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What's a degree worth?

Education is approaching a change where it will never turn back, but what will we find around that corner?

In America, college degrees mean less and less, and it seems like what's often more important is real-world experience and a competitive portfolio/skill sets. So the question is to put yourself in the following situations to answer the following:

As an employer: Would you rather hire someone with your required skill sets/a competitive portfolio and no college degree, or someone with a degree and good grades but little experience? (everything else held equal)

As a high school graduate: Would you be willing to self-teach yourself to the point where you had marketable skills and an impressive self-made portfolio while risking not having a degree?

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  • Feb 3 2013: A degree is considered the entry fee to apply to the attractively renowned businesses - without it you're not even considered - especially when too many potential employers are using 3rd party hiring firms that filter using keywords in resume submissions. The *real* question is: "Is the cost of a degree at, let's say, Harvard worth it over the returns possible from a local State college degree?". I suggest that it is if you take the time to rub shoulders with the already recognized families who attend/support the elite school. Thoughts?
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      Feb 4 2013: I don't think, realistically speaking, that the Harvard undergrad is going to rub shoulders with elite families in the way you envision or that such a relationship is the key to why employers or graduate schools often look particularly closely at graduates of these schools. I think it has to do more with the rigor of the program in numerous fields of study and exposure to the sorts of intellects one finds there. That is, I think, the truth of it.

      Harvard and Princeton are also extremely generous with financial aid to top students.
      The smaller size of these schools allows more individual attention, typically, than at many state schools, which are often extremely large and impersonal. There are many small liberal arts schools that offer this same advantage, as well as some smaller state schools, like William and Mary, if you live in Virginia.

      If you are a high school student, I hope you have that choice to make.
      • Feb 4 2013: Sorry - Harvard was just an example of where you make connections. Pick your school. It's not that any old employers may/may not be impressed with name-your-school - it's the expectation that the *dads and uncles* of fellow students can get you the jobs.

        All I know is that my school didn't have any movers and shakers and needless to say that can hinder any ladder climbing (when you can't get on the first rung). Just ask most of the kids out there today with crushing college loans and no job prospects.
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          Feb 4 2013: I don't know how much dads and uncles are actually getting jobs for their kids' and nephews' friends or whether that is any different if you go to UMichigan than if you go to Yale.

          Right now the job market is just very competitive. It is unquestionably a hard time to be looking. But that does not necessarily mean that when someone else gets a job it was probably because the person had some unfair edge.

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