Should employers require a college degree?

This was my response to a thread on Code Mentor about hiring developers without a degree.

If a company requires a degree and you don’t have one — it seems like a mutually beneficial filter.

Personally, I’d rather hire someone based on skills and ability to learn and contribute. And I’d rather work for somewhere that values the same thing.

A university degree has traditionally meant someone who comes from the upper classes who is willing to conform. For a brief period (in the late 1900s) that probably changed to include people with intellectual curiousity and academic excellence, and so employers thought that a degree was a reasonable proxy indicator for that.

Then it was thought that everyone should have a degree so that everyone can have “good” jobs, but it doesn’t work like that. You can’t take the assumption that outcome B indicates attribute A, so if we give everyone B, then they will all possess A by association. So degrees, being worthless, became undervalued.

And now we’re back to the condition that a degree primarily indicates inherited social status — but for a larger group — and it doesn’t indicate academic effort at all, but rather social conformity. In fact, it rigorously filters for it. So those with intellectual curiousity are not only turned off by, but shunned by the university system.

Ergo, I don’t want to work for a company that requires a college degree, and they probably don’t want to hire someone like me, anyways, even if I do have a degree.

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