A Different Road to Success

Everyone wants to make a lot of money. Most people think the path to success runs through college and is paved with textbooks, term papers and scantron forms. This belief has led countless young people to invest their parent's life savings, and much of their future earnings, in financing a college education. All who do this get a piece of paper with their name on it, trailed by a couple of very expensive letters (the most appropriate of which are B.S.)

Many are soon surprised to learn that those letters are not worth the paper they are printed on. Their dreamed of earnings don’t materialize. Their dream degree in their chosen field either turns out not to be the degree employers want or a degree that is wanted by only a few. In either case the opportunities available to them often provide only a living wage. They have a lifetime of debt in front of them and wasted years behind them.

I have received applications from a number of these people. When I post an ad for a position in my office I without fail receive several resumes from desperate college grads searching for a job. There is a degree of sadness when I delete their emails. They may have a college degree but they lack the skills and experience needed to work as a receptionist in a medical office. Over-qualified, mis-qualified and unemployed.

A few weeks back I met a young man who took a different path yet embodies the success for which so many young people strive. He is 29, single, self-employed and financially secure. His job pays well, enough for him to buy a home in Huntington Beach in a zip code with a median home price of $762,000. By most measures of financial success he is doing well, very well for his age.

He is successful, yet he had never attended college. Not one class, seminar or night course will be found on his resume. He has no formal business training, yet he makes over $100,000 a year.

He is a pool man.

He has been cleaning swimming pools for 13 years, since he was 16 years old. His father is a pool man and he learned the trade from him, how to monitor chlorine levels, remove algae and repair heaters and filters. After a few years working with his father he struck out on his own, acquiring customers and building his business.  Before long he was making a good living. Young and debt free, he was able to put a large portion of his earnings into savings, eventually enough for a down payment. He is a success.

He is a reminder that the road to success does not always go through college. Something for students and their parents to remember!

- Bart

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