Why All Degrees are Not Created Equal

So imagine you’re in a race. You’re outfitted in the same running shorts and track shoes as the other competitors, and you spent the same amount of time training. You look to your right and to your left and you see a couple of smiling faces. They’re your social peers, you know them.

A gunshot splits the air and you find yourself in a blur of motion. Your muscles strained, but they were well prepared for this race. After all, you’ve spent 4 years in running school.

As you speed down the field, you notice yourself pulling away from the others. You’re winning, and the finish line isn’t far. In just the span of a few seconds, you cross over and you can hear cheers.

Elated, you run over to your family first, and then to the judges second. They confirmed you as placing first, and some pretty girl comes out with a shiny gold trophy. Except it’s not gold, it’s just plastic, but whatever, you hold it aloft for the crowd to see.

The other runners are coming in and receiving their prizes now. Conciliatory prizes, you think. You eye them dismissively.

Just then, you see the second place runner receive a trophy larger than yours. To their side, another runner is given a large check for $200,000. A red Lamborghini swerves across the field and a man steps out, handing to keys and a giant endangered sea turtle to a third runner.

What the f***? You might say.

Then it dawns on you as you glance over your shoulder to the course. How cleanly divided the lanes were.
You weren’t even running in the same race at all.

And that is what it’s like to leave school with a useless degree. You might’ve been good, you might’ve even been great in your field, but it matters as much as a plastic gold trophy.

It’s not because you yourself aren’t important. No, it’s just that through a number of factors, your degree is not valued. The job market is saturated, or the degree doesn’t involve a lot of technical skills, or any number of reasons. The point is: employers don’t want to hire you, and even if they do, they’re not willing to pay you beyond entry-level.

So if you have a degree in art history, history, geography, or English.. sorry, but you haven’t even qualified to run in the same races as engineers, developers, accountants, etc. It’s not because you’re an inferior person, but it’s because you ran in the wrong qualifying race.

So am I screwed?


Part 2: How to be successful with a useless degree