Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Skip College, Start Your Job Search: Is It Right for You?

The cliched American Dream follows a very specific formula: go to college, get a job, make money, buy a home and retire to a warm, sunny destination. And while everyone is working for the weekend, or more importantly that retirement home in paradise, the formula for “success” in our country has changed, thanks to the Mark Zuckerbergs and Bill Gates of the world. Now, a college degree isn’t even necessary.

Fortunately, you don’t have to have “the next big idea” either. What employers are looking for now in job candidates is an ambitious drive, clear cut goals and an innovative approach to making business bigger, better and more effective. But first, let’s look at ways to land the job without a degree.

Why should you skip college?

College isn’t for everyone. For instance, Marty Nemko, a career coach in the Bay Area, states that “if you graduated in the bottom 40 percent of your high school class and went to college, 76 of 100 won’t earn a diploma, even if given 8 1/2 years.” That’s the reality for some students, but that also doesn’t mean that without college, they’ll end up in some dead end job.

At the same time, there are those students who have skipped college in their minds and are already in hot pursuit of “the next big idea.” Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, wants to pluck those students from the ivory tower and get them on the ground floor of innovation. That’s why each year he offers 20 students the opportunity to skip or drop out of college with a $100,000 fellowship.

How do I navigate the job search process?

Obviously, not going to college will leave a hole on your resume, but nowadays, that hole is easy to fill up. If you’re not going to college but you’re not yet employed, do something productive with the free time you have. That could be volunteering, either in your local community or overseas. Try job shadowing different professions to find the right fit for you. Even better, start talking to local businesses about an internship opportunity.

Essentially, fill the lack of academic experience on your resume with work experience. During job interviews, emphasize that you have plenty of learning experience in the best classroom there is — the real world.

If college isn’t for you, it doesn’t have to count against you. Today’s employers aren’t necessarily looking for the best colleges on your resume. Rather, they’re looking for employees who are willing to learn, innovate and work to make a big impact for the companies they work for.

Do you think a college degree is still necessary in the job search? Tell us now in our comments!

Kathryn Randolph

Kathryn is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and has five years experience writing for major job search and higher education websites. When she's not writing for the web, Kathryn is hanging out with her new baby girl, traveling, cooking, reading and running. She believes that the perfect job is out there for everyone and hopes to help Spark Hire job seekers discover their career passion and pursue it.