Sunday, 30th April 2017


Does a college degree equal success?

by Maria Carmela De los Reyes


15 Apr 2013 Print This Post Print This Post



    All of us may have been told by our parents that if we want to be successful we must study and work really hard to earn a college degree. This is true for many, but there are also some who have proven this wrong.

    There are people who are successful without even finishing or going to college at all. Here is a list of some of the most successful people who didn’t earn a college degree:

    Socorro Ramos is the matriarch of the Philippines’ largest chain of bookstores, the National Book Store (NBS). She was born in Sta. Cruz Laguna, but lived most of her life in Manila after her family’s business in the province fell. While Ramos’ sisters worked in a candy and bubble gum factory, she earned money by peeling off the discarded papers of cigarettes, which would be recycled. She finished high school but, unfortunately, was not able to go to college. After finishing high school, Ramos worked as a salesgirl at Goodwill Bookstore, owned by the family of her future husband, Jose Ramos. The name of the bookstore was later changed to National Book Store.

    It was not that easy for her. Ramos had to rebuild the bookstore from scratch after the Japanese occupation, and again after the Americans — but it all paid off in the end. Today, NBS has more than a hundred stores nationwide.

    Lucio Tan is known for having ventured in a number of businesses from tobacco, beer and alcohol, to air travel, and banking. The success of each of these companies is the reason why his name is on the list of the wealthiest people in the Philippines. However, before becoming rich, Tan was really poor. Born in one of the poorest provinces in China, his parents moved to the Philippines when he was still very young. Tan finished elementary and high school, and later attended the Far Eastern University, where he studied BS Chemistry. However, he did not finish college and later worked at a tobacco factory where his job was to buy tobacco leaves in Ilocos. Through Tan’s experience working in the factory, he managed to start his own tobacco business, which he named Fortune Tobacco.

    Tan’s business grew, and because of this he managed to establish Asia Brewery, followed by Philippine Airlines, Allied Bank and Philippine National Bank, and Eton Properties. Now, he even owned a school, the University of the East. Tan may have lacked the college degree, but he never lacked the experience and ability that made him successful.

    Alfredo Yao is the CEO of the juice manufacturing company Zest-O Corporation and the airline company Zest Air. He came from a very poor family, and they became even poorer when his father died when he was just 12 years old. With five other siblings, Yao’s mother’s salary as a sidewalk vendor was not enough to send all of them to school. Through the help of a relative, he finished elementary and high school. Later, Yao attended college at the Mapua Institute of Technology where he took up BS Chemical Engineering. While studying, he worked part-time at a warehouse of a packaging company. However, Yao’s salary was not enough to support his college education, so he only managed to reach second year.

    Yao never thought that he would end up in juice manufacturing, since his initial intention was just to sell “doy packs” to already established juice companies. However, no one bought this idea so he worked on his own. Now, when one hears of tetra-pack juices, the first brand that comes to mind is Zest-O. And this is a proof of how successful Yao has become.

    Edgar “Injap” Sia is the man behind Mang Inasal, one of the fastest growing food companies in the country. At an early age, he was exposed to business as he worked as a cashier in their family’s merchandising store after school.

    Sia attended college at the University of St. Augustine Iloilo but dropped out a year before graduating. At the age of 20, he knew that architecture was not for him, with business as his true calling. So, Sia ventured into a small budget hotel, a laundromat, and a photo developing shop. After this, he saw the potential of Inasal Chicken (an Ilonggo culinary dish), and started Mang Inasal by borrowing P2.4 million. Now, Mang Inasal has 422 outlets nationwide, and the number continues to grow.

    These are just a few of the many people who proved that a college degree is not a necessity to become successful in life. But I’m not saying you should put your pens down and quit college. In fact, you are very fortunate to be able to go to college — but don’t just aim to earn a degree. Like these people, know what you love, and work on it. Add persistence and hard work to what you do, and don’t let obstacles hinder you. Who knows, someday your name may also be listed as one of the most successful in the country.


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