In one of my previous post I talk about whether a university degree is worth it. In the post I recommended for most to get a university degree, even though in today’s world the value of a degree has been diluted with the many low barrier universities. Universities used to be reserved only for those academically inclined, but as society progresses and people try all ways and means to squeeze into one, more and more universities are built. In the process, they raise the profits of education and at the same time dilute its achievement. Inflation does not only apply to monetary value, but can also take place in your workplace (rank inflation where despite promotion you are still doing the same job) and in the education sector (university degree’s value drops).
Yet despite that, it has now become a situation where if everyone else has it and you do not, you will be placed at a serious disadvantage. Even though now we have a situation where many university graduates still behave like one kind of stupid and we wonder how on earth they managed to get their degrees, having such a qualification has long ago been the new normal. Employers demand for it, and in many cases you will need to go higher to a Masters or even a PhD to get promoted.
And today, we will look at why a university degree is important, although in many context it is almost a useless piece of paper upon graduation.
What Employers Are Looking Out For
Perhaps Sylvester Stallone summarised it best in this classic college speech in the movie Tusla King.
Unless you are in a very specific job with the need for a very specific skillset, such as being a doctor, in today’s era of mass production many of us are doing a job different from what we have studied. Shortly after graduation, many of us forgot what we have learnt. A few years down the road, our degree is as good as useless, used only when we are applying for a new job. But a degree is a benchmark to show to your potential employers that your brain is capable of thinking at a certain level and you are disciplined enough to complete a set of tasks as instructed.
Not the best guage there is, but this is what we have today.
This world is run by capitalists. And capitalists only want one thing – money. The cost of a degree is not cheap in terms of actual financial cost, time and opportunity cost. And that is the point. To make you waste time, money and opportunity to get approved by the system. Only after you have paid the cost of membership, that you will be allowed entry into the club of university graduates. The club has its own benefits, such as social recognition, job opportunities etc. Of course, as mentioned earlier, as more people join the club, the value of the membership drops. But if you do not join, you will likely be worse off.
Lies About Education
To profit from the education system further, on one hand they push you to get a degree while on the other hand keep promoting successful people who never had a decent education. This will give people the impression that they have a higher starting ground and will have a higher chance to do better. Afterall, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of university. But people conveniently forget that first he was a Harvard dropout when many university graduates do not even meet the criteria to enter Harvard, second he had a reputation as a programming prodigy, thirdly he dropped out to complete his Facebook project and not because he flunked his academics and lastly, his parents were rich enough to support whatever venture he wanted to do.
Elon Musk dropped out of Stanford University? He had already obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Physics in the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League college. And his father was rich. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University? Same story as Mark Zuckerberg. I can go on about a whole list of people who are known to be successful without completing a university degree. These people are different. Firstly they had the capability to complete it but did not do so because they found something far better to do (ie the opportunity cost of university education is too great) and secondly they had the necessary backing to try without fear of failure and the necessary backing to make their venture a success. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook was a copied idea, which he later settled with money. Bill Gates’ family was no commoner either.
Despite the lies they have spun, top companies only go for top talents. Compare the career fairs at the top schools and those average universities, and you will see a whole load of difference. Good positions are offered to those who graduated well, has higher qualifications such as Masters of even a PhD. As much as we hate to admit, not all schools are made equal. Ivy League is definitely better than a no-name university. And even the trash of Tokyo University, Peking University and Tsinghua University may even be better than the graduates of some other universities. Even certain positions in certain government ministries only hire from top schools with good results.
As much as you would like to believe the bullshit about all schools are made equal and education is not everything, your employers will tell you with the cold hard truth that it does make a difference.
I do agree that a university degree is not everything. But it helps a lot in landing your first job and subsequent progression. It helps a lot even till your mid-career. If you are in a good school, it gives you a starting position far better than those in the average schools, and even further ahead than those who did not make it through university. The world operates on rules set by the rich and the powerful. Unless you have the necessary backing or have wisdom beyond your age to navigate the system without following the preset rules, you will do well to go along with the flow.
Pay the membership fee. Enter the club.