The Myth of a Worthless Degree, Part 3 | Hour Blog

Degrees are one hell of a double-edged sword. Everyone has one, which means that not getting letters by your name is the modern-day equivalent of not graduating high school only some decades ago. But they’re so expensive–and only getting more so.

But that’s not the catch-22 part. The real suck sets in when you realize that to really compete, you’re probably going to have to specialize, but those upper degrees, they take much time and more money, and the needs of our economy fluctuate so quickly that what’s necessary now could easily be passé in 6 or more years. This is coincidentally terrible, because that’s just about as much time as you need to get that degree to compete.

Alright, I’m going to think out loud here. It should be duly noted that I am in no way an expert on anything that I likely comment on…but whatever–such is the nature of blogs.

Back to the point. What should education look like in an age like ours? Rapidly evolving economies require agility, but all that competition requires excessive qualifications. My layperson estimation spots a conflict, so I’ll put my layperson knowledge to a solution.

There are, at this moment, 3000 janitors in the states with PhDs, which tells me there is a definite disconnect between what our educational system creates and what the market needs (or thinks that they need, anyway). I don’t think the solution is more doctorates. (Clearly, the there’s at least some oversaturation going on here, unless all 3000 have 8 year diplomas in the custodial arts). Those lengthy programs certainly develop a honed skill-set, but that toolbox can seem so specialized that it, in reality, often closes more doors than it opens.

I won’t belabor my thesis: I’d suggest colleges stress degree programs that develop entrepreneurial abilities, critical thinking, and comfort with tech. They could be short, and they should be student driven. No doubt, specialization will play a part in the process–my ideal school places students in the driver’s seat–but the foundation should remain.

There is just no way education should take as long as it does. For almost everyone, the first two years of college are high school part 2. Those general ed credits are eerily similar to our junior and senior years, which means that most are into their twenties before they even begin to take the classes most pertinent to their careers…and almost 26 by the time they hit the job market with a “competitive” degree. Should you discover, to your gut-wrenching dismay, that what you’ve been slaving for, sleepless nights and all, is completely lost in whatever HR stacks your resume finds itself buried in, you’re truly in too deep. More school is not a realistic option. Your present debt already robs you of whatever peace you attempt to muster at night, and the thought of another unmarketable degree to your name and yet more debt is a distinct possibility. You could get a job, but it would probably be entry level–but you always wanted to be a barista, right? It’s tragedy Shakespeare would dare not write.

Ok, that’s bull crap. He wrote Titus Andronicus.

Look, I haven’t sorted all this out. I write this blog in an hour with little to no preparation of any kind. All I’m suggesting is that shorter programs could and should be developed that instill all those necessary qualities for success, while leaving the specialization to independent learning and company-specific education. Tests like those Coinbase

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uses could filter the field, giving everyone with sharp mind and dedication a fighting chance.

Maybe I’m idealistic–or ignorant. I’m probably a good mix of both. But I don’t think we’re doing this education/career planning/recruiting thing the right way, and I think the times demand a mod.