Can't afford university? Try this instead, says a self-made entrepreneur worth $820 million

Sheila Johnson attends The Jefferson Awards Foundation 2017 DC National Ceremony on June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Larry French | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

While higher education often comes with an eye-watering price tag, there are options outside of a traditional four-year college or university.

"People put so much emphasis on education, 'you gotta go to college,'" Black Entertainment Television co-founder Sheila Johnson told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published in November.

That kind of education, however, is not something everyone can afford, said Johnson, who serves on the board of Parsons The New School for Design and the leadership council of Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership.

"If you can't afford to go to college, either try a community college or vocational, and start building a business from there," Johnson told the Journal.

Starting a business doesn't need to be a big endeavor either, said Johnson, who Forbes estimated has a net worth of $820 million, including her on its list of America's Richest Self-Made Women.

Johnson, who is also the founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, told the Journal that she truly believes in vocational training, adding that there are job opportunities in a lot of fields that don't require a four-year degree.

She told the Journal that some of her former high school classmates who were in the vocational program went on to become entrepreneurs in Chicago, running pizza restaurants and car businesses.

"Just put the business plan together, and just get started. Start small and make it work," Johnson told the Journal.

Watch the full interview with Sheila Johnson at the Wall Street Journal.

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