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Entrepreneurial success and college degrees – Are they related?

Sonal Mishra
posted on 28th July 2016
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Is a college degree is important for entrepreneurial success? If you envision yourself as a budding entrepreneur, you may have asked yourself this question, not once, but many times. There are many arguments that go against and in favour of this highly debatable topic. From Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, history has proven over and over again that formal education has nothing to do with the overall success of a person. If an individual feels passionately about their goals, there’s no way that they can’t achieve them. All you need is a lot of focus, determination and the drive to learn on your own. If you think you have these traits, then read on and you’re sure to find the answer to the irksome riddle in your head.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all against college education. I firmly believe that there are a few fields—for instance, medicine, technology, aviation and others—where formal education necessary in developing the required skills and expertise these professions. While college education may or may not play a significant role in an entrepreneurs’ dream, it does teach one the fundamentals of doing a business.

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But, if you have already decided to become an entrepreneur without investing in college degrees or if you are going through hardships where spending on higher education may not be an option, here’s a thing you need to know: a college degree, by no means, can dictate whether you are going to have a successful life or not. If you focus on the right things and follow the advices of your mentors seriously, there’s nothing that can stop you from growing as a professional.

In his article for The New York Times, titled ‘College Doesn't Create Success’, where Peter Thiel, Co-founder of Paypal writes, “For some people in some careers, some colleges may be worth the price they charge. But millions of other people are paying more than quadruple what their parents paid 25 years ago (plus inflation) for a vague credential, not much knowledge or skills, and a crippling amount of debt.”

In this time of ever-increasing college fees and the burden of student loan debt, a lot of students are opting for alternative, short-term courses that allow them to excel in a specific skill and bag a decent job. For an entrepreneur, the sky is the limit. With digital advancements, anyone can master any subject or skill from the comfort of their homes or offices. There are innumerable, easily accessible resources for those who want to learn and grow at their own pace and freedom.

There are many stories of ordinary people who managed to make it big without any college degrees. You've read the success stories of Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and others. Their stories may have even inspired you to do what you’re passionate about and not what the society expects you to do.

There can be many reasons that compel you to drop out of school or discontinue your higher education. Making the final choice is your prerogative. But, if you have the resources and time, it is advised to complete your formal education. College offers more than plain education, but on the other hand, entrepreneurship may be your life’s purpose. It's your decision to choose a path that's right for you. Remember that a school can teach you a lot, but life will teach you more. The crux of living a successful life is to always keep learning, because knowledge and skill is all that will stay with you all through your hardships and trials.

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