Wednesday, January 25, 2006

don't need a degree

Something we all do, to greater or lesser extents, is assume we are the rule, not the exception. An example of this is when you have drunk an equal quantity of alchohol to someone and they are swaying and you are fine. You say "how are you drunk,I'm not drunk!" Or, worse yet, you see someone get hurt and then they scream with pain and you say "come on, that doesn't hurt at all! I've had that happen to me 5 times and I'm fine." The answer to both of these, is, of course, good for you, but this person is not you. They have a different body, physically and mentally, and of course are going to react differently. Applying your own standards to judge their reactions is unfair.

The most frustrating example of this kind of logic is one I have heard in the media a few times, from business men who have made it with only a handful of GCSEs (an exam you sit at age 16 in the UK). Their logic- THEY made it big without any kind of education. Therefore, you do not made education to make it big. This is true. With enough luck and business acumen you can certainly get to where you're going without dallying in the education system for very wrong. The mistake they make is to claim degrees are a waste of time. This is, of course, obviously ridiculous. Clearly the average early school leaver does not go on to become a succesful business person. Generally, they're either unemployed or working minimum wage. The thing is, if you DO leave school early, to start in the world of business, if everything falls through, as will happen in the majority of cases, then you have nothing to fall back on. Most degrees will automatically qualify you for jobs that others will have severe difficulty getting. So even if you can't get that dream job you hoped for, you can usually fall back on something that someone without a degree could never get. This is not of course generally true, and depends on your degree, but ultimately a more educated individual will normally find it easier to interact and manipulate the system to their benefit.

That was the common sense argument- theres a simpler argument in that statistics show that on average people with degrees earn far more than those who don't.

The fact is that in the long run, luck will probably balance out. If you live long enough, and do enough, you should have a fairly even balance of good and bad breaks. The difference is what you make of them. The reason why good players of games which involve luck (poker, a lot of board games, many many things I can't think of) win more is because they do their best with a bad hand, and utilise a good hand to the maximum. They reduce the randomness involved by applying skill. It's the same in life- you can reduce the randomness in your life by solid achievements, like a degree, or any form of qualification. I'm not saying a degree is the only way to go- it certainly isn't, but it's simply wrong to claim that a degree is pointless, and I wish people would stop doing that.


At 11:32 am, Anonymous Amanda said...

I completely agree - to suggest that dallying in the education system for very wrong is pointless is complete bullocks.

I think the years you're at university are important because they give you thinking space, time to breathe and plan what you want to do next - instead of being merely forced into the next available job in order to make ends meet.

At 11:48 am, Blogger Kirbie said...

You might not need a degree to be a businessman, but I wonder how we'd cope without any scientists, doctors, engineers or architects hehe. Well probably anyone could be an architect!

At 1:57 pm, Blogger Kelly said...

I like the poker analogy. Very, very good.

At 11:11 pm, Blogger The Venomous Bee said...

I get it in the ear about going to University alot ... "What are you going to do with an Art History degree?" (said in a belligerent tone). I think that the problem with statements like that is that it is assuming that people do everything to an end. I mean, yes, you do get a degree, which is an end, but it's sometimes not about Getting A Job. And it assumes that getting a degree isn't fun in itself ... maybe I'm being pollyanna, but I like knowing stuff about Constable and Michelangelo.

At 4:52 am, Blogger Jeff said...

Totally agree. Plus I think an undergraduate degree is just a basic training to someone rather than a qualification.


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