I aint need no Kollege

After two years in the work force, I’m learning a lot about the way the world works. Particularly in reference to my college degree. It really is funny how much emphasis has been placed on the value of a bachelors. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re important, but to be perfectly honest…I don’t really need it for the job I’m doing.

I honestly didn’t take one class that is even remotely related to my career. I know, I know college is not necessarily about the degree you receive, but the work ethic necessary to reach graduation day. But why is a degree an ABSOLUTE requirement for most professional positions?

Take for example family physicians. They have to take all kinds of science and math classes as prerequisites for medical school. I’m sorry, but I don’t really remember the last time my doctor needed to know the formula for the inelastic collision of two objects. I’m pretty sure he just needs to know what my body temperature should be, how fast my heart should be beating, and other random stuff about my body. Why are physics and calculus a requirement for ALL doctors? I don’t care if my doc knows how to do integrals, I want to know if he can cure my gonnohrea cold. Best way to cure someone of their sickness is to be exposed to a million other people with that sickness, not take earth science.

Think about how different life would be without mechanics. We would all be screwed and have no way to get our cars fixed. I’m taking a shot in the dark, but I’m willing to bet most mechanics didn’t go to college. Instead, they shadow and work with mechanics day in and day out for years, and eventually (if they know their ‘ish) will get to work on cars without supervision. Why doesn’t that philosophy apply to more positions. A degree is required for my position, but I can tell you right now, I don’t think anything I do is beyond the intellectual capacity of an 18 year old, although it is above the maturity of most kids that age.

Some of you may be getting a little offended thinking I’m saying your degree is useless. Sorry, but it’s probably true. The primary reason a degree is valuable is because society says so. Be honest, is your degree absolutely essential to your position. Not meaning is it a requirement to get the job, but would you be a total waste of space at work without it? All I’m saying is I think “on the job” training is really what helps us be great employees, not a bland degree in business administration.

p.s. if you are a physician, thanks for suffering through o-chem and microbiology, my body appreciates it 🙂

17 thoughts on “I aint need no Kollege”

  1. In a way, I agree. Even the classes I took that remotely applied to what I'm doing now were fairly useless and I relearned it all when I started working.

    However, I think a college degree has become a necessity because there are so many people with degrees right now, if you didn't have one you'd be at a serious disadvantage. Given the option to hire someone that has been through college, and someone that stopped at high school….I'd hire the one with the degree. I think the only exception would be if the high school grad had gone STRAIGHT to internships and work experience. You get my point though, right? A degree just makes you more competitive, or at the very least levels the field.

  2. I am in complete agreement with you. Seems like we are pushed in that direction as well when so many of us are still figuring out what it is exactly that we want to do. I think it would be much more worthwhile for college to include more hands-on workforce experience and/or mentorship than just having to go to a class, pass, and get your slip of paper at the end.

  3. Preach!

    But your being right will not stop employers from hiring the person that "took time" and "invested in their careers" by getting that degree, or any other degree versus the person that tried to get that experience.

    So in a sense, you actually do NEED a degree for your job, because without it, they wouldn't even look at your resume.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree. There is way too much value being placed on degrees (esp. bachelors) that they have become over-valued and under-utilized. Our parents were able to function fine with just a high school degree, and now people with bachelors are having trouble finding work due to market saturation.
    Unfortunately, Investing newbie is right. Without the fancy degree on your resume, it'd head right into the circular file.

  5. For me, I agree… but I think it's a way to filter out people who can or cannot understand complex concepts.

    If you cannot understand physics or calculus, you can't be presumably smart enough to understand how the body works.

  6. I don't think that I would be as good at my job if it weren't for my college education. Not, you know, 'cause my classes taught me valuable work skills, but because those four years taught me a lot of life lessons.

    My only regret is that I wish I had listened to those who told me employers don't care about your major, just that you have a degree. I would have gotten more out of those four years (and gotten better grades) if I studied something I was passionate about, rather then what I thought would look good on paper.

  7. I learned a lot of important stuff in college, but I've found that more of it enriches my personal life than my professional life. That's one reason this job will allow you to substitute 3 years of work experience in the field for a B.A. The only question is how one breaks into the field in the first place.

    Alas, I will need a Master's to get the library job I really want–but if you take the right classes it can be more of a practical, professional degree than a theoretical one. I'll still have to take some BS classes. Fortunately, my boss supports my decision to get this Master's and she's been great about arranging for me to learn new skills outside my job description, ones that'll be more helpful down the road in finding work post-grad school–degree + experience. 🙂

  8. Okay, so, let me "educate" you on why a physician needs Organic Chemistry.

    O. Chem is a completely different way of thinking. There is absolutely NO class offered (that I have taken at least) that comes even close to preparing your mind for being a physician like Organic Chemistry.

    Let me explain.

    In Organic Chemistry you're given a general set of information about a compound. Perhaps you're given the melting point of the compound. You're able to identify that it either has a oxygen-hydrogen bond OR a nitrogen-hydrogen bond. You're then able to identify through some other various techniques that it has two carbons that are attached to one carbon each and one carbon that is attached to three carbons.

    And that's maybe all you're given. And then you have to figure out: What is the compound?

    Well, to me, this sounds A LOT like what a physician does. You're given a lot of indirect evidence: I have a cough, a runny nose. And you do a culture and you find there is some bacteria.

    And with indirect evidence you have to figure out what the problem is – well, thankfully, you've taken Organic Chemistry, so your mind has been trained to THINK about problems to find an answer through a set of indirect pieces of evidence. You're able to then assess what the different possible answers are and then determine based on logic and a bit of intuition what it is exactly that is wrong. And some times your first guess is wrong, because you misinterpreted a piece of data – but often times the correct answer was still one of the possibilities.

    The moral of the story is that (in my humble opinion) Organic Chemistry is THE MOST IMPORTANT class that a pre-medical student takes. And when I'm looking at physicians, I ALWAYS ask how they did in Organic Chemistry. If they said they struggled, then I don't see them again because if you can't do well in Organic Chemistry you're not good enough of a problem solver to be my physician.

    (Also, a "doctor" is anyone with a doctorate, a "physician" is someone who sees patients. Technically I am a doctor, but I can't cure your "cold" – you'll need a physician for that – who also has a doctorate-level degree)

  9. @ SS4BC –

    First, thanks for the detailed comments you always leave. I know you will keep me accountable on all points, and I think accountability is good.

    I actually did take O-Chem (and got an A-) back in the day, but I took it the 2005-2006 school year. Our class actually had shirts made that said "We get 'Hammered' four days a week in Ochem" I assume you get the inside joke there. The entire class wore their shirts to class one day and the 'Hammer' LOVED them, so much we took a class pic with him. While I agree that O-chem weeded out a bunch of people (I think only about 50% of the people made it to O-chem II), I still think pre-med courses should have some type of actual medical coursework. Like nurses, why don't pre-meds have to work in hospitals before they graduate? Nothing wrong with a little hands on experience. O-chem was good for cutting out some of the lazy people, but for a hopeful psychiatrist, not much more.

    Also, just wanted to throw in there, I know all physicians are doctors, but not all doctors are physicians. Shoot 90% of our college professors were Doctor XYZ. I used the term 'physician' once to clarify I was talking about medicine, and than used it interchangeably with 'doctor'. Is that offensive to others with PhDs that are not physicians?

    p.s. my favorite o-chem experiment was when we made carvone. It smelled like spearmint, I wanted to eat it, but didn't think the lab prof would like that very much.

  10. Hahah… I'm sure "the Hammer" loved that! I didn't have him for O. Chem I, but I did for O. Chem II. I actually filled in for his Sabbatical when I taught there two years ago. =)

    Honestly, Organic Qualitative Analysis was THE BEST class I took. I never took a class that I learned so much, had so much fun, and got to use my brain so much. It was, the best.

    I'm not sure why pre-meds don't take any clinical classes before-hand. But I think some of it has to do with the fact that they get the hands-on stuff when they go to med school. For a nurse, you major in nursing – which includes the classwork and the patient interaction – then you get your 2 year masters (mainly patient interaction) – and then you're done. So it is a 6 year process that is roughly 3-4 years of classes, 1-2 years of patient work.

    Since a physician has to know SO MUCH more, I guess they feel it is best to let them get their degree, then do med school – which is two years of classes before they even get to SEE a patient (I lived with a med student while I was in graduate school).

    So with your internship (1 year) and residency (3-6 years, we'll say 3 for good measure) – you're looking at 12 years of schooling (4 for undergrad, 4 for medschool, 4 for internship + residency) – and you're getting 6 years of classes and 6 years of patient interaction – which is roughly about half the time you're in school. So REALLY, a physician is going to get MORE experience both learning about science, how the body works, how pathogens work, ect – AND more time interacting with patients and doing clinical work. But the ratio is such that 50% of the schooling will be devoted to both, whereas for a nurse only 40% may be clinical work before going into their first job.

    p.s. I wouldn't eat anything that was made in that science lab. Everything is just SOOOO old. But I loved carvone season, the floor smelled so good. =)

    p.s.s. The "doctor" term only bothers me now that I have a Ph.D. and think about scenarios where I would be on a plane and someone who yell out "Is there a doctor available?!!" – and I would have to say "YES!" (because I don't want to lie…) and then I would have to explain to them that a "doctor" isn't a title of a job, it is a title of a person with a degree. Mainly, it is my pet peeve and so I like to "rid the world" of the error any chance I get.

    Also, fun fact, people with Ph.D.s were called "doctor" before M.D.s even existed – by about 300 years. So historically the title of "doctor" belongs to the academics. =) Technically lawyers can also call themselves "Doctor" – but I refuse to do that on principle. 3 years of schooling (and classwork at that!), in my mind, does not a "Doctor" make!

  11. I think a degree goes towards how responsible a person is. College teaches you discipline, responsibility, social skills, and time management which any job requires. I think a college degree (or any advanced training beyond high school) says a lot about a person. What is someone's excuse for not going to college? No money? There are tons of scholarships out there, being persistent and hardworking would have earned them the money to go. You don't have to go away from home to earn a degree, so I don't see any issue that should stop someone from getting additional education and if you are so swamped down with something to get one, then it is going to be damn hard for you to hold a regular job anyway.

    Mechanics usually attend a technical school. Lots of shadowing too I am sure, but I think most mechanics need to be certified.. same with dental hygienists, cosmetologists and firefighters.

  12. I have been saying this for awhile now. Most jobs should be learned by apprenticeships, not degrees. It would be much easier to get people into a career that they like and cheaper too.

  13. I am an Australian solicitor, in my state, after completing two degrees, there is a practical legal training component of about 3 months class time 3 months training in a firm which is required to be admitted at law.
    My friend, after working for 6 months once told me he believed that if you could get into the last 6 months of practical legal training it would teach you what you needed with out a degree.
    Now, I appreciate my studies, I don't use most of my theoretical knowledge everyday but I rely on my research skills and the broad understanding of law that I gained in my 6 yrs of study. The U.S. system sounds quite different though.

  14. I think I sort of have to disagree with you. I'm in my third year of pharmacy school and while I agree that some classes don't really make a difference, the majority of my classes certainly built a foundation for the practical and clinical aspects of pharmacy I'm learning now. For instance, knowing O-Chem, which has already been used as an example, means you can interpret the structure of the drug. You can predict its kinetics, drug interactions, and even relative degree of potency.

    And like I said, the knowledge you gain in science courses build up. To know infectious disease and treatment, you need to know organic chemistry and microbiology, which was built on anatomy, general bio and general chem.

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