Bill Gates did not finish college. Neither did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, or Beanie Babies inventor Ty Warner.
There are many examples of successful business people who chased their fortunes and caught them without the benefit of a college degree. However, there are no lists available of the people who failed to succeed without a college degree.
Pew Research has issued new data that states clearly that young people who have a college degree earn $17,500 more annually on average than similarly aged people without a college degree. The pay gap between those with and those without a college degree is larger now than ever before.
The data also shows that college educated people are more likely to be employed full time, and much less likely to be unemployed.
Meanwhile, a Gallup poll shows that many business leaders do not believe colleges are providing the proper kind of education to students to make them successful in the corporate world.
No one in America is required to attend college (although some parents may make it seem that way). The cost of attending college, whether it be at a two-year community college or a four-year academic institution, can be prohibitive to some, and is definitely a concern to most college students.
But in a Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner study of investors with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million, all investors had a high school degree and only 12 percent did not have a college degree. Still, that’s 12 percent of investors who are worth $5 million without the parchment.
In a Millionaire Corner report on High Net Worth Millennials with a net worth over $1 million, only 74 percent had college degrees. That was a far lower percentage than Gen X (88 percent) and Baby Boomers (86 percent).
Again, those numbers do indicate it is possible to succeed financially without a college education.
Millennials, however, were more likely to credit education as a factor in obtaining their wealth. Among the age groups in the Millionaire Corner study, Millennials were the only group to credit education (80 percent) more than hard work (74 percent).
But the Pew Research shows that among Millennials between the ages of 25 and 32, the rewards outweigh the expense. Seventy-two percent of study participants who have a bachelor’s degree or more say that college has already paid off for them, while another 17 percent said they believe it will pay off in the future.
That leaves 11 percent who aren’t ready to say their college education has paid off.
The effect of college education on salary is greater now than in the past. In 1979, when Baby Boomers were at the beginning of their professional careers, those without a college degree earned about 77 percent of those who were college graduates. Today, the non-college student earns just 62 percent of what a college graduate earns.
Looking at the worst possible scenario, 22 percent of young people in America between the ages of 25 to 32 who do not have a college degree are living in poverty. Only six percent of college educated Millennials are living in poverty. Also, in 1979, only 7 percent of Baby Boomers without a college degree were living in poverty.
The typical high school graduate makes only $28,000 in 2013, while a college graduate from 1965 made $31,384 in adjusted salary.
In June of 2013, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce conducted a study titled “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020”. The study determined that by 2020 65 percent of all jobs will require some post-secondary education and training. The study identified three fields where bachelor’s degrees will be most in demand:
Managerial and Professional Office Occupations
Sales and Office Support Occupations
The Managerial positions will include personal financial advisor, with an expectation of 1.64 million jobs required in the country. The Sales jobs include real estate agent and securities and commodities sales agents. The Georgetown report says 50 percent of real estate agent jobs will require a bachelor’s degree, and 72 percent of the securities and commodities jobs will require a college education due to the complexity of the financial system.
The Gallup poll done in late 2013 with the Lumina Foundation showed that 34 percent of business leaders disagree or strongly disagree that colleges “are graduating students with the skills and competencies that my business needs.”
Yahoo! Education used U.S. Department of Labor statistics to create a list of occupations that do not require a four-year degree. They included Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Dental Hygienist, Paralegal, Registered Nurse and Police Officer.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, told Kiplinger that his lack of formal business education was more of a help than a hindrance. "It has probably made me independent and resourceful,’’ he said. “Everyone learns differently, but I learn best by doing, and so the firsthand experience of failing and succeeding in business helped me immensely."
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.