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Country Discussion Topics
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Success without college
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Sven    Posted 08-04-2003 at 17:36:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
How many people do you know, or know of, who have been highly successful without the benefit of a college education?


Lynn Kasdorf, Leesburg, V    Posted 08-04-2003 at 21:15:42       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Well, I've been pretty successful, and I don't have a degree. I'm not super wealthy, but I own a nice little farm and have a family, and a nice workshop, and play music on the side. If my timing had been a littel bit different, and I'd gotten my current job and options about a year earlier (AOL), I'd probably be retired by now. Oh well...

I have been doing hardware and software engineering for about 20 years or so now. I always loved electronics and worked at a surplus electronics shop in high school.

I planned to go to a community college for the the first 2 years of college, since you learn pretty generic stuff and it is cheaper, then go to a real school to complete a BSEE.

Long story short, I bailed out after a year because I wasn't learning much, the school had really antiquated computers, the professors were mostly foreign with thick accets, etc. It just wasn't working for me.

So, I got a job as an electronic technician, where I worked with engineers on real world systems. This turned out to be a fantastic education.

I planned to work for a couple years, then go to school. But I was learning so much and so fast, and getting paid for it, rather than the other way around, I never went back (although I did take a few calculus courses later on, because I wanted to complete this gap in my knowledge).

I learned more about electronics on the job, and eventually started learning assembly code, then C around 1981. I did a fair amount of hardware design and prototyping, and eventually moved entirely to software.

I've always felt a little embarassed about not having a degree on my resume, but it has not proved to be a problem. I guess I just always had to work a bit harder to prove myself.

I regret missing college mostly for the social aspect of it. I think it could have been a lot of fun. However, at the time, it just didn't feel like the thing for me to do.

My parents wanted me to go to college, but my dad was a brilliant mechanical engineer without a degree. He started working as a draftsman, and drew upon his natural farm boy practical skills, and good common sense to become an excellent mechanical engineer. Fortunately, he taught me a lot. So I pretty much tried to emulate him.


DL    Posted 08-05-2003 at 18:36:37       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I heard a lot of high school graduates work in the computer game industry. However, that does not mean computer software does not require advanced knowledge. For example, can you implement a Fast Fourier Transform in assembler for a 8-bit or 16 bit microprocessor? How about implement it in hardware in a FPGA? Once the code is done, can you verify it? You have to know calculus to do this and you have to know it well. What if your boss tell you to write a subroutine to solve a differential equation. Don't you have to know what is a differential equation? Let's talk about electronics. For example, design a cell phone. It involves RF/microwave, digital and analog circuitries. Once in the RF range, the layout of the PCB becomes critical. How are you going to work it out? By trial and error? It's almost impossible for such a complicated system. You have to use spice and RF/microwave simulation to validate your design. Don't you have to learn RF/microwave electronics first? My point is all these jobs do require analytical ability which can only be obtained through education.


Jim WI    Posted 08-05-2003 at 10:58:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'm another one of those semi-self taught software folks (can't say engineer where I work since I don't have a degree). I started out at UW-Madison in EE but stopped after one semester and went to a tech school instead.

Has not having a degree held me back? Well, it took a while to get to the level that those with degrees started at. After that, I haven't had too much trouble. I suspect my manager would agree -- he doesn't have a degree either and went much the same route I did.

About the only other issue is that I suspect it would be hard to find another job doing what I do now without a degree. (HR departments generally seem to treat a degree as a filter -- I've run into this even as an internal candidate.)


bubba    Posted 08-05-2003 at 07:23:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Lynn, A principal software engineer! I would say you have done very well.


Lynn Kasdorf - Leesburg,    Posted 08-05-2003 at 09:18:04       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Ok- how do you know dat? Another AOL'er I take it...

Thanks!


DeadCarp    Posted 08-04-2003 at 21:02:33       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm from the before-college generation. I never went to college and never missed it - managed to retire at 46 so i figure that was early enough. :)
Years ago in the shop, one grad was lording his degree over the rest of us peons and i thought Dick Gannsle summed it up pretty well when he said "Most subject matter in college was already covered in high school if you paid attention, so all college is designed to do is teach you how to think. Some people need to pay people for that." :)


bob    Posted 08-05-2003 at 05:37:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
Deadcarp A fellow told me once that college was only a sign that you started something and finished it not that you were any smarter


Dave in Okla.    Posted 08-05-2003 at 08:25:20       [Reply]  [Send Email]
That's true, Bob. And graduate school is a place where you learn more and more about less and less until you reach the obvious goal of knowing absolutely everything about nothing.


sid    Posted 08-04-2003 at 20:52:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
I knew many old timers who only finished eight grade who were successful. Their eight grade education was better than a lot of high schools today. I know of a lot of people my age who went to college and are successful. I know some my age who did not go to college and are successful. I went to college for a year and a half I decided I was not taking advantage of it as I should and dropped out. I felt as if Dad's money was being wasted and that I better figure some things out then go back later if I felt I would really apply myself. I never went back but the desire to learn never left and I read a lot and ask a lot of questions. I will say this and I want you all to listen closely to what I am saying please. I feel what time I did spend in college helped make me a better person than I would have been without it. I did not say better than those without it but better than I would have been without it. I will say that a sound basic education is as needful today as our parents thought an education was good for us .


Dale    Posted 08-05-2003 at 05:37:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ask me if I know anybody in their 40s or 50s who was successful without college and I'll say sure. But there are very few teenagers or 20something who will be able to repeat that same success in today's world. They just won't be given the same opportunities without a degree.


I agree    Posted 08-04-2003 at 20:59:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
I just didn't like the other statement made. sounded a little too much "I'm better than you".


Ron,Ar    Posted 08-04-2003 at 19:56:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
My father, 8th grade education, oldest of 8 kids, born in 1918, lived through depression, knows value of a nickel. In '48 he went to work for an outfit in Houston, bought stock through payroll plan, never sold a share.retired in mid 80s. Draws more retired than most when working.


DL    Posted 08-04-2003 at 18:25:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Have you heard of Bill Gates? He is a college drop out. However, he droped out because he saw better opportunities, not because he is lazy or dumb. In certain sense, he is smarter than the college. With all that said, he still don't know about quantum mechanics (for example). On the other hand, with his money, he can hire a professor full time to teach anything he want to learn. GW Bush was a lozzy college student. But many people feel he is a bliss. It's statistical. In general, the odds are against you without a college degree. One important thing people often forgot is that the college education just make you a better human being.


bob    Posted 08-05-2003 at 05:41:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
you never worked with a bunch of engineers have you JUST KIDDING


Cindi    Posted 08-04-2003 at 20:11:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
One important thing people often forgot is that the college education just make you a better human being.

I sure don't get that one!

More well rounded maybe? Oh well.

Anyway..success without college....like someone else says, it depends on how you define success. I consider my husband a success. If you mean wealthy, there are tons of wealthy educated people who are not successful human beings.


Are you nuts?    Posted 08-04-2003 at 20:03:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
You think just because someone has a degree they are a better human being? I don't think so Tim. Most have a chip on their shoulder for at least a while till they find out it still requires work to succeed. I seriously doubt that they are any better human being that the average 19 year old serving in Iraq.


Willy-N    Posted 08-04-2003 at 19:48:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
I droped out in the 12th grade, got my GED in the service. Been hard going at times. Been a Electrical Contractor for 13 years and self employed for 20 years. In that time I have had 3 homes and the last one is paid for now. I sorta retired at around 45 years old to just working around home and driving a school bus part time a couple of hours a day making a living. Guess I could have made a lot more money and been deeper in hock having a Collage Education but I enjoy life the way it is. I am happy that is what realy counts! Mark H.


Sven    Posted 08-04-2003 at 18:33:09       [Reply]  [No Email]
Bill Gates is one I was thinking of. As for quantum mechanics, Would he understand it if he had finished college?


Dave Smith    Posted 08-04-2003 at 18:23:13       [Reply]  [Send Email]
That depends on what you define sucessful as. I think Henry Ford did great.
Dave


Red Dave    Posted 08-04-2003 at 18:18:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
I don't think Bill Gates finished college.

Depends on what you define as "Highly Successful". Do you mean wildly rich, or happy, healthy and reasonably comfortable financially?

I know a lot of people who have been successful without a college degree, but I do think it's getting harder and harder to find sombody who will give you a chance to prove yourself without one.


sam    Posted 08-05-2003 at 05:44:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
Book smart is all right but being able to do it is what completes the job.


Redneck    Posted 08-05-2003 at 02:49:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thats very true.The attitude that you are better just because finished college is a bad attitude.Education is always good but it doesn't need to get in the way of learning.


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