This piece was featured on Being Latino, Inc.
Recently, Being Latino prompted the question, “Do YOU feel that you need a college education in order to be “successful” in this country? Why or why not?” It’s a loaded question to say the least; in trying to answer it you have to know how to you define success. That in itself can be the root of one’s demise -- spending a lifetime trying to achieve “success” without understanding what their own definition of success is. But the definition of success isn’t what I wanted to address. It was the responses.
Many replies referenced the unemployment rates that many graduates are facing once they leave the comforts of the university, reiterating the perspective that a degree doesn’t promise anyone a job. Other people spoke on how hard it has become to find a job that doesn’t require a college degree; jobs that in the past only required a high school diploma, if that. The common thread: both perspectives share the desire to work or be working. For a lot of us, we grew up with this ingrained: do well in school so you get into a good college, do well in college so you get a good job, get a good job so you have a good life.
We are conditioned to be workers. Employees. We’re not taught to think about creating our own employment opportunities or entrepreneurship. The thought of being a business owner never crossed my mind, nor was I encouraged to explore that possibility. I decided to pursue a career in education because I couldn’t fathom the idea that making music could provide me the consistency and financial stability to have the life I wanted – but I stand here as an entrepreneur. It was my “ah-ha” moment that came once I had the audacity to pursue a career in music that I realized no one was going to give me the opportunity to create the type of music I wanted to make. I had to create the outlet, or opportunity, for myself. Growing up I wasn’t encouraged to take risks (especially financially) nor was I taught that if I fail then it’s not the end of the world. The hardest thing I had to unlearn was that failure isn’t the end of the journey -- its just the beginning.
College, classes, and professors will not make you proficient. They will provide you with knowledge which you apply to life, work and/or career. But what many people do is look for the path that is laid out like the yellow brick road; expecting success to be at the end of it. Just because you obtain a degree that doesn’t mean everything is going to be laid out for you on a silver platter. You have to figure out what you want to do and how to put yourself in a position to achieve that goal. Maybe a degree isn’t even part of that path, but you can’t expect to find success with a formula. You have to put in the work and pave their own yellow brick road.
Having a degree or multiple degrees does not determine nor define your potential for success – you do. It all depends on how hard you work to make it happen.