Many people today succeed without advance degrees... Why? It's not what you think. Lately it seems that everyone and his or her brother has been going back to school to get a degree, but the importance of this higher degree is getting diluted, and it's never really been a guarantee you'll get that plum job. Believe it or not, the majority of CEOs running major companies in the United States do not have degrees. Research done by BusinessWeek magazine in 2007 found that fewer than 1/3 of executives who hold high level positions in corporate America have any type of degree! And a more recent poll conducted by University professors Aron Gottesman and Matthew R. Morey found that out of 500 top companies surveyed, only 150 had CEOs with a degree at the helm. The study also uncovered an interesting fact that may sound counterintuitive: "There was no evidence that having a person with a degree helped the stock-market performance of that firm. In fact, "there was some marginal evidence that it might hurt," says Gottesman. Even though tough economic times are usually thought of as a great time to go back and get some more education, plopping down big bucks on a degree in higher education doesn't mean doors will open up for you but almost always automatically creates SERIOUS debt for the student who ends up getting bad credit by not making monthly payments on time. This makes tough ecomonic times even WORSE for those who think getting in debt for a degree will make them finiancially better off in the future. Sad fact is that many get the same position with NO degree and have no worries about repayment of thousands of dollars. "Colleges seem to churn out Master's Degrees like tissue paper," says Joanna Smith Bers, managing director and talent officer for New York-based DB Marketing Technologies. "There may have been a time when those three letters actually distinguished job candidates from the pack, but no more. As a senior manager at a business insights management consulting firm, I have found that a Masters Degree is more embellishment than substantive." While there are still some jobs, particularly in the Medical or Law Sectors, where a Univeristy Degree is usually a must, recruiters and hiring managers say they're looking for applicants with real-world experience who actually KNOW something. A higher education degree can surely open doors, says Jonathan Mazzocchi, a partner in the accounting and finance division at staffing firm Winter, Wyman, but "experience will always trump a Masters Degree." Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, has hardly been hurt by his lack of a Univeristy Degree or any formal business training. In fact, he sees his lack of business credentials as a plus!! Buckmaster questions the very meaning of success and in turn questions the very heart of what University programs espouse! Is it really about education or all about sucking money from students via hefty loans and NO promise of any real good paying jobs? And, he points out, it's "interesting perhaps that Craigslist, which has never focused on business success per se, is widely viewed as being more successful as a business than 99 percent of Internet companies that have ever existed, virtually all of which did focus primarily on being successful as a business, the large majority of which have gone bust without making a dime." Tom Glocer, the CEO of Reuters, doesn't have a Degree, and told me the philosophical writings of Honoré de Balzac served as a guide for him in the business world: "With Balzac, ideas don't necessarily only come from a very direct path. Often the bigger lessons in life get learned in slightly indirect or abstract ways. If you're thinking of a problem in a narrow space, often the solution lies in reorienting in the way you approach the problem, and you end up solving a general set of problems." "If you can find something that motivates you and hones your potential, that is what is most likely to help you climb the ladder. It's not the degree. It's what you do with it, a Degree is just noise." This is not to discourage anyone from getting a University Degree, but rather students should understand there are limits to how much any degree can really help you in real life.