Growing up and throughout high school, you hear about how important a college degree is. People ask you what college you want to go to and what your major will be. I too believed this. I had an interest in computers and figured I would get my computer science degree. Luckily for me, I had good grades and high enough scores that I had a variety of options for what college to go to. Unfortunately, I was someone who procrastinated. I ended up going to the University of North Texas, a local college.
They actually had a pretty good computer science program and I initially took full loads in hopes I could get my degree faster and start earning that money. I quickly had enough credits to become a senior and figured it wouldn’t be too much longer to go. Then life got in the way like it loves to do. I found a job making more money, but it had a mandatory training program from 8am-5pm Monday-Friday. So I had to drop my classes for that semester so I could start this new job.
Once training was over, they had a variety of shifts I could pick up. I tried my best to pick shifts that would allow me to take classes. I had to slow down my pace though because the job was across the metroplex from where I went to school. Unfortunately each semester I took fewer classes. I finally got to the point that the benefit of going to school was pointless because I started making close to what they said I would get with the degree. So with what I felt was diminishing returns, I quit college all together with about 6 classes left before I would get my degree.
This seems really stupid and probably was, but back then my free time and job were more important than a degree. Looking back I still want to get my degree just because I was so close, but I don’t believe that I will get any benefit from it. Currently, I have a pretty good job and close to 15 years experience in the industry. A degree at this point would just be more like icing on the cake. So far I have been fortunate that not having a degree has not held me back in any way I know of. Most of the people I’ve known in my industry have talked about the fact they don’t look at degrees as much as they look at the person’s accomplishments. I’ve actually only known of one opportunity that I have missed out on because the employer required a college degree. I found this a little ridiculous with the amount of experience I carry.
I’m not sure how most people see a degree, but for me, it really only shows your ability to complete tasks that are asked of you and shows you do have an ability to learn. I know the hands-on experience I have in the industry has taught me way more than college ever could have. College was nice to teach the fundamentals and basics, but I always wanted to learn the advanced stuff. I quickly realized that the advanced stuff was always left up to you to learn on your own. This is a major reason I didn’t feel bad about not getting my degree.
I also believe the importance of a degree will depend on the field or industry that one wants to be involved in. Like if someone wanted to be a doctor, I think a degree definitely makes sense and is really the only way you can get the experience necessary to do the job. There are other industries, like the computer industry, in which you have opportunities to learn all the skills yourself. So, in my opinion, a degree is less important.