College education is the enemy

Last week the great folks at Opportunity @Work had a LinkedIn event titled ‘Myths, Perceptions and Truths about Talent and Skills.’ The panel echoed the arguments I’ve been making for a few years and will expand on in my book–college isn’t the only way to develop skills and learn, firms should not have a degree requirement because it eliminates qualified workers, and so on. It was great and I got a warm fuzzy at the start that lasted almost the entire show.

But during the Q&A about 48 minutes, all the panelists gave a little schpeel about how education is beautiful, and we shouldn’t degrade college, and that everyone should have access to it, and they complement to the O4W framwork, and yada, yada, yada. That’s when my warm fuzzy disappeared.

College administrators want a society where four-year degree holders are on top because that keeps the cash flowing to American colleges. They work hard to undermine other ways people can achieve life success. It’s why the higher-ed lobby actively tries to undermine community colleges. There’s no way Americans would spend so much money if they could live the good life without a college degree. We’re kidding ourselves if we think colleges don’t prioritize cashflow.

As I do so often, I’ll quote Freddie DeBoer: “There‚Äôs also a committed refusal to see colleges for what they are, which is profit-seeking cartels whose endorsement of social justice is no more sincere than that of a Goldman Sachs diversity statement…I cannot stress this enough: the first function of college admissions departments is revenue generation.” (Emphasis in original.)

In that Q&A, the O4W CEO Byron Auguste said something along the lines of: “College should be a bridge to opportunity. It should not be a drawbridge where everyone on the other side leads a feudal life.” The thing is colleges explicitly want to create that drawbridge. Anyone trying to rethink skills and work must account for that fact. College education isn’t a complement to groups like Opportunity @Work. It’s the enemy.

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