The notion of what it takes to succeed in the modern workplace is changing, according to a new poll.

The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll showed that while most Americans thought that college was an important foundation for a successful work life, other factors were also considered “very important” for a good career. These included computer literacy, people skills and family connections. In the United States and other developed countries where college has “long been seen as a Holy Grail to a good life,” these findings are somewhat surprising.

Around half of people in the poll thought that a four-year degree was “very important” for a good career. Attributes that reflected amoeba-like abilities were also ranked highly in terms of career success, such as being able to work with different types of people, keeping skills current through training, being willing to work long hours and being willing to switch jobs/occupations.

The reality is that many jobs nowadays have a preference for both experience and a degree, and these findings reflect that. While having a degree won’t necessarily guarantee professional success, there’s a good chance it won’t impede it either, so it’s certainly not to be sniffed at.

But going to college isn’t just about getting a piece of paper or the degree to which that piece of paper might prepare you for the workplace. It’s about the experience. It’s not so much about what it teaches you but how it teaches you; to think, how to question assumptions, and problem-solve.

These are skills that you may well develop in the workplace, but if you’ve been to college, you’ll already have that in your arsenal when you get there.

Image attribution / source: Steve Wilson /

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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