A lot has been said in the debate on whether education is necessary for success. However the truth remains that education is not necessary for success. Many of the proponents of education as a necessity for success seem to miss the real meaning of success. These people tend to define success as the acquisition of knowledge that will help a person work well for others and that will also help him/her to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities as they arise.
However, this is not the correct meaning of success. Success is holistic, and thus it includes material wealth, a strong personality, good spirituality, and even having many genuine friends, and admirers/supporters. With this definition, it is evident that education is not necessary for success. This paper examines the debate of whether education is necessary for success, and establishes the truth behind it.
The mistakes that university graduates make
One of the greatest limitations of university education, which is also the main defense for critics of university education, is the fact that university education equips graduates with problem solving skills. This implies that after graduation, most university graduates are employed by other people. This is as contrasted to the kind of life that a wise investor or proprietor lives.
The latter takes risks in investments, and when he/she emerges successful in those risks, he/she may be able to employ many graduates to work for him/her. This is the main reason why university education cannot be regarded as a prerequisite to success. University graduates who have been successful in life are the ones who appreciate that being employed is a hindrance to success. This is because an employed person does not come across many opportunities, and his/her income is limited.
An employed person will also lack time to adequately socialize with others, and form important networks. In fact, most of the networks that an employed person is likely to make will benefit the employer. University graduates should thus use employment as an avenue to self-reliance, and proprietorship. With savings from their employment, graduates can have a better opportunity to succeed than their uneducated counterparts (Cawley, 2007).
Also, from the discussion above, it has been highlighted that success has many components. However, university graduates get out of school with a misguided opinion of what success really is. Many of the university graduates normally believe that success means being able to help the community in solving its problems, or even getting educational titles, with or without money and social wealth.
This can be seen as one of the reasons why university graduates depend on employment as discussed in the paragraph above. However, as discussed above, success is holistic per se, and thus it should include both tangible and intangible wealth (Shayan, 2008).
Why some people believe university education is worthless
As mentioned above, university education is not a prerequisite for success. However, some people who do not identify themselves with university education seem to believe that it is worthless. Their argument is that most wealthy people are not university graduates, and that, if you compare the income of an employed university graduate and that of a self-employed person, who has never been to the university, the latter seems to have higher income.
However, this argument is baseless as it is based on isolated evidence, and not statistical reasoning. While it is true that some self-employed people who have never been to the university may have more money than some university graduates, a statistical study would produce interesting results.
The truth is that most of the wealthy people are university graduates, but the wealth of most of these graduates goes unnoticed since they are expected to be financially stable anyway. On the other hand, if an uneducated person is lucky to become a multi-millionaire or a billionaire, he/she becomes very famous since he/she is not expected to accumulate a lot of wealth.
After the fame people start comparing the person with other people who are viewed to have achieved in other areas, especially in academics (Shayan, 2008). When the latter appear to have less wealth than the single person, or a couple of uneducated people, critics of university education argue that university education is worthless, and that it serves to make its pursuant poor and dependent on employment.
Despite the criticism that is directed at university education, the latter is very important because it equips one with a number of skills. In the university, students learn many things, in and out of class. These include academic skills, practical workplace skills through internships, social skills, recreation skills etcetera.
This goes a long way in making their lives better. University graduates also get better salaries than other uneducated people, and thus they can use this to their advantage. This will especially be useful if the graduate is willing to take an entrepreneurial path. Additionally, the talk about university graduates only seeking employment is also based on mere observations and not statistical evidence.
There are a myriad of university graduates who are self-employed, and who do not wish to become anybody’s employee. It is this of essence that critics of university education avoid generalizing this issue by basing their arguments on observations, or worse still, stereotypes. Degree holders also have a special advantage that if their entrepreneurial engagements happen to fail they have something to go back to.
That is, they can get jobs and earn salaries while preparing for another try at self-employment. This is as contracted with the uneducated people, who are forced to take a long period of time before recovering from losses or failed investment plans (Cawley, 2007). The only problem with university education can thus be identified as the fact that university graduates are often compared with other people who have never been to the University.
From the discussion above, it is clear that university education is not necessary for success in life. However, arguments that university education is worthless can be said to be groundless and false, since there are numerous benefits associated with university education.
It is, in fact, suspected that the larger proportion of successful people all over the world is composed of university graduates. However, this has not been proved statistically/empirically. The negative things that are said about university education are as a result of some university graduates who fail to explore their potential by being employed all their lives.
This locks out opportunities and makes them dependent on a limited source of income. Since being employed comes with tight schedules, the graduates also lack the time for procreation, and social activities. This makes the graduate live a less successful life than an uneducated person who takes risks in business and succeeds. It is thus of essence that graduates use their knowledge to their benefit, rather than struggling to benefit others with their knowledge while getting meager salaries.
Cawley, V. (2007). Is education necessary for success? Retrieved April 4, 2011,
Shayan, J. (2008). The True Path to Success. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from,