SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 26, 2014
We were reading a Thomas L. Friedman opinion article yesterday in the New York Times regarding the shocking statistic Google’s Senior VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock threw out about their employee pool: Google has teams where 14% of the group doesn’t have a college degree.
Bock said that college degrees aren’t necessarily vital for getting a job. We say that’s bullshit.
We get what Bock’s saying about putting technical skill over an official document.
At the end of the day, though, you have to understand the breadth of the world, the history of World War II, how to speak another language and what to make of Leaves of Grass to bring that creativity to the workplace.
No matter what happens in life, you’ll have an easier time transitioning from job to job with a college degree.
We can’t tell you how many people have written Auntie Evan about Bock’s comments. What most of us have come to believe is that having a college degree is a $200,000 expense that doesn’t serve anybody.
It’s a big commitment, we get it. There’s a multitude of ways to tackle the money problem from a financial aid standpoint, but that’s another article entirely.
Thing is, Auntie Evan can spot a person without a college degree a mile away. Do you need to have a degree to be in sales? Of course not. But when you’re sitting across from a marketing major and they’re talking about Sophocles or they’re reading the paper about a problem with the whip (a political party’s assistant leader), and you’ve never taken a class on ancient playwrights or political science, it shows in your presentation.
How is a political science degree going to help you sell a house? If you can’t be dynamic, on your feet and ready to adapt to any subject or conversation on a sales job in order to better connect with your potential customer, you’re going to fall behind as a salesman. Or as anyone else, for that matter.
This is not true for everybody, of course. We’re just saying having a college degree is going to bump you up in any job you’re going to take on.
On the Flip Side…
You may not need to have a degree. Are we contradicting ourselves? No. We want to look at the flip side and assess for whom a college degree is unnecessary.
College made Uncle David’s entire life. Yet, he understands that college, for many people, is a drain on their finances, their resources and their life.
What got Uncle David excited about the Bock interview was that Google doesn’t look at GPAs and standardized test score exclusively anymore; they look at leadership, humility, flexibility—they’d rather have somebody on their job who’s a flexible thinker and who can adapt to changing circumstances than somebody with a high GPA.
Back to heads
Now, granted that some positions don’t exclusively look at your diploma, let’s get back to a real world example: Tom, one of our star essay coaches at Forster-Thomas, got a degree in theater and later in film and went on to be in the television. He didn’t necessarily need his degree, but when he was out of a job he came to Forster-Thomas and excelled—he was able to think laterally on his feet and came to us with a stack of innovative ideas and potential products for the company.
We say it’s his liberal arts degree that helped him bring so many new ideas to the table. It’s the same story with our office manager, Roberto. He knows how to speak to people, how to sell, how to present in front of a room full of clients—and it’s thanks to his theater degree.
Our conclusion? Don’t go for the dropout life. Take the high road and become a better employee in the process.
If you decide to go the path of college-less digital vagabond-ism, here is more info about Enstitute, where entrepreneurs (most of whom didn’t get a college degree) are apprenticed by mentors as they work together to get their startups in full gear.