Why require a degree?

So many employers today require that one have a degree. I can understand why in some cases, but for many others it makes no sence to me at all.
In times gone by, one could start out as say, an electrician in a factory, and work one’s way up to management. But today, the same management position requires a college degree, regardless of one’s skills. Said electrician may show great managerial potential, but company policy says in order to hold position X, one must have a degree. What is the point of this?
Even more silly, IMHO, is that many companies don’t even care what your degree is in. I used to work in social service. In order to advance to my boss’ job, I needed a Master’s degree. It was not necessary that the Masters be in counceling, psychology, social service or anything even related to the job. My boss, in fact, earned her MA in Education.
I think the current system keeps a lot of people in lower-paying jobs who could, if given the chance, do well in more advanced positions. I have beat out people for jobs whom I honestly felt would be better at the job than I, but I won because I have a degree. Stupid criteria, if you ask me.
Any opinions?

“I think it would be a great idea” Mohandas Ghandi’s answer when asked what he thought of Western civilization

In many cases, I’d have to agree with you. I think that a lot of people in higher management and human resources (I despise that term…whatever happened to “personnel”? At least that had a human feeling to it; “resources” sounds like you’re something available to be used up and thrown away. But I digress.) are far too impressed with a fancy looking piece of paper that says, basically, that you are capable of being educated, and ignore your intrinsic skills and experience. Of course, maybe this is simply due to the fact that the higher you go into any management position, they’re really quite similar, whether it’s managing a fast-food resturant or managing a Fortune 500 company. But then if that’s the case, they should require management degrees, one would think----but they don’t.

On the other hand, this system is no more ridiculous than the system 25 years ago where every place you applied, they all wanted somebody who was 21 years old and had 30 years experience. Impossible? Sure it was----that was the point. They didn’t want to hire anybody.

Another thing equally foolish is the general education requirements most colleges have. My degree is a Bachelor’s in Modern History; my original plan was to obtain a Master’s Degree in History, so I could teach history at the college level. However, I happen to be the world’s largest mathematical moron. I had to take Introductory Algebra and Intermediate Algebra three or four times each in order to pass them, and then I only made it through by the skin of my teeth; only to find out that my grade points in both classes were too low to transfer into a Master’s program. (Plus, they wouldn’t count as the required prerequisites for Statistics, which I would also have to pass for a Master’s Degree.) Result? I ain’t teaching history, for one thing. I went back for two more semesters and added enough CJ courses to get my police certification, and now I’m a cop. What does Algebra have to do with History? Not much, but it’s one of those Gen Ed requirements that you must have to graduate. (Personally, I think it has more to do with economics than academics----if they foist off these useless classes on the students that the students don’t need, the students still have to pay for the classes…and ergo, the school makes more money. Oh, I know, I know, “everybody needs exposure to all kinds of things for a well-rounded education”. If I had a $5.00 bill for every time I heard that one, I wouldn’t need the degree.) I could be bitter if I chose to, I guess, but I just look at it philosophically; I have a natural handicap at math. I could take the class a fifth and sixth time, but I doubt that I’d score much higher. If you’re born with one leg four inches shorter than the other, you’re never going to run in the Boston Marathon, no matter how much you may want to. I was born with a brain that doesn’t do math well, no matter how much I study and drill and practice. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it is. So, I just accept it and drive on. Life is too short to make myself miserable over something that I can’t do anything about.

I don’t know if this is common to areas outside computer work, but I have noticed that the last several postions that I have held supposedly require a bachelor’s degree, however I don’t have one.

So at least in this case, it isn’t a stringent rule.

My new job requires a bachelor’s degree. I think a key reason that I got the job was I pointed out plainly that I didn’t have a degree and with what they are offering, if find it hard to understand why a person with a degree would take that job. The manager agreed.

I can and can’t understand the degreee requirement. When I apply for a lot of management jobs the hotels simply stated they would not consider anyone without a degree period.

I guess the reasoning is it shows that you are responsible enough and put in effort to get an education you should be rewarded.

What I don’t like is people with degrees doing the same job as me can make 10,000 more a year simply because they have a degree even though they aren’t as qualified…

But then if it really bothered me I would go back and finish my degree.

Way back when when I was still a young, feisty punk-ass Melatonin, I remember sitting in my Algebra class bitching and muttering whilst attempting to factor trinomials. “What the hell am I ever going to use this for?” I thought. While I had no real distinct plans for the future beyond harrassing the mall cops on Friday night, I knew for certain that whatever I would someday wind up doing for a living would inevitably fall as far as possible on the Career Scale from anything even remotely connected to mathematics.

My teacher said, “I remember my daughter complaining about the very same thing, and I told her. . . You know what, you will need to know how to factor trinomials in order to buy a washing machine.”

Now, I knew deep down in my wisened 15-yr-old heart that this was a load of hooey, and told her so in no uncertain terms.

She insisted, however, that it was true. I would need to know how to factor trinomials in order to buy a washing machine.

Now, not long thereafter I dropped out of highschool. Made my way through the GED and went to college. Held many shitty jobs along the way, and did a lot of laundry. In laundramats.

ABout two years ago, I was trying very hard to finish up my general requirements for my BA and so that I could apply to grad school in an extremely non-mathematical field and pursue a ‘career’. I was also studying for the Graduate Record Exam, which is basically a blown-up version of the SAT for grad school. This kind of sucked, since the both the GRE and the SAT test the sort of knowledge most people picked up in school while I was out smoking behind the tennis courts.

It’s true, you do need to know how to factor trinomials in order to buy a washing machine.

Life is short. Make fun of it.

Good story.
Everyone else:
Here’s a cynical idea. They want a person with a degree, not because it demonstrates a high level of responsibility/perseverance, but because it implies a lot of college loans to pay back; hence, the new recruit won’t be looking to jump ship at the first sniff of a headhunter in the vicinity (too busy concentrating on paying off the loans to spend much time job-hunting).
I fully expect to see this analysis torn to shreds as not holding water for myriad reasons. Give me your worst.

My recruiter promised they’d teach me calculus in Nuclear Power School. I want my eleven yars back.

All it means is that the recruiter wants to wade through 100 resumes instead of 1000.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, Melatonin; I know that Algebra is a very important subject that is indispensable in our modern world. I’m not disputing that; I mean, hey, without it, we wouldn’t be able to make space probes crash into the surface of Mars half so accurately. I’m just saying that for me, I found it very difficult to understand how being able to determine the value of X in a double-negative polynomial equation was going to help me explain to a classful of history students how Horatio Gates managed to surround General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga.

In and of itself, a college degree doesn’t prove much. All it proves is that you can read, write, and do basic assignments to somebody’s satisfaction. In short, the college B.A. now proves what a high school diploma proved a generation ago.

WHile the college requirement is a nusiance to some people, it should be noted that many of the biggest names in the high tech world (including Bill Gates and Michael Dell) have no college degrees. Indeed, in much of the high tech world, the emphasis is strictly on what you can DO. A high school grad who’s fluent in a number of computer languages is a leg up on an Anthropology major from State U.

Hey there, Pickman’s Model. First, let me say that I feel for you. I fortunately was able to fulfill my mathematics requirements by taking:
-Fundamentals of Math (affectionately titled ‘Fun for Mentals’) and
-Introduction to Computer Systems and Programming (affectionately titled, 'Bill Gates Made a Generous Donation to this University So That We Would Agree To Teach Windows 95 as a Math course).

I’m not trying to defend Algebra in any way. I am even suspicious of people who balance their checkbooks on a regular basis. And, believe it or not, the quadro-thinganimal of the x-9/ pi is not really of much use in teaching case-declinations and and verb conjugations nor does it help me to find rare journal articles Stanley Kubrick’s place in the world of comparative literature. (Tho you do need some Algebra to teach, how else are you gonna figure out a grade out of 100 percentage points on a 60 point test?)

No, sadly, I cannot provide defense of mathematics in any such ‘logical’ or ‘fair’ way. The simple fact is, having fulfilled these requirements, or passed whatever test, one has a piece of paper in one’s hand that states definitively:

(in order to gain access to the “good stuff”)

The “good stuff” means something different for everyone: money, major appliances, vacation time, intellectual freedom, the joy of igniting your passion for a subject in students’ hearts.

As a grad student, I know jack shit about the first two, and have a mixed understanding of the third. The last two are why I relocated to a strange and ominous land far from friend or family (Ohio), why I put in 16 hour days for less than 10,000 per annum, why I sat through a freakin’ 16th CENTURY RUSSIAN LITERATURE course for 11 weeks, why, when someone calls at 11 pm asking me to come in for a meeting at 8am Saturday, I only grumble minimally before agreeing.

Yeah, life’s a shit sandwich. And as the shit just gets thicker and juicier, you gotta hope they start slicing the bread thicker to compensate. That’s also why you have to have a diploma: to wipe the shit off your mouth.

I’m a tradesman. I never went to college. But maybe the degree is proof that you can learn, and you know how to find things out.

Incidentally, here in Canada at least, a tradesman usually earns more money than most B.A.s.

Why me?

I’m voting with those who say that it shows you can learn. It shows that you can discipline yourself to sitting down and doing the work that needs to be done, even the work that’s not your favorite stuff. Every job has the stuff you like to do and the stuff you hate to do; if you’ve managed to earn the sheepskin it suggests that you’ve learned how to attend to the stuff you hate to do at some level of competence.


More than that, Melin, a degree also (allegedly) demonstrates that one can set a long-term goal and see it through.


“Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!” Exceptions? None!
-Doc Bronner

I go with Felinecare’s explanation

Pickman’s Model wrote:

Algebra is necessary to be able to work with Statistics – and Statistics do have a lot to do with History. (You implied that Statistics was a prerequisite for a Master’s Degree in History, I believe.)

The truth, as always, is more complicated than that.