As students spend the next few weeks completing their college applications, a question is hanging in the air: Is college worth it? It’s not only students who are wondering. It’s also employers who are starting to question what a college degree tells them about potential hires. Maybe a top name will suggest a student who performed well on the SATs, but the truth is that employers often have no idea what they’re getting.
As Carol Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, recently toldInsideHigherEd, “Our employer studies show that employers basically find the transcript useless in evaluating job candidates.” The people doing the hiring these days have no idea if students can write a coherent paragraph. And the courses listed on their transcripts do not really tell employers what skills they have actually mastered. According to the Department of Education, in 2012 there were more than 1,500 academic programs students could choose for a major. That number increased by more than 350in the decade before. What employer keeps track of what those programs entail?
This problem is not exactly new and the solution has been clear to many for years. As Charles Murray wrote in his 2008 book, Real Education, “The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees. Young people entering the job market should have a known, trusted measure of their qualifications they can carry into job interviews. That measure should express what they know and are able to do, not where they learned it or how long it took them to learn it.”