For many decades, a college diploma was the gold standard for employment and success. If you had a college degree from a reputable college or university, you could expect a higher salary and more career opportunities. Today, the advantages are less clear. And if you don’t have a college degree, you can still be very successful.

The Myth of the College Degree

Is a college degree valuable? Yes, it certainly is.

Is a college degree the gold standard that it once was? Probably not.

Here’s the thing: If it’s going to cause you to go $50,000 to $100,000 in debt to secure a college degree, you need to rethink what you’re doing – especially if you’re going to have a meager starting salary.

A college degree has become a check box over the years. It’s something a large majority of the working population has, which has made it less of a standout accolade. It no longer signals talent and competence – it just means you were willing to pay.

A college degree might look decent on paper, but employers are ultimately looking for skills. They want to know that you have what it takes to produce. You don’t need a college degree to do this.

No Degree? 4 Tips for Financial Success

Stop viewing your lack of a college degree as a black mark. Here are some strategic ways you can increase your chances of success:

  1. Find Something You’re Passionate About

This might sound like cheesy advice, but it’s important. If you want to be successful – with or without a college degree – you need to pursue an industry or job that you’re truly passionate about.

Carving out a career without the luxury of a college degree will require a few additional ounces of perseverance. The more excited you are about the work being done, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with it when times get tough.

  1. Consider Careers That Don’t Require Degrees

A bachelor’s degree will cost you tens of thousands of dollars (and four years of your time). And there’s no guarantee of getting a job.

“A real estate career, on the other hand, will only cost you a few hundred dollars and you can get your license in a matter of weeks (not years),” RealEstateU explains. “Also, many brokers will be eager to hire you right from the start!”

While you might need a college degree to be a doctor or lawyer, there are plenty of industries and careers where degrees are optional. Real estate is a big one. Other potential careers include website development, programming, dental hygienist, contractor, etc.

  1. Learn How to Sell

There’s one skillset that’s valuable in any industry or business. It’s the ability to sell. If you’re a skilled salesperson who knows how to nurture people towards making a purchase, you’ll always have a job.

Take the time to develop and nurture your ability to sell. Even if you end up going into another aspect of business, your sales experience will help you become a better communicator.

  1. Network Like a Maniac

A college degree is essentially a “vouch” for you as a person. It tells people that you’re capable, educated, and talented. If you don’t have a college degree on your resume, networking is your quickest and best way to establish this credibility.

“Networking isn’t merely the exchange of information with others — and it’s certainly not about begging for favors,” resume writer Amanda Augustine writes. “Networking is about establishing and nurturing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with the people you meet, whether you’re waiting to order your morning coffee, participating in an intramural sports league, or attending a work conference.”

Make networking a part of your daily routine. Try your best not to segment your relationships. There’s no such thing as a personal network and a professional network. Either you have a relationship with someone or you don’t. Focus on being a valuable resource to others and you’ll find that people will do the same for you.

Create Your Own Path to Success

It’s time to stop following the narrow path that others have laid out for you and to start exploring all possibilities. A college degree might be helpful, but it’s not necessary. You can create your own success by being willing to work hard, promote yourself, and pursue the right opportunities at the correct time.