Do You Need to Go to College?

It’s not easy to be a recent college grad today. Reports indicate that the college debt in the U.S. has reached $1 trillion and finding a job right out of school is incredibly challenging. It seems only fair to ask, “Is today’s younger generation better off without higher education?” The answer is not so clear but Google seems to think “maybe.” Google is hiring more employees without a college degree and is placing less weight on grade-point-average and college transcripts. Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google, believes that experience has greater credibility in the hiring process.

Although this is good news for anyone considering alternatives to college, throwing away a degree might not be the best option.

A few things to consider:

  • Global competition. In many emerging markets, the number of individuals graduating from college is increasing not decreasing. In fact, 100,000 students graduated in Mexico with degrees in science and technology last year. As organizations expand globally, graduates from emerging markets will enter the job market and compete for jobs with the advantage of a college degree.
  • We are not all Steve Jobs. Although Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates did not graduate from college, these individuals represent a very small population of “college dropouts” and their situation and success does not apply to the vast majority of entrepreneurs.
  • Find a balance. Google’s approach is not only questioning the current education model, it encourages younger generations not to attend college. But why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t bright, creative students both pursue degrees and pursue their passions simultaneously?

It will be interesting to see if more companies adopt Google’s approach to hiring and consider candidates without a degree. Keep in mind that my opinions on college are the views of a Gen Xer. If you want some opinions from a smart Gen-Yer, see what my colleague, Brandon Hall Group Talent Acquisition Analyst Kyle Lagunas, has to say here.

Madeline Laurano, Vice President of Talent Acquisition Practice and Principal Analyst,
Brandon Hall Group

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