Roger Z over at Zulu Blog has posted an interesting column, and is soliciting feedback. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look.
He posts an opinion column from the Wall Street Journal, that laments the fact that a four-year college degree is required for so many jobs these days, when they aren't technically needed. After all, there are a few fields--accounting is one of them--where your qualification comes not from any degree you've earned, but from passing the CPA exam. If you pass the exam--and it's a hard exam, and most fail--then you're an accountant, regardless of how well you did in school, or even whether you went.
The author of this column submits the idea that it would be better if most--if not all--jobs were qualified this way, as opposed to requiring the four-year degrees as is done so commonly these days. He argues that the skills required in many jobs don't actually match that well with what is learned in college; and that at any rate, it doesn't really matter where your skills come from (college or otherwise) so long as you can prove you have them.
Now, Arby of the Archives--who we've definitively determined wears women's underwear--weighed in, saying that the generalized critical thinking skills that he and his wife picked up in college were tremendously valuable to them when they later entered the wonderful world of employment. He agreed that they aren't actually using their major-study-area knowledge that much, but that the college experience as a whole is nevertheless a big part of their current success.
I've responded to this (in a comment that isn't yet through comment moderation), that many people do learn their critical thinking skills in college, but that this isn't the only way to get critical thinking skills; my wife's extended family, for instance, is filled with people who never got a degree, but who have enough life experience that they developed those skills anyway. I argue that many people only learn these skills in college, because with the way our society raises and educates our kids, college is the first time that they are playing without a net, with real decisions to make that have real consequences. And at any rate, there are plenty of smart, hard-working people in this world who just don't have the temperament to sit in classrooms for four years--and they need to get matched up with jobs that match their skills, too.
I also posted links to these two previous posts of mine that touch on this topic.
What do you think?
Note: best to post your comments over there. Don't want to steal any of his traffic. :-)