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On the real meaning of academic degrees

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 74566612
Finland
03/31/2017 05:39 AM
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On the real meaning of academic degrees
One thing my students have hard time understanding is that having an academic degree does not make anyone a better employee than someone without a degree. The ugly truth is that the academic degrees and grades exist because they simply offer prospective employers a convenient "certificate" of the knowledge and skills the applicant is supposed to have.

However, your degree means shit if you can't back it up with practical skills, and practical skills can be obtained outside the college, too.

When hiring someone, testing the skills and suitability of each applicant would be the fairest solution, but most companies can't do that for practical reasons. Hence, they resort to weeding out the applicants based on their degrees and grades, thereby trusting that they reflect the reality.

I'd certainly look at the degree and the grades of a prospective employee, but I'd spend most of the time talking with the person about his interests, hobbies and work experience (even if completely unrelated to the field), and take him for a tour in the facility while asking him questions and even ideas for improvement (to probe original thinking, sense of what's realistic, etc.).

People with average grades can surprise you with their down-to-earth personality, honest interest in practical work, and skills not tested in college. They are often more loyal than the top-grade people who get easily unmotivated and are always looking for a better job.

Finally, some people love to try to intimidate you with their degrees. That's just bullshit. Here's a brief introduction of what the degrees really mean.

Bachelor

You have received formal training on the fundamentals of your field (natural sciences, social sciences, etc.) and your grades reflect how well you can absorb more information, answer questions or write reports in your field. The degree does not indicate that you can apply the knowledge in real life or that you're ready to work. It is NOT vocational training and does not imply any real expertise or authority. Basically it just shows that you've studied something that anyone could study on the internet and you have been tested for it.

Masters

A slightly more advanced degree than the previous one. You have received more formal training and maybe some practical experience working in the field. You are expected to have up-to-date applicable knowledge and skills in rather a narrow field, but it is still not vocational training. When you're freshly graduated, the degree makes you ready to go to work and LEARN THE TRADE while working with more experienced colleagues.

A freshly graduated Masters-level person is not an expert or authority even in his own field.

You are NOT a real professional until you've worked for several years. Your grades reflect only your academic abilities, not how well you'll do in a job. IMHO, the straight-A people often tend to be more inclined towards an academic career than a job, and may have trouble adjusting to hectic, deadline oriented corporate work.

When employing one, I'd be very interested in knowing whether he or she has hobbies that translate to practical skills. A straight-A person with practical hobbies and normal social life could be a brilliant employee, but if it looks like he/she has spent all the time just studying, I'd be hesitant to hire the person.


Doctoral

Continuation of the Masters degree to an even more narrow field. The only thing the degree implies is that the person is capable of organizing, conducting, reporting and defending original research according to the scientific method.

The main thing learnt during the doctoral phase is the scientific method. The topic of PhD level research is usually so narrowly set that it will be very unlikely that the knowledge in the thesis will directly help any prospective employer.

Anyone looking to hire a doctor is mostly looking for someone who understands the scientific method, can do independent thinking, and is capable of organizing a project and leading a team of people, but even the degree does not prove that the employee has these skills. I know many PhDs who can't organize anything or lead people. Some can't even do proper independent thinking which should be the minimum requirement for the degree.

Having a doctoral degree also does NOT imply expertise or authority in any other field. So, anyone claming to be an authority in metallurgy because he has a PhD in physics is just stroking his ego and trying to intimidate people.
pool
will not vote & be happy

User ID: 74570428
United States
03/31/2017 05:50 AM

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Re: On the real meaning of academic degrees
Minority groups are treated differently in the US.
live only for today.
being honest is creepy to most people.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 73895061
United States
03/31/2017 05:51 AM
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Re: On the real meaning of academic degrees
Minority groups are treated differently in the US.
 Quoting: pool


because they demand to be.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 68667911
Switzerland
03/31/2017 05:56 AM
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Re: On the real meaning of academic degrees
Academia is bullshit, just like everything else ...

burnit
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 70261815
United States
03/31/2017 10:15 AM
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Re: On the real meaning of academic degrees
Glad to see a college person understand that. Most of them are idiots who think their degree makes them something special.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 72568192
Iceland
03/31/2017 05:25 PM
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Re: On the real meaning of academic degrees
Minority groups are treated differently in the US.
 Quoting: pool


because they demand to be.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 73895061


Because Law.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 72383825
United States
04/01/2017 05:50 AM
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Re: On the real meaning of academic degrees
ACADEMENTIA


I spent more than 7 years in college. I'm glad I experienced it. If only to know what the fuss is all about.

But I'd already spent a decade in a successful job for which degrees are usually demanded. So it wasn't the be all and end all.

Just watch any good builder or racing driver or chef at work...

No one has ever asked me what my grades were or what my exact studies were nor even asked to see the certificates.





GLP