With regard to your career, how important is it to go to college? Do you really need (at least) a Baccalaureate degree?

It is doubtful that anyone would disagree that a strong education is significant to compete in today’s work environment.   However, how important is a BS or BA degree from a reputable college or university?  After all Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell did not complete their college education.

And we all know that Steve Jobs was not even formally enrolled in college.

So if these highly successful business titans “made it” with out a resume, what is the case for going to getting a college undergraduate degree or  better yet a Masters degree or a PhD?  In addition, the success by most business owners has no direct correlation to their BS/BA degree.  So why bother with getting a college degree?

Here is why.

A degree on your resume immediately gives you credibility to interview.  Whether or not you are better fit for a position than a competing applicant without a degree.  A degree implies that the applicant is able to finish something started.

In the interview game, much of it is about perception.  When employers look at resumes the 2 things they look for is “what you’ve done” and “what is your educational background.”

As a Recruitment Executive I see resumes all day long (as you might imagine.) If someone does not have a BS/BA degree then for education I will often see things like Graduate of the Dale Carnegie course or Toastmasters, etc.   It’s not the same.

In many cases, having a license to work in a specific field such as nursing or physical therapy looks great on a resume (without having a college degree) ; however having a license along with a college degree in most cases trumps the competition….on paper.

Then there is the case in which applicants with a PhD are sometime passed over because of the assumption that they might be too research focused or simply overqualified.  When I get feedback that an applicant is overqualified for a position based on their education, I sometimes ask, “What would you like this person to forget?”

In conclusion the over arching need for a college degree on a resume (along with the obvious: an education) is that a college degree brings you credibility to interview.  Whether or not this is fair, a BS/BA on a resume does not necessarily imply that someone is smarter.  It implies that someone took their education seriously and COMPLETED the requirements for a college degree.

At a minimum, a BA/BS degree looks great on a resume and it is worth the time and cost invested.  Will you the information obtained from a college degree be useful to your career 20 years later?  Probably not.

Unless you plan on going on a job interview.


Bernie Reifkind is the CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc. a nationwide executive search and placement firm.

In addition, Bernie provides career guidance and strategic interviewing techniques to professionals at all levels.

P: 1(800) 801-1400 or email at ceo@premiersearch.com.