Our experts answer readers’ student loan questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess student loans). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners; however, our opinions are our own.
- I had very limited access to financial support for college, so I dropped out after a semester.
- It was hard at first, but I’ve been able to find success in plenty of jobs throughout the years.
- Not everyone will be as lucky as I was in my position, but I’m happy with the choices I’ve made.
I’m a 37-year-old millennial, and like many other Americans, I’ve been told that going to college is the best way to make money and be successful in life. It wasn’t for me, though, and I’m glad I realized that.
Not only did I grow up low income, but both of my parents had terrible credit, so they couldn’t co-sign on a private student loan. I dropped out of college after a semester, and it has worked out great for me.
I could barely afford to eat
I come from a family of educators. My grandma was an elementary school special education teacher for decades, and my mom has a Ph.D. in psychology and has taught at universities. Although they pushed me to do well in school, I was a procrastinator and just skated by well enough to pass my classes.
Due to my slacking in school, I blew my chance to receive the Millennium Scholarship that was available to all Nevada Students. For Nevada residents, if you graduated with a 2.75 GPA, the state would pay for your tuition for any college in Nevada.
After missing this opportunity, I beat myself up quite a bit, because my family had pressured me to go to college my whole life. I ended up going to a junior college in Northern California, but I quickly learned that even going to a junior college was too expensive for someone like myself.
Because of my financial circumstances, I qualified for the bare minimum of government assistance to go to school, which meant I could barely afford to eat or keep a roof over my head.
I didn’t need a college degree to succeed
Once I completed the first semester, I was tired of being broke and decided to move back to Las Vegas to start working. It was a scary experience, because I still had it in my head that a college degree was going to be the only way I was going to be able to make money as an adult.
Life was definitely tough at first. I started working as a lot porter at a car dealership for minimum wage, but my hard work was able to get me promoted to a service advisor position. Service advisors are the people you talk to when your car needs repairs, and in that position, it wasn’t uncommon to make upwards of six figures. And that’s when I realized that college wasn’t a necessity.
Unfortunately, addiction runs in my family, and I became addicted to alcohol and drugs and lost everything. But in 2012, I was able to get sober, and since then, my work ethic has become even more intense, and it’s helped me become very successful for a college dropout.
I started working at a drug and alcohol rehab center when I was about three years sober, and I soon realized that I was making more than some of the social workers and therapists who had college degrees. While working there, I started a YouTube channel and started writing about mental health as well. I was determined to be successful. I taught myself a ton of skills, earned a big salary, and had multiple side hustles.
Hard work has paid off for me
To be completely honest, I’ve always been nervous about applying for jobs because so many ask for a college degree, but it hasn’t stopped me. What I’ve learned is that experience and hard work can often be just as valuable as a college degree.
After working at the rehab center, one of the former directors of marketing hired me to work at her new startup, because she knew I was a hard worker and reliable. Today, due to that experience and my experience as a writer, I now work at another digital marketing agency as a content manager.
College is worth it for many, but it wasn’t for me
So, is college worth it? I still think it is, but it may not be worth it for everyone.
I’m the father of a 14-year-old boy, and he gets straight A’s. He’s part of the National Junior Honor Society and wins academic awards regularly. Based on my experience, I don’t want my son to think he doesn’t need to go to college. He knows I’m successful, but I remind him that my experience isn’t universal.
I’ve had to work much harder to be where I’m at today than many of those who went to college. Although it’s possible to be successful without college, it’s a difficult road, and some would definitely be better off by simply getting a degree and working to pay off their loans.