As college acceptance season inches closer, I’ve been exploring the value of a college degree and comparing it to options like apprenticeships. College degrees impart value based on your own personal goals and career choices, so they can be both a lot more or a lot less valuable than the dollar amount assigned to them. But as someone who’s hired hundreds of employees there’s one thing I know for certain: no college degree will bring as much happiness or success as certain character traits. In fact, I’ve found 8 of them that will help you accomplish your goals and serve you better than any degree.

1. Resilience

If there is one attribute I would say is an absolute requirement for any happy life it is resilience. What do I mean by the word resilience? I am talking about the ability to see things as they are and still be able to dig down deep inside yourself to say: This too shall pass, and more importantly, I can bounce back from life’s setbacks or roadblocks. It means being positive or finding the silver lining in the darkest of circumstances. It means having perspective—seeing things in a different light. And the most resilient people I know are able to say:  I can do things to help make my situation better. 

2. Simplicity

What do I mean by the word simplicity? I don’t mean it in the ascetic monk sort of way. I also don’t mean giving up material goods, wealth, or the desire for a better life. Not “simple-minded,” but rather having a simple outlook on life. Live and work within your means and only spend when you’re ready to. That is what I mean by simplicity—knowing what you’re earning and then living within those means. It also means living simply—not overcomplicating your life.

3. Persistence

When I say people are persistent I mean they don’t give up. They see things through. They are willing to do whatever it takes to see their vision, their hopes, their dreams become realities. They are willing to put in countless hours if need be to perfect their skill. In short, they put in the time

4. Faith

For me, faith means believing in something bigger than yourself. It means accepting that one is not fully in control of all of life’s circumstances, and it means letting go of control and allowing grace to work through you. Not everyone in life is on the same path and not everyone is at the same place in their journey. Some people’s paths in life are incredibly difficult. Being faithful requires that you have hope that a better day will come. Being faithful means, accepting your mistakes and limitations and knowing others have them too, and finding it in your heart to be compassionate toward others—to help out others when they’re in need. It means that everyone in this life isn’t beyond being saved—and that second chances are possible.

5. Initiative

I saw a sign the other day that said, “The best way to get something done is to BEGIN.” How many of us go our whole lives saying, someday I am going to…? Well, the difference between someone saying, someday and today is that they possess initiative. They just go out and well, as Nike says, just do it.

6. Vision

What do I mean by vision? I mean they could see a goal before them. They had a clear vision of where they were going and what they wanted to do, and they didn’t stop until they achieved it. This is why I believe crayons are an essential element of success.

7. Courage

We throw that word around a lot these days. In fact, I hear it applied to movie stars and football players, and even to kids on playgrounds jumping off swing sets. Yes, one could argue it takes courage to take on a difficult role, or dive into an end zone, or take a leap off a swing set, but when I use the word courage, I mean something a bit more serious, a bit more, shall I say, hefty. Courage, to me, means doing something another person wouldn’t be willing to do. It doesn’t mean being fearless, but rather it means having fear, worry, and trepidation, but doing the scary, fearsome thing anyway. It means stepping out of one’s comfort zone and going down an unconventional path few others are willing to walk. It means even when things seem impossibly difficult, you don’t yield, you don’t give up.

8. Generosity

The character trait I believe makes all others possible is this one: generosity. It seems like a paradox, but I can attest, that the more you give, the more you receive. Now I am not just talking about money, I am talking about everything. And I mean giving everything. I don’t think people fully understand or realize the power that comes from giving. The more you give—of your time, your service, your skills, your talents, your trust, your goodness, your courage, your vision, your persistence, your faith—the more you will undoubtedly receive those things in kind. Your good works, deeds, and donations will pay dividends. And here’s the thing: You don’t have to be a well-to-do person to be a generous one. You just have to be willing to give of yourself, of your time, or even a little bit of each to realize the power of generosity. 

Whether you have a college degree or not, cultivating these 8 character traits will pay dividends. I suggest you take a moment to identify the roles these characteristics have played in your life and what you can do with them to start achieving your dreams.