I read a few interesting articles over the past few days that I thought would segue nicely with my previous post: Who really needs a college degree anyway?
A college degree was and is still used as a filter of sorts
College used to filter out who were the cream of society — usually, they were rich and smart.
When you look at college photos in the past, they had VERY small graduating classes because almost no one could get a degree without money, connections and/or brains.
The entire graduating class of 1907 from The University of Delaware
The entire graduating class of 2011 from The University of Delaware; You can’t even see all of them!
Yes, there are more people on the Earth today than before, but the proportion of graduates has increased like crazy.
Today, they serve the same purpose for companies to figure out who is better than someone else as an employee, but it doesn’t work quuuuite as well.
We all know this is partly crap, because I could have gone to an awful school and have been smarter than someone else who went to a very expensive school but was just average.
Still, that’s how it works today.
It’s imperfect, but it’s the only thing companies can really use to try and figure out who might fit best into the company and have the skills to do the job with little supervision or training.
Yes, I know, we don’t want to think that anyone can be considered smarter than anyone else, because we’re all amazing, super smart, fantastically unique angels who can do nothing wrong because we’re all #1 (!!), but it’s true.
The college degree is now the new high school degree
A college degree today, is what a high school degree was in the past — something everyone thinks they should have as a basic education.
I already wrote a post on this: Who really needs a college degree anyway?
Something that is now taken for granted as a necessary thing to have. I read a stat somewhere that said 45% of people aged 18-24, go to college.
How can almost half of people in a society all have so-called good jobs at $100,000 a year?
Do you think in any average multi-national company, you’ll find that 45% of those people are in good jobs?
It’d be impossible — it would be “too many chiefs, not enough indians”, as the saying goes.
I think a more accurate percentage should be 10% as the maximum of people that end up going to college and using those degrees in good jobs.
In France, I am told it is 5%.
Only 1% of that 5%, are people who go to really GOOD schools.
That seems a bit severe to me, but it’s certainly better than lying to your children and citizens by telling them that EVERYONE can have a good job.
(And maybe they’ll even hate their ‘good job’, and want to become something else entirely. Read: Who really hates their jobs?)
A good job for most people is making $50K a year, working 40 hours a week in an office.
That doesn’t exist for 45% of the population, and this is exactly why we have a problem with education today.
Likewise, members of the general popuation were twice as likely as college leaders to say that college isn’t worth the price: 80% of U.S. adults agreed that at many colleges, the education students receive is not worth what they pay for it.
Only 41% of college leaders agreed with them. Read: Higher Education Poll
College degrees are not created equal and they aren’t your hobbies (unless you’re very lucky…)
With that in mind, I also believe two other major things:
- Not all degrees are created equal (not everyone can be a successful fashion designer)
- Degrees should not be taken as a way to do your hobby for money
This means that the ‘hard’ degrees that involve math, science or any kind of technical brain work that people tend to squeal and say “OMG I just don’t get it“, are the degrees that generally make the most money.
We also call those STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) professions, which women are not really represented in.
See, given a choice between fashion design or science, I can guess where most girls (for instance) might gravitate towards, for reasons we are all already aware of.
Anyway, the real problem with college degrees being a filter, is that the filter is broken — just about ANYONE can get a degree now, if they want to pay.
Ergo, having a degree doesn’t necessarily mean you have skills that companies want any more.
A college degree is useful only if you plan on using it
If you plan on working in advertising, then get a degree in it.
Sometimes it’s just dumb luck that you end up in a job totally unrelated to your degree, but are you going to stake $25,000 of student debt plus future interest payments of dumb luck that your degree which you took just because you like the subject, will land you in a nice, cushy job?
Didn’t think so. It’s also partly why I refuse to go back for an MBA — it’s a waste of money in my profession even if someone paid for it.
In my field, they couldn’t care less if you had 18 MBAs and 5 PhDs with a Partridge in a Pear Tree. Either you know how to do the job or you don’t.
Otherwise, college is a waste of money
45 percent of today’s college students show no significant improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills after two years of college. More than one-third fail to improve after four years of college.
It was a $60,000 investment for me, which thankfully paid off.
For others, it’s on average a $25,000 debt they will never be able to pay off in a reasonable amount of time.
For the most part, college in general is all a big scam in my eyes for most people.
The poll noted that the average debt load for college students who took out loans and graduated in 2010 was $25,250. Three-quarters of college leaders (74%) said they thought this was a reasonable amount of debt for a college degree, but only 38% of the public agreed with them. A majority of the public (55%) thought this debt load was too high, compared with 24% of college leaders. Read: Higher Education Poll
Yes, it worked out for me, but I was in the right place, in the right degree, at the right time.
It’s partly luck.
I also happened to choose a rarer industry to enter based on my interest in that industry, rather than because I thought I could make a ton of money. (I had no idea.)
What I find the most appalling in our current education system is how much money is just being greedily taken without nary a thought as to the damage they’re doing to taking advantage of students who can’t find a job afterwards.
We simply don’t have enough regulation around such practices of just paying for a degree, and we have too many colleges and people becoming so-called “college educated”.
The worst, are colleges that hand out certificates or “diplomas”, and call them degrees.
Why don’t you just call them as they are?
Certificates!! It’s far more valuable.
Certificates aren’t bad at all if you can use that knowledge and the certificate in your job.
Otherwise, it is a big scam and a waste of money.
A company I worked for, paid $20,000 for me to obtain a certificate which is STILL helping me attain contracts and credibility to this day.
Consider trade schools and other professions instead
I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse here, but white collar jobs are not all they’re cracked up to be. Electricians, Plumbers, Construction Workers, they can all make more money than someone who sits at a desk getting an apple-shaped belly.
It just depends on if you have any mechanical or technical aptitude to do the job and love it so much that you become really awesome at it.
Above all, forget online degrees
(This means you Vanessa… 🙂 )
Online degrees to me, are places where you mail away 3 cereal box tabs and you receive a paper in the mail saying you’re now an “Engineer” [of Fairyland].
From Time Online: Can an online degree really help you get a job?
…a November 2011 report by the Babson Survey Research Group found that more than 6.1 million students took at least one online class during the fall of 2010, a 10% increase over the previous year and nearly four times the number of students taking online courses a decade ago.
66% [of HR managers] said candidates who obtained degrees online were not viewed as favorably as job applicants with traditional degrees.
One executive was concerned about how students were graded and assessed, while another worried about the reputation of online universities and believed that online classes were generally not as challenging as traditional college courses.
Basically the article is saying that online education is great way to get a lot of people educated, but it is something that many companies are wary of due to the reputation of such online degrees. I’d be suspicious too.
There are things you CAN learn online to some degree (computer science), but there are things you cannot (medicine and treating human beings).
I know it’s a great way to deliver learning, but it’s just all too easy for schools to scam otherwise well-meaning students who think it’ll help them obtain a job.
These students just end up paying for a piece of paper. Online learning is fine, in conjunction with in-person training.
Don’t think that college is the ONLY answer.
It’s the answer for many people, but it may not be the answer for you.
College-educated folks are already saturating the market to the point (some just buy their degrees) where the degree is no longer a good filter, and no longer as valuable as it once was.
College education and higher education in general is also not worth the price if you aren’t planning on using that knowledge in your job later.
Least of all, DO NOT run to graduate school or get another degree just because you have no idea what you want to do in life.
Think about what you want to do in your career, research whether an advanced degree will help you or just set you back 4 years and $100,000 in debt, and think about it. Even Bridget agrees.
In addition, people who make it without a degree and become billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, are one in a million, even a billion.
You probably won’t make it if you think you’ll be the next Zuckerberg.
More than likely, you’re not.
You’re part of the average group of folks, where 99% of us reside.
So what can you do?
Traveling to see the world and taking on jobs as you go on a visa, or learning another language can open up opportunities otherwise hidden to you.
Don’t rule out trade schools or places where you can get training and certification to do something else that doesn’t require a degree like electrician, real estate agent, massage therapy or becoming a dental assistant.
A society doesn’t only run on managers or white-collared folks working in companies.
It runs on people needing services and general help in life.
You will probably save $25,000, 4 years, and end up making more than most of your college-laden folks around you.