Priceless advice From Billionaire Elon Musk

Getting the right degree from the right school is essential if you come from a specific, high-achieving background. From nursery school onwards, everything you do aims to secure a prestigious degree from the university of your dreams.

But super-entrepreneur Elon Musk has a message for degree-obsessed young people and companies desperate to hire them: chill out already.

In a 2014 interview, Musk responded to a question about what university degrees he looks for on a resume by saying that while credentials can be a great indicator of someone’s abilities, they are not a requirement for accomplishing extraordinary feats or landing a job with Musk.

This further demonstrates our excessive obsession with degrees.

As Musk points out, some of the best-known names in tech—from Bill Gates to Larry Ellison to Steve Jobs—failed to graduate, and the fact that greatness and gold-plated degrees don’t always go together seems complicated to argue with.

And that’s not only true when you’re talking about revolutionary geniuses. A recent analysis of job postings found that companies are increasingly demanding degrees for positions without them in order to save themselves all the hassle of sifting through more resumes.

This level of inflation means that companies pay 30 percent more for talent than they should.

How to succeed without a degree

The takeaway for hiring managers is pretty simple: yes, using degrees as shorthand for ability is a time saver, but it’s also costly. You’ll end up paying more for your people than you need to, missing out on exceptional talent.

But as AngelList noted when it recently flagged the Musk video in its weekly newsletter, Musk’s dismissive attitude towards academic accolades should also serve as a reminder to young people that if you put all your energy into grades and diplomas, you’re almost certainly not focusing enough on what matters: skills and the ability to continue updating them throughout your career.

So, stop missing the forest for the trees. Yes, degrees are beautiful, but they are not the ultimate goal. The real prize in life isn’t the letters after your name; it’s the ability to accomplish extraordinary things. School isn’t required for that. Passion is.


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