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What’s More Important: Having Skills or a College Degree?

“Just because I don’t have a college degree doesn’t mean I am not smart!” – Emma Stone

Since early childhood we hear from our family members that it’s important to have a good education. It’s the key to a successful life. It helps to find a good well-paid job. A person without a college degree is like a person without a hand – it’s a disability. So, we’re encouraged to study as long as we can. And most young people do it. They lose a few years of their lives to get a college degree.

The question is: is a college degree worth it? Is it worth to fall into debt, spend a whole wack of time and go through excessive stress only to get nothing but a mere piece of paper? Does it really guarantee a job?

Well, not necessarily, as it occurs.

Having a degree is not enough to find a good job

Let’s consider the hiring process. You write a resume, submit it to several companies and then, participate in job interviews.

So, why do you have to go through the whole interview process? After all, you have a degree. Isn’t that a good enough proof you’re ideal for the job? It would be in a perfect world. But, the world is far from perfect.

According to statistics, almost 13% of millennials can’t find employment. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube from young people who share their experiences with job hunting and many confess they are still not hired. They receive no emails from employers. No phone calls. Nothing.

Why is that? Why is it so difficult to find a job? Do college degrees mean anything these days?

Let’s take a look at the issue from the perspective of the most successful people and figure out what they think about getting a degree.

What is the opinion of the most successful people?

The most successful people admit that getting a degree is useless. Also, they say that the quality of education is not good enough to spend thousands of dollars on and fall into a huge debt.

Another reason why it’s not worth it to study at even the best colleges is that many courses don’t give you any practical experience. You’re being taught everything in theory, not in practice. Thus, you don’t acquire any vital skills. And skills you need to have to get a job.

Consider such successful people as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, David Geffen, Paul Allen or Dave Thomas. They amassed a fortune and yet, have (or had) no college degree. So, how come they managed to be so successful?

Well, the truth is that you don’t need a college degree if you have skills, ambition and a big plan.

The importance of having skills

The problem with college degrees is that they don’t prove you have skills. They prove you went to college and graduated. Thus, you have some knowledge, but not necessarily skills.

Let’s take a look at why employers value skills over college degrees:

  1. Skills help to achieve a goal
  2. Skills help an individual to grow and climb the career ladder
  3. Skills show experiences
  4. Skills show self-confidence and knowledge
  5. Without skills you won’t succeed at any job

Because having skills is important for work success, personal growth and career growth, many employers decide to change their hiring process. As a result, the hiring based on college degrees slowly disappears in favour of skills-based hiring.

Skills-based hiring and the consequences for millennials

The advantage of skills-based hiring is that people without a degree are no longer overlooked by employers. They have the same chances of getting hired as those who have a degree.

However, skills-based hiring can be seen unfair from the perspective of a college graduate who spent time and money to get education. Now, a degree will not guarantee him or her a job, not to mention a higher salary. Thus, college graduates end up with a piece of paper that cost them thousands of dollars and in some cases, is not worth a dime.

So, what should college graduates or college students do in order to make sure they’ll find employment in the future?

They need to get experience along with a degree.

How to supplement your degree with the right skills

There are many ways in which millennials can improve their chances of getting a job. The main idea is to gain experience and polish your skills while completing your college degree. You can achieve it in a number of ways:

Remember, your goal is to fill your CV not with the list of college degrees you managed to get, but with the list of skills you managed to acquire. This is what all employers will look at: the skills section, not the education section. So, make sure it’s not empty.

If you think you don’t possess any skills and have nothing to write in your resume apart from the BA or MA degree you’ve got, brainstorm a bit. There are many soft skills you might not be aware of having that could get you the job you dream of. For example, team work, communication skills or creativity. Make your resume stand out and don’t lose faith!

You will find a job. But, first, you need to show an employer that you possess the skills to succeed in the job you’re applying for.

Final thoughts

Having a college degree is no longer a guarantee of finding a job or having a higher salary. What’s more important for employers is whether a candidate possesses the right skills and has the relevant experience. Thus, those who consider going to college should think about the advantages and disadvantages of getting a degree. It might actually be a waste of time and money.

Those who are already studying should apply for internships and try to get some experience along with their degree. Those who have got a degree and can’t find a job – don’t lose faith in yourselves! Along with your education you received a lot of skills. It might be great writing skills or leadership skills. Think about what you can do and add it to your resume. It’ll help you get hired.

Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. So, think rational, be smart and ambitious and you’ll achieve your goal.

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About the Author Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson is a blogger and a content strategist at She is also a contributor to many websites about career advice, productivity, work issues, college life, blogging and writing. You can always find more works of hers on Twitter.

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