Formal Education or Self-Taught

Do You Have Enough Schooling?

We were all told by our family or society that getting a college education was the ticket to success. However, it has not been that long ago workers could have well paying jobs in trades, farming, or manufacturing where a high school diploma wasn’t even required. It is only recently people started going to college. In 1970, 840,000 people enrolled into secondary education. In 2010, 1.7 million went to college, which is a 50% increase according to the National Center for Education Statistics. From 1970 to 2010, the U.S. population grew from 203.2 to 308.7 million people, a 44% increase according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This trends looks to continue and Americans are going to college faster than new ones can even be born.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York did an agglomeration study where they looked at urban populations and job matching among college graduates. What is interesting about this study is only 26% – 29% of college graduates with a bachelor’s degrees were working in jobs related to their major. In urban areas nearly three-quarters of all college graduates were not working in their field of study! This includes yours truly.

With so many people not working in their field of study, and with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2013 estimating student loan debt to be up to 1.2-trillion dollars and still climbing, is it worth going to college?

Successful People without Degrees

Steve Jobs

This Reed College drop out co-founded Apple and was worth $11 billion at the time of his death in 2011.

Dave Thomas

The founder and former CEO of fast-food giant Wendy’s dropped out of high school to work in the family restaurant. At the time of his death in 2002, he was worth $99 billion.

Rachael Ray

This Food Network star and producer never went to college and has no formal training in the culinary arts. This celebrity is worth an estimated $60 million.


More from Daily Download

Nailing Your Brand

Knowing Your Motivations

The Power of Permissions


Looking At Value

I was never a good student in a formalized school setting, but I’m a great learner. When I was in the third grade my parents decided to homeschool me, my brother and sister. After high school, I went to college and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English. My primary day job is in technology and at night I am writing or editing. I am, and I bet most of you, are in that 71 to 74% of people working in a job that is not related to your degree.

The point of this article is not to diminish the value or necessity of a college education. If you want to work in medicine, engineering, research, science, by all means, you need to go to college. This is a blog for entrepreneurial minded people. My argument is you do not need a formal education to start a business nor do you need a business degree to be successful.

All you need to know is that there are customers out there with problems and it is up to you to solve them. Reach out, network, find that something that you are interested, and look for people you can help with your interest. Business is reverse engineering your ideal customer in order to provide goods or services that fulfill their needs at a competitive price.

Not sure where to start? Reading this blog will elevate you above those many others who think they need an Ivy-League education to start their own charitable foundation, magazine, or television channel. Oprah Winfrey dropped out of Tennessee State University and Forbes her estimated her net worth is $3 billion. If any of these amazing people can do it, so can you.

In the end, what matters is that you do what works for you. I fall into the self-taught camp since I would rather read books from Seth Godin, or watch on YouTube someone like Gary Vaynerchuck, or listen to podcasts from people like John Lee Dumas with EOFire and Eric Sillies on The PreBoot Podcast. That is how I thrive. Others may need that formal education from a business college to succeed, but it is not a requirement.

My hope is for people to realize what works for them and embrace their true potential. Don’t let the type or absence of an education hold you back. Do what you want. If you do not know how to do it; figure it out. The average person in the first world has access to more information on the web than the whole world did 50 years ago. Use it.

Change Your Mindset. Change Your life.


Thank you for reading this installment of Daily Download. Please like, share on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ if you liked it. You can follow me, Ryan A. Ross, on Twitter @ryanthebossross. Don’t forget to check out the Archives, there’s a lot of great stuff including Writer’s Workshop and Friday Fiction Breakdown.

If you have a topic you would like to see appear on the Daily Download, please email me.

The question of the day: How do like to learn new things? Podcasts? Books? Youtube? Please comment below.

Until tomorrow.

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