Does College Matter After You Graduate?

Up until this point in our lives, many of us have followed a very similar path toward where we are today – we work our way through school and work hard along the way – we do everything we can to graduate high school with an impressive GPA and plenty of extracurriculars. Why? To get into a great college, of course.

Then what? We keep up the  hard work, burn the midnight oil, memorize our cheat sheets, and study our assess off, all while trying to balance our social life, party on the weekends, meet our soulmate, and survive on Ramen…and for what? To graduate and end up with the job of our dreams.

It’s the cycle that has been engraned in American Culture – it’s part of that old-school pursuit of the “American Dream” (that is rapidly changing – or in my opinion – no longer exists). My question is, after putting in so much hard work and effort – does it really mean anything? Once you’re in the “real world” does anyone really care what you did back in school? I’m not so sure.

A few months ago I wrote a post about why I’ll “never go back to school” – and I stand by that. Not because I think there is anything wrong with higher education, and I would never try to talk any of you out of pursuing what you want to do, AND I fully understand and appreciate the need for further education if you’re heading down certain career paths. That’s not what I’m getting at.

My point is that today, right now, if you take a look at my resume, the first 21 years of my life are condensed into one bullet point at the bottom of the page:

Not even a GPA listed – not because I’m ashamed, quite the contrary, I’m extremely proud of what I accomplished in college – I’m not hiding anything…but instead, it seems like no one cares.

When I was pursuing my first job after graduating, yes, I had more showing on my resume and my collegiate experiences were discussed much more during interviews – but when I moved up here to Chicago, having only one year of agency experience under my belt – college was never even brought up – there was no interest in anything I had done before stepping foot into the “real world” – now the first 20+ years of my life are no more than a footnote on the page.

Which begs the question, “Does college matter after you graduate”? Does our hard work mean squat after we’ve walked across the stage? Is it more of a personal pride thing as opposed to a professional requirement? Does it vary from industry to industry?

I’ve had conversations about this with several people recently and reached out to many on Twitter to crowdsource some thoughts. There’s no right or wrong, and clearly perspectives vary. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Your thoughts (from Twitter)

What do you think?

I hope we’ll be able to spark some interesting discussion and debate in the comments below…


99 Responses
  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Hey! I didn't got to college, but I still love your blog and voice. ;-) How's married life?

  • C. Bagdon Reply

    As much as I want to say no, I think it does indeed matter.

    It's a wedge to get you in the door. I went to a Big Ten university and unfortunately, studied Political Science without the intention of getting my J.D.

    I don't have the “wedge” that others that studied Computer Science or received a B.B.A in Marketing, Finance, or Accounting might have.

    As good as running an (fairly successful) organization or launching a (mildly successful) website looks on a resume, I don't feel it carries the weight to allow me penetration into the career field of my choice.

  • bradmarley Reply

    I think it depends on your field of study. I have a degree in communications (and, no, I didn't play D-1 college football.)

    After landing my first job, the college I attended and my overall GPA became immaterial. All that matters now is what I've done in my professional career.

    If you're a lawyer or a doctor, then it does matter.

    Good post.

  • David Siegfried Reply

    Matt,

    I'm torn on this one, I think the degree matters just as a life achievement but when you set to work, if you are good at something, why do I need a paper showing I wasted 4 years of my life with 80% busy work? Successful or no, my job now is not even related to what I do. On the other hand, imagine the riff-raff who would be stealing your jobs if you didn't have college to weed them out. Maybe college is just a character test and all that needs to be said is you made it through or not. (and yes, I am sure it varries from field to field, try becoming a doctor without college).

  • Torrey Reply

    Totally agree with bradmarley! I too have a communications degree and an MBA. No one ever asks about my degree. In fact, I find several communications/pr folks without a degree. More about experience

  • jonathanhyland Reply

    I've often thought if my college education was worth it. In the end, I think college was a great experience that was more than just the classes and the professional experience you get. In terms of what experiences I share, they're ones that demonstrate my ability to execute and “get things done.” As an HR type, I'd want to know how college prepared you for your career, and I'd want to know about any internships and so on.

  • Maksim Reply

    Ooh I feel strongly about this. I graduated DePaul almost a year ago. Two Degress – International Business Administration and Management of Information Systems. Great school by the way. And as much as at this point in my life I'm very inclined to say that college does not matter, I would go both ways. (I could talk for hours on this, so I'll keep it short).

    College Matters:

    I got 3 things out of college:
    1. Ability to game the system.
    2. Opportunity and desire to leave the US and be pushed out of my comfort zone.
    3. Close relationships and dealing with people.

    I learned how to game the system. Being in college and getting good grades is a skill. And it's a skill that doesn't always translate well to the real world. I learned how to do good in my classes by doing as little as possible. I worked and went to school so it was a constant time crunch. So if I felt that I could get by without reading the whole chapter, or if I kind of knew what will be on final, I didn't bother to learn the rest. I learned how to use Google like a pro, collaborate with people through online project management software, and automate tasks that needed to be replicated.
    College is what you make of it. I had great classes. My original major was information security, and I didn't feel like staying the extra quarter just to get that name on my diploma. But what I learned is my information security courses and clubs (yes I was in the computer security club, linux club and lockpicking club too, I'm a big nerd) I still use today to run my servers and work with Linux.

    I went abroad for my entire junior year, made tons of contacts across Europe who are very close friends. That part alone was worth the bill I got 6 months after graduation. This experience changed me to the point where I now constantly want to travel and am planning on leaving the country in a year and a half. In addition, I wrote a thesis in stock investing, a lot of the knowledge I still use today, but on the side. (By the way, gaming the system in French schools is a LOT harder).

    I also joined a latino fraternity (I'm Ukranian), got pushed way out of my comfort zone and my fraternity brothers and sisters are still the best friends I have. It would have been impossible for me to do all those things had I went to a community college or went straight to work from high school. Most of my friends who did that, I barely talk to now. We have nothing in common anymore.

    College Does Not Matter.
    In my opinion, the only part of college that does not matter are the classes you take and the grades you get. Not one single person has asked me for my GPA before hiring me on a project. No one asked me what classes I took or what professors I had or what degrees I have. But each and every one of my “extracurricular” activities, the ones that I lost hours and hours of sleep just to be involved in, those are the ones that come in handy the most. Look at the list above. Do any of those have to do anything with my GPA?

    I always tell my friends that are still in school to take a smaller course load each quarter and do something else. If you spend 5 years in college taking fewer classes each quarter and being involved more, I think you will get a lot more out of it than powering through the whole thing in 3 and a half years.

    But I do think college is a necessity to a certain point. You still need to show those letters on your resume when you're getting recruited. But it's the experience, not the knowledge that matters.

    Keeping it short, FAIL

  • JPedde Reply

    I LOVE this. Because you bring up a valid point – is the cost of college worth it? I ask myself this EVERY month when I'm paying my atrocious student loan bills and will be doing so for at least 20 more years. BUT, what I'm paying for is my alumni base. My life would be NO WHERE near as successful without the constant network that happens from Syracuse University. I've heard it compared to a cult, and I'm not so sure that I can argue with that. I have gone back to speak at SU, I constantly interact with the departments, use their services, and of course my fellow graduates have helped me every step of the way. Will I go back to school? Ehhhh probably not – for exactly the reasons you said here. But man, I expect to reap the benefits of things I did 4 years ago for many years to come. The trick though – is like with anything else – the past is the past and you have to build from it, and not live in it. My university is very much a part of who I am today. Not many can say that.

  • Grace Boyle Reply

    You have your MBA? Did you stay in undergrad longer? Only curious because an MBA means A LOT more than a B.A. or B.S. in Business…salary-wise, experience and even standing out among other candidates because it's a specific skillset.

    As for your general point, you're right that college doesn't quite matter after college. We even have some of our smartest team members who went to junior college or didn't graduate at all, it doesn't mean anything and they're 30+ so really, who is thinking about college except for that keg stand you did or that party you went to or that girl/guy you fell for.

    I will say that by placing your college and even some general interests on your resume, show a little bit about you. A lot of people find some sort of common ground…for example, I went to college in New England and so did our COO who interviewed me. For 20 minutes we talked about New England and I could tell, he likened to me because of that (small, but true). I also have my background in horseback riding, teaching and veterinary knowledge and another employer had horses and also loved the leadership that interest of mine required. Just some thoughts… :)

    Good post!

  • Steve Reply

    I think it does, but not in the way most people think or even recognize.

    It isn't the resume, but what is in your head. The education you received isn't about a piece of paper, nor is it about GPA. It is about learning and more importantly, learning to think. Now I do not meant that our current education system has in mind teaching you to think. It really wants to teach you to accept, but that's not what really happens, at least for some. You begin to learn to question. You question professors and writers of text books. All this carries over into the world of work or business. You learn to think and to handle situations that come up without warning. That's what is all about, at least to this old fart!

  • Moon Hussain Reply

    I think for most people, it does matter. (Also depending on what they want to do). Most kids out of college want to and a 'career-oriented' job and all the work they have done up until then does matter.

    In my case, it did matter. I do know a few people for whom it didn't matter, but I think they were extremely lucky and will be in trouble if they're laid off…

  • GwynneMurphy Reply

    I think it depends on how relevant your current career is to your college experiences. Many college grads don't work or use the specific field of study they majored in.

    My resume has my college, my major and the professional organizations that are applicable (like PRSSA). By the time I graduated, I had enough experiences outside of the classroom to leave off class projects. During interviews I was more likely to discuss my internship experiences than classwork. I agree with Jason Mollica's Twitter reaction that after a few years your college accomplishments carry less weight than your “real world” accomplishments.

    Thanks again, Matt! It was another great post.

  • Eileen Reply

    I graduated from college 6 years ago; I'm looking for jobs now, and yes, college matters in my job hunt right now. This probably depends on your field of study, but I think it is definitely the case for technical degrees (I'm a biomedical engineer). However something that probably holds true for any field of study is the impact of the connections from college. I made so many connections in college, from professors to TAs I studied with to the grad students in the labs where interned, and also from my sorority and other extracurricular organizations. Connections from college make up a significant portion of my network (and LinkedIn makes it so easy to tap into!). College gives you a great opportunity to expand your network in your field, or at least with other like-minded professionals who may know someone in your field (as may be the case if you switch directions after graduation). For example, a good friend from my sorority also majored in biomedical engineering but went a different direction completely ~ into the finance world, and now she's getting her MBA. As I've talked to her about my job hunt, she keeps mentioning contacts from business school who work at the companies I'm interested in, and has passed my name on. And since so much of finding a job in this economy comes from knowing someone at the companies you apply to, I think this is pretty critical right now.

    I've been having success from tapping into my network, but also I'm surprised just how much my undergraduate work is coming up in my job hunt. I have been asked for my transcript; I've been asked about specific coursework; I've been asked about my senior thesis project (and I have a masters degree ~ I was prepared to discuss my masters thesis but quite surprised to be questioned on my undergrad research!). My undergraduate coursework taught me critical engineer concsince underepts, so when I get questions like “How are you with circuits/C++/[insert other concept]” I can reply with the courses where I learned these skills and labs where I applied them, even though I haven't been doing much with them grad. I've had interviewers comment that they're impressed at my high undergraduate GPA. Again – this might be specific to technical degrees, but there is so much learning that takes place during college that it's hard for me to think that it would not matter at all. Beyond specific coursework, there are things like the problem-solving process that was drilled into me from studying engineering, which is highly relevant to any job. Also I did a number of internships in college that gave me real-world experience. And I've even referred to some leadership experiences from undergrad group projects or extracurriculars in some interviews.

    So, my view is obviously a big yes, it matters! Work hard in undergrad, learn as much as you can, connect with your peers and professors ~ it's worth it!

  • Dawn Reply

    It matters to me.

    It's my College Degree, and I alone earned it. No one can take it away from me. I worked damn hard for it and it's all mine. Does my Higher Ed job care that I have it. NO. Did I get a raise when I received it. NO. But the day I walked I was very proud of myself, because I know it was something I did for just for me. Will it help me in the future? So I'm told it gives me the edge when applying for jobs requiring a BA. I get in “that” pile. What it comes down to is personality, experience and choice on search committees at my institution. Oh, and if there is a preferred candidate for the position too.
    On my resume it looks great of course, it even looks better on my office wall.

  • edcabellon Reply

    Great post Matt. As someone who works in Campus Life, I can tell you for sure that College DOES matter, but not for all. For many students, it really is the first time their value systems and what they believe is “truth” is challenged. Most of the “Higher Learning” that happens for the average student, occurs outside of the classroom and if you think about the greatest lessons your learned in college, often they are from the “out of class” experience. College still matters.

  • dougshaw Reply

    College…? Whassat then? I ran away from school pretty much as fast as I could. Weird – as learning is a love of my life, I just didn't know that when I was 16 :)

    I have gone back since, to do a diploma @ Leeds Met. It was on offer as part of a development course @ work so I thought hey, why not? Has it helped or hindered? Well I don't know – just trod the path I trod. Two of my very best friends were forged in the fire of school and we've known each other for a scary number of years, about 33, gulp!

    But just for a laugh, let's plot my career and then I'll let the audience decide if college…matters?

    Left school @ 16 with a few basic qualifications. Studied to be a draughtsman and worked in the construction industry for a couple of years. Few days before I turned 18 Mum died, girlfriend left me, implosion. Left work and went on the road for a few months via a short stint in a timber yard.

    19. Worked for a series of insurance brokers and companies. Mainly yawnsville but one place in particular I hit it off with the boss. He saw something in me, took me under his wing and I grew into a more confident, thoughtful person. Took some professional qualifications. Got and remain happily married. My last job in this field was working for a nutcase bully who freaked me out – I nearly went over the edge and left before breakdown.

    28. Started selling IT. I was really good at it. Well it turned out I was really good at listening. Shop floor, telesales, department manager, assistant store manager in a matter of about three months I trebled my earnings (which were pretty modest @ the time) and I was asked to go to Head Office and launch an experimental B2B thang. Worked really well. My boss left, I got a bit bored.

    30. Went to work for BT selling payphones. Much more money. Did that for 18 months – nearly drove me nuts. Went into complex IT sales for leisure and travel companies. Learned to negotiate – reciprocity. I got stung a few times before gaining a great reputation with customers and colleagues as a kind of troubleshooter. In 2002, aged 36 I became a Dad. Things really took off – I was building up a huge reserve of trust among colleagues and customers. Came from listening, and doing what I said I would, and constructively challenging things (y'see most folk in big companies just don't do that, I had a kind of first mover advantage). In 2005 I nailed the best combined set of sales and customer satisfaction figures the company ever saw (still unbeaten), bust my target by 223%, went to China for a week on all expenses paid. I moved to set up the corporate responsibility team for the wholesale division and did a number of industry firsts around sales, engagement, recycling and supply chain stuff. I then became the Global Director for change management and employee engagement. Loved it for a couple of years and did more ground breaking stuff. But all good things….I ran out of road. The environment changed, the culture in the Global Div was always suspect and when results got scarce lots of baaaad behaviour crept out. Though I was earning upwards of $200k inc bonuses and stuff, I'd had enough. I convinced BT to lay me off, which meant I got paid some dollars to leave.

    43. In 2009 I used those few dollars to start my own business, What Goes Around Limited. I now work with companies and help them make work a better place to be. Mainly by encouraging listening and dialogue. Around sustainability, reciprocity, co-creating better service, that kind of thing. It's waaaaay scarier than being regularly employed as some senior manager for a big company. Where's the next payday comig from, I don't know and right now I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm loving the ride more than I thought possible.

    Regrets? None. What's the point?

    When I interviewed myself, I forgot to ask about my qualifications, d'oh!

  • ericka Reply

    i honestly didnt have a real college experience until 2 years ago. i quit college 10 years ago after attending for only 3 years because i didnt know what i wanted to be when i grew up. after i quit, i worked at various tech companies before working for a very large, successful non-profit wherein i was able to work my way up. after 3 promotions, my boss requested i go back to school. now that i have gone back, i dont see a lot of what college brings to the table. yes, it teaches you how to prepare, organize, meet deadlines and shows that you can complete something, but it really doesn't teach you that real world experience.

    for example, i took a class in project management/team building – a class that is supposed to give you a taste of what the real world is like, and it was completely off base. we never had the opportunity to meet with our team to discuss status on all of the moving parts on a weekly basis, and our class time was spent talking about dealing with various types of work personalities and team building activities. in the real world, you meet often and you discuss tasks, statuses and problem solve if needed. this class taught nothing of the sort. plus, im majoring in digital media, and all of my technology classes are teaching me old technology – technology i already know, technology that i taught myself how to use, technology from 2005 and before. so its really hard for me to believe that going to school helps an individual achieve certain career paths.

    on the flip side, i do think that in certain career paths, like engineering, design and medical, you need a degree to succeed. but when it comes to technology, you dont really need a degree. technology is ever-changing, and its hard to keep up with it as it is. once you get a degree in technology, youre constantly taking continuing ed to keep up with whats new. and even then, some of those classes are out-dated. its almost as if blogs and technology websites offering tutorials on new technology are better than actually paying an institution for a piece of paper that no job ever asks to see.

    i go back and forth on this subject all the time. i hate school as ive been self taught my entire career, but i do know that its necessary in some cases. on your resume, however, i do agree with grace in that its good to put the activities you were involved in in college on your resume as it shows a piece of your personality that the hiring manager may go without. and i dont think i would go to college if it was a prerequisite for a decent job as a majority of it is a waste of time. in my field, if i could do it over again, i still wouldnt go to college at all. i just dont think it gives you the knowledge you need in order to be successful.

  • Rich DeMatteo Reply

    From a hiring perspective, it means more to entry level candidates, than it does to those with experience. While some positions don't require a degree, many do. The hard work in college is important, but hard work and a strong GPA might not mean more than someone with a personality that can match a working culture.

    The smart new grad with a 3.9 GPA, doesn't always get the job over the smooth talking grad who had a 3.1 GPA and who built up a number of contacts before graduating. Not to say 3.9 GPA students don't have friends, not saying that at all.

    I think it is about pride. Some of us like to show off our grades more than others. I'm very proud of what I've done in Graduate School. Was it necessary to go to Grad School to go into HR. For me, it most likely was. My major was Psychology, and for me to break into HR, I needed more education on the topic, and it also does put me at an advantage against folks with similar experience who lack the masters degree.

    I believe this all comes down to the individual career path, and specific industry. In the end, education will never outweigh experience, but the education is certainly important for new grads.

  • Jessica Reply

    Matt,

    Great post. I have to admit however, these posts really annoy me. Yet again another person complaining about how college hasn't helped them in their career. Or how they think it was useless. Or those who didn't finish college and feel as though if they did it would have been worthless in general.

    My point is. College is what you make it. While the first 21 years of your life may have only been experience in school. I started interning and gaining real world experience outside the classroom as early as 17. I was one of the lucky ones who had a path I knew I wanted to follow. I am so insanely passionate about education I went ahead and after about 3 years of post bachelors degree work experience went back for my master's degree. And I haven't looked back. Not only did my undergraduate education prepare me ten fold for where I am now, but my graduate degree opened my mind to so much more. And that's just it. I know I am a wealth of knowledge more than I can say for counterparts who didn't go to advance their education. I never stood around waiting for a handout after my graduation. In fact it took me about a year to find a solid full-time PR gig. It sucked, yes, but I never said “I never should have gone to school” because of that. I got through managing in retail and working freelance writing gigs.

    What I'm trying to get to is I know my success is measured by the person I am today. Utilizing my education in a way that was not a hand out but instead a valuable learning experience in communication, conflict and time management and countless other reasons is what is important.

    I'm extremely proud of my degrees. Bachelors in Communications from Canisius College and Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Bonaventure University. And I didn't kill myself over getting a B instead of an A. Those people who did, quite frankly, are no farther than I am in my career. Nor would I care.

    I think the question is are you someone who is cut out for higher education beyond the term papers, tests and cheat sheets. If you are not, then yes, don't bother with college. But if you can pull yourself away from killing yourself over the difference between a B and an A then you are going to get the most out of college.

  • srinirao Reply

    Matt,

    I've been out of college for close to 10 years now. In the first 3-5 years it made a difference. Today, nobody ever asks about my major, gpa or anything else I did in college. Granted, I also am not working for Mckinsey, or an Investment Bank. A year after getting my MBA, I realize that even that doesn't matter. The truth is that it opens the doors into the working world, but once the doors are open it's up to you walk through them or chose not to.

  • nicoleshoe Reply

    If you don't have a degree, you won't get hired anywhere. Also, lately if you don't have a master's degree, you REALLY won't get hired anywhere. At least here in the northeast.

  • Brandon Croke Reply

    Does college matter after you graduate? It depends what you did in college…

    If you did remarkable work in college (probably any work outside of the academic curriculum) then I think it matters. It depends on what job you are applying for. If you are applying for a non-profit in the future and you haven't volunteered since college, its probably time to tag that on your resume from back in the day. Same goes with any other job/skill/interest.

    Does your major matter? Probably not unless you are accounting, nursing or education.

    Overall I think what you did in college makes up who you are and lays the foundation for your personal and professional development. Even if your future employer doesn't give a crap about “what you did in college” they do care about who you are as a person today.

    During my undergrad I was able to work with entrepreneurs around the world, help start a non-profit, and learn how to manage, motivate, and work with all different types of people

    That was priceless, and my current employer values me because of my experience. Their quote during my interview was “you don't have a lot of experience in the real world, but you have a ton of real world experience.”

  • VeronicaLudwig Reply

    Want to know what the opinion of this Recruiter is?

    Well, for one, I did not “go to college”. That is, I did not live the college life or get the piece of paper. But I am very well educated. Throughout my career I have continued to take college courses that pertain to my business and industry. Why didn't I get the paper? Because I always knew I'd be self employed. But this doesn't mean that college doesn't matter. Without it, I wouldn't be nearly as successful. The opportunities I've taken advantage of wouldn't have been there without my education and my desire for continuing education. That is my personal story.

    Now speaking as a professional that looks at resumes and interviews candidates for career opportunities…

    Again, yes, college matters. IF YOU WANT IT TO.

    Everything you do and everything you put effort into will never matter if it doesn't matter to you. If you're proud of your experiences in college and highlights of your education, then show it! Don't let it be ignored. Talk about it and apply it not only to a job search, but to your everyday life. If you work hard to accomplish something and want to be recognized for it, then tell people about it! All the time! Interviews are a great way to brag and boast about what you've worked so hard for. By listing your accomplishments/achievements on your resume or application, it shows that you're proud of it. Hard work and experience isn't everything…it's the reasoning, meaning, passion and dedication that went into that work. If you lose that and ignore it, then others will ignore it too. Employers appreciate hard work, but they respect genuine passion.

    And regarding the comment,
    “– it’s part of that old-school pursuit of the “American Dream” (that is rapidly changing – or in my opinion – no longer exists)”

    The American Dream will always exist. It has just changed from “typical” to “unique”. Which makes it even better than it ever was!

  • Rachel Vincent Reply

    I think it absolutely matters, especially extracurriculars. Once you are a year or two out of school, it's true, I probably won't pay much attention to your GPA or specific coursework. But I would be very interested in what you extra stuff you did during college. It tells me where your passions are, how much you can handle, where you are willing to put initiative. I want to hire someone who not only would do the job well, but would be someone who is interesting to talk to.

  • Tracy Reply

    I'm also a recruiter based in Syracuse, NY, so I wanted to comment.

    From what I have seen college eduation matters to many, but not all companies/industries. We've had high level executives (yes, they became high level executives!) not get jobs after being laid off because they did not have an Associate's or Bachelor's degree. Yes, they did make it at some companies, BUT most companies, from what I have seen, do want/need/REQUIRE a college degree of some sort. On the other hand, some companies care a lot about internships and not so much that you have the degree for entry level candidates. I hate to be wishy washy but like you mentioned in the post: some careers demand education and others do not.

    That being said, there are plenty of careers and companies that don't care. The education is the foundation but the real world experience is incredibly important as well. Class projects, internships, real world work experiences all add up to create a well-rounded individual. I think this is a case by case basis and not something that you can categorize into ONE 'college does matter' or 'college doesn't matter' bucket. Often life is more gray than black and white and I think this post is a thought-provoking one that doesn't have a right or wrong answer.

    To one of your other questions: remove your information from your resume about your college experience when you have 1-3 years of work experience. Make sure your resume is ALWAYS relevant and up to date. Things that should be listed on your resume? Leadership positions, special projects, some coursework if it's related, GPA if above a 3.0 (most recruiters assume it's lower if not listed, and yes, GPA does matter to some companies, unfortunately), study abroad coursework and anything that is transferable to the 'real world.'

  • sameve Reply

    I hope some current college students read this post and stop freaking out so much. I agree that much of how or what we did in college doesn't matter in the working world. For me, what has mattered are the things that I did outside of the classroom. The experience I gained in my three internships has proven far more valuable than what courses I took and how well I did in them. It's the working knowledge and professionalism, not making the deans list, that causes prospective employers to take notice. Great post, Matt!

  • Jonathan Wondrusch Reply

    I truly believe that this is EXTREMELY dependent on the career field you choose. I'm currently an animator, and honestly, it DOESN'T matter one bit if you have a degree. It's all in the portfolio and demo reel in the entertainment industry. It's very rigorous, and all based on what you can do and who you know (maybe not in that order).

    In regards to other fields, I can't comment as much. In larger companies, yes it probably matters. In smaller ones, it is probably just a matter of how effective a person you are.

    Should you get a degree or a certificate? It probably depends on what you want to do. That being said, I'm extremely opposed to college the way it is implemented now. I think it's a money machine, not really bent on helping too many people except other academics. I feel that people should wait until they KNOW what they want to do before attending a four year university. Go to a junior college, talk to professionals in different industries, research work a few jobs, EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS! You CAN do this outside of a university.

    Only when you find something that you're passionate about, do I believe that you should head to a university to really plumb the depths of a field.

  • Kieley. B Reply

    Last fall I did what I thought I would NEVER do… quit college.

    That's right.

    I was already six weeks into the semester and frustrated with my new major and classes so I withdrew and moved home to work.

    I honestly do not regret this decision because I personally found college to be stifling and too focused on reading and “artificial assignments.” I have learned a tremendous amount by working and firmly believe that being successful is more about “who you know” than “what you know.”

    There are plenty of brilliant people who have numerous jobs, but if they lack ambition and are so caught up in their personal intelligence, nothing is going to happen.

    Thanks for posting this Matt because it is a good reality check for current students. I am tired of seeing talented people go to college just because it is expected.

    After a person gets their first job, nobody gives a rip.

    Right now I have tremendous opportunities that I would not have if I was tied down by college classes.
    Check this out: http://www.oneweekjob.com/finalists

    I have a chance to try 8 different jobs in 8 weeks and get paid for it! Can I hear awesome!!!

    Vote for Kieley from TN!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    We've talked about this a bit Melissa but obviously you have ended up doing great without the 'college experience'. Do you ever wish you would have gone? Ever want to go back and pursue a degree?

    And as for married life – it is absolutely amazing. I love every minute of it!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Agreed, it is a foot in the door, which is what I lay out in the post here – but beyond getting your foot in the door, what's the value? Does the value extend beyond that first step? I'm speaking professionally here – not personally. I'm proud I went through college – I had a hell of a time, learned a lot about myself, even if the classes didn't necessarily teach me anything about what I'm currently doing – but professionally – after that first step, it's barely even been brought up during interviews…thoughts?

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    It's funny that you mention 'Communications' – that's what I call the 'I don't know what I want to do' major (I started as communications and later switched to marketing – now I'm not sure why I ever made the switch).

    This is how I feel – that for people who are not pursuing a highly technical field (IE law or medical) then a bachelors holds very little importance after obtaining even a little real world experience. Interesting how it all worked out.

    Thanks for the comment Brad.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    That's what I'm wondering David. I get that college is important and essentlly a requirement to get any halfway decent job in this day and age (for the most part) but – is it only important that you 'made it through' as you say, or do your actual accomplishments and achievements matter. All those late night studying so I could pull out close to a 4.0 and now…did it matter? I do believe it helped build the character and work ethic that I possess today, but putting those character 'lessons' aside, I'm wondering how important college REALLY is or if it's just part of life's “routine”…

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Thanks for the comment Torrey. Do you find that your Masters has really helped you out professionally? I am always interested to hear how people see the value in a higher ed degree. No doubt that is a hell of an accomplishment, but has it really helped you our in a professional sense?

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Hi Jessica -

    First and foremost – I apologize that this post came across as me 'complaining' about how college hasn't helped me. Quite the contrary – nowhere above do I say this and I VERY MUCH think college helped shape me into the man I am today, both personally and professionally. While sitting in class and memorizing formula's may not have directly contributed to what I'm doing with my life right now, college prepared me for what life would be like (to an extent) in the real world – as well as helping develop the work ethic and behaviors I possess today.

    Second – my life is not summed up with school, not in any way. Like you, I have been gaining “real world” experience since an early age – in my case 15. I worked as a bagger at a grocery store and haven't looked back since – when I wanted a car, I bought my own, when I wanted a phone, I payed the bill. Yeah, that sucked too, but it made me into the man I am today – that EXPERIENCE – out there in the real world – has been invaluable – much more so than school.

    Last – I think it is great that you are so passionate about this and this is exactly why I wrote this post, Jessica. It wasn't to take a stance against higher education – it wasn't to belittle those who are passionate about their educational history – but rather – it was to focus on how that education has helped you in a PROFESSIONAL sense. I'm proud as hell of everything I accomplished in college and before that – but from my (limited) experience in the 'career world' hiring reps seemed very uninterested in anything I accomplished outside of work. Do you find that, at the places you have interviewed, education is important and is something you bring up often during interviews?

    Seriously – thanks for your comment Jessica – these kind of varied and passionate perspectives is what we need to spark conversation that helps us learn and grow. Cheers!

  • Holly Reply

    This is an interesting question.
    Your point about what your first 21 years boiled down to on your resume made me laugh, because that's what mine looks like right now…and I'm still IN college. My GPA is still cumulating, but as an incoming senior, I don't actually find it that relevant for anyone who's going to be looking at my qualifications.

    I've had an internship each summer since college began in three different cities. I've worked on my college newspaper and I've been the executive director of a student organization that dealt with Des Moines nonprofits on a daily basis. And really? If you want to know my grades after assessing my experience and you STILL can't decide whether I'm qualified for a position, I think I would need to question whether that's somewhere I want to work.

    I absolutely credit my school—in formal interviews and at any chance I get—for the fact that I have experience instead of a grade-point listed, and I guess that's why I think college absolutely matters after I graduate. I give credit to the kind of attention I've gotten from professors, the kind of opportunities I was able to take advantage of and the exposure I was given in a city that was more than a college town—because it's gotten me far and right now I'm living in Chicago doing exactly what I want to be doing.

    Does college matter at all to some people? Is it a prerequisite for a great career? No. Does the major matter in the long run? More and more I'm beginning to think it matters less and less. But for me, it's worked perfectly and I think it will continue be an important component to how things shake out—but that's because I let it.

  • C. Bagdon Reply

    Matt, you need to realize that this topic is so general and what people take away from their high school, college, or post-graduate studies is much more complicated than anything that's on a resume.

    People are always quick to point out that Bill Gates was a college dropout.

    Gates was born gifted. Unfortunately, not everybody is.

    It's easy to remember your college major, but people overlook the skill sets they developed. Critical thinking, realizing that the answer isn't always the obvious choice, problem solving, grammatical structure, mediation are all skills you develop or sharpen in college.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I think that's what I see as well – not so much the grades and things like that which we put so much emphasis on while in school, but rather those intangible experiences that have molded and shaped us into the people we are today. Being able to relate those experiences to the position you're applying for.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Haha, yes, not exactly short but I loved reading every bit of this. What you've laid out here is the common theme I'm starting to see in the comments – that while grades, classes, etc don't matter once you get out (or at least not as much as we think they do while we're there) – those EXPERIENCES are invaluable. And this goes with my theme that above all, experience is what matters most – life experience, professional experience, and in this case, school experience.

    Being able to take those experiences and translate them to the workplace is all that really matters in my mind – how many tassles you had hanging around your neck when you walked across the stage, on the other hand, matters very little – aside from that personal feeling of accomplishment because YOU know how hard you had to work to get to where you are.

    Love the conversation here and cheers for stopping by to share your perspective. My cousin teaches at Depaul, it is an outstanding school.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    You're right, not many CAN say that – I think my stance and voice may come from the fact of not being engaged with my school at all at this point – I would be happy to go back and speak, etc – but you bring up the value of your alumni network and, perhaps being a product of attending a MUCH smaller university than Syracuse, I don't have that – there really isn't an interactive alumni group to tap into that supports each other, etc.

    For you though, I can certinley see why college was so valuable for you – primarily because of the continued value it's provided for you after graduation. Point well made here. Thanks for coming by to comment.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    No, no MBA – typo on my part there. Just the BBA. I was talking with a friend of mine about the value of having her Masters degree and while we were in agreement that it does mean a lot – we were also in agreement that being our age and having a Masters under your belt presents an interesting set of challenges.

    Even with your Masters, without experience, are you still seen as 'entry level'? And if that's the case, with the current economy, a lot of folks will pass up someone with their Masters (because someone with a higher degree most likely will expect a bigger paycheck) in favor of someone who may only have a Bachelors, but who they can pay less and get the same effort from.

    Bottom line, we're all faced with different and unique challenges, whatever our educational background may be. And like you said – I just don't see a lot of value in school past a certain point, but I guess that can be said for every step in life. In college no one cares what you did in HS, in the career world no one cares what you did in school…

    Good discussion all around from a lot of different angles…Me likey.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I agree with you Steve – it's not about the grades and the piece of paper – but don't you think, overall, that is the emphasis while going though school? We work so hard to get a certain “grade” and we're dead set on ending up with a great GPA because it will look great on our resume. I completely agree with what you're saying here, I just wish think that more current students need to have your train of thought in their head NOW, while they're in school, and not after, to really get the most out of their school experience.

    Not to say I'm not thrilled with where I am in my life both personally and professionally – I just wish that for spending $100,000 + I had more concrete takeaways from all that school :)

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Isn't it funny how so many of us ended up in an entirely different field from what we went to school for? It's funny because at my school marketing was such a small group (maybe 50 or so marketing majors) so I thought while I was going through the marketing program, “oh this is going to be great, there aren't many marketing people so I'll get a job no problem” – come to find out that everyone and their mother is marketing/advertising/PR/sales (which all somehow gets grouped together)….

    I digress, but yes, I completely agree that real world career experience (even a little) is much more important than what we did in school. Thanks for coming by to comment Gwynne (by the way – my memory sucks but 1) are you in Chicago and 2) have we met?)

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I COMPLETELY agree that school is much more important for those pursuing work in technical fields – not only important but basically a REQUIREMENT. But for those of us who may be in more “general” fields, I still very much question the value of the college experience – at least from the “on paper” perspective.

    Maybe college should be something reserved for people who either A) plan to purse a job in a technical field or B) just like to party :)

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I agree that college is great at making young minds realize that they don't know everything. College was the first time for me that I had to actually WORK to do well – Highschool you can pretty much get by simply by showing up – college was much different and there were many things that I learned (the hard way early on) that have shaped me into a much more organized and efficient business-man. Many lessons were learned back in the day – but all of those Gen Eds you take the first two years? I'm not sure what I took away from that – sitting in 'History of the Samurai' my junior year to meet my History requirement? Pretty pointless.

    Maybe college should be much more specialized – as in you only go for exactly what you WANT go for. Instead of 2 years of general requirements BEFORE doing any marketing coursework, you just do two years studying your major and you're done. More cost efficient and targeted…no?

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    So I get what you and many others are saying here – and I completely agree. But in an effort to dig a little deeper – aside from “personal pride” why the heck do we go to college? We're told we have to in order to get a decent job, or as the commercials always say “people with a college degree make $1,000,000 more in their lifetime” – but it's almost an empty requirement. We're “supposed” to go to school..ok. But after we go and work for a little while, all that effort, all that money…does it even matter? Maybe we can't answer that personally yet because we're still young but…I don't know.

    I have NO regrets at all – everything has taught me something which has led me to where I am today. Rather I'm just analyzing what I've been through and what others are going through and asking the question, “was there a point”? That, and relaying the message that your GPA will NOT make or break you in the real world – all students need to break free of that mindset.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I hear ya – it's a step in the path of life, but I it kind of stinks that we go to college for no other reason than that we “have to” to get a good job. Especially now that I'm self-employed, no one gives a damn about what I did in school…I've never had a client ask me where I went to college, much less what I accomplished while I was there…

    A lot to think about and discuss, at any rate…

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Good summary here Srini – I see college as a 'door opener' but beyond that, I'm not sure how much of a factor it really plays in professional development.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Exactly Sam – college students need to stop freaking out! That GPA isn't going to make or break you once you're out in the real world – it probably won't even be a factor. College is great experience – it can be seen as a four year internship that grooms you for the real world – but if I knew then what I know now, I probably would't have killed myself all those sleepless nights up studying so I could maintain my GPA.

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  • Martijn Reply

    Is college important? I'll be getting my bachelors degree in a month so I'll let you know after the summer. :)
    What I already know is that my college experience has been an awesome experience on its own. The thing I did and didn't do in the last eight year have pretty much defined as a human being. Is college important? It certainly is for me!

  • Maks Reznichenko Reply

    Wow…funny that you write this post today. My blog is exactly about this subject. Would you be interested in having me do a guest post in the future? Here is my blog: http://www.livingwithoutcollege.com/

  • Jessica Reply

    I can say that where I went to school means a lot more up in the northeast. Now living in the south obviously if it wasn't a Big 10 or an SEC school, some companies can overlook it. But if they do, I will instantly count them out as a future employer anyways. Whether a company knows where I went to school or not, is not the issue but to discredit it for not being a Clemson or a University of Alabama is just ludicrous and quite frankly, uneducated in my opinion. (Not that I'm bitter…haha)

    I guess I look at it differently. Being a very prideful person (maybe to a fault at times) if someone looks at higher education as whether you went to a large university that just happens to have a great football team instead of the fact that you went to college, and better yet, grad school, is crazy. I see that a lot. But again, I'm sure that is a regional thing.

    Ok back to some kind of point (I think I had one, haha) I will say that having my Master's degree has raised some eyebrows when job hunting, in a good and bad way. The good thing is yes, a recruiter/hiring manager will be more likely to bring me in. But in the end, does the employer feel the need to then compensate and pay me more? Most likely. So its a weird catch-22. But looking at the broad picture of just life and career in general I think you need to remember we're not even 30 yet. I have yet to meet enough crazily successful people under the age of 30. Think of where you are now and in 10 years how much farther you'll be.

    We're in an economy and culture that is vastly different than even 5 years ago. Now is the time to venture out on your own much earlier in your career. Take more risks. Make your own path. Do it your own way. You never know, people may begin to follow and it's the new status quo. But have that solid foundation of an education.

    I've done the 9-5 thing where my creativity was not valued and I was told to keep my mouth shut. While the pay was crap but the “benefits” were nice, I've seen the other side of the coin. I'm now working on my own. I've cut back on my budget (A LOT) and don't nearly need the “benefits” I had before. I mean worst case scenario, you have to ask yourself, will I die tomorrow if I don't have the income I want. Do you have the income you need to get by? Live with it, enjoy the life you have with what you LOVE doing and the great family and friends you have.

    Yeah…way too many points I've tried to make here. But hey, a conversation for another day. Or maybe a blog post idea, yes?

    Thanks for the enlightening commentary Matt, its good things. :-)

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    You touch on so many good things here Jessica – and like you mentioned, I can't even imagine where I'll be 10 years from now or what I'll be doing – and I am anything but 'successful' at this stage of the game. A risk taker for pursuing entrepreneurship? Maybe, but that doesn't make me better than anyone else who is working at a nine to five – different strokes for different folks. A couple months ago I wrote about those who act as though they are already in their prime at the age of 25. Bottom line, you're not, or if you are, that's kind of sad. It can't all be downhill from here, right?

    To your other point – you literally took the words right out of my mouth. This is what I say to anyone and everyone who contacts me wanting to know how to 'leave their day job and start their own company'. 1) I'm not qualified to hand out that advice but what I do tell them is that they have to think about the absolute WORST CASE SCENARIO if things don't work out (I have a video AND written post coming up very soon that both touch heavily on this). Odds are, your worst case scenario isn't as bad as you tell yourself it is. Will I die tomorrow if I never get another client? No, I would figure something else out, I'd start interviewing, I'd work retail to pay the bills if I had to.

    You'll never be at your best until you understand what the worst could be – and odds are, your worst is still a LOT better off than the situation a LOT of others are in.

    Great conversation Jessica – love when a blog post can turn into this…

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Great point here Dawn – as a personal pride and accomplishment thing, I will not argue with you at all (although my degree is packed away in a box somewhere). I, like you, am extremely proud of the accomplishment of graduating college – my point here was less “does it matter to you” and more “does it matter to potential employers”. Which I think we can unanimously agree is debatable at best.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I hear you, Ericka – I don't think anything can replace 'real life experience' except for, well, 'real life experience. Nothing will teach you what the real world is like until you're out there in the trenches living in it. College is a 'requirement' in most cases (without a degree your resume wont pass through many filters), but it will never prepare you for what's out there. I'll take my real-life experiences versus going back to school any day and there are many people in my life right now I would consider to be outstanding mentors and teachers. We can all constantly learn from one another…

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I think I see have the college experience as being more and more important while your actual major field of study matters very little (obviously there are exceptions in more technical fields) but taking marketing for example. It's so general, everyone and anyone with a degree can get thrown into the sales/marketing/PR/advertising mix – part of the reason it's such a pain in the ass for those folks in my 'field' to get a job.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Great points all around Veronica. We had a great conversation about this last week and I'm glad we're able to continue it here. You summed it up perfectly when you said, “Everything you do and everything you put effort into will never matter if it doesn't matter to you” – this is the attitude that everyone (including me) needs to adopt. We dictate what's important, whether it be our college experience, our time in the career world, our family, our personal achievements – whatever the case may be – it comes down to what's important to you – and then your task to relay that importance to other people (in this case a recruiter or hiring rep). Love it V.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Maybe it's just me but I'd actually be MUCH more interested in extracurriculars and 'outside the classroom activities'. You HAVE to go to school but you don't HAVE to go above and beyond and participate in other things – by getting involved away from the classroom setting, you're illustrating, as you said, what your true passions are and your values/work ethic as an individual and someone I'd potentially want to hire. Great point Rachel.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Hi Tracy – thanks for coming my and lending some words of wisdom about resumes/GPA. I'm sure a lot of folks here value that opinion from a HR perspective.

    You mention that there are plenty of careers and companies that don't care about a college degree. Can you think of some examples? From my view it seems to be a requirement. It's expected that you're going to at least have an Associates or Bachelors degree at minimum. I can't imagine too many resumes getting a second look if the only thing listed is a high school.

    With that being said – I wonder what happens if someone just doesn't list their college at all on their resume. Would be an interesting social experiment to see if two people the same age, one with a college degree and one with more 'work' experience – which one would get the nod. Of course this is all hypotheticals and me thinking out loud – but something to think about nonetheless.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    This is what I'm starting to see now that I run my own business Jonathan. No one ever asks where I went to school – all they care about is my portfolio of work and if my services match up with their needs. And, of course, maybe it helps if they like and connect with me personally. Granted I had no idea I'd be starting by own business by age 24, but that self-employed status (of course) creates a bias for someone like me who's recent college graduation now seems like a distant memory. Thanks for the comment.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I loved college and everything that happened. I made great friends, I met my (now) wife, I drank entirely too much, learned a little, and ultimately it got me to where I am today. No regrets, none at all. The experience you have in college will stay with you forever, even if what you learned in Quantitative Methods is now an afterthought :)

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Hey Holly – thanks for stopping by and great to connect via Twitter. What I'm hearing over and over again is 1) The college “experience” matters 2) everything else doesn't. Which begs the question, why can't we just work internships and get drunk at parties on the weekends (and sometimes on the weekdays) instead of sitting through College Algebra, Microeconomics…etc. Is it time we invent a new class-free college? You in?

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    The bottom line? If you're only going to college because you're “supposed to” – don't do it. ESPECIALLY those who are pursing a higher degree and not knowing why – just going through the motions because they think that's what they're supposed to do. If it doesn't mean anything to you or if you're going to satisfy what someone else is telling you – stop and think before you go unload thousand and thousands of dollars.

    You don't have to have the path paved ahead of you before starting school but you should at least consciously think about if college is right for YOU. Thanks for the comment and best of luck!

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  • czimmermann Reply

    There are still fields where it doesn't matter if you have a degree as long as you have the particular skillset for the job. I did quite well without it until I tried to get out of the fashion business. My ex is an air traffic controller with less than a year of college, but he is able to visualize three dimensional air traffic from blips on a screen, and can do airspeed/distance calculations in his head with lightning speed, and can make split second decisions that keep planes from colliding. But for the most part, for most people, pixie658 is right, it's the ticket you need to get into the game. After that, it's what you do with what you learned that determines whether you're on the court, on the bench, or up in the bleachers.

  • Nicole VanScoten Reply

    Matt,

    Great post! Some of THE MOST successful people I know went to college and didn't actually graduate. I think that once you're in the real world, no one really cares about what you did in college anymoree. And while college often sets you up for that first real job, it's that first real job that leads you to the next, and so on…

  • Josh Morris Reply

    Great argument, Matt! I like your perspective and agree the importance of college is trivial in the “real world.” I graduated one month ago from the number one program in my major and that so far has only provoked a few “neat” or “congratulations” remarks from some folk. Meanwhile, those with “real world” experience are sucking up jobs us “over-accomplished” and highly-involved undergraduates were convinced would help us excel in life after college–in the real world. While I don't regret having gone to college and enjoying amazing experiences and meeting unforgettable people, I too have questioned whether it was necessary for my professional career. And until I get that entry-level position and START my professional career, college will be the facilitator of memories and experiences–not the facilitator of my career. Roll Tide!

  • Tracy Reply

    Hi Matt – Sorry for the late response… just thought that I needed to check back here again!

    One of the examples is IT. The example in my original post was in regard to an IT, Director-level position. This candidate worked his way up, teaching himself along the way, and made it to a director level status without a degree at a very prominent company. After years and years of experience, in any field, the lack of education tends to make less of a difference for some companies. (If that person HAD education and it was achieved 30 years ago… it would be so 'old' that it would seem irrelevant to that same company). I do think college degrees are important but I think we're moving toward a different type of education (I've seen it!).

    I like your thoughts on the last paragraph, however the issue is that there are way too many variables. The experience, the personality, the hiring manager, the company culture, the future coworkers/managers/subordinates, the timing, etc., I have learned so much more about BEING a candidate from working as a recruiter. There are so many variables that, unfortunately, are out of our control. All things created equal (to get back to your hypothetical): I think the person with the college education would be a stronger candidate to almost all companies.

    Did I just contradict myself several times? I believe college education matters. I don't believe that everyone agrees. I don't believe it will effect your future career to all companies but to most, it will.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Hi Tracy. Thanks for coming back and following up. I agree with you about the world of IT – it seems to be if you know what you're doing in that world, and you can do it well, the 'scholarly' stuff really doesn't matter. Being prolific is highly specialized, and most of the people I know who are in that world are primarily self-taught. Even taking myself as an example (while I don't at all consider myself to be 'IT') all of my technical skills have been self-taught – the skills that people now hire me for.

    That's not to say, and as you point out, that college didn't GREATLY help me get to where I am today – and it contributed greatly toward shaping my overall 'business savvy' – even if I didn't major or even CONSIDER a career in online marketing.

    For everyone? Not at all, but like you said – all things considered, college is a contributing factor into propelling you, in one way or another, toward you career.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I agree. It is a 'ticket to the game' so to speak. It may not pave the way toward your career path, but it almost always pushes you in the right direction – and I have no regrets from my time spent in college. Amazing times, both in an out of the classroom. Thanks for the comment!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Agreed 100% Nicole. One thing leads to another. College is a prerequisite to 'real life', but once you're out there, full time, in the 'real world' – experience is really the only thing that matters and very quickly college becomes something that yes, helped get you where you are today but no, is not all that important past a certain point.

    • Paul Reply

      Hello Matt. Just wanted to thank you for this article. I’m 23 years old and still deciding on college or not (some people are saying do it, others are saying do what you want) I’m really not into going, that is not to say it is pointless, nor am I trying to demean those who have or are wanting to go, but as you said different strokes. I’m still not sure what I wanna do in life, I’m working a 9-5 job at the moment, and thinking that there are others ways to succeed professionally (though everyone gauges success differently) regardless your article makes me feel better about thinking out what I wanna do rather then blindly just run off to college, well done on a great article.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I like your last statement here, Josh.”College will be the facilitator of memories and experiences – not the facilitator of my career”. I couldn't have summed it up any better – and make sure you're taking in every single one of those memories along the way. I miss the good ol' college days…

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  • Ty Unglebower Reply

    Thank you. I wrote a blog on this topic myself. Caused a lot of controversy in my circles, but perhaps you would get something out of it. http://tooxyz.blogspot.com/2010/06/college-epic

  • Solomon Berhane Selassie Reply

    I'm writing this just because I got a degree, but college experience and getting a degree does matter in personal growth or career outlook. College gives students a first hand look into politics, such as with university faculty, graduate students T.A. and departmental issues. Everything in life involves dealing with people and sometimes unless you are in the loop might find your self left with barriers prevent you from succeeding. Real world people come from all walks of life and same token come with bias. There is a misconception that college environment has life a safety force field, but it doesn't in all respects.

    Getting a degree showcases that as student can follow rules, procedures and comply with policies, in other words be conformist individual to enter society workforce. Students whom grasp the true skill of being objective in thoughts and promote this ideology or philosophy to change the world. For instance, to embrace new innovations in sciences, societies structures in social polices, laws and world politics return mold humanity to a progressive stage.

    Debunking college experience or attaining a higher learning degree to me is insane thought. Bill Gates invests millions fund education, because a world with high literacy has no limitation in solving social problems, such as finding cures for diseases, stopping inequalities in wealth around the world and racism.

    Most of the comments concentrate on the financial terms of going for a degree, therefore understand that a degree is not just a wedge between the door… Education or higher learning are the keys to enlightenment for mankind to use to not just change the world, but a responsibility to preserve it from all the mistakes in the past.

    World without education is a blind, death and doomed to fail.

  • Solomon Berhane Selassie Reply

    No offense, but don't believe your comment that companies don't care about applicants not having degrees. It seems that your company is following the “good ole boy” recruiting system or networking scheme. Thought those days were long gone…

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  • Yakezie Reply

    College matters after you graduate, but less so after years of work experience.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      In my experience, college ONLY matters right after graduation. Once I had that first job, no one else even asked about my GPA, etc. It’s a gateway, but I feel that ultimately the education system is broken – and largely, unnecessary. A better approach in my mind is to fine-tune and focus education, rather than two years of unnecessary gen-eds, etc. 

  • Dogger11 Reply

    It doesn’t. Not where you went, what you studied or the courses, unless you really have done nothing since then or you still exist in that life. As others have said, if your current or existing profession if based on the degree or research then that ‘box’ was checked, that is about it. The rest of the people who have done nothing since, it still matters because they never left. It was the last best thing. Defining moment.

  • Wilson38115 Reply

    Since I’m going for a Bachelor in Fine Art I could easily skip college and be self-taught artist. With my careeru00a0 the client is not going to care if i went through school and got a 4.0 GPA. College for me will be about networking and meeting fellow artists.

  • Ian Reply

    I have a BS in Environmental Management. Im smart and a hard worker. I learned a lot of from my program but It was supposed to help me get a great career in “Green Jobs” promoted by my university and our last two US presidents. There was no work for me when I graduated, event fair after event fair were hiring only MBA and Engineering students who weren’t even American, they didn’t even speak english coherently, just smiled and nodded at everything, clearly lost. At the asians were polite but god, the Persians and Arabs were practically forming their own lines to cut off everyone else.
    Does college matter? If you’re born American; then focus on Law from a young age and you might have a chance. If you’re good at math, well so are about 300 million Asians, sorry, maybe you invent a new calculator like Steve Jobs. Doctor? I havent had a made in the USA- American doctor since I was a toddler, in fact my doctor’s first name is Mustafa.
    If you kids are going to college, go for the jobs that Americans can have a career in that won’t be outsourced or stolen by a foreiger who would rather throw you out of your own birthplace then share an office with you without some cultural elitism behind their grins.

  • Deepankar Kapoor Reply

    I just completed my Bachelors in Media Studies (specialising in Advertising). Right after that I got into a local agency, however they did not fulfill the promises of what was offered to me during the interview. Furthermore there was a lot of politics going on. I left the job as it was neither intellectually stimulating nor giving any kind of satisfaction even though the pay was good. To run away from the job, I joined an MBA at a University Department and now am further confused. My niche is Digital Media (Strategy and Marketing) and currently I am learning Micro and Macro Economics, Statistics, Business Ecology. Not that I hate the subjects, I am still wondering how will they help me in what I want to do. I am more than perplexed now. 

  • GochaGringa Reply

    My current job was more interested in if my personality was a good match for the company.  I am actually over qualified for my current position and I have a B.A.  Most of my associates don’t even have an Associates degree and are parents with younger kids etc. I believe it depends from job to job and industry to industry.  I think often times experiences weigh just as much as the actual degree, such as internships and study abroad and/or volunteering.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Yes. Completely agree. More often nowadays companies are looking for the best culture fit, rather than the person with the most credentials. Especially in a culture that is leaner than ever, it’s all the more important to make sure the people you bring on board believe in what your company does and are consistent with the culture you’re cultivating. Cheers!

  • Patrick K. Reply

    I think your trajectory also matters here. What I mean is this: If you go to college and get a 3.9 gpa vs a 3.1 gpa (there are of course exceptions) there’s a higher chance you’ll end up at a top-tier firm right out of college. Because you’re in a top-tier firm you’ll be able to progress among the top firms and get the best experience and build the best resume. So while it may not matter after you get your first job, your first job matters to your second job, your second to your third, on and on, however it all starts with that first job.

    On the other hand, college isn’t for everyone and there are a lot of degrees that really shouldn’t exist. Nursing? Should exist. Nurse assistant? That should be a certificate course. Publishing (the business side) could go either way, but writing (as an author) could probably be taught in two or three courses.

    As many have said, it all depends on what your major is, but the better your resume looks on that very first job, the better very first job you’ll get, which will lead to a better second job.

    And the other thing about GPA in undergrad is that it helps you get into grad school if you choose to. I personally would much rather have the opportunity to go to a phenomenal grad school and not want to than want to go to a phenomenal grad school and not have the opportunity.

  • ankita Reply

    hmm…… my answer is no!

    It’s true– you did stay up late & study for those f*ing SATS or whatever.. did what you could to get into the ” ” of our dreams… mm.. but, once it’s over– it’s over! chapter closed.. then, you move onto the next phase of your life…

  • shiquan Reply

    me eme eme me meme m e

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