Does a Degree Truly Indicate Candidate Quality?

I am not stating that University degrees are entirely worthless, but that contrary to popular belief, the value of a degree should be dramatically reduced.
I’d like to point out that 

  1. I’m not claiming that not having a degree is better.
  2. I understand some young adults lead rather sheltered lives and simply aren’t ready for the real world. University could be required in some cases as the bridge between adolescence and adulthood.
  3. I understand certain degrees are essential to some fields. The following is mainly my experience of students studying subjects such as Politics, Economics, History, Sociology, Media, Art, Film and Philosophy.
The University degree (and the position of that university in the ranks) can propel you further in life, increase your value, and ultimately, bag you the job at the end.

How is that possible with virtually no real-work experience?

Because of the qualities universally deduced from the term ‘degree-holder’; hard-worker, organised, team player, critical thinker, skilled, independent, experienced, respects authority, well-disciplined.. and so on, and the impact this has on the ‘non-degree-holder’, the one who resigns himself to a life of burger-flipping (which, by the way, takes a considerable amount of all the above).

The point?

Employers should evaluate the value of an applicant without the credentials of a traditional degree, rather than simply having computers filter them out.

Why bother with those losers/dropouts/idiots/*insert stereotype of a non-degree-holder here*?

Because the presupposed qualities of a degree-holder are not absolute. In my experience, many students are the most lazy, disorganised, idle, unskilled, dependent, inexperienced, disrespectful, and undisciplined people I’ve ever come across. Of course there are exceptions, but the students I’ve lived with both in halls and off-campus waste the majority of their time while throwing both their student loans and their parents money into learning only the theory of the workplace.

What ‘Degree-holder’ means to me

The ability to squeeze a term and/or year into the 1-2 weeks before deadline, producing some kind of assessment, be that an essay, report or exam, that regurgitates everything into a format that passes the set criteria, and voilà! (Plus, bad grades are entirely the result of a bad department, not ones own poor effort, of course!). I wrote four assignments the night before they were due and received marks between 68% and 75%- does this make me a good quality candidate in the workplace?


The degree-holder simply waves a copy of their BA as a signal or status of candidate quality – yet that piece of paper does not necessarily provide the employer with someone who has the skills needed for that job. So long as employers advertise jobs to require a degree, the filter will remain in place. I can’t help but wonder, since attaining a degree requires a significant amount of money, are we really just using money to determine a persons value?


I have enrolled and left university twice for different reasons, first time due to personal reasons, the second…. because I woke up one day and thought “What the hell am I doing with my life?”.
I refuse to believe that I am less valuable than my peers just because I don’t have a signed piece of shiny paper.


What do you think, does a degree truly indicate candidate quality? Or should the value of a degree be reduced?

Hi! I'm Sarah. I dropped out of university tired with the mundane life I was living in England. Now I'm an aspiring ex-pat of the world, having already lived and worked in Vietnam, Italy and Maldives. I'm using this blog to document my experiences and hopefully inspire others!

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