# Aren't you offended?

#### Borek

Mentor
If I am offended by anything is the fact that many people with so called formal education are genuine idiots, with a degree instead of a real knowledge. I am a genuine idiot too, I have just found I deleted an important file two weeks ago :grumpy:, but at least I don't have formal education

#### BobG

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
The vast majority of people contend that one must go to college to become "educated".

Whether you're in college or not, doesn't such a mentality offend you?

As if you just aren't smart enough to sit down with some books and learn some material for yourself?
If you aren't smart enough to figure out what you need to know for a project and smart enough to figure out how to learn it quick, then you aren't going to do all that well in a lot of jobs. The ability to do some research and learn on your own is a pretty essential skill.

That said, if you're still researching the fundamentals and trying to cram two years worth of college class material into one weekend, you might have a little problem there. It can be done, but not in one weekend. You better be willing to put in a few months of 70 hour weeks with no overtime pay and be really, really good at getting extensions or have some other way of cushioning the schedule.

Experience still counts for a lot and there's a lot of other places to learn material besides college. The military was always very good at creating (or buying) classes for specialized jobs and a lot of civilian companies do nearly as well. It's not as if a person with 20 years experience is clueless when compared to a 22-year-old college graduate. But it's also not as if the person with experience received no formal training, either. So, comparing a person with experience and no degree to a person with a degree and no experience isn't exactly a comparison that would prove a point one way or the other.

The experience and whatever non-college classes you've taken are why you might also get away with cramming fundamental knowledge into a short time span with enough extra work. You're usually learning knowledge directly related to your job and you're not really going into the subject with 0 knowledge. The end result of your learning might be good enough, but it's always a little stilted. You never really got the full picture and if you later take a real class on it, there's always something that totally shocks you, as in "Duh! How in the world did I not see that?!"

#### Evo

Mentor
My dad learned everything he needed to be an electrical engineer through hands on experience during WWII. But he also recognized that to not be stuck in a rut he had to get his degree. I remember when I was very little my dad was working full time as an engineer while he went to school at night to get his degree. His degree combined with his experience made him very desirable.

#### Crosson

Yes, I am offended that society is so poor at measuring competence! Unlike the other posters in this thread, I strongly believe that my education in physics, mathematics, and philosophy is hardly the better for having earned university degrees in these subjects.

After reading textbooks in the second year, I essentially had all the knowledge of a physics and math undergraduate. The next two years were essentially spent proving this to everyone else, even though I already knew it for myself.

Please stop perpetuating the 'science is too hard to learn on your own' myth, using words in this thread like 'impossible', when I am personally at least one clear counter example to the claim. I did the learning on my own, guiding myself through library books, and then when it was finally time to take tests years later I got a 100%.

What is the solution to this problem? Like with so many other of the world's problems, the solution is to pay more attention to each other. As Evo said early on in this thread, the reason that a college degree is so important is because it is a quick way to check that a person meets a minimum level of competence. The reason that child prodigies are not impressive is that a large part of their success comes from people simply paying attention to them.

It doesn't offend me but even if you are offended by it, then so what. Nobody has the right to not be offended.
This is a very strange response that could just as well be offered for any offense whatsoever e.g. Your family was tortured and killed? So what, nobody has the right not to be offended.

#### Kurdt

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Its not an odd comment at all. I was merely pointing out that whether one is offended or not is besides the point. You can't legislate against people being offended by peoples opinions and comments no matter how ignorant they may seem to you without infringing on civil liberties.

#### Crosson

You can't legislate against people being offended by peoples opinions and comments no matter how ignorant they may seem to you without infringing on civil liberties.
Ok, but we are not talking about free speech, we are talking about whether it should be necessary for everyone to go to college. If you want to shift the discussion towards legislation, I don't see any reason why congress couldn't pass an anti-discrimination act that barred employer's from discriminating on the basis of formal education. In general, I would be in favor of such an act because:

1) People who don't need the university system will no longer be required to go through it to earn white collar jobs.

2) People who go to college will only go to learn skills, which is far from the reason for why most people go to college (to earn a degree to get hired).

I suspect there will be various criticisms of this anti-discrimination proposal:

1) Current students and recent graduates who have or are working towards having degrees but not skills, they will be upset that the fiat worth of their degrees has evaporated.

2) Employers who totally depend on the degree to screen new hires, who will complain that it is too difficult to look at candidates as individuals, consider their diverse accomplishments, interview them, etc.

Regardless of whether I am in favor of such potential legislation, I don't see any reason why it would violate civil liberties.

#### FredGarvin

Science Advisor
I am not offended in the least. It does piss me off a bit when you run into academic snobs who really push the fact that they are more educated therefore your opinion doesn't matter. I guess your question depends entirely if you are referring to a professional or personal situation.

The whole point of a degree is really to help ensure a MINIMAL level of education. It doesn't mean you are smart or dumb (I hear arguments that degrees make you dumb and smart from both sides of the fence). From any standpoint, if you are someone who you needs people working for them, you need at least some kind of assurance that they have a basic, minimum education or were at lest exposed to it. Maybe I am jaded, but someone who says they have experience in something is a lot tougher to swallow than someone who has some kind of proof to back it up. If you have the time to really get into a person's background, you can tell if they are full of it.

I had a sort of apprenticeship under a non-degreed engineer. It was great. So I don't entirely throw out the idea of a non-degreed engineer. HOWEVER, I have a ton of experience with "self educated" individuals who had no clue as to what they were doing. They could recite memorized facts, but had no idea on what it really meant.

To summarize:
Professional engineering setting: A degree is a very necessary thing.
Personal/Social setting: A degree is not a factor.

#### Kurdt

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Ok, but we are not talking about free speech, we are talking about whether it should be necessary for everyone to go to college. If you want to shift the discussion towards legislation, I don't see any reason why congress couldn't pass an anti-discrimination act that barred employer's from discriminating on the basis of formal education. In general, I would be in favor of such an act because:

1) People who don't need the university system will no longer be required to go through it to earn white collar jobs.

2) People who go to college will only go to learn skills, which is far from the reason for why most people go to college (to earn a degree to get hired).

I suspect there will be various criticisms of this anti-discrimination proposal:

1) Current students and recent graduates who have or are working towards having degrees but not skills, they will be upset that the fiat worth of their degrees has evaporated.

2) Employers who totally depend on the degree to screen new hires, who will complain that it is too difficult to look at candidates as individuals, consider their diverse accomplishments, interview them, etc.

Regardless of whether I am in favor of such potential legislation, I don't see any reason why it would violate civil liberties.
Thats because you've got the wrong end of the stick, so lets just leave it there shall we.

#### turbo

Gold Member
Early on, I was the beneficiary of the insights of some people who valued skills over paper. I had been working for a couple of years for the prime contractor on a large construction project. I started out clerking, got promoted to asst superintendent, and eventually ended up superintending the project during punch-listing and turn-over - one of the most stressful jobs I've ever done. I got promoted to that position through proven ability. The company wanted me to move to Mass so they could put me through constructor's school and get certified to handle even larger projects in Boston. I had to refuse because I HATE Boston with a passion. The bad drivers, rudeness, etc are too much.

I then applied for a general laborer's position at a pulp mill that I had done materials-testing for during its construction. Someone in personnel saw "Chemical Engineering" on my resume and though I had switched majors and had no degree, they set me up for an interview for a Process Chemist opening. I knew that I was going up against some recent ChemE graduates so I held out little hope of landing the job. All went just OK (no really positive feedback from the engineers in the Tech Dept) until I got to the final interview - with the director of the department. During the interview, the chief environmental engineer interrupted with concerns that a planned acid-wash of the Kamyr digester would kill the bugs in the waste treatment plant's aeration basins and upset the plant. I asked the director if I could make a suggestion, and he said "go ahead". I told the engineer that he had valving options to pump secondary clarifier sludge (concentrated good "bugs") directly to sedimentation basins in back of the aeration basins, so he could stockpile bugs very quickly, and they wouldn't die from lack of aeration in such a short time. Then run the aeration basins in series instead of parallel to give the waste pH a chance to moderate and feed both secondary clarifiers from the second aeration basin in the chain. When the ph moderated, he could pump the sludge from the sedimentation basins back into the aeration basins and repopulate the bugs. The engineer and the tech director both asked how do you know that? I told them that I had done materials testing all through the construction of that plant, and saw the blueprints every day. Neither said much except to thank me for coming in, and I went home. By the time I got home, my wife was at the door saying "You start Monday".

I hold out little hope for the long-term success of that company because the present management requires that applicants for many critical positions be degreed. That lets out some very sharp, skilled people, to the detriment of the company. Frankly, I would rather see a paper mill superintendent or assistant superintendent be selected from people who had worked their way up through the ranks and had actual operating experience. Let the paper mill manager (usually an MBA) and his staff handle the business end of the operation and let the superintendent and his staff make sure that quality and production goals are met. Frankly, the degreed people in that mill (often engineers) generally lack the operating experience necessary to effectively manage large crews, problems-solve, etc.

#### Monique

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Frankly, I would rather see a paper mill superintendent or assistant superintendent be selected from people who had worked their way up through the ranks and had actual operating experience. Let the paper mill manager (usually an MBA) and his staff handle the business end of the operation and let the superintendent and his staff make sure that quality and production goals are met. Frankly, the degreed people in that mill (often engineers) generally lack the operating experience necessary to effectively manage large crews, problems-solve, etc.
I think it is very clear that the skills you learn on the work floor are more valuable than the skills you learn from a book. I know people who went from being a sales man to being a successful chemical products producer, or college drop outs who become very successful property exploiters. You really don't need a degree to be good at something (actually, there are statistics that show that college drop-outs are an over represented population among billionaires http://www.forbes.com/2000/06/29/feat.html).

I actually grew up in a family that thought that educated people were very ignorant, exactly for the reason that educated people look down on uneducated people, so yeah, people get offended by the mindset that was mentioned in the first post.

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#### turbo

Gold Member
I was lucky to be associated with, and employed by, the 2nd-largest training services company in the world (at the time) after I left the paper mill. They hired me because they had nobody with the expertise to operate a pulp-and-paper training division and that's where they had decided to branch out. Nobody there ever asked me if I had a degree. 1) I had come highly recommended by a respected industry insider, and 2) most of the highly-placed people in that company had been hired directly out of the Navy, without a degree - with a heavy tilt toward people with nuclear sub service. Stable, get-along types with multiple skill-sets. There are a lot of multi-taskers in the nukes.

#### BobG

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Ok, but we are not talking about free speech, we are talking about whether it should be necessary for everyone to go to college. If you want to shift the discussion towards legislation, I don't see any reason why congress couldn't pass an anti-discrimination act that barred employer's from discriminating on the basis of formal education. In general, I would be in favor of such an act because:

1) People who don't need the university system will no longer be required to go through it to earn white collar jobs.

2) People who go to college will only go to learn skills, which is far from the reason for why most people go to college (to earn a degree to get hired).

I suspect there will be various criticisms of this anti-discrimination proposal:

1) Current students and recent graduates who have or are working towards having degrees but not skills, they will be upset that the fiat worth of their degrees has evaporated.

2) Employers who totally depend on the degree to screen new hires, who will complain that it is too difficult to look at candidates as individuals, consider their diverse accomplishments, interview them, etc.

Regardless of whether I am in favor of such potential legislation, I don't see any reason why it would violate civil liberties.
The second reason for being opposed is pretty significant. The opposition would be for the same reason resumes are only one page; two at the very most.

The company is paying for the time of every person that reviews that resume or sits in on that interview. Yes, interviewing one person is pretty cheap, even if a few managers sit in on the interview. Interview a hundred people and those costs start to add up.

Likewise for reading resumes. You can't afford the time to read through a good package that really tells you something about each applicant. You only have time to read through a quick highlight that allows you to eliminate people.

Ideally, the process eliminates a bunch of people by skimming resumes, and the first interview narrows down the field to just two or three that all have a pretty good chance of being qualified for the job.

Those last few are the only ones the company can really afford to invest some time and money into and the managers are probably still more concerned at making sure they don't pick someone totally wrong for the job than they are about getting the best person possible for the job (in spite of what some managers may say).

The best possible doesn't stick around forever - he/she can always find good opportunities. The mistakes just won't leave! They're happy to have any kind of a job and will aspire to the lofty heights of doing just enough not to get fired.

#### rootX

1) People who don't need the university system will no longer be required to go through it to earn white collar jobs.
This would help old people who are experienced, but definitely not the younger ones.
There will more drop outs --> more crime.
If there is no incentive for going to colleges then most of people would not.
Less research?.

And, I really don't see how the younger people would enter into work force. I think he/she
would have go do lot more work to get a simple degree job.

#### D H

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
The company is paying for the time of every person that reviews that resume or sits in on that interview. Yes, interviewing one person is pretty cheap, even if a few managers sit in on the interview. Interview a hundred people and those costs start to add up.
I would not call $5000-$10,000 "cheap", which is the typical real cost of an interview with my employer. There's an airplane ticket, a rental car, and a hotel room for the interviewee ($1000 or more) and 20+ hours of employee time (mostly uncharged, but still easily worth$4000 and more likely worth over \$10,000). For a small company those costs start to add up with one single interview.

Our office manager does an initial screening that cuts the number of applicants by well over 90%. Phone interviews cut the remainder by another 2/3, and reference checks whittle the number down a bit more. There are probably a few gems who get thrown out during this screening process just because they do not have the paper qualifications or can't conduct a decent phone interview. Too bad for them. We simply cannot afford to conduct intensive, all-day interviews for every Joe Blow on the street.

Ideally, the process eliminates a bunch of people by skimming resumes, and the first interview narrows down the field to just two or three that all have a pretty good chance of being qualified for the job. Those last few are the only ones the company can really afford to invest some time and money into ...
That's exactly right. Skimming is cheap, the intermediate steps cost a few hundred dollars, but that final interview is very expensive.

... and the managers are probably still more concerned at making sure they don't pick someone totally wrong for the job than they are about getting the best person possible for the job (in spite of what some managers may say). The mistakes just won't leave! They're happy to have any kind of a job and will aspire to the lofty heights of doing just enough not to get fired.
The five-figure cost of a final interval pales in comparison to the cost of hiring the wrong person. A bad employee can cost a company orders of magnitude more, and in extreme cases, can drive a company bankrupt. Looking for dead weight, downright bad apples, and even good people who nonetheless won't fit in the company culture is an important part of the interview process.

#### Artman

My stepfather is an engineer. He got his first job when they were accepting applicants that didn't have a college degree. He had plenty of hands on experience through actual work in the field but one day his bosses started hiring outside people over promoting him because they had degrees and he didn't. They had no idea what they were doing though and he always had to clean up their messes and train their replacements. And still they would not promote him because he didn't have a degree.
This is me almost exactly. I trained a newbie college kid who didn't know anything. He was still working on his senior project, which I even helped him with before he graduated. After he graduated, they made him production manager for the office. That same year one of my projects won the top Engineering award offered in my state, but I don't have a degree. Yeah, occasionally I am offended.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
I hold out little hope for the long-term success of that company because the present management requires that applicants for many critical positions be degreed. That lets out some very sharp, skilled people, to the detriment of the company. Frankly, I would rather see a paper mill superintendent or assistant superintendent be selected from people who had worked their way up through the ranks and had actual operating experience. Let the paper mill manager (usually an MBA) and his staff handle the business end of the operation and let the superintendent and his staff make sure that quality and production goals are met. Frankly, the degreed people in that mill (often engineers) generally lack the operating experience necessary to effectively manage large crews, problems-solve, etc.
Sure, there are plenty of jobs where a degree doesn't really help at all, or very little. What does a college graduate know about running the machines in a paper mill? Supervisors/foremen in a setting like that should be people who work their way up the ranks based on skill and experience, not a diploma. On the other hand, it would be very hard to move someone up the ranks from mill floor to office manager...there just isn't a crossover in skills there, and the financial side of things is something that a college degree helps with.

You'd probably still prefer that your physician have a sound scientific training before starting their clerkships so they know how to solve problems and diagnose ailments that they haven't necessarily seen before. On the other hand, I don't need my car mechanic to have an engineering degree, nor do I need the shop manager to have a business degree.

#### wolram

Gold Member
Scientists all ways squabbling

#### mheslep

Gold Member
I've come to believe one of the more significant aspects of a diploma to perspective and busy employer is that it provides immediate indication that the typically very young candidate can focus on and complete a long term task independently and in the midst of many distractions; that you could complete the application process, show up to class, not burn down the campus, accept challenges to your ideas, and graduate. There are other ways to demonstrate this ability but none so familiar. Likewise as your career advances and one has more opportunities to demonstrate these same skills in the work place, degrees become less important than experience and at some point they're expected to slip from the top of the resume.

#### Gear300

The vast majority of people contend that one must go to college to become "educated".

Whether you're in college or not, doesn't such a mentality offend you?

As if you just aren't smart enough to sit down with some books and learn some material for yourself?
I agree. Intellectuality does not come from schools/college. It is characteristic of one self. Thing is that to educate the public, systems such as these tend to be used.