Michael Staton writes that the value of a college degree (the actual diploma) will lose much of its value in the coming years. Due to the onset of technology, certifications, and online learning, he sees an unbundling of higher education.
The value of paper degrees will inevitably decline when employers or other evaluators avail themselves of more efficient and holistic ways for applicants to demonstrate aptitude and skill. Evaluative information like work samples, personal representations, peer and manager reviews, shared content, and scores and badges are creating new signals of aptitude and different types of credentials.
For my experience as a nontraditional student, recruitment manager, and an instructor, I can appreciate his point. As a college student, I arrived to the classroom with almost seven years of work experience. While I didn’t have any certifications or badges, I did arrive with many of the competencies usually developed over four years of college. My academic credentials were spotty at that point, but my ability to understand real world concepts was far beyond that of my peers who had just entered college. Once I graduated with my four year degree, I was at a decided advantage when it came to soft skills — work ethic, office politics, and time management. One of the best compliments I received was from a manager at my first “real job” who thought I had been with the organization for many years. He was shocked when he learned I was there only a few months.
I see the same situation and many of the same types of students in my classrooms, particularly those in the military. Given their experiences and backgrounds, military students are able to grasp leadership concepts much faster than those that have minimal work experience.