How to Succeed Without College (3 Main Ways)

Troy Buckholdt
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How to Succeed Without College (3 Main Ways)

Have you ever been told that you can’t succeed without a college degree? What they didn’t tell you is that you can actually be more successful without going to college. Most people think this means going into trades such as being a welder, plumber, etc.

What people don’t realize is that you can also do the same white-collar jobs that most people think you need a college degree for. Some examples could include sales, marketing, customer service, IT, business analyst, or even computer engineering.

There is a nearly endless amount of careers available for someone who chooses to not go to college with about the only exceptions being industries that are regulated to require a degree. Don’t let anyone tell you that college is necessary to be successful. Here is a list of very successful people you never would have thought don’t have a degree.

The ability to succeed without college has only recently become possible due to advances in online education. Not too long ago the best way to learn these careers and become proficient in them was to attend college.

Since then,  many of these careers have continued to become more specialized and require continuous learning. This has made the material taught in college to almost always be outdated or irrelevant. Hence the skills gap.

This has also opened up the playing field for people who choose to specialize in a role by learning the relevant skills & knowledge necessary for an entry-level position.

Not surprisingly, the best way to go about learning these things is not in college, but instead through a variety of resources such as blogs, online courses, YouTube, forums, etc.

There is nearly an endless amount of ways to learn a given subject for free or pocket change. Why pay $20,000 a year to learn economics from a local state school professor when you could learn it from the smartest economics professor from Harvard for free in an even better thought out lecture online? You can reference the in-depth guide I wrote on how you can start your career through free online education.

Here are the 3 main ways of how to succeed without college

1. Cost of college

Currently one of the biggest factors in deciding to go to college is the sheer cost of attending. Try calculating the tuition, fees, books, room & board. The average cost quickly exceeds $25,000 and for some as much as $50,000. The average duration of college is between 4-6 years to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Here are the numbers:

Average tuition = $25,000

Average duration = 5 years

$25,000 x 5 years = $125,000

Most people don’t have $125,000 sitting around either, so they take out student loans. The average student loan debt per student is around $35,000. The average interest on that debt is around 5.8% and 10 years long. This results in an additional $11,000 paid in interest at a minimum.

$136,000 Total

2. Opportunity Cost

The majority of people don’t consider the opportunity cost when making the decision to go to college. For many, this could be even larger than the cost of college itself. Think about all of the time you spent in high school preparing for college, then all of the time you spent in college preparing for a career. This could be 8-10 years of your life. Have you ever wondered how some people have a successful business or career while still being a teenager? The reason is that instead of spending their time preparing for college, they spent that time working on their business or preparing for a career.

I believe that most basic/entry-level careers in business can be learned within 6 months – 1 year with focus. Someone can spend their time in high school preparing for a career instead of college and by 18 they can start their career. You can even read the full book I wrote on how I started my career in tech sales at 18 without college making over $50,000 and how you can too.

Here is what an example might look like:

19 years old- $40k

20 years old- $50k

21 years old- $60k

22 years old -$60k

23 years old- $70k

$280,000 Total

3. Experience Cost

Another factor that people overlook is the years of experience someone could gain while working in a career compared to someone who spent that time in college. This experience allows someone at age 23 with 5 years of experience to be making nearly 2x what another 23 year old just starting out of college is.

Here is an example:

5 years experience                     Recent graduate

23- $70k                                          23- $40k

24- $70k                                          24- $50k

25- $80k                                          25- $60k

26- $80k                                          26- $60k

27- $80k                                          27- $70k

$380k total                                   $280k total

$100k Total Difference

How to succeed without college results:

$136,000 cost of college

$280,000 opportunity cost

$100,000 experience cost

By age 27 you could be $516,000 ahead of your peers. This allows you to more easily purchase a house, go on vacations, and take risks. Someone who is really financially savvy could also invest the money they saved by not going to college in the S&P 500 allowing them to have as much as an additional $12 million by retirement. This is exactly how you succeed without college.

Retirement without college

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