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You Don't Need a Degree to Thrive in the Workforce

Introducing the Bootcamp:

By: Ruby Dunmore

College is a valuable tool to become career ready, but it is not an indispensable one. Contrary to what has been drilled in your head from a young age, a college degree does not guarantee you a meaningful and successful career. In fact, employers are realizing that there are many skills that can’t be captured in a traditional college setting and that they must look outside of degrees when hiring.


With this being said, it is important to understand that college is not the end all be all. A college degree does not guarantee you a life of success and fulfillment, just as not getting a degree doesn't mean you will struggle all of your life.


College is simply a tool. It is an OPTION to launch your career. For those that are still exploring their interests or those who don't necessarily need a degree to enter their field, the college route may not be for them.


For most, the college journey begins at around 17-19 years old immediately following high school graduation. As students take their first steps outside of the sheltered high school gates, they are faced with immense change, transition, and redefinition. In this same period of adjustment, around 66% of US students (National Center for Career Statistics, 2019 ) embark on their collegiate journey. Many hold high hopes that college will be the environment to foster exploration and an understanding of themselves. However, they find that college doesn't seem to do that. Instead these students are expected to choose between dozens of majors upon starting their first semester. They are basically asked to pinpoint the direction they want to take their entire life. This is a task that does not come so easily for a large percent of young college students who are still exploring what they want to pursue. According to the University of Bridgeport, an estimated 20-50% of students enter college undecided in their major, while around 75% report having changed their major at least once. With this being said, students may spend their first few years switching between majors and prolonging their time in college. A 2011-2012 study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics illustrates this, finding that only 40% of first-time, full-time students who began pursuing a bachelor's degree at a 4-year institution completed their degree within 6 years. This can be directly connected with students switching between majors, trying to discover what they want to pursue as a career.


After hearing these statistics, it is valid to say that the late teens and early 20’s are naturally a time to discover who you are and what you want. It is a period of integral transformation, growth, and redefinition. Not knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life should be the expectation rather than a hindrance or impediment. So, why would you want to pay $30,000+ a year to explore your interests? And why would you pay over $100,000 on an education that you may change your mind on down the line? Just for the sake of going? Because everyone else does it?


It’s not worth it.


Depending on your life path and your specific career goals, a degree may not be necessary and will be a waste of your time, money, and energy. If you do have a career goal in mind, it is vital you do extensive research on that career and all of the prerequisites before embarking on your college journey. Of course there are certain jobs for which you need a college degree. If you plan on going into engineering, counseling, medicine, law, and others of that sort, then there is no way around college. Climbing the degree ladder will be your entire life for a handful of years. However, there are plenty of existing careers that don’t require any degrees at all. Once you have a grip on what you want to pursue, it is important to educate yourself on all of your options. Options that could potentially prepare you for the workforce in a more applicable and efficient way, cheaper and quicker than a traditional 4 year degree would.


You may say, “Well having a college degree looks better than not having one and I will land a better job with a college degree.” Well, this may not be the case. Research by Georgetown University shows that the importance and value behind receiving a degree is diminishing exponentially with time. It was found that a growing number of people without a bachelor's degree are now OUT-earning those with one. In the years 2017 through 2019, 16% of high school graduates, 23% of workers with some college and 28% of associate degree holders earned more money than half of all workers with a bachelor's degree.


So if a college degree does not guarantee you more career success and financial freedom, what alternative options are out there?


Bootcamps:

In certain fields and for a fraction of the money and time, students who graduate from a bootcamp program are equally if not more career ready than their collegiate counterparts. CareerKarma says “bootcamps take a practical approach to learning, through interactive exercises, challenging projects, and peer collaboration opportunities.” Bootcamp programs are immersive and hands on, giving students the chance to solidify foundational knowledge in their field of choice.

Bootcamps are especially popular for technical roles that involve programming and/or design. Some careers that can be launched solely using a bootcamp program include UX Design, Web Development, Digital Marketing, Music Production, and more. These are jobs that are in increasing demand and with the proper training will guarantee hiring. Employers, such as Apple and Google, are recognizing the value of these bootcamps and no longer require applicants to have a four-year degree for positions in which a degree was once a prerequisite.

Another advantageous element of these programs is that they last only 6 months-1 year and can be completed by anyone with computer access and a wifi signal. Whether that be travel, family commitments, or a full time job, bootcamps allow students to become career ready in a way that complements their lifestyle.



HOW Bootcamps Get You Hired:


A principal component of the bootcamp curriculum would be the career support services offered such as resume and portfolio building, networking opportunities, and job search assistance. All of these help participants land jobs in their field of study upon graduation.

One of the most important takeaways from the bootcamp program would be the portfolio that each student graduates the program with. A portfolio is a compilation of the work and projects completed over the course of the bootcamp. This provides potential employers a comprehensive and accurate picture of the skills, abilities, and achievements of their potential hire. The hiring rate from these bootcamps is quite impressive for this exact reason. 90% of eligible graduates from the UX Design bootcamp via Career Foundry land a job in their new field, including at top companies like Google, Apple and Amazon. In 6 months-1 year, students are being hired by the same employers as those who spent 4+ years and $100,000+ to receive a degree.


Conclusion:

College is a privilege and holds immense value. However, there is a misperception of college running rampant through young minds that needs to be shifted. If you have no idea what you are interested in pursuing, that is fine! But why spend $100,000+ exploring your interests and changing your mind at the flip of the switch when you could do that for free anywhere else? And why sacrifice the time, energy, and money to receive a degree that will land you the same job as the completion of a career ready bootcamp would?


Education is absolutely vital to success, but depending on your goals, there are different routes you can take to get you where you want to be. You are on a path that is distinctively unique from anyone else’s and it is up to you to honor your individuality in order to launch the career of your dreams.


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