Since posting Tuesday’s article and having some back-and-forths with James Altucher via Twitter and email, I’ve decided that I need to do more to show that there is life without college for those who choose to go that route. I did a little poking around to search for some articles on success without college.
Unfortunately, when you talk about success without college, most articles mention people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey, and David Karp. But let’s face it, these are not the-people-next-door. The public needs to see that it is as normal not to go to college as it is to go.
You can also find articles like this one from careerbuilder.com which will pretty much leave you thinking you need a degree. And then there are the articles like this one that give you a list of jobs you can do without a degree. Problem is, the list is confining, and if you’re a young adult looking at that list and nothing on that list appeals to you, you might think to yourself, “Gee, I guess I do have to go to college.”
But where’s the coverage about the different paths people take without college – aside from the press the few high-powered-tech-college-dropouts get or the collegeless business moguls?
I emailed Chris Guillebeau, who I thought might know some people who’ve been successful without college degrees. He tweeted, and some retweets later, I’ve come in contact with some interesting people who either never went to college or dropped out. Here are some snippets about a few folks that I’ve been in contact with.
The Flatbread Grill, in Montclair, New Jersey, is run by the Esendemir sisters; one of them does have a college degree, but the other two do not. Gonca, who stopped going to college partway through her degree says that the “passion, commitment, and courage that it takes to survive in the business world” cannot be taught at any college. Check out an article in the New York Times about their business here.
Donna Druchunas tried to go to college in her 20s and 30s but says that she isn’t suited to spending time thinking and reading about subjects that don’t interest her. She’s held many jobs that involved doing page layout and technical writing. She abandoned the cubicle to write books on knitting at the suggestion of her knitting buddy. Six knitting books later, Donna is the owner of a successful business Sheep to Shawl.
Lynn Siprelle, whose pen name is MeiLin Miranda, says she was encouraged to go to college and went but dropped out in her sophomore year. A volunteer reporting job at a public radio station led her into a paying job in radio. She left radio, went into IT, and settled into writing fiction several years ago.
I recognize that this isn’t an overwhelming list of people. But this is just the beginning.
In the future, I’ll be continuing to interview people who haven’t gone to college alongside those that have. And, I’ll be looking at people who don’t belong to either of those categories, but the I-got-a-college-degree-but-it-didn’t-really-help-me category.
Are you someone who hasn’t gone to college (or dropped out) and is happy with your career life? Share you story in the comments section.