Do You Really Have To Study To Become Successful?

There is this unspoken rule that says you have to have a college or university qualification to be successful. Many people believe they cannot get a job if they do not further their studies.

However, if you do a bit of digging, you will find that some of the most successful business people did not go to college. Some of the richest people in the world dropped out of school.

Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Dave Thomas and Rachael Ray are just some of the people who achieved great success without a degree.  

Yes, knowledge IS power, however, it doesn’t guarantee you a job.

South African graduates struggle to get jobs

In June 2016, IOL News published an article that read, “Graduates are ‘begging’ for jobs”. In the article, they spoke to a university graduate who struggled to get a job. The situation got so bad that Lindelani Madonsela, a graduate of the University of Pretoria, had to take to the streets. He travelled to a busy intersection in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, and wrote his details on a piece of cardboard. His poster read “I have a degree in Public Management. I am looking for a job, CV available. Please help.”     

Lindelani got a lot of reaction from the public. Some motorists asked for his CV, others offered money and some took photos of him and shared it on social media.

Another article on IOL News reads, “I wasted my time by going to University”. Caroline Diale, a 23-year-old psychology graduate from the University of Johannesburg also had difficulty securing a job. “I have friends who started work straight from high school, they now have cars and houses, and I’m sitting at home with a three-year degree and no experience.” she said.    

There are hundreds of graduates all over South Africa that are affected by the unemployment crisis. In this time and age, no certificate, diploma or degree can guarantee you a job or successful life.

Proof that you do not necessarily need a qualification to be successful

There will always be that fraction of people who believe a diploma or degree is the only key to success. However, a piece of paper does not necessarily mean you have the experience or natural talents to succeed.

For example, take a look at the difference between book-smart and street-smart individuals. Someone who is street smart may achieve greater things than someone who only follows the rules they read in a book. As Scott Berkun wrote, “Book-smart people believe their knowledge can somehow compensate for their lack of experience and applying it in the real world.” Street-smart people experience real-world situations, learn from it and come back better, stronger and more informed. They are natural survivors.

Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Dave Thomas and Rachael Ray, in a sense, are all street-smart people. They didn’t study diploma or degree courses. Those who did go to college dropped out. Their determination and practicality are what got them where they are today. Take a look at these well-known individuals. All of them started small, without a professional qualification, and today they are leaders in their field.   

Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple): After dropping out of college (first semester), he set up shop in his parent’s garage and sold his car to get the funds he and his friend needed to start the prototype of the Apple I.

Richard Branson (Founder of the Virgin Group): He dropped out of school at the age of 16 and started a youth-culture magazine called Student. After that, he opened the mail-order record company, Virgin. Today he owns the Virgin Group, which consists of over 200 companies in more than 30 countries. 

Dave Thomas (Founder of Wendy’s Hamburger restaurant chain): He couldn’t find a decent hamburger joint in his hometown, so he decided to open his own. Within 10 years, his business grew into a franchise of 1000 stores.    

Rachael Ray (Iconic Food Network television personality): She worked at a gourmet market in Albany as a food buyer and eventually as a chef. To increase grocery sales, she created a series of cooking classes including “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals”. The CBS station in Albany discovered her, and signed her on to do a weekly 30-Minute Meals segment for the evening news. Today she is one of the most recognised TV personalities around.   

Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor and Grammy Award winner): After his parents signed him up with a talent agent, Leonardo started appearing in TV commercials. His natural talent soon got noticed and his acting career sprung to life.         

Do YOU have to further your studies to become successful?

A qualification will never guarantee success. As a matter of fact, some careers don’t even require a professional qualification to be successful. Some employers place a higher value on experience and skill than a qualification, and you can gain experience through internships and volunteering.

However, a qualification is a good safety net. It will enable you to apply for various job positions. Even if you don’t get a job in the first few months, it can make the job-hunting process easier, especially if the employer requests a professional qualification.    

Also, it depends on what type of career you are interested in. Artists, musicians, actors, and self-taught photographers, don’t need to study further to succeed in life. Retail and some office jobs also do not require specialised training. Even entrepreneurs don’t need a formal qualification to be successful. If you have a natural knack for business, you can achieve big things as an entrepreneur.   

If, however, you want to pursue a professional career, you will need to further your studies and get a recognised qualification. For example, doctors, engineers, lawyers, and accountants all need a specialised qualification to even be considered for a job position.