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I don't get higher education.

A professor, likely not in the top of their field at the college you attend, charges you exorbitant money per hour to attend their class.

Class is, mostly, them assigning you a ridiculously expensive book to read - authored by someone you've never heard of - and you reading it and listening to some lecture and then taking a test to prove that you were paying attention.

Ten classes a year and four years later, and you're deemed educated. Why? Because someone forced you to read books you wouldn't have otherwise read.

Or, you can go down to the Barnes & Noble and get a book by the best in their field - world renowned even - for $15 and read it yourself.

Or, if you feel like it, you can get the used versions of the books being assigned at colleges and read them for far less money than you would pay to sit in class and be told to read the book.

Rarely when I was in college did I feel that the professor (or about half the time, a TA) added a great deal to the study. There were exceptions to be sure, but they were rare.

I say all of this because it's 1:20 AM and I'm working on the payment processing module of 247Toolset - which is a big implementation. As I do this, I'm incorporating into the fundraising flow some things I read in The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson. Exceptional book, and one not often required by college professors. Had I not read the book, I'm certain that I wouldn't have thought of doing things in the way I'm building them.

Is the problem that people just don't like to read unless they're forced to do so? Therefore, they're willing to part with a ton of money to be forced to read books and work to retain the information they read?

Or is it just for the piece of paper at the end that tells me I'm "official" - that I actually read the books and did the homework to the satisfaction of forty professors? Because I have to say, it's pretty obvious within a ten minute conversation, regardless of the paper in hand, whether or not someone has invested themselves in education. And if you ask the right questions during the conversation, you'll learn whether or not they know how to apply their knowledge.

So I don't get it.


by Brett Rogers, 11/29/2011 1:38:38 AM


I have a college degree but I pretty much think it's crap. Even though I graduated (with honors even)I know that I barely retained anything. I spent half of my education at a traditional liberal arts university, and can only really remember one professor and one class that still have any impact on me. The second half of my eduaction was completed at a liberal arts university as well, but at a satellite campus tailored to and taught by working professionals. I utilize a lot more from those courses. Still, other than the value that employers place on the education section of my resume, the degree is meaningless to me. I often wonder how employers would feel knowing that school comes easily to me and I didn't work hard at all. I suppose they're happy that I'm willing to play the game?

To your point, having to teach myself sql or java from a book, and out of desperation to solve a real world work problem, means I probably won't ever forget it. In this case I have a vested interest in learning. In the former, only in the piece of paper.



Posted by Annette (, 11/29/2011 9:36:38 AM

Well said, Annette. I think it's lazy for an employer to set an automatic hurdle of "college degree" for applicants. Some should require it - such as engineering or the medical profession - but really, that's just fancy trade school. Requiring a "four-year degree," just as a matter of course and allowing for any degree, is irrelevant to the actual job. It's just a lazy screening device, and an illusion of safety.

I've heard employers say to me, "It shows me that they can commit and finish something." Really? You require tens of thousands of dollars of debt to show you that? Again, a ten-minute conversation and some reference checking can resolve that question, and with more certainty.

"Well, they're gonna be smarter, on average, than those that don't have a degree."

Again, really? Going into that much debt for a degree you can't directly apply is an indication of intelligence?

No... using a generic "four-year degree" as a hurdle is just lazy BS. It's no indication at all that the would-be employee is either self-starting or resourceful - two of the most valuable attributes that any applicant can have.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 11/29/2011 10:40:18 AM

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