TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Feb 9 2013: As an employer there is a much more complex analysis that can take place. Personally I know that most college graduates have enough motivation and ambition in which to have completed what is hopefully four rigorous years of schooling. As a result, we can place faith that they will carry over those character traits to the workplace. On the other hand we are faced with the compromising notion that they are not a blank slate, and therefore inhabit a sense of understanding in real world situations which may be unfounded. Personally I believe that a blank slate is essential in building an employee from the ground up to be a true and reliable asset. Therefore, I would sooner hire someone with the skills and competitive portfolio over those with a degree.

    As a high school graduate, I would be willing to self-teach myself. However, I believe that all people should experience college education to a degree, if only for a semester. I believe that there is a great deal of transition into the next level of education that transforms an individual's level of maturity that is essential. Also, there are many skills to be obtained in a strictly academic setting, such as critical thinking skills, study habits, time management and many others.
    • Feb 9 2013: I agree with everything you've said, I think that's a very clear minded view of education and more goal-oriented. Even though I normally like the idea of throwing out colleges all together, I liked the idea of having at least a semester of it for the fact that it helps students mature.

      One question, you said that colleges help kids acquire critical thinking skills. Could you elaborate on how it helps with that? I personally feel like my education is hampering my critical thinking skills and that students might be able to acquire critical thinking through some other means.
      • Feb 10 2013: Ultimately most higher division math (i.e calculus, stats) and science (i.e physics, mechanical engineering) tap into critical thinking skills. The information being presented is generally not applicable in the sense that students enrolled will not be physicists or mathematicians. These complex problems presented in these classes are meant to create new ways of analysis and thinking systems. personally I believe that is where I have derived a much more refined form of critical thinking and as a result I can postulate much more complete and constructive forms of thought. Of course, this is simply an opinion and I have no research in which to back my input on this.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.