The Degree Is Dead

College is a religion, but I argue that college, specifically the degree is the most wasteful commodity in existence. Millions of people spend all of their resources including their precious time and money to obtain the “sovereign” degree. But why? Many people are promised a high paying job once they have a degree in their hand, and the result is a culture of blind followers who continue to do what they’re told and get the degree because it will “pay off” in the end. No matter how long it takes you or how much it cost you, it is worth it! Right? Wrong! The degree, more alarmingly than not, doesn’t provide individuals with the resources that they are promised by college advocates. The problem is realized because too many people have degrees, thus over saturating the pool of higher educated individuals. The more people who have a degree, the less valuable the degree is. At this point, the degree signals almost nothing to employers, it is just a box that gets checked on a resume. So ask yourself, is four years and $60,000 of debt worth a check mark? Well for me, it is most definitely not worth it.

Let’s dive a little deeper to understand why. So what is the degree exactly?

Well at the most fundamental level, it is a signal. A signal to employers that you indeed know what you are doing and that you have certain skills that can bring value to the work place. These skills could include time management, focus, self-discipline, communication, etc. The degree also tries to indicate that you have at least entry level knowledge in the field or industry you are working in.

So when people go to college, what are they buying? Are they buying a social experience, an education, or a degree?

They are most definitely not buying an education or an experience, they are buying a piece of paper.

How do I know this?

Well, if people were actually concerned about the education itself, then they would just attend classes for free, nobody is stopping anyone from waltzing into a big lecture hall and attending a class. And people aren’t paying for the social experience because you don’t necessarily have to be a student to live in a college town and go to parties and games to socialize.

Here’s the thing:

If you were to keep everything about college the same except with one exception, and that being to not give a student a piece of paper at the end, I guarantee you the number of university enrolled students would drop significantly. People are paying for the piece of paper at the end, the signal to employers. So if that is the case, why not focus on what the degree is actually signaling and build a better one instead. By building a better signal for yourself, you are by default rendering the degree useless. Now what does that look like for the college opt or drop-out?What does a better signal look like? Value Creation. That’s it, that is all the market cares about. Your ability to create value for others is what ultimately dictates your future success. However, people fall into the trap or mindset that they can’t create value because they haven’t learned anything yet. But we all have skills, whether that be soft or hard. We all have things that we are innately good at and even better at than most people. It is part of being human.

Ask yourself what makes you come alive. At what points in time do you feel the most excited? What gets your heart racing? At what point in time do you feel appreciated and valued as a human being? Now run to that, and get lost in that work. Opportunity is at the intersection of what you love to do and what people find value in, so take the time to pinpoint that location. Everyone, including you, has some form of marketable skill.

Once you know what skills you already possess, build upon that foundation. Learn and grow in the direction of your passions. Do that type of work for people over and over again and get those reps in! Overtime, not only will you become happier and more fulfilled because you are doing what you love, but you will begin to build a body of work that you are proud of that also establishes your credibility as a professional. A portfolio, or a body of work that illustrates the level of value you can create speaks volumes over a third party credential.

Now get after it and pursue what makes you come alive, build a better signal than the degree. Because guess what?

The Degree. Is. Dead.

Gregory AlexanderComment