Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree

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Articles

  1. Smart Summons from Tesla, Drones from UPS, and More Car News
  2. It’s Time to Tell Your Kids It Doesn’t Matter Where They Go To College
  3. Guide to Continuing Education After High School
  4. What success really requires

And what matters to me is not whether someone has a computer science degree but how well they can think and how well they can code. In fact, among the top 20 fastest-growing skills on Upwork's latest Skills Index, none require a degree. Freelancers, the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, realize more than most that education doesn't stop.

It's a lifelong process, and they are nearly twice as likely to reskill.

Smart Summons from Tesla, Drones from UPS, and More Car News

More and more, companies are catching on. Last year PwC began a pilot program allowing high school graduates to begin working as accountants and risk-management consultants.

And this August, jobs website Glassdoor listed "15 more companies that no longer require a degree," including tech giants such as Apple, IBM and Google. Google, for example, used to ask applicants for their college GPAs and transcripts; however, as Laszlo Bock — its head of hiring — has explained, those metrics aren't valuable predictors of an employee's performance.

As a result, Bock told The New York Times a few years ago that the portion of non-college-educated employees at Google has grown over time. And second, new nontraditional education options are proliferating. Often laser-focused on the most in-demand skills, would-be college students can now enroll in campus-based, project-focused institutions, like the Holberton School where I'm a trustee or online programs such as e-learning sites like Coursera or Udemy.


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To be sure, I'm not saying college is a waste of time and money for everyone. But if there's one takeaway, it's this: The future of work won't be about degrees. But one thing can: The fastest-growing segment of the workforce — freelancers — have realized more than most that education doesn't stop.

It’s Time to Tell Your Kids It Doesn’t Matter Where They Go To College

It's a lifelong process. Diploma or not, it's a mindset worth embracing. Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox. Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services. Privacy Policy. All Rights Reserved.

Data also provided by. Markets Pre-Markets U. The future of work won't be about college degrees, it will be about job skills According to the survey Freelancing in America , released Wednesday, 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year college degree say skills training was useful versus only 79 percent who say their college education was useful to the work they do now.

Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school will end up in jobs that don't yet exist, reveals the World Economic Forum. The result is a proliferation of new, nontraditional education options. Tony Talbot AP. New, nontraditional education options The future of work won't be about degrees. Download the latest Flash player and try again. Share this video Go to college, spend five years there, and when you graduate -- if you graduate -- you'll be rewarded with terrible job opportunities and an ungodly amount of student loan debt.

Good luck.

Guide to Continuing Education After High School

On the other hand, we continue to talk about college as an irreplaceable, golden opportunity. College graduates earn more and get employed more! They have incredible life experiences! So take on that debt, ignore the dire job forecasts, and push on, young explorer -- even if you don't think college is right for you. Instead of only giving year-olds and education-seekers of all ages this Sophie's choice, let's give them a third option: self-directed learning.

It doesn't mean becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. While these dropouts and many others show that it's fully possible to achieve wild success without traditional schooling, they're also the outliers. It isn't about taking a bunch of free online courses. While EdX , Coursera , and Khan Academy are important innovations, courses are only a fraction of what goes into a higher education. Rather, embracing self-directed learning as an to year-old means embracing your fundamental nature as an entrepreneur at a younger age than most. It means crafting a life of autonomy, mastery and purpose -- the three ingredients necessary for self-motivation -- while also creating value for other people in the process.

What does this look like in real life? To find out, I spent the last two years interviewing dozens of young adults across North America who purposefully chose self-directed learning over college. Many had led highly self-directed lives as teenagers; others floated through the traditional system for years until finally jumping ship.

What success really requires

No matter their backgrounds, all these young people followed a similar pattern:. Their journey begins -- and ends -- with self-knowledge. They start businesses, find internships, travel the world, read and write about things that fascinate them, and work for organizations they admire. Many college students do these things too, but the difference is that self-directed learners don't wait for anyone's permission to begin learning.

They write blogs, build startups, create art, record videos, teach their skills, and sell their services. They keep an eye out for the innumerable ways that they can improve someone else's life.

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They consult family, friends, businesspeople, writers, researchers, working professionals, retirees, or anyone else who might help them.