More often than not it’s said that college is the only way to get a good-paying job and be ultimately successful in life. However, it seems that this notion is far from the truth, as unemployment rates for recent graduates are all too high, and the rates of graduates who are underemployed or not employed in their field is even higher. So, maybe we should start rethinking the myth of the four-year degree as the only path to success.

The Downsides of a Traditional Degree

It’s expensive.
Getting a degree from a four-year university could be the most expensive mistake you ever make. The cost of getting a bachelor’s degree is higher than ever, causing recent graduates to face crippling debt, along with the slim chance of getting hired.

Degrees are often outdated long before commencement.
Particularly for business or technology students, degrees could be outdated before you even graduate. As business models and practices are constantly changing and technology continues to develops, the skill-set needed in these fields are constantly evolving. Therefore, what is being taught in universities may not even be relevant by the time students begin the post-graduation job search.

It takes time.
In reality, the four years spent earning a bachelor’s degree can be a huge set-back. While you’re spending time taking pointless biology labs and learning outdated skills, you could be getting hands-on experiences and learning relevant information in your field.

There’s a significant lack of hands-on experience.
If you’re a business student, you likely won’t spend much time in school getting valid experience. As many college courses only require simulated practice, you could come out of college lacking the experience you need to land a job. And that’s not even to mention any degree within the humanities that fails to provide either technical skills or professional experience.

Success Without a Degree

Still unconvinced that success is possible without a degree? Here are four of the richest, most successful entrepreneurs who did just that.

Jack Taylor
This college dropout had a net worth of $11.4 billion, and one of the biggest car rental companies in America. After spending time attending a four-year university, he decided to call it quits and founded Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1957.

Bill Gates
This Harvard University dropout is one of the most famous – and also most successful – entrepreneurs in the world. Leaving college after just two years, Gates and his business partner created the most successful software company in the world.

Mark Zuckerberg
If you’re an avid Internet user, chances are you’ve heard of Mark Zuckerberg and his social media empire. At just 29 years old, Zuckerberg is worth $13.3 billion for creating Facebook, all without a college degree.

Michael Dell
Michael Dell is the chairman and CEO of Dell, one of the top computer companies. Dell began making and selling computers while attending the University of Texas, but dropped out after his business expanded.

Other Options to Consider

Be your own teacher.
As an impressive skill-set is one of the best ways to get noticed and hired, focusing on learning new technology and software is highly important. Teaching yourself to become proficient at different software is a great way to land an interview and a job. As an added bonus, thanks to the Internet, learning new skills can cost next to nothing.

Start your own business.
Starting your own business is the best way to get your hands dirty and learn as much as you can in the field. Whether you become an Internet entrepreneur, create an app or build a large brick-and-mortar company, doing it yourself will add value and importance to what you learn. Even if your first business venture tanks and you decide to start job-hunting, employers will be very impressed with your resume.

Focus on getting certified.
Instead of getting a four-year degree, focus on earning certifications relevant to your field. As earning certifications gives you the chance to deepen certain skill-sets, you can further your education without spending the time or money on a four-year degree.

Choose your undergraduate program wisely.
Still convinced that a bachelor’s degree is the right path for you? Be sure to choose a program that is directly relevant to your prospective career (consider technical programs that emphasize learning a specialized skill) and to complement your studies with significant work experience, if possible.