Recently, there has been a rising trend in companies dropping the need to have a four-year college degree. This has raised several interesting questions as to whether this is a wise decision or not.
However, whenever a decision is made, it is essential to look at the pros and cons of the decision. As such, there is no benefit to attacking companies that have chosen to remove a four-year degree from their expectations. Instead, it is better to look at what is gained and what is lost when such a decision is made. This discussion will limit the pros and cons to businesses, workers, and higher education. There are other stakeholders in this situation, but they will not be covered here.
For business, dropping the requirements for a college degree opens up a much larger pool of workers. Some statistics estimate that about 35% of Americans have a degree. This means that companies are currently limited from considering almost 2/3 of the population if they stick to their degree requirement. By removing this standard many, more people can be considered for employment.
As the workforce expands, it will also provide many employers with more flexibility in hiring, firing, and perhaps wages. With so many more potential employees could potentially put in a stronger position of power in terms of employee relations. Of course, this assumes that people without degrees have the skills and training necessary to do the job.
For the worker, there is a reduction in the cost of school. Now, there is no need to spend thousands of dollars while often going into debt to secure a job. The price of college has skyrocketed to the point of being unreasonable priced for many individuals. As such, a shortcut into the tech field without spending time in school is an attractive idea for many people.
Barriers to entry is a term often discussed in business. For workers, a barrier to entering decent employment could be a degree. With companies removing this requirement, people can potentially find not just a job but a decent paying career through which they can support a family.
One benefit of higher education is that only students who want to go to college will continue to go. The current expectation of going to college has often coerced many students who do not want to be there to go because it was assumed to be the only way to find a decent job. This left colleges with many students who were “putting in the time” and pressuring schools to lower standards so that they could succeed. Grade inflation has also been an important topic in higher education, and this may be due in part to people studying who may not want to study.
Of course, those who want to study should study, and colleges should work with them to be successful. However, if a student is genuinely not interested in school, a pathway to employment should be available as well. It is not about having one answer for all people but many options for different types of people.
No plan is perfect, and dropping college is going to cause problems as well. For business, they will have to spend more time training workers for the various skills and knowledge they need, negating whatever savings they make on wages.
College is frequently criticized for not being practical. However, what college does provide is the development of communication skills, learning how to work with others, as well as a general body of theoretical knowledge that the student will learn to use upon graduation. Remove college from the equation, and developing these and other skills falls on the employer.
Another potential problem for both workers and employers is the lack of advanced skills. If someone does not have a bachelor’s degree, they obviously will not have a master’s or other forms of advanced training. This could lead to workers who are only good at one particular thing and cannot branch out and see connections among various concepts and skills related to their employment.
Lastly, there could be a loss of many students at college. This has not happened just yet, but if there are attractive careers out there that do not require a degree, many colleges could lose many students. This will impact professors, staff, administrators, and others who are connected with higher education. It is not clear how popular removing the bachelor’s degree requirement will become, but it could be financially disastrous for higher education institutions.
Dropping the requirement to go to college is not a bad idea in of its self. This idea will solve some problems, but like all solutions, it will also cause problems. Instead, multiple answers should be developed to help employers find workers and young people who may not be interested in higher education.