People that didn't go to college: What is you career

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Patmian212, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. macrumors 68020


    Apr 11, 2004
    Hey everyone,

    I am kind of going through a personal moment of crisis. Last year I went to college and hated so I dropped out, I didn't really hate college itself, mostly where I was. However I did feel it was a slight waste of time. I am supposedly going back to school in january to finish my business degree. My parents are really on my back about it. They are of the opinion that if I do not go I will end up being a failure. I am aware that the situation is not that black and white and I am also aware that going to college will definitely make my ambitions a lot easier to achieve. But I just feel like its a waste of time and that I am intelligent and charismatic enough to enter the job market now. So please spare me the lecture about education. I guess I'm just writing this to ask the people who didn't go to college what they do for a living and how they ended up getting their jobs, mostly this is just to help me make a decision and give me a sense of direction. Right now I'm just a very confused "adult" who is worried about his future.

    Thanks for reading,
  2. macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Darkplace Hospital
    2 of the most successful people in my family didn't go to college (well, one got an apprenticeship). One guy set up his own alarm company then bought a series of bars and clubs in the area and he's only 26. And the other did an apprenticeship in printing and became a high up at one of the UK's biggest newspaper printing places at 40.

    Let it be said a degree or qualification isn't a guarantee you'll have a great job. It's an aid to help you get an interview and to teach you new things, some that you may or may not already know (uni was a waste for me, I only went to get a degree but through contacts I realised didn't even need university).
    But on the other hand my girlfriend's sister went to a good university, struggled for a couple of years and is now working for the European Parliament. Wouldn't have got that without her impressive CV.

    Contacts and charisma count equally as much as a degree, or more so I've found.

    I don't know what you should do. You've always had a smart head on your shoulders so I'm sure you'll end up well.
  3. macrumors regular


    Aug 20, 2006
    Great Totham, UK
    I left school at 16 and joined the police cadet programme. I went on from there and joined the police service. Since then I have been in 3 police forces in the UK and had a 6 year break where I travelled on the savings, living in the USA and Australia on the savings.

    I have had what I deem to be an awesome life so far, and I left school with bugger all in the way of qualifications. I have never been to Uni (or college as you call it) and have no intention of doing so.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 3, 2008
    Dutchess County New York
    I never got my degree when I stopped and started working. I started as a machine operator in the company I work for now. Over the years I have slowly moved into a system analyst position where I trouble shoot and program business systems at some of our local sites. It is a global company.

    I know there is no way I would have been hired from the outside for this position without having finished my schooling.

    Yes, you may be able to prove yourself and get a position, but I think in most cases it would take a lot longer. I know my company won't even consider new employees for many positions without a degree.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2004
    Silicon Valley
    Disclaimer: I did go to college, and actually have a law degree as well.

    My uncle has a very high paying job, making 6 figures, and he did not go to college. He is in the computer field. BUT, he frequently says that "there is no way I could get this job today without a degree." He also feels very immobile - like he can't transfer to another company if he wants to, because he won't be hired due to not having a degree.

    Now, to be sure, a degree isn't for everyone. And there are options without one - trades, "blue collar" work, the military (enlisted), and certainly it doesn't matter much if you start your own business. But, even some traditional places one could find work without a degree are closing up. For example, at least here in the States, many police forces require, or vastly prefer, AT LEAST a 2 year degree.

    So, my suggestion, is get your degree. If you truly have all the qualities you mentioned, a degree isn't going to change that. You'll have a degree AND intelligence and charisma - a very strong combination.

    As for it being a waste of time... well, I heard once that many companies don't want a degree because they want what you learned in college. Rather, they want you to have a degree because it says something about you - that you have the discipline to buckle down, do things you don't always necessarily enjoy, and excel. The degree is, in many cases, a proxy for drive. If you think of it that way - that "I am going to college to prove myself" - it may be more palatable to you.

    And of course, I am also a strong believer in liberal arts education and the creation of an educated public for the good of society, but I won't get into that because it sounded like you didn't want to hear it :p
  6. macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location
    Quoted for truth. My stepfather told me that it's a different world today than it was 20 years ago. Sure, you may hear of success stories from those who didn't go to university, yet got a job in IT, management, etc. However, things are simply different today, and the people who got these positions without a university degree would NOT be able to do that today.

    But he did tell me that he once hired a man to be a manager because he was a manager at a McDonalds. Management is about management. ;) He managed a lot of people, and seemed to be a good boss (potentially). He was hired over other applicants, and the man didn't have a university degree.

    On the other hand, he also said that it was a 1 in a million chance, and most people he hires have a university degree, while most have an MBA.

  7. macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2006
    East Lansing, MI
    I feel so old talking like this but here goes...

    I dropped out of College after a couple of years, because I was working part time in the field I wanted to be in, and I felt I had learned "everything I needed to know", so what was the point of continuing?

    When I dropped out I started working full time for the company, and I have been here ever since - for 28 years. LOL

    I worked my way up to the VP, so I have a very solid position, but I am also very aware that my options outside of my existing company are limited, BECAUSE I didn't finish college.

    I also recognize now, that the two years it would have taken me to finish would have gone by in a heartbeat, and that is something that probably won't ever go back and finish.

    I also agree that it is a different time now than it was 30 years ago. Even if you could accomplish as much as myself and others have done without a degree, why make it that much harder for yourself?

    To me, there is no question that having a degree makes things easier for you - and opens doors for you, that aren't available to you without one.

    Where you are now, I'm sure it looks "worthless" and "a waste of time", but I would really encourage you to finish and get your degree - I think you will be happy you did...

    That said - I certainly don't think you are a "failure" if you don't go back, but I think you are passing up a chance to make things easier for you. If you don't do it now, it will be 100x harder to do later - if you can ever do it at all...

    I say stick with it, and I think you will be glad that you did in the long run...
  8. macrumors G4

    Oct 14, 2005
    Woah, that happened to me, too! :eek:

    Worked managing McD's for ten years, but knew IT is where I wanted to be.

    On a whim, I applied for a temp contract IT job managing a migration of 500+ computers to Windows NT 4.0

    Even though I had zero "official" IT skills (or a college degree in anything), my mgmt skills from McD's and my "unofficial" IT skills (I correctly answered the technical questions they asked) landed me that temp job. It was orig. slated to be a 12-week contract, but I ended up staying there until I quit, about 4 years later.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2008
    well I would like to say that a successful and talented person isn't going to fail in life because they did or didn't go to university, it simply opens up different paths for you.

    I would like to share with you 2 stories. The first is my brother's. He left school at 16 and was not enjoying academic life. He moved through several jobs but at 24 he went and joined the police. He has no further education and earns a decent salary and has excellent career prospects. I suppose the moral of the story is that he chose the right career path and that is more important than anything.

    My story on the other hand involved me going to university. I was fortunate enough to go to one of the top universities in the country. This has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I suppose its simply a barometer for yourself and lets people know what you are capable of. Also it is worth highlighting that friends who have gone to less prestigious universities have not had the same 'wow' factor

    I am currently planning on going back to university to do a masters then phd so I would say I am slightly biased.

    I think you have to do what makes you happy. At the end of the day I find that it's best to look at decisions o this magnitude with as much logic as possible. Try and really get to the bottom of what factors are really the important ones for you and see where you lie on them

    I hope this has been balanced and the best of luck in your decisions. Remember - success is not defined by your education but by your choices and your hard work in life.

  10. macrumors 604


    Dec 12, 2007
    off world.
    I didn't finish high school, and have (what some have stated) is a highly desirable job as a disc Jockey (with the No. 2 show) at the local radio station - and actually we're the biggest in the county, in a medium-sized ratings market.

    Now, I qualify that statement by saying that it's part-time a job - but I could make it a career and earn much more money but it would take many years before I'm at that point..

    I also have a design business I run on the side which I do mainly for fun and happens to be profitable.
    I'm not bashing those who are in/have gone to college, but personally I don't buy into the college thing much; I mean, if you want to be an Aerospace Engineer you've got to go to college, but in general I think it's unnecessary. I've known folks who both have gone to college and some who haven't, and there's no difference really in how much money they make or what they do for a living.

    imo fwiw.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 18, 2008
    I went to college but it didn't work for me, it felt too much like highschool, probably because I was in the general arts program. So after the first year I didn't return. and then after that I worked as a waitress for a couple of months then as a administrative assistant for a year. But I plan on going back to school soon, I just am not sure what for, I may just pick up where I left off, but because my grades weren't up to par, I may not receive the same funding as I had before.
  12. macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2008
    I dropped out of college after 4 and a half years. I wasn't going anywhere. I wanted to be a manager at the gas station I was working at. I left school, didn't get the management position. I quit the gas station, then went to work for EDS. Was there for 3 years, and then I decided that I want to go back to school. Since I have saved a lot of money over the years, I was able to get fired from EDS, and not work while going to college. I'll end up graduating in a couple of years and have no debt, but I will have gone through my savings, which is ok since I'll be able to get a better job.

    The moral of the story is: Quit college if you want to. You can always go back once you decide you want to go back.
  13. Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I'm a college teacher, but I see both sides of this one. Personally, I loved college, and I love the idea that people will pay me to talk about and write about stuff that interests me. Colleges and courses differ, obviously and times in life do, too.

    Having said that, some of the best students I have ever had were "adult" students, individuals who felt for some reason or another, that college wasn't for them at 18 or 19, but who returned, sometimes decades later, to college and then thrived there. Go only if you want to go; but if you leave it now - and that may well be the right thing to do - leave yourself with the option of returning at some stage should you wish to do so. It is not an either/or situation; it can also be a now/later scenario. College won't work for you unless you wish it to, unless you feel challenged, or it's the right time, or you are studying something that you love/wish to study/need to know. You will only get something out of it if you are motivated to do so.

    While your parents want only the best for you, going to college to please your parents is not the right motivation, (I know people who have done so and who have never worked in the areas for which they qualified). Anyway, at the end only you can decide. In itself, college does not make anyone a better person; often, it does not even make them better qualified - experience (and judgement) also matter. However, college qualifications can help you in life.
    Cheers and good luck
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 14, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I'm not sure how hard it is to get and keep a job in the trades, but I have one classmate who quit being a union pipefitter to become an English teacher. He says he was making a good living, for sure.

    Also, my buddy's brother in law is a union electrician. 28 years old, $60K/yr, 0 college experience.

    These are the kind of things that almost make me reconsider college. But, I am a beotch, and would not want to work with my hands. I tried that for 2 years with summer jobs, and ended up saying "F this."
  15. macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2006
    The British Empire
    Nuclear Safety Assessment...they don't trust me to clean the lavatories:)

    You people across the ditch spend too much good productive time analysing your own rear ends. Get on with your life. if you are bright you will do just fine.
  16. macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
    I would say that for the majority of jobs today you need at least a college degree. From what I hear in some places like NY, the MBA is the new BA.
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    I left high school when I was 17 and never looked back. I spent three years having a blast installing car stereos and alarms and partying.

    Now I drive a truck around the country and enjoy more freedom than most 9-5 people will ever have. In a couple years I will own the truck and be a small business owner. A few years after that I should be able to buy my first house with cash.

    My father asked me a little over a year ago if I found it hard to get a job without a high school diploma. I told him the truth, no it isn't. You just have to be smart and be willing to start at the bottom and work your rear off so you can move up.
  18. macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Nope, don't even have my high school (just a few credits short.)

    Retired now, but like LSVO, I started at the bottom, as a file clerk for an insurance company.

    Unlike high school, you get out what you put in.
  19. macrumors 603


    Apr 7, 2008
    in the Dawg house
    I have an Associate degree in Computer Science. My husband has no degree.

    We own our own business and are doing very well.

    I don't encourage nor discourage my children when it comes to college. It is up to them. But, a college education is not essential to success in life. What is essential is a good attitude, above-average work ethic, positive attitude, and a teachable mind.
  20. macrumors 68020


    Oct 6, 2007
    Australia (WA)
    I look after about 20 customers, all with at least 15+ computers with 2+ servers ranging from Xp, Vista, Server 2003, Freebsd etc.

    I do all this remotely from my office at work. When needed i send someone on site or i go my self
  21. macrumors 68040

    Jan 7, 2006
    QFT...I own a hair salon and am in the process of opening a second business. I finished high school and took some night courses. I have clients that are plumbers,electricians,tile installers etc that are doing very well. I also have clients that are unemployed MBA's that can't find a job. I'm tired of people (guidance counselors in particular) that say that college is the only way to a successful,prosperous and fulfulling life. I'm not knocking either path. College isn't for everybody and if you don't go,doesn't mean you can't be successful. Whether you go to college or not,it will take hard work,perseverance,determination and enjoying what you do to be successful in your career..
  22. macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2011
    Degree or not

    Most of the people in my circle are highly intelligent and did not go to college. Income ranges from 90k to 1million a year.

    There are many companies that hire without degrees, including ours where I commonly hear, "classes dull your mind destroying the potential for authentic creativity". Other examples, where some of my friends work, are HP, Hitachi, Savvis, Level3, and Facebook.

    The most successful people I know did not attend college, along with many of the richest people in the world. A degree may or may not be right for you, it depends on the individual. Proactive and goal oriented are much more important indicators of success than school. I suggest the book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.

    I decided to post on this older thread because of it's high google results position.
  23. macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    I think if you're entreprenureal and have the know how and capital to invest in your own business you have as decent a chance as anyone at making decent money without a college degree or some kind of advanced training. You have to have focus though and know exactly what you want to pull that off--most people just don't have that I'm afraid. Outside of that, there are a few limited jobs which have already been described here that you could possibly make a living.

    However, as far as the mainstream traditional job market I think you're pretty much screwed if you don't have a Bachelor's degree (and soon a Masters degree sadly). It's a hoop that almost everyone has to jump through if you don't want to work at low skill, low paying jobs.

    Watch out for all the education scams out there. There are a lot of "trade schools" which promise unrealistically high salaries for certain professions after graduation. They charge insanely high tuition and students are left with huge debts. Try not to accumulate a huge debt for any training you might receive.
  24. macrumors member


    Nov 30, 2004
    Paso Robles Ca
    i went to college and got my aa. worked in the field (automotive), hated it. i now work in the wine business. i was told the biggest reason why i got the job was because i had a degree, even though my degree had nothing to do with what i would be doing in wine making. i believe having a degree does have some pull, specially with young people that dont have good/long job experience.

    people ask me often "where did you go to school to learn the wine business?" i didnt! part luck and part degree got me here.
  25. macrumors 68030


    Apr 26, 2010
    Location: Location:

    this is a very good post OP, pay heed

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