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For decades now, conventional wisdom has suggested that a college degree is essential for long-term job success. And make no mistake: there is data supporting the idea that people with degrees generally earn more money than those without higher education. The problem is that college isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone.

The good news is that dropping out of college doesn’t have to be the end of your job success dream. In fact, plenty of people have gone on to enjoy tremendous success without college degrees – and you can too.

Dropping Out of College Doesn’t Have to Set You Up For Job Failure

While education is important for many top-paying jobs, dropping out of college doesn’t need to end your dream of success. Many of the most successful businessmen in the last half-century were college dropouts. They include well-known and wealthy entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. Each of those individuals went on to become wildly successful in his or her own field. To help you enjoy success as well, we have compiled a list of seven steps that can help you maximize your odds of success after dropping out of college.

Take Stock of Your Life

First, don’t panic. If dropping out of college is the right choice for you, accept it and reevaluate your life goals. It’s important to take stock of your life as quickly as possible, figure out what you really want, and develop a strategy to reach that goal. Above all else, remember that you are in control of your own destiny, with or without a college degree.

Recognize the Risk and Steel Yourself for the Challenge

There is a risk in dropping out of college, so you may as well acknowledge the challenge. And make no mistake: it will be a challenge. The important thing is to accept the risk, make plans to minimize it, and then carry through on your plans – relentlessly. That means waking up every day with the energy and drive needed to move toward your goals. Once you identify your dreams, never stop chasing them.

Make Learning a Lifestyle

You should not stop learning just because you’re dropping out of college. Education is a lifelong process. Centuries ago, many of the most brilliant minds in the United States were self-taught – learning from books, independent investigation, and trial and error. Thanks to technology, however, you have access to virtually all of mankind’s collective wisdom at your fingertips. Invest your time wisely and make your continuing education a central component of your lifestyle.

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Get Yourself a Mentor and Build a Network

One drawback to dropping out of college is that you lose access to one of its great benefits – a network of professors, advisors, and peers. To compensate for that, you should try to find someone who can mentor you in your chosen field. In addition, network with likeminded people and create a community that you can rely on for future success. That network can provide the support, recommendations, and referrals you may need in the future.

Commit to Self-Improvement

When you’re dropping out of college, you’re also losing the structural advantages that the school environment provides. You will have to rely on your own motivation to continue to improve and learn. Make the choice to commit to self-improvement every day. Establish small learning goals, and make sure that you stick to that plan.

Be Realistic and Stay Positive

Dropping out of college may be your decision, but that doesn’t mean that others will understand. In addition, you may find yourself becoming resentful if you see someone with a degree enjoying more job success that you’re experiencing. Accept that you have chosen your own path, remain positive, and focus on your own realistic goals and timeframe for success.

Work Your Way to the Top

Finally, recognize that you are unlikely to enjoy immediate success. In most cases, dropping out of college places you on a less-traveled road that may have more potholes, twists, and turns than the path your former classmates chose. That’s okay! Your success will come in time, if you continue to stick to your plan and drive toward your goals. Be prepared for entry-level position and remain thankful for every opportunity. Most importantly, believe in yourself and prove your worth to others.

While dropping out of college can be a tremendous risk, you can still enjoy the success you deserve in your chosen career. Yes, it will be more challenging, and you will need to invest even more diligently in your own skills and talents. But if you keep these seven steps in mind, your job success can be virtually guaranteed.

We have great tips for those who finished college as well, in another great post, 11 Awesome Tips for Getting a Job After College. Many of those tips are just as relevant for job-seekers who dropped out of college, so be sure to check it out!

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