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To Degree, or Not Degree: Yet Another Question Uncle Sam has for Thee

Posted 03-14-2014 at 02:20 PM by Blondebaerde

(Inspiration: C-D thread, "Why are we even asking if college degrees are still necessary? The policy to encourage young people to take degrees has been in place since end of WWII! (GI Bill))"

LOL: because something worked 70 years ago, it's supposed to be perfect today, too. As a policy.


As a Conservative in most ways, I actually agree with the statement, almost all the time. But prima facie, it's very dangerous thinking. That's the kind of old buzzard, cranky malarkey that gets people into trouble in wars ("generals always fighting the last one") mostly because that's what they were taught thirty years prior at West Point.

The assumption that non-college grads "cannot" be as well-trained, intelligent, and ambitious as their college brethren is losing more credibility over time, compared to say 1946. A time when it was, in-fact, more true than not. Demonstrably so. The Information Age is changing all that.

The college paradigm has changed even from when I graduated, a bit more than one generation ago (class of 1989). Pre-Internet widespread adoption, which I'm arbitrary saying started in 1994. I obtained first couple jobs via networking and newspaper ads. Professional positions, that is to say. When there was less information going around, yes indeed: no one would have even given me the time of day w/o a Bachelor of Science (in my field). Period.

Fast forward only ten years, I was seeing smart college drop outs move into positions of modest authority at software firms. Granted, some were rough around the edges compared to a more-polished college grad, but they didn't "need" the degree to objectively prove anything. Few could comment intelligently on, say, the Punic Wars or Cicero's specific brand of rhetorical reasoning on the Roman Senate floor, but damn if they weren't good at coding.

And that's all that mattered.

There is a megatrend in the U.S. of going more towards what you know vs. who, or what pieces of paper you have. In technology, at least. Engineering, too: in the end, both are zero sum. You know it, or don't; have the skills, or not.

Whether you can be taught, however, does go via correlation to what school you came from, or whether you even graduated.

College degrees are still correlated well with IQ, too, the unspoken elephant in the corner that determines socioeconomic success to a (statistically significant R Squared) degree.
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