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It’s time to rethink the 4-year degree

This blog probably won’t earn me a lot of friends in academia or in the parenting world, but hell it needs to be said. No matter what profession you are in, employers are obsessed with a candidate having a 4-year college degree, and in some ways it makes sense. Now, if you ask me, a 4-year degree nowadays (such an old-timey word), is not what it used to be.

The best professors I had in college were adjuncts, meaning they had a day job but also taught on the side. These individuals were fully entrenched in their careers but also had a passion for preparing the next generation for entering the workforce. Now, take a tenured professor who has been out of the profession for 10, 15, 30 years and put them in charge of teaching public relations in the digital age, and well…you’ll have a lot of unprepared soon-to-be young professionals. To be clear, this is not true for all educators, I know plenty doing things very, very differently but they are in the minority and often get their hands slapped because of it.

This isn’t just my opinion, a recent Harvard Business Review article points out the U.S. education system is not held accountable for ensuring students are properly equipped with the skills and capabilities to prepare for a career where they can obtain financial stability. Additionally, employers continue to rely on a traditional four-year degree requirement as a primary means of determining job candidate employability. The disconnect here is obvious, and the result is nearly 15 million un- or under-employed individuals.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from pursuing an education. My point is, employers, need employees who can problem-solve, lead a meeting, be organized, hold themselves accountable and take initiative. We do not have time to hold hands or teach you the skills college or your parents should’ve taught you. A recent Cengage survey (publication forthcoming) of Americans who graduated from a two-year/community or four-year college in the past five years found that nearly one in five (19%) reported that their college education experience did not provide them with the skills needed to perform their first post-degree job.

We seldom hire first-year grads at 8THIRTYFOUR, because they have a hard time grasping full-time job responsibilities, handling pressure, and problem-solving. We have a very unique culture, one we have spent years creating and cultivating and I watched it take hit after hit due to a lack of perspective and understanding of what it takes to work in the communication field. Everyone wants to work at an agency, I mean it’s fast-paced, fulfilling, exciting and fun. Sure it is all of those things, but it’s also exhausting, frustrating, time-intensive, and hard. Colleges and parents need to prep grads not just on skills but on the industries or job settings they could go into.

Universities need to marry job skills with soft skills and realize tenure, in most cases, rewards someone for being book smart without the ongoing experience.

At 8THIRTYFOUR, we are throwing out the requirement to have a 4-year degree. If you have experience, tenacity, confidence, and the right skill set; you’ll be given an interview.

I’m also committed to launching the 8THIRTYFOUR PRep School for those about to graduate or already graduated with a degree in communications. More coming on this.

I’m well aware when change is needed, you can’t sit around and wait for someone to come up with the solution.

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One Response

  1. Spot on, Kim!

    I think the value of a degree has been watered down, and I have three degrees!

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Hi, I'm Kim!
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