Is a university degree necessary for success?

Last Updated on May 4, 2019 by Memorila

Joseph Onuchukwu wrote about the important ingredients that constitute success, arguing that a university degree is only but a fleeting entitlement

The definition of success is quite relative. To a writer, it could be drafting up something every day in preparation to publishing a novel and eventually getting it published. To a market woman, it could be moving from the roadside into a store, a store that would provide her the required shelter and shade her from the piercing rays of the sun. Whatever it means to different people, there can be no denying that it generally means progress. That is, it means moving forward and not ending up where you had started. By this definition, it can’t be said that a university degree is needed for success.

Again, one of the common ways of measuring success is money. So, if by success, we mean financial success then a university degree is still not necessary for this particular type of success. This is because success is not built on certificates. Success is built on what we know.

Furthermore, financial success is often achieved by providing solutions through monetary means to the needs of the society and one does not necessarily need a university degree for this. Hence, success is not tied to a university degree alone.

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A university degree, no doubt, provides opportunities in heavy torrents and although I usually tighten my face in irritation when someone makes a desperate attempt to reduce it to nothingness, I still hold the belief that it isn’t necessary for success. With a university degree, the metallic crisscrossed gates of many companies will gladly open themselves to you. In fact, you can choose a meaningful and comfortable career. But if we say it is necessary for success then what about those who succeeded without it? And what about those who won’t be opportune to have it?

We also have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone who would go to the university would come out with its degree. So will they be failures in life? No! We shouldn’t also turn blind eyes to the many jobless university degree holders who roam aimlessly around the corner of every streets looking for the latest posters on job vacancies. But if a university degree isn’t necessary for success, then what is?

Firstly, one of the most important ingredients for success is HARDWORK. Hard work entails a lot, some of which are the right attitude, self-discipline and the ability to put your goals before your own needs. Hard work requires your very best. It needs commitment not entitlement. You cannot find a substitute for hard work. Henry Ford once said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” There couldn’t have been a truer statement. I always say that success comes when opportunity meets adequate preparation that was gotten from hard work. Success becomes easy and achievable when we learn to enjoy working hard. By hard work, I mean doing what works and not just more works.

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I once read about Thomas Edison who was one of the greatest scientists of his time and still considered as one of the best in modern times. One of his teachers termed him “Addled.” The dictionary meaning of “addled” means, “having lost the power of development,” or “a foolish or dull-witted fellow.” Even though it wasn’t stated clearly if his teacher’s remarks forced him out of school, he left school and became an inventor cum entrepreneur. His company known today as General Electric has created and still creating products that illuminate the world.

Albert Einstein had a similar story and in his own case, his teacher went as far as saying, “He will not amount to anything.” Albert Einstein became a great scientist with so many theories and laws to his name. One thing common to both of them was hard work. They developed unwavering commitment to what they knew was working. They didn’t just do any kind of work, they worked well. Hard work also creates this competitive nature in you that will make you to go the extra mile and succeed. It is a known fact that great things rarely come easily, least of all, success.

Another potent ingredient for success is PERSEVERANCE. Perseverance is the quality that allows one to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. It is knowing the art of falling and rising again. It is also knowing the art of failing and failing better. Perseverance is necessary for success as it helps you strive well and grow better. This is knowing that not all failures are detrimental. It is a very important tool in the pursuit of success. J. K Rowling, the popular author of the Harry Potter series, in her 2008 Harvard University commencement address, was stretching the meaning when she said, “Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default. ” It is just a case of stepping forward into growth and success, or stepping backward into safety and default failure. In as much as life is hard, it can’t be denied that it is beautiful.

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When Einstein was told, “You’ll never amount to anything,” I believe he must have been shattered in more than a million ways. No one would hear words like that and remain sane. Yet, Einstein became a success. It was nothing but perseverance because he understood the necessity of failure and how important it is to success. Perseverance is, “I have failed, I know it but I’m not giving up. I am not quitting.”

I find it amusing and hilarious when people say, “I have never failed and I don’t intend failing” It is absolutely wrong. What is success of it has no proper understanding of what failure is? Perseverance does not mean failing always or romanticizing failure, it is pushing through failure to find the path success is hidden. Denis Waitley, the American writer said, “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Perseverance teaches us to build on our failures and not surrendering any of our energy or mind’s space to it so that we can become successful people.

Finally, SKILL is another necessary ingredient for success. Being successful at something requires dedication to developing and mastering your skills. This is far different from talent, which can be necessary for success too, in that we learn and acquire skills but are born with talents. Even at that, talent is just a starting point; it is always never enough for success all by itself. Many skills can be learnt most of which are never taught in the university.

Skill is the ability to do something that comes from training, experience or practice. It is the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution of performance. The definitions tell us that skills are learnt, and as such necessary for success. The business market is very much interested in what you can bring into their organization and not necessarily what have been written on your certificate. This explains why we have many CEOs without university degrees. Skills set you apart and different from others.

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We have many people who became successful with skill not degree. There is Mark Zuckerberg, the computer programmer whose powerful skill in the way he uses the computer helped him create one of the most influential, if not the most influential, social website in the world – Facebook. He did it without a degree and is currently one of the most successful persons on earth. The same thing with Bill Gates too. His own success story is even almost an anthem these days.

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” We all have what it takes to become successful persons; all we need do is stir it up. There is a huge difference between skill sets of an employee and skill sets of an entrepreneur. The later are not taught in most universities.

In conclusion, a university degree is undeniably important but it isn’t necessary in the pursuit of success. The necessary ingredients of success have been explained and it could also include favour too. A university degree bears no resemblance to any of the ingredients for success. We must not be unmindful to the fact that some of the richest people in the world presently posses no university degrees. We have Richard Branson, T. D Jakes, Joel Osteen, most of whom are even pastors.

The problem with our school system is the way we are being trained to become good employees not entrepreneurs. It’s saddening. Most parents talked their children into going to school so they could secure a good job. You see that the problem now lies in us pursing a university degree just for job security and not for financial freedom. If we want to go back to the times of antiquity, we will discover that successful persons like the famed Biblical King Solomon had no university degree yet he was reputed to be endowed with so much wisdom and wealth that was success at that time. A certificate is a worth attached to a paper, but we can decide to attach worth to ourselves without a paper.


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