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College Degrees Are Overrated

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New York Times, October 2021

Recruiters are insisting on college degrees for jobs that don’t need them. Why? Risk aversion. If recruiters recommend a non-graduate who doesn’t work out, they’ll get blamed. Whereas, if they reject a non-graduate who would have been a huge success—well, no one will ever know, will they? It’s a costly but undetectable mistake.

Byron Auguste has co-founded a nonprofit organization, Opportunity@Work, whose purpose is to give a leg up to people he calls STARs, short for “skilled through alternative routes.” I interviewed him recently. He told me that he’s haunted by the invisible tragedy of successful careers that never happen because applicants without college degrees aren’t given a chance. It affects first-time job-seekers, those stuck in dead-end careers, and older victims of layoffs who no longer qualify for the jobs they landed at a more forgiving time. “It’s a pretty dysfunctional market in a lot of ways,” he says. “You’re not just giving extra weight to a bachelor’s. You’re insisting on it. And there’s no way to even learn what you’re missing. That’s why you can keep making this mistake over and over.”

Continue reading at the New York Times.

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