A Degree without Going to College?

According to Accenture research, 50% of college graduates said they would select a different degree if they had the opportunity to choose their education path again.

With this very high chance of selecting the wrong college degree, here's a novel way of being able to apply for jobs that normally require a college degrees but without actually going to college.

This job search approach is not for everyone, but if you aspire to a career which requires a degree, but you either can't afford it, or for some other reason can't go to college, this alternative approach could be for you.

As a career counselor, I come across a lot of College students who having recently finished a degree, suddenly realize that the piece of paper they have in their hand is not getting them the types of jobs they had hoped for.

Many students are walking out of universities these days with a very large debt over their head and often struggling to find a job.

And in many cases, when they do get a job, the pay rates are less than impressive considering they may have spent $40,000 or more studying.
And 50% of college graduates finish up taking a job that does not require the degree they have just qualified in.

So imagine this, you see an advertised position that requires a degree (say a business degree).
You don't have a business degree but what you have done over the last 3 to 4 years was to spend all your waking hours diligently completing and logging a self-study program in business.

Let's say you send your resume and cover letter to the employer, explaining that although you don't have a degree in business, you have something that you feel is more valuable.*
(One of the problems with studying a business degree at College is that you are forced to learn a lot of things that may not particularly interest you and conversely, you don't get to study some of the niche areas that you may be passionate about).

You explain in your cover letter that for the last 3 to 4 years you have been involved in a self-study business program and you briefly outline the areas that you have studied.
Then you enclose a very detailed study log of dates, times and other details of your business study including authors, book titles, references etc.

For each area you studied you provide a summary of what you learned and found most interesting (this would likely be study outlines that you have already completed for your own use).
As well as your resume and cover letter, which you have sent in a very large envelope/package, you also include these study logs and notes which could amount to 50 pages or more.

Now clearly the employer is not going to read it all, but you have done a couple of things with your job application that could considerably improve your chances of landing you an interview:
  1. You have stood out from the crowd. You have gained the decision-makers attention. As anyone who has studied marketing will tell you, this is the first thing you must do in any marketing campaign.
    And of course applying for a job is indeed a marketing campaign (i.e.) the marketing of you.

  2. You have demonstrated tremendous initiative and motivation.
    These are two prime character traits all employers seek.
    There is little doubt in my mind that an employer who opens your application would find it difficult to ignore (I recommend you don't send it by e-mail, courier is likely to have the best effect).

    You would outline to the employer why you have chosen this study route, emphasizing the fact that it has allowed you to study the things within business that you are truly interested and passionate about.

    And at the same time you have demonstrated to the employer one of the keys to successful business profitability: achieving the same or better results while dramatically reducing expenses (you probably just saved $40,000+).

    Will it guarantee you an interview?
    But because there is no legal requirement for the company to employ someone with an business degree (that requirement in the job advertisement was simply to cull out applicants who didn't have the required business knowledge and to keep the application numbers down).

    All other things being equal about your application, I think that because of this creative approach and demonstration of self-motivation and your application of good business principles to your study plans, your chances of gaining an interview would be good.

  3. Passion.
    You will probably be the only job applicant that has studied the niche subjects that they are truly passionate about.

    Other college graduates will have been force-fed in areas that they may not be particularly interested in; they had no choice.
    Many employers will tell you that one of the most attractive attributes you can bring to a new job is a passion for the type of work the employer is offering.

    As you work through your study program, you will be researching organizations within your city that match the type of work you are learning about and would love to do. Passion and enthusiasm for that type of work is also something that will be picked up on during a job interview.

*Actually I don't even recommend you wait for a job advertisement to appear.

Your chances will be even better by simply sending off a resume, cover letter and your extensive study log and notes as soon as you are ready.
As mentioned above, as part of your home study business degree, you should include intensive research on the main employers within your city who you think you would like to work for.

Snippets of this research can be included in your cover letter and resume.
Most employers will be impressed with any applicant who can clearly (but also subtly) demonstrate they have immense knowledge about the organization they are applying to.

Another option here is rather than just send off your cover letter, resume and study log, try to arrange a meeting with the person who has the authority to make hiring decisions at one of these organizations.

Recommended Reading:

1. Is College Worth It?: A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education

2. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

Back to Career change education from How to get a degree without going to college

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Simon Davies Career Change Counselling
Gold Coast: Robina, Queensland Australia 4213
Phone Mobile (outside of Australia) +6148 1333 415
Phone Mobile (in Australia) 0481 333415
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