April 12, 2016 | | by

With two children in high school, the thought of what they’ll choose for careers and how they’ll achieve those dreams are always on my mind.

The other day, a friend and I were discussing that my son and I will be going on his first college visits soon and that is when he asked me, “As a consultant, do you think it is a viable career option for someone graduating from High School? Do you think they even need a college degree if they want to do nothing but freelancing?”

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot and I know that my gut answer is that of course you do not need a college degree to be a successful freelancer.

Throughout my career I’ve never had someone ask for my educational credentials when I pitch them on doing work. I doubt many people ever have.

That isn’t to say that I don’t think a college education is important. I’m an Adjunct Professor at Bentley University so obviously I think a degree is an important part of a successful career.

In today’s world though there are many careers that don’t require it. Especially with the variety of online and distance learning options now available.

Lynda.com, CreativeLive and Treehouse are all online options that can teach anyone the skills you need to be a successful freelancer.

Once you have those skills, you can set up your online footprint (including a profile here on Digaboom I hope) and then start finding clients.

When you pitch for new work, clients are going to want to see your work, not your diploma.

I know this is topic that is sure to spark debate, but I wonder how often a life as a freelancer is even talked about over the dinner table between parents and children.

We already work in a borderless world where technology empowers teams to work together no matter their location.

As technology continues to improve and work evolves, I have a feeling that more people are going consider freelancing as a viable career choice.

Unlike a new hire candidate who is expected to come in with a certain set of things on their resume, freelancers arrive with a different set of things looked for in their proposal.

College is important for a lot of reasons, but if you plan to live the life of a freelancer there are other options.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo Credit – State Farm under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. 

  • radiofreegeorgy

    I agree to a point, but I think you need a lot more knowledge than Lynda.com can provide to be a successful freelancer in any creative field. You need to be well-read and exposed to a breadth of knowledge. You don’t need college for that, but you need a commitment to seeking knowledge (and maybe a library card). Your creative output will be more well rounded and more successful if you have more experiences or cultural input to inform it.

    • For sure, only learning HOW to do something doesn’t mean you’ll thrive at DOING it.

      The other night I had a student who is taking their first marketing course ask me how she could develop a more creative mindset. I encouraged her to consume and create across a wide spectrum of topics and media because there is not one single way to be creative, but if you are not consuming and learning and creating you’ll never develop the mindset for it.

      The internet today is full of formulas, lists and guides on how to do everything, but none of them are ever going to be a one stop shop for success.

      Thanks for chiming in.

  • Shobeeee

    What’s good about college is the social interaction from other people. It’s like a play along field in the job and you can discover a lot more in an open environment which is very healthy. Plus, someone did advice me that college degrees can become a sideline..a 2nd option if freelancing doesn’t really cut out for you.

    I have done both while I was still in college, studied a very technical degree and at the same time took a very creative part-time job. I tried balancing that out all together with extra activities like hanging out with friends and family. College world opened my mind to a lot of possibilities. Maybe that’s because I’m a bit of an optimistic person, otherwise it would have been different.

    It wouldn’t hurt to take a chance. If it doesn’t really work out along the way then call it as a great experience to have :)

    • Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

      I agree that college is about a LOT more than just the degree. It is where a lot of people grow up and the social side of college is vital to many. I know some of my closest life-long friends came from going to college with them.

  • I am of two minds on this one. I do agree that you can learn to do just about anything online but on the other hand, I do believe that you acquire intangible skills during college that come into play to be able to perform at optimum levels no matter what you do in life. Don’t get me wrong, I know with or without a college degree anyone can be super successful in life, I just want to underline the fact that the skills acquire during that time are not replaceable.

    • I agree. This is why I wrote this post because I firmly see both sides of the argument and wanted to see how other people felt.

      Thanks for chiming in.