How much weight does an Ivy League degree hold?
Tom Friedman argued in a New York Times column that in this economy, it doesn’t matter whether you went to Yale or not. Employers don’t care what you know unless you can help solve problems. He says “there’s been an important shift in the education-to-work model in America,” and it’s a game-changer:
“Since jobs are evolving so quickly, with so many new tools, a bachelor’s degree is no longer considered an adequate proxy by employers for your ability to do a particular job — and, therefore, be hired. So, more employers are designing their own tests to measure applicants’ skills. And they increasingly don’t care how those skills were acquired: home schooling, an online university, a massive open online course, or Yale. They just want to know one thing: Can you add value?”
While college degree holders still earn an undisputed wage premium overall, colleges have still failed their students by not giving them enough tools to enter the real world. And while that wage premium exists today, people like Peter Thiel — who pays innovative students to drop out of college and launch their own startup —may push this premium down.
Harvard Professor and “father of disruption” Clay Christensen is outspoken about how higher education is the next industry to be disrupted. If that’s the case, then the job market will only get more competitive, and grads will have to prove themselves much beyond their pedigree.
In his column, Friedman wrote about a recruiting startup, hireart.com, that defines what the future of the labour market could look like:
“[Hireart co-founder Eleonora] Sharef pointed to one applicant, a Detroit woman who had worked as a cashier at Borders. She realised that that had no future, so she taught herself Excel. ‘We gave her a very rigorous test, and she outscored people who had gone to Stanford and Harvard. She ended up as a top applicant for a job that, on paper, she was completely unqualified for.'”
Stories like that aren’t the rule yet — connections and other advantages are still important, and always will be — but we’re moving more in that direction, especially as technology is making learning and acquiring new skills easier than ever.
Business Insider’s Henry Blodget, who went to Yale, recently gave similar advice as Friedman to graduates:
“The real world doesn’t care where you went to school or what you did when you were there. Your diploma might help you get a job, but the moment you start working, the only thing that will matter is how much you help your bosses, colleagues, employers, clients, and/or customers.
So, congratulations on your success — you deserve it. But if you want to do well in life, forget about all of that and start helping.”
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