Saturday, January 23, 2016

Toxic Degrees

Graduating from University was once the key to success in the workplace.  But today, certain degrees from certain universities are not only worthless, they likely will insure you don't get a job.

We've talked about college degrees here before.  And I opined that some colleges and universities may go bankrupt in the next few years, as they struggle to attract more students - with a shrinking enrollment base, sky-high costs, and an increasingly worsening value-proposition.

And this has happened, to smaller liberal arts colleges, such as Sweetbriar and the like - and it will continue to rise.  Religious schools, single-gender schools, traditional black colleges - all are first to feel the pinch.

An unexpected side-effect of this trend is playing out on college campuses across the country.  Colleges and universities are so stressed financially and struggling to attract students, that not only are they building rock climbing walls in the student center and dumbing down the curricula, they are caving in to the most idiotic of student demands.

Kids today want "safe spaces" and tenured professors fired the moment they express any non-PC opinion.  Meanwhile a professor can deny the holocaust, call the victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns" or deny the shootings in Connecticut took place (and harass the parents of the dead children) and the students rush to defend their "right to free speech" and decry the university's efforts in firing them.  (Fortunately, the universities were successful nevertheless).

A college degree, in the wrong subject from the wrong university, could not only be useless, it could be worse than useless, as employers would look at your college experience and shy away from hiring you.   Many employers are already deciding that a college degree isn't necessary for many jobs, and may in fact be a hindrance:
"The move comes as smaller employers are shifting away from hiring graduates or university students, believing kids are coming out of university with “no real skills” or simply being taught the wrong things."
Think of it this way:  If you are an employer, do you want to hire someone who spent their college career protesting for "safe spaces" or "Black Lives Matter" or "occupying Wall Street"?    Would you hire someone who took over the Dean's office or made a list of "demands"?  Are these people who are likely to be productive employees, or troublemakers in the workplace?

Would you hire them?   Because if they went after their own professors, who's to say they won't come after you next?

And by hiring such folks, are you really gaining insightful experience from a college graduate, or a guaranteed lawsuit with regard to race, sex, or gender discrimination?   Or unionization activities?  Or at best, someone who has no idea what hard work really means?

I suspect in coming years, degrees from certain notorious universities which seem to be concentrating more on protesting than education, will be not only worthless, but less than worthless.   In short, you would be better off leaving such degrees off your resume when applying for a job.  Such degrees would be toxic to your future.

And to think, you spend $100,000 to get one.

And this is not a new trend.   Back in the 1970's and 1980's, young graduates complained that they could not get a job as they had no "experience" for many high-paying jobs, but were "overqualified" for low-paying jobs.   They were mystified as to how they ended up in this conundrum.  Of course, if they had any smarts - or empathy for a prospective employer - they would see right away what the problem was.

The reality is, a graduate in "communications" from Bong-Hit University with a C average is not really sought out by anyone.   The degree doesn't by itself qualify the candidate for any kind of employment, as bereft of real-world experience, they would be a burden to an employer, not an asset.

And such a degree, far from being an indication that the applicant is a go-getter, intelligent, and and asset to the organization, is just an indicator that the person applying is lazy, unmotivated, likely on drugs, and bound to be a troublemaker.

So back then, we had the same situation.   People went to college and graduated with what were, in effect, toxic degrees.   And even back then, some reported finding work only after leaving their degree off their resume as low-wage employers didn't want some liberal-arts college pot-smoking troublemaker explaining to the employees exactly how they were being exploited.

This is not to say all degrees from such institutions are worthless or toxic.   If you graduate at the top of your class or move on to graduate work elsewhere, you may be sought out as a worthwhile candidate.   But such folks are in the minority in any graduating class.

And today, if I was an HR director for a large company,  I would start to assemble a "black list" of colleges not to hire from.   And it would not be hard to do - just read the newspapers and write down the names you read in the articles; Brown, Columbia, Smith, and so on.   Actually, such lists have already been compiled for you.

Of course, a lot of the grads from such schools aren't interested in jobs.  Either they come from wealthy families, and after playing at being a protester, they will settle down and work at inheriting money.  Or, like Cornell students, they end up working at the coffee shop they patronized for four years as a student, and not much changes in their lives.   And of course, a third group never leaves college - going on to one graduate degree after another, and finally landing a position as professor, so that they can share their "real world" experiences with a new generation of young people.

It never ceases to amaze me that kids can be smart enough to go to college and not figure all this out.   I guess in the 1960's and 1970's college was cheap enough that it didn't matter too much - you just wasted four years of your life.  Today, though, with a "mortgage on your life" at stake, it seems kind of obscene that colleges are letting kids graduate with these horrendous debts and degrees that are not only worthless, but toxic.

But then again, it seems they let anyone in college today.   It is the new high school.   And these graduates, not being very bright, count on electing Bernie Sanders for President, as he promised them free college, student loan debt forgiveness, and a guaranteed job.   And they think this is a plausible solution to their problems.

You can see, right away, why they aren't finding jobs.