Graduate first ! »Would a higher education degree be the only key to opening the doors to success? It seems that getting a degree is not the only key to success, as the examples of American billionaires and successful entrepreneurs in France and around the world prove.
When you look at it, there are lot of successful people without a college degree. Ralph Lauren, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have not graduated, even though they are the heads of the largest companies. In France, Xavier Niel and Alain Afflelou confirm the rule, the two entrepreneurs having left their studies in order to devote themselves fully to their project and their ambitions. The question that can be asked quite legitimately is the following: do you have to have a degree to be successful? Are there successful people without a college degree?
The facts and figures speak for themselves
If we stick to the figures, and in particular the statistics of the INSEE , 8.6% of women and 13% of men have created their business when they had no degree in their pocket. As for graduates, 51% of women and 39.9% of men first went through higher education, then obtained the sesame before setting up their business. It is therefore completely understandable that obtaining a diploma, for many, is compared with professional success. A simple and logical equation that holds true, if you just consider the numbers and the facts.
In reality, companies in the labor market are hungry for highly skilled talent. A reality which also wants that a young man or a young woman without degree will have much more difficulty to cross the barriers of the stages of recruitment than a young graduate , straight out of a college of higher education.
At school, students acquire a variety of skills and knowledge, through education that is both generalist and holistic. After obtaining the baccalaureate, young people move on to paths that correspond to their ambitions, skills and personal preferences. Medicine, science, business, IT… the list of possibilities is endless, but the goal of all these young people is the same: to obtain a degree with a view to securing a better future and… “succeed”.
This reality does not necessarily correspond to everyone. Indeed, some students tend to drop out, sometimes from college. Does that mean, however, that they are not capable of ensuring a bright future? That they are condemned to perform menial tasks and to be subject to the orders of a boss throughout their career? That they will not change or very little until retirement age?
Fortunately, there are many examples of how self-taught can make a place for themselves in this world. We can no longer count the young entrepreneurs whose chaotic college career did not prevent them from creating their start-up, even without a diploma! In addition, if digital opens doors for many self-taught, this sector is not the only one in which it is possible to make a name for yourself, even without a diploma. Indeed, catering and mass distribution are other examples of sectors in which François Pinault, Jean-Jacques Decaux and other Xavier Niel of this world have succeeded in their careers.
Succeeding without a degrees also possible when you start at the bottom of the corporate ladder and move up the ranks, as proven by the career of Philippe Algranti, CEO of the Système U group.
The ingredients needed to succeed without a degree
Are we born autodidact or do we become one? To this question, there is no such thing as a fixed answer. It is certain, however, that certain ingredients inherent in the knowledge, skills and character of the individual contribute to his professional success, whether he has a degree in hand or not. So, people who see life as a series of experiences and long tail training are certainly the ones who are most likely to be successful. People who know how to identify their talent and who seize opportunities head-on when they arise. Speak English ? Understand the inner workings of the forex market? Learn the basics of coding? Understand the financial mechanisms and national accounts? Develop your body language? With ambition.
You don’t succeed without a degree by chance. The examples of business leaders across the Atlantic and successful entrepreneurs in France show that motivation and passion have largely contributed to the success of talented individuals, as well as their ability to learn, listen and understand, in order to anticipate the future and succeed… even without a diploma! To the best of my mind …
Sasindu Jayasri is an Engineering student at Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.