We all grow up learning that college is a necessary step toward a full and successful career – but SpaceX, Tesla, and PayPal founder Elon Musk doesn’t think so.
Instead, he notes that, while a college degree can confer advantages, it isn’t necessarily a requirement for success, as plenty of people, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, have done fine without it.
In a 2014 interview, Musk said the following:
I ask them to tell me the story of their career, what are some of the tougher problems they dealt with…and how they made decisions at key transition points. That’s usually enough for me to get a very good gut feel about someone. What I’m really looking for is evidence of exceptional ability. There’s no need even to have a college degree. If you look at Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs…these guys didn’t graduate from college, but if you had a chance to hire them, it would be a good idea.
Musk makes a clear point: A college degree, while conferring advantages, doesn’t inform all successes, especially as ability may not be connected to a degree.
First of all, now that the internet exists and is easily accessible to all, information can be acquired at the touch of a button. Additionally, one can attend trade schools or take part in an internship to learn more about their desired field.
Finally, college is becoming more and more out of reach for the majority of citizens in the U.S., where tuition is not free. By enrolling in a four-year institution, a newly graduated high school student acquires a substantial amount of debt which they will likely pay off for decades due to the present job market. Acknowledging all, it makes sense why Musk says college isn’t necessary.