintain a thirst for learning and will continue seeking it out. Also, find employees who are able to work well with others. College degree or not, this enhances collaboration, allowing your team to brainstorm new ideas and approaches. 

Remember, too, we’re in the middle of the digital revolution. College isn’t the only way to learn and become a successful employee. There are many new ways to help employees grow and achieve advanced knowledge that will lead to a successful career.

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Topics: future workplace, human resources, ask dr. sharkey

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