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For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma 728

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement for getting even the lowest-level job. Many jobs that didn't require a diploma years ago — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — increasingly requiring a college degree. From the point of view of business, with so many people going to college now, those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable. 'When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,' says Suzanne Manzagol. A study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than 2.2 million jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor's degree have been created (PDF) since the 2007 start of the recession. At the same time, jobs that require only a high school diploma have decreased by 5.8 million in that same time. 'It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,' says Anthony P. Carnevale, co-author of the report. 'At a time when more and more people are debating the value of post-secondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree.' Even if they are not exactly applying the knowledge they gained in their political science, finance and fashion marketing classes, young graduates say they are grateful for even the rotest of rote office work they have been given. 'It sure beats washing cars,' says Georgia State University graduate Landon Crider, 24, an in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and his company's office."
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For Businesses, the College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

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  • Signalling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:51PM (#42982349)
    the key statement is:

    'When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,'

    As one professor pointed out in an econ class - the real value of a degree is the signal it sends - you are someone who at least can stick to something long enough to finish it. Simply put, it takes some of the workload off of the person looking to hire.

  • Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy ( 2468142 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:51PM (#42982357)
    What a fine way of guaranteeing every citizen massive debts (public or private) for the privilege of a job.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:51PM (#42982361)

    ...than have a massive pile of debt that I don't expect to pay off until I'm 50 and still making car washing wages.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:52PM (#42982365)

    Over qualification, if somebody is actually requiring a college degree to scan groceries (clerk), they can go shove it. Then again according to this article the people at the NY Times only have HS diplomas, so should anybody really listen to them?

    Also, based on the example given, Landon Cider sounds like he went for a law degree and rather than becoming the billionth lawyer, he got stuck as the water boy.

  • by bbeesley ( 2709435 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:53PM (#42982377)
    yes apparently...unless of course you are HR and have the responsibility of weeding potential candidates for that you just need the ability to blindly check resumes for a list of arbitrary requirements
  • -1, Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:54PM (#42982411)

    Can we mod an entire article down? How is this news for anyone?

  • Two months ago, Hugh Pickens writes: "Just Say No to College" [] and today he's relaying to us 'your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree.'

    *head explodes*

    So ... Hugh Pickens wants everyone to be unemployed?
  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:58PM (#42982487)

    It is inefficient to make everyone spend 4 extra years in school just so lazy recruiters can save themselves a couple hours, to say the least.

  • by mackai ( 1849630 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:59PM (#42982495)
    Unfortunately, it is also a reflection on the ease with which a lot of people make it through high-school without ever having to learn much in the way of responsibility. For example, when you work, your employer actually expects that you will show up on Monday morning and be somewhat functional. The college degree is no guarantee to the prospective employer but it usually has required more self-discipline than high-school.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:01PM (#42982533) Homepage

    Well with initiatives like "No child Left behind", where you really have to work at failing for the school system to let you, a college diploma is the only standardised ubiquitous way that a HR person can tell if someone is likely not a complete waste of space.

    Non-college graduate here.

  • Re:Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thoughtlover ( 83833 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:02PM (#42982537)
    Especially when the job's wages they make don't come close to paying off their degree. Honestly, I don't think that a degree says much about a person. Everyone's story is different. I didn't finish my bachelor's degree because I didn't think they had anything useful to teach me --I taught the staff, students, and teachers at the university more about computers than they taught me anything about anything --other than a 4-year degree is a big waste of money. And, I still work at the university after 13 years there, doing quite well. And I have no degree, whatsoever. What the institution wants you to think is they will make you reality, you have to want to make yourself. No one can do it for you. While I'm sure that a degree backed from an Ivy-league will be beneficial, the true possibility of success is measured out with a person's internal desire to succeed, everyday.
  • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:03PM (#42982549)


    This is one of the tragic developments when every job - right down to a janitor's - requires a degree. There are plenty of jobs which do not require anything more than high school, and indeed, people who drop out and go for these are sensible in not wasting time for something they're not meant for. Just as not everybody's gonna be a PhD, similarly, not everybody is gonna be a bachelors or masters. Things like truck drivers, file clerks, postal workers, AAA workers, pizza delivery guys - all of these are important jobs that need to be filled, and none of them require college degrees.

    In fact, by requiring higher educational qualifications for these lower level jobs, while the price of education is going up due to the resultant increasing demand, the value of it is going to the toilet. It's a cliché that one needs a good education to be successful - and by successful, I don't mean being one of those party goers in Madison Avenue or Beverly Hills. I mean anybody who can nail a job and lead a content family life. By requiring an education for every job, it just artificially shoots up living costs, puts greater burdens on schools & colleges, and forces overqualified people into the workplace - or more kids staying at home w/ their parents.

    For the lower level jobs that don't require much education in & of itself, a better metric would be to pick employees based on character, as opposed to education. Is s/he someone who's dedicated to the job, punctual, honest and capable of sticking to a job for a reasonable amount of time? Too many people in the work force - particularly younger workers - change jobs every few months, which is a telltale sign of a lack of commitment and eager to try making a fast buck. Why not weed out those, instead of checking whether the girl you are gonna hire as a secretary or someone who'll work in the office cafeteria has a Masters degree? This is the result of too much of an emphasis being given on education - even when it's not needed!

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:09PM (#42982625)

    yes apparently...unless of course you are HR and have the responsibility of weeding potential candidates

    for that you just need the ability to blindly check resumes for a list of arbitrary requirements

    I've found that our HR department does a much better job of screening candidates than I do as the hiring manager -- I don't really have the time to adequately screen 300 resumes, so I'll make a first pass and screen on criteria that I can filter out using the candidate management system -- desired salary range, education level, years of experience, and the 3 questions that candidates have to fill out while applying.

    And a note to job seekers: when you apply for a job online and the system asks you to answer a few specific questions about the job before you submit your resume, fill out those questions carefully, because those are weedout questions, when the hiring manager scans the list of candidates, he's not even going to look at your resume if he doesn't like the answer to those questions.

    And be realistic with salary ranges, entering a range that's unrealistically low is as bad as one that's unrealistically high... don't assume that a low salary will guarantee that you'll pass the screening. If someone is applying for a senior developer position and includes $20 - $30K in his acceptable salary range, I'm not even going to look at his resume because he either doesn't know what someone in his position should be earning, or he's not good enough to command a reasonable salary.

  • Re:Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:12PM (#42982681)
    You don't see the big picture, mate. By making $25k and even $75k and $150k student loan debt normal they can control you. Like the coal miners of the 1800s they want you indebted to them, even if you can never pay it back, so they can always have leverage on you. They already have more money than you can possibly imagine, so they're willing to sink some costs if they can have permanent control over you, forever. Now you might be thinking you don't need college or that you can pay your loan off, but the odds are artificially stacked against you. They've stacked the deck so that it's nearly impossible to break from the cycle, and if you do manage to ascend they try to integrate you into their culture so you don't try to dislodge them. Isn't that great?
  • by masternerdguy ( 2468142 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:14PM (#42982709)
    One is provided by the government for everyone, the other requires paying tens of thousands of dollars.
  • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:18PM (#42982755) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot is a news aggregator. The posts don't necessarily reflect the ops opinions. I for one appreciate the opportunity to hear both sides of the story.
  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:18PM (#42982765)

    If the job doesn't require a degree, you shouldn't even be looking at candidates with degrees. Unless you want to be stuck with someone who's just going to be there until they can find a real job. You have it exactly backwards, as does the whole insane job market.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:21PM (#42982817)

    Oh bullshit.

    If my business ever grows to the point of needing H.R. this will specifically left out of their jobs. We're in a situation in the U.S. right now where anyone with a unique background or who doesn't nicely fit into an H.R. cubby hole isn't getting a job and it's a travesty. It's letting very smart and capable people sit by the side of the road while the people who simply play the game right get in.

    All these H.R. rules, all the bullshit with resumes is holding things back. I would rather someone with real knowledge spend some time with the "300 resumes" than someone who thinks Microsoft Office is high tech sift through and let good candidates hit the trash because they have missed on check mark on the form.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:22PM (#42982835) Homepage Journal

    I also don't want political correctness, feminism or any of the other progressive mindsets in any of my businesses. Those people can hit the road -- I don't even want them as customers.

    Maybe with luck society will separate into two groups: the politically correct nauseated degreed folks and the self-driven and determined entrepreneurial type.

    You sound like a real douche.

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:26PM (#42982905) Homepage Journal

    I went to get a masters degree in an area outside of my original studies because I wanted to move into technical jobs. I didn't have experience yet but I thought that all education was good and I would make it clear that I went to school to *learn* and I was willing, even with an advanced education, to start at the bottom and work up.

    It darn near killed my career. *Every* HR drone has been taught that the only reason to go to school is to get more money. EVERY one.

    It didn't matter what I put into the cover letter. It didn't matter what I said. Master's Degree = roundfile. It didn't matter that the company could get a well educated worker at a bargain price.

    The fact that H.R. can not see beyond simple rules and labels is hurting corporations. The fact they're too stupid to understand this simply backs up my point.

  • Re:Signalling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ottothecow ( 600101 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:30PM (#42982955) Homepage
    Except that there is nothing that the high school diploma-only crowd can do to capitalize on their rarity.

    Their only advantage to an employer was that you could pay them less. Someone with a degree is a perfect substitute for someone without a degree except they cost more (and ostensibly they have learned something, but that doesn't matter for jobs like these). As a group, HS grads only hurt themselves by trying to raise their wage

    What happens when more and more people have degrees is that it gets hard to find the HS grads you need. So you raise the wage you are willing to pay in order to get more applicants. All of the sudden you realize you are getting a lot of applicants with a college degree who are willing to work for those wages (this is compounded during periods of time where jobs are hard to find). Sure, you don't need the degree to do the job, but this guy has the degree and is willing to work for the same amount as someone who doesn't have it. So why not just hire the people with degrees? Maybe they actually learned something in those 4 years (even if it was just maturity and work ethic) and maybe the degree will benefit them if you promote them at some point.

    Bonus points--the recent college grad probably has student loans entering repayment. They are going to need this job to keep paying them off so they aren't going to quit on a whim (and with the pittance you are paying them, they won't be paying them off early!).

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:34PM (#42982993) Journal
    Because a college degree is out of reach for a huge swath of people. I had to wait until i was 26 to be able to afford college because my parents were worthless fucks. It took me that long to stabilize after their horrible parenting and I still had to have counseling to be able to go to class. Check your fucking privilege dude.
  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:41PM (#42983101)

    There are numerous websites that will provide salary figures for many common job titles. However, you really should have a general idea of what you're worth based on how much you've made in previous jobs and what's acceptable to you. It works both ways - I've turned down jobs because the hiring company had no idea of the salary range they should be willing to offer (IE: I was offered $30k for a senior sysadmin/web dev/programmer position that required a Bachelor's and 5 years experience)

  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:44PM (#42983145)

    Perhaps if you can justify why someone needs a bachelors to ferry documents, pizzas, flip burgers, clean bathrooms, stock shelves, or run cash registers, your logic might have basis in reality. Your fallacy equating non-college degreed status with 9th grade dropout is priceless as well.

    All this 'overeducation' does is water down the significance. It does not necessarily make for a more productive/happy/content workforce. Why would someone with a bachelors be happy with any of the above jobs? You speak of commitment and follow through, but where would that motivation come from if they're just there because of a bad economy? ..vs someone who truly needs the job because they're simply not capable of collegiate level work? If the minimum required education to work $10/hr jobs these days creates a debt of 50k or more, it's no wonder so many are out of work with no way back in. These barriers are way outside the line of reason and are a typical symptom of an overly bureaucratic, top-heavy society that values irrelevant paperwork over actual, tested ability, attitude, and willingness.

    People like you are the opposite of those who cry victimhood and are as much a part of the problem. This 'cry of the successful' is basically 'I did X so anyone who doesn't is a lazy fuck'. I'd like to see you give up your decent job and clean toilets for the rest of your life. You wouldn't, so quit demanding everyone else hit your standards just so they can have the 'privilege' of cleaning your shit for scrap wages...or is it you'd rather keep these people jobless so you can complain about their 'laziness' just to feel better about yourself?

    myopic is a perfect nick for you.. It fits your position perfectly.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:45PM (#42983173)

    Oh bullshit.

    If my business ever grows to the point of needing H.R. this will specifically left out of their jobs. We're in a situation in the U.S. right now where anyone with a unique background or who doesn't nicely fit into an H.R. cubby hole isn't getting a job and it's a travesty. It's letting very smart and capable people sit by the side of the road while the people who simply play the game right get in.

    All these H.R. rules, all the bullshit with resumes is holding things back. I would rather someone with real knowledge spend some time with the "300 resumes" than someone who thinks Microsoft Office is high tech sift through and let good candidates hit the trash because they have missed on check mark on the form.

    That's great that you have the time to adequately screen every candidate, but when I have 5 job reqs open, each with 200+ resumes to screen, I really don't have the time to look at each resume (and I know I'm not the only one), so answer those screening questions carefully.

    If you have a unique background, then find another way to get your resume in front of the hiring manager. This is where social networking comes in handy. I've had candidates track me down on LinkedIn and email their resume that way - I always look at those resumes since I know that it's not someone who's shotgunning his resume across every open job posting they can find regardless of relevancy to his experience.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:58PM (#42983349)

    I refuse to fill those out. Hell, I refuse to fill out an "application" more than writing "see resume" on it. when I am looking I usually have 4 companies or more looking to get my attention, I am not jumping through your busywork hoops just because you want to feel important.

    That's fine, you probably wouldn't be applying for one of my company's jobs in the first place, and even if you did, you probably wouldn't want to work there if filling out a job application is jumping through too many hoops. Nor would we want you there.

    That might be a fun thing to do to the common people that are a dime a dozen, but I dont play silly HR games. I handed you a nice resume, and more copies of it in the interview, that is all you get.

    Well, except that your resume wouldn't have made it past HR screening if you just wrote "see resume" on it.

    I'm guessing you would freak out when I take a big sharpie to your contract and strike out the stuff I dont like, inital the changes, and then sign it. I do that to ALL contracts, only a fool signs a contract as written.

    Well, I wouldn't freak out... I'd probably smile and take your changes, and since i'm not authorized to approve changes, I'd take your marked up contract and pass it on to Legal. Then in the 2 weeks while waiting for their review, I'd hire someone else who's more suited for the job. I don't care how good your technical skills are if you're not able to work effectively in the organization.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:07PM (#42983469)

    5 positions with 200+ resumes and you can't look at each resume?

    I can read a 1000 page hardcover in three days without pushing it. Granted, a page in a book requires less time than a resume needs but I'm pretty sure I could at least look at each resume within a reasonable time frame.

    Sure, resumes are probably a lot more boring to read but that's why it's called work.

    Reading a book is much different than reading a resume and picking out important details.

    If I'm just going to scan the resume and look for keywords, I may as well just let the online candidate review system take care of it.

    Resumes come in a wide variety of formats, fonts, etc, and candidates rarely put the information I'm looking for on the first page... If I'm really going to read it and see if he's a good fit for the job, then I need to read the whole thing, then go back and look over it again to pick out the parts I'm really interested in.

    It can take 3 or 4 minutes to adequately read and score a resume - 3 minutes times 200 resumes times 5 open job reqs is 50 hours of work, when if I'm lucky, I've got about an hour a day to take care of it.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:14PM (#42983567)

    So let me get this straight... you don't have time to read through 200+ resumes for each of the 5 open positions that you have, but you have time to read and post comments on slash dot?

    Even if I work for a US company, they don't own all of my spare time. My workday is over, and I prefer to not spend it doing work.

  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:51PM (#42984021)

    I've never heard someone so vehemently defend mediocrity and taking lazy shortcuts in their job. It's clear the company you work for, that tolerates such nonsense, doesn't really want the best and brightest.

    And with that, they'll get what they deserve.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:00PM (#42984155)

    On the other side of the table, I wouldn't be happy working for someone like you. You treat hiring an employee as some kind of minimal task diminished by shortcuts instead of looking at the Big Picture -- capable, dependable, and solid staff are not just more productive as individuals but they add to the collective foundation your company depends on to continue functioning. I'm not talking about the bullshit 'team mentality' people like you tout as a priority, I'm referring to the actual atmosphere and working environment every single company in existence has within its walls. Bringing a new person into an existing work place will have long-term good or bad effects -- your arbitrary filtering on how you're excluding resumes will have a direct correlation on this matter. It's a shame people like you don't take it more seriously.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:18PM (#42984439) Homepage Journal

    And what's wrong with that?

    The part where you sound like a fucking sociopath, which impression is reinforced a lot by looking at your website.

  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:20PM (#42984481) Homepage

    In order to avoid expensive litigation and settlements in a number of states, it's a very good idea to have enumerable reasons and missed requirements for not hiring someone.

    You know, I think that sometimes engineers and their managers are far too worried about legal challenges to hiring decisions. I've been in this business for thirty-five years and have been associated with hiring situations all along the way and have never seen a candidate try to sue a company for not offering an interview or job. This is across about ten companies in two states (granted, neither of these were New York or California, although a few of the companies were headquartered in the latter). I just think that most of people crying about "lawsuits" are spouting crap and are simply scared without reason, based on urban legend.

    Show me the statistics. And show me that a simple pass over the resumes of the few who might bring suit, should someone choose to sue, doesn't show enough issues to give a defensible case.

    That being said, if you get a valid resume and you're playing the "I want to hire an H1-B" game, then you deserve to be sued - you are breaking the law, after all.

  • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:21PM (#42984491) Journal

    THIS is what people don't understand.

    To the the clueless: Hiring you isn't my job. Hiring you is just extra work.

  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:03PM (#42985063)

    I like how everyone criticizing this guy brings apparently no relevant experience, instead talking about what they WOULD do, or how fast they can read a book, or how things should be.

    Glad to see that speculative nonsense still gets modded up on slashdot.

  • Limited world view (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ace37 ( 2302468 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:26PM (#42985311) Homepage

    What does going to college tell you about a persons character? It tells me they're submissive to authority and lack initiative, which is great for many roles. A person who rejects the idea that he should sit at the feet of the wise old professor and learn and instead go out into the world and get to work making waves might not suck up what you give them and ask you if they're doing ok.

    Mediocrity and reliability go to school. The worst and best reject it.

    You can go about making your waves. Make big ones - I genuinely hope you do and you have a great time.

    I analyze and evaluate the structural performance of supersonic fighter jets, which make waves, but of a different type entirely. My values and goals simply don't match yours.

    Those of us who wish to be movers and shakers in STEM must first know the basic building blocks, and those are easily learned from the wise old professors who built these things before us. I strive for reliability in specific ways and pick an choose which authorities it is in my best interest to submit to. If you think my peers and I lack initiative and must be "mediocre," I think you need to open your eyes to different ways of viewing the world.

In the future, you're going to get computers as prizes in breakfast cereals. You'll throw them out because your house will be littered with them.