Posted on: September 29, 2020

Degrees don’t guarantee jobs, but universities can still be valuable

Degrees don’t guarantee jobs, but universities can still be valuable

I recently came across an article on Medium titled “5 Things College Didn’t Teach Me” that carried some strong criticisms of higher education.

There’s some sentiment I can appreciate from this critique. Higher education has let its students down, and there’s a noticeable lack of both soft and hard skills from recent college graduates.

But reading this article would give one the sentiment that college is dead, when that really isn’t the case. Still, these critiques have some validity, and if we in the higher education business want to survive, there’s some adjusting we can do. But the one that caught my attention was the very first, which the author goes into without any introduction: “Employers won’t hire you just because you have a degree.”

That statement makes it sound like she was told that just for having a degree, one will be hired. However, her supporting paragraphs clarify that she’s describing the problem of college degrees becoming less meaningful and valuable to employers.

For example, she says:

“Colleges tell you that employers care very much whether you are ‘degreed’ or not. But this is not true. At the end of the day, employers don’t care too much about whether or not you have a college degree.”

This is an upward trend that’s becoming more common every day. We at FXUA are finding that a vast majority of employers are not interested in degrees anymore. Instead, they’re focusing on specific competencies.

Moreover, we are working with corporations to make our students more attractive employer candidates long before a degree is attained. Now, in deference, we would like for students and employers to find value in our degree programs, but overall we are more interested in teaching various and valuable competencies that ensure a productive life-long employee or, even better, an individual with the capability to create jobs in the future as opposed to relying on employers.

Having a college degree doesn’t make or break it in this current job seeker market where seemingly everyone has a degree, leading to claims that the bachelor’s degree has become the new high school diploma.

Although it’s true that some employers are moving on from this requirement, most still haven’t. But ignoring this new trend of overlooking a college degree would be unwise for any university. We here at FXUA are taking it seriously by emphasizing the student’s academic journey over just their completion of the degree.

The author does admit, “Employers prefer college degrees because degrees help employers assess whether you can do the job or not, but it is not the only thing they take into account.”

Certainly change needs to happen at universities if they don’t want to be relegated to being expensive and outdated bureaucratic nightmares.

Universities must balance offering a true education that teaches its students the soft and hard skills. FXUA emphasizes this market demand with micro-credentials and experiential learning, and we look forward to being a part of revolutionizing – and even saving – higher education going forward.

About Brad Dawson

Brad DawsonBrad Dawson is the Chief Student Experience Officer at Fairfax University of America (FXUA) and author of “The Disruptive Warrior – The Hero’s Journey to Corporate Actualization”. He has nearly four decades of management consulting success with over a decade of that time working with colleges and universities to build relevant and measurable programs. He is a frequent presenter to national and international audiences and has been published in over 100 different periodicals on a variety of management, strategy and operational business topics.
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