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By Johannes Helmold

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student celebrating after getting degree

During recent years, there have been many talks about whether getting a college or university degree matters any longer. Opponents say that in the modern world, which provides so many ways to make ends meet, with online education, and so on, a college degree is an anachronism that does not affect the chances of getting a job. This, as well as other claims, are fair enough. However, I would not rush into claiming it is time to get rid of degrees, quit your university, and start living a free, wonderful life, because there are still good reasons for getting an academic degree.

The first and foremost reason for getting a degree is reputation. It is true that younger, progressive CEOs prefer skills over good college degrees; however, a lot of workplaces nowadays are still run by people of the old school, who still give a lot of credit to education, college ratings, and degrees. For such employers, it may be irrelevant whether you graduated from Princeton or some municipal college; but it is the fact that you graduated and got a degree that matters. For such employers, it is an index of your intelligence and capability; even if you are a super-smart-and-skillful self-taught genius, if an employer sees that the last place you graduated from was high school, it might be a turn off.

Moreover, the reality of the 21st century is so harsh that it is not necessary your employer will review your resume, but rather a machine. Many white-collar jobs require an academic degree as a necessary prerequisite, and the competition to get a job is incredibly high. Employers often have neither time nor the will to review the endless flow of resumes they receive daily; nowadays, when you send in your resume, it is usually scanned by a computer, which looks for the initials BA or BS in the paper. If there are none, your resume will not be noticed. So, it’s not even your major that matters, but just any degree.

The results of such an approach are dismal, but this is a different story. To tell the truth, I do not see any other reason why a degree would matter. Personally, I know many people who do not have fancy degrees, but possess useful skills and are valued in the companies they work for. If you pay attention to the biographies of many famous business owners, you will find that rather often they were self-taught.

Harvard or Cambridge might be a springboard for a start, but not having that start does not automatically mean you will fail in your life. If you want a white-collar job, or if you have your own reasons for getting a degree, go for it. However, if you feel like you can arrange a place for yourself in this life without graduating and getting a diploma, do not worry much. Nowadays, people with or without a degree can have equal opportunities.

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