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Finances & Money

No college degree? Hiring managers are looking for you!

DiplomaI had an interesting discussion with a coworker today. We were talking about higher education and employment, and he brought up his own thoughts on employees who don’t have a college diploma.

Someone wins and someone loses. Can you guess who?
My coworker had been the manager of a few groups in his day, and he seemed to have an affinity for workers without college degrees. Can you guess why?

As a manager, he knew his workers who didn’t graduate college were limited in their mobility. He knew they probably couldn’t get better than what he was offering, and he could pay them less than market rates for those jobs (compared to a college-educated worker).

What were the negatives?
In his experience, he found that it was more difficult to find a high school graduate with the motivation to move up in his or her position. He admitted there was a reason they didn’t have a college education. You can read into that any way you wish (laziness, lack of opportunity, don’t care, or just misinformed), but the bottom line was that in a professional field such as IT management, you’re just not as respected without an undergraduate degree. It’s actually getting to the point where you’re looked down upon if you don’t have a masters degree!

The moral of the story
Although some people contest the value of a college education, I know I definitely wouldn’t be earning what I am without one. Some of you may be able to claim high salaries with only a high school diploma or GED, but you’re one of the few who broke through.

What do you think? Do you know people who have wasted a college degree? Or are you or someone you know (other than Bill Gates) making it big without a college education?

Image courtesy of [Pingu1963]

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I could be considered a person who has “wasted” her university degree. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. I specialized in Latin American History, actually, and graduated and was recognized as being in the top 5% of my class.

    After university, I went to college for post-grad, where I achieved a diploma in what they called “Internet Management.” I walked out of there with a job as a PHP/MySQL developer.

    Today? I’m a Project Manager in IT for one of the largest auto makers in the world. Has absolutely NOTHING to do with my degree, at all, and arguably, my degree means nothing to my actual career.

  • Clever Dude,

    I completely agree with your thoughts. Breaking the ranks and reaching to stars can’t be done without “education”. No how does one define edcuation, that’s what is important. Traditional way of “education” is that one get’s a degree or diploma and that’s The other way to look at that is….education is knowing something and gaining mastery in that something. For instance, the history is full of many many examples where they didn’t get “college” education but had profound understanding of the world and how it functions and made tons of money. There are examples of dropouts who mad money, but they had “education” may not be college education. Carisma, selling ability, knwoing what works and what doesn’t, knowing where to get what you don’t have, are all part of education, according to me….

    A very good thought provoking aritcle…good one.

    Edited by CD to remove blatant self-promotion


  • Interesting. I live this issue everyday as one who “broke through.”

    My experience proves educated and intelligent/capable are not the same thing. I have had an employee with a masters in IT who couldn’t trouble shoot Windows booting issues. I’ve also had an ivy league business admin who couldn’t manage a project to save his life.

    Me? HS graduate (’89) working in advertising. I’ve made it all the way up to Creative Director at an agency. Currently, I manage a creative team assigned to the email marketing campaign of a fortune 15 company. My earnings are very competitive with that of my more “educated” friends.

    What I do have is a serious chip on my shoulder. Having seen first hand how the business world places blind faith in diplomas validates my feelings that I have to work twice as hard as everyone else. People who did not go to college need to understand and accept that fact. It’s based on little more than prejudice, but it is real.

  • Since I’m definitely one of the lazier of the college grads, I’d have to reply with the following:

    1. I never considered dropping out of college because I didn’t think I could make it any other way. Since graduating from college, I think luck (or God) has been helping me get positions that are right for my skills. I haven’t really tried too hard, yet I make alot of money doing something that comes easily to me.

    2. Actually, the school prioritized my time for me. I signed up for a class, and I went. I almost never studied; I just absorbed the information while in class. That’s one of my skills I guess. Outside of class, I goofed off just like any other college student. However, I never went more than a week without a job, and I’ve only ever quite one job in my life without a notice (McDonald’s. Twice. In one week)

  • Hm, I think for those wanting to rise in the ranks of corporate america, a college degree is pretty needed. I myself am self-employed and probably could have saved 60K and skipped the degree. Oh well.

    We could really use some of your tips in our debt group! It’s a new social community for people in debt, and I’m sure your thoughts would be well received there. If you’re interested its:

    Thanks Again.

  • CleverDude, we sound quite a bit alike with regard to our college days. While in school I didn’t study or do much work other than attending class (which even that wasn’t always a given). However, I graduated with a respectable GPA and haven’t looked back.

    Jobs have kind of worked out for me, usually with someone contacting me if I am interested in a new opportunity. Other than my first job, each successive job has been a result of someone I worked with contacting me with an opportunity.

    The way things have gone for me, it has really made me regret the college I did select as I attended a rather expensive private school. In all honesty, I don’t think my path/results would have been any different had I attended a cheaper state school.

  • I have had 3 permanent positions in the last 20 years, with only one 3-month gap. The absence of a degree has yet to be an issue. But after I resigned (mostly due to relocation), my confident enthusiasm in my new home state was met with cold, harsh, reality. The irony of it is knowing that the average grad with a 4-year degree has an IQ of 110. I scored a 135 last year, but don’t believe that fact would be well received on a resume’ or cover letter. What do you think? I’m going on month 15 of being unemployed, and have tried everything.

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