7 Reasons You Don't Need a College Degree to Earn Big

There are few college degrees that pave the way to six figures. It can happen – but you can also earn a six-figure income without ever going to college. I’m a proud college dropout, and was earning over $ 200,000 a year as the head of SEO at Oversee.net while my friends were working on their degrees. I went on to build and run successful companies and help others grow theirs. And I’m certainly not an anomaly in the world of business success.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga are all wildly successful – all without college degrees. According to reporting from the Washington Examiner, 68% of Americans don’t have a bachelor’s degree. My position here isn’t to say college degrees are worthless or can’t be beneficial – just that they aren’t necessary to achieve success.

Here are 7 reasons you don’t need a college degree to earn big.

1. Online Learning Turns You Into an Expert

There was a time when going to college and securing a master’s was a ticket to big paychecks. But as we’ve learned during the ups and downs of our economy, a degree doesn’t always unlock doors to more opportunities.

You could end up needing an MBA for the work you want to do, but you should also stop to challenge your assumptions before signing up for four years of tuition and student debt. Do you really need a four-year degree to be a coder? Or could you take classes from Codeacademy or Dev Bootcamp to learn web development? Chances are you can find courses online for anything you want to be an expert in. Consume every course and all the content you can find to advance your own career.

2. It’s Possible to Start Consulting Right Now

There is no degree required to become a consultant; and you also don’t need to be a foremost expert to launch your services. Work on identifying areas where you can solve someone else’s problems. Look at B2B services you can offer, from email marketing to on-site optimization.

Just don’t fall into the trap of believing that you don’t know enough to consult. If you know more than your clients and can coach them in useful ways that solve their problems, then you can look to consulting. I have years of experience in content marketing and consult entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses. Although I’ve had a lot of success, there are plenty of other people out there who are more experienced and earn more than me. There’s room for people with various strengths and niches in any industry.

3. You Can Invest in Real Estate Without a Degree (or a Lot of Money)

There is no degree required to start investing in real estate. And I’m not just talking about flipping homes or buying rental property. You can start investing in commercial real estate without a degree or even much money.

Crowdsourcing has become a popular way to do this. Sites like Realty Mogul offer investment opportunities for a few thousand dollars. Their properties range from hotels to office buildings to storage units. As you build up your portfolio and earn more money, you can look to commercial real estate opportunities in your own community to make a name for yourself.

4. There Are Still Plenty of Jobs That Pay Six Figures Without a 4-Year Degree

It’s really not necessary to go to college to earn six figures in this day and age. A degree isn’t required for air traffic controllers, yet they have the opportunity to earn six figures within a few years. Real estate brokers and technical writers also don’t need degrees to work in their fields, yet they have high earning potential.

You can also lean on your own skills to earn six figures. That’s how I ultimately went from college dropout to high earner. Or you can get inspired by Millennial Lauren Holliday, a college dropout turned waitress turned self-taught full stack marketer who landed a dream job and started earning six figures. She later went out on her own to earn more and help others learn more about marketing.

5. Student Debt Can Crush Your Dreams

You don’t need a degree if it’s going to put you far into debt with no light at the end of the tunnel. Student loan statistics are grim with over 44.2 million Americans saddled with student loan debt. According to research from Student Loan Hero, the delinquency rate is 11.2% and the average monthly student loan payment for borrowers 20 to 30 years old is $ 351.

Think about what would happen if you didn’t have that loan payment. You could invest that $ 351 into your own business or self-learning to create the kind of career and income stream you’re looking for.

6. Your Degree Could Be Useless By the Time You Graduate

I’m not necessarily against college, but it is a risk. You’re putting a lot of time and money into a degree that may or may not be obsolete by the time you’re ready to use it.

However, even if the degree itself is still useful in opening some doors, it doesn’t mean you’re really ready for the job market. Technology and business processes and trends age quickly. It’s hard to keep up with changing trends when you’re stuck behind your textbooks for four years.

7. You Don’t Learn Grit in College

Author and psychologist Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth says grit can determine success. In her popular TED talk, she explained: “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.”

Grit isn’t learned from textbooks and taking tests. It’s learned from being out there in the world and struggling through challenges and figuring out how to make things work. Your own grit might be learned through launching a freelance career or startup, securing funding for your business or traveling the world and working remotely.

At the end of the day, you don’t need a degree to give you permission to succeed and earn big. While a degree may be useful to help grow your skills and make new connections, it is not a prerequisite to becoming a leader in your industry. Success is a mindset and the result of hard work – and it can absolutely be achieved without your learning credentials in hand.

Did you skip out on college and achieve big success? Let us know about your experience by leaving a response below:

Tech

3 Reasons To Buy Gilead

The Power Factors System is the backbone of my research service, The Data Driven Investor. It’s essentially a quantitative ranking system that selects stocks based on three powerful and time-proven return drivers: financial quality, valuation, and momentum.

Multiple academic studies have proven that companies exhibiting strong numbers in these three areas tend to beat the market in the long term, and my own backtesting work confirms that the Power Factors Systems can generate impressive performance over time.

The specific details behind the system are not particularly important, the main idea is using a combination of indicators and ratios to select companies with strong metrics in these main areas. Among others, the Power Factors System includes the following metrics:

  • Financial quality: the system looks for companies with superior profitability on sales, considering ratios such as gross profit margin and free cash flow margin. In addition, financial quality includes metrics based on return on capital, such as return on investment and return on assets.
  • Valuation: this covers classical valuation ratios like price to earnings, and price to free cash flow, among several other metrics based on similar concepts.
  • Momentum: the system picks companies that are outperforming expectations, and it also looks for stocks that are doing better than the broad market. In a nutshell, we want companies that are delivering performance numbers above Wall Street forecasts, and we also want the stock price to be reflecting such outperformance.

An equally-weighted portfolio comprised of the 50 best-ranking companies in the system produced an impressive annual return of 26.39% since 1999. By comparison, the S&P 500 produced a far more modest return of 3.77% per year over the same period.

In other words, a $ 100,000 position in the S&P 500 back in 1999 would currently be worth nearly $ 199,100, while the same amount of money invested in the Power Factors portfolio would be worth an exponentially larger sum of $ 7.8 million.

Data and chart are from Portfolio123, and the full list of companies in the system is available to subscribers in The Data Driven Investor.

The ranking system is based on a stock universe that excludes over-the-counter stocks in order to guarantee a minimum size and liquidity levels. Nevertheless, most stocks in the system are relatively smaller than those in the S&P 500, and in many cases far more volatile.

Interestingly, Gilead (GILD) is a noteworthy exception. The company has a market capitalization value of more than $ 109.6 billion, and it ranks remarkably well across the three dimensions in the Power Factors System. These particularities make of Gilead a particularly intriguing name among the stocks selected by the quantitative model.

Case Study: Gilead

Gilead is a leading player in the biotech space. The company is focused on life-threatening infectious diseases, with a big presence in treatments for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Gilead has made a series of acquisitions to expand its portfolio in cardiovascular diseases and Cancer over the past several years. More recently, the company made a big move with the acquisition of Kite Pharma (KITE) for $ 11.9 billion in cash. This deal could provide a big boost to Gilead in cell therapy and oncology treatments.

The business is under pressure due to lower sales and increasing competition in Hepatitis C (HVC) products.

On the other hand, Gilead has a promising pipeline of new developments across different areas, and this should drive increased revenue growth over the years ahead.

Importantly, the company has an impressive track record of financial performance over the long term, and profitability levels are considerably above-average. The following table compares key financial metrics for Gilead vs. other big biotech companies, such as Amgen (OTC:AMGM), Celgene (CELG), and Biogen (IBB).

5 Year Sales Growth.

Return on Assets (ROA)

Return on Investment (ROI)

Operating Margin

Net Margin

Gilead

29.4%

21.1%

31%

57.8%

42.9%

Amgem

8.1%

10.4%

13%

44.7%

35.5%

Celgene

18.3%

9.1%

11.7%

27.6%

21.3%

Biogen

17.8%

15%

21%

38.7%

28.1%

The numbers are quite clear, Gilead ranks above the competition across all of the five indicators: sales growth over the past five years, return on assets, return on investment, operating margin, and net margin.

Financial performance over the years ahead will depend on variables such as demand for Gilead’s new products, and this is always a source of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the company’s track-record and current performance are a positive reflection on its management team and its ability to deliver attractive returns for shareholders.

In terms of valuation, Gilead stock is fairly conveniently priced, if not downright undervalued. The stock trades at a price to earnings ratio around 9.15 times earnings over the past year. This is a huge discount versus the average company in the S&P 500, which trades at a price to earnings ratio around 21.5.

Looking at valuation ratios in comparison to industry peers, Gilead also looks quite cheap in terms of price to earnings, forward price to earnings, price to free cash flow, and price to sales.

P/E

Forward P/E

P/FCF

P/S

Gilead

9.1

11.2

10.1

3.85

Amgem

16.9

14.5

18.7

5.9

Celgene

44.7

16.1

26.8

9.2

Biogen

29.8

13.7

18.21

5.7

Offering a similar perspective, the following chart shows how Gilead’s valuation has evolved over the past several years, and current entry price looks quite compelling by historical standards in terms of price to earnings, price to free cash flow, and enterprise value to EBITDA.

ChartGILD PE Ratio (ttm) data by YCharts

The bottom line is that Gilead stock is substantially cheap, be it in comparison to the broad market, when compared to industry peers, or by the company’s own historical standards.

Momentum is favoring the bulls. Both revenue and earnings came in above Wall Street expectations last quarter, and analysts are adjusting their earnings forecasts to the upside. The average earnings estimate for Gilead in 2017 was $ 8.35 per share 90 days ago, and it has steadily increased towards $ 8.78 currently.

Stock prices don’t just reflect fundamentals, expectations about those fundamentals are tremendously important. When expectations are on the rise, this generally means that stock prices are rising too. On the back of increasing earnings forecasts, Gilead stock has substantially outperformed the S&P 500 index over the past several months.

ChartGILD data by YCharts

Past performance does not guarantee future returns. However, profitability metrics, valuation, and momentum are all positive forces for investors in Gilead on a forward-looking basis.

Disclosure: I am/we are long GILD.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Tech

8 Reasons Why the Tokyo Olympics Will Be the Most Futuristic We’ve Ever Seen

In 1964, the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics, the nation revealed one of the biggest mic drops in transportation history: the debut of the shinkansen, the world-famous bullet train that became a Japanese icon. The first high-speed train in the world, it spurred similar technology to spread to Europe and other East Asian nations, paving the way for current maglev trains and, arguably, the Hyperloop.

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