For Most People, College is a Waste of Time
September 04, 2008
Outside a handful of majors, such as engineering and some of the sciences, a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even vocational majors like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses.
A better method might be, instead of better degrees, no degrees at all. Young people entering the job market could have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications -- a certification, not a degree. The CPA exam that qualifies certified public accountants for example, is used nationwide, is thorough, and a passing score indicates authentic competence.
Under a certification system, four years is not required, residence is not required, expensive tuitions are not required, and a degree is not required. Certification tests would disadvantage just one set of people: Students who are coasting through their years in college.
The overarching benefit would be that the line between college and noncollege competencies would be blurred. Opportunities would be wider and fairer, and the stigma of not having a BA would diminish.