Is College Necessary?

Last week, when discussing Emotional Labor, a question was brought up about choosing someone to do a job, when 'like 5 people have the exact same qualifications'. Because of this, I started thinking about what exactly is a 'qualification'. What standards are applied? Are they really the most useful ones to measure a person's capability? What might be a better way to determine if someone is good for a job?

Also, how do you show people you're capable of a job, before they know who you are, and in spite of biases they may have about you based on what you look like or your reported personal history?

When people seem to have the same qualifications, how do you choose which is the right person? What becomes the determining factor?



Is a college degree the best indicator of someone's ability to perform a job?
If you're an employer, there are lots of signals about a young person's suitability for the job you're offering. If you're looking for someone who can write, do they have a blog, or are they a prolific Wikipedia editor? For programmers, what are their TopCoder or GitHub scores? For salespeople, what have they sold before? If you want general hustle, do they have a track record of entrepreneurship, or at least holding a series of jobs?
You've noticed by now that 'a college degree' is not in this list of signals. That's because I think it's a pretty lousy one, and getting worse all the time. In fact, I think one of the most productive things an employer could do, both for themselves and for society at large, is to stop placing so much emphasis on standard undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Emotional Labor

Last fall we discussed in 'Professional or Human Being?' the ethics of being required to use your emotions and personhood to perform a job. This time through an article talking about various kinds of work involving caring for people, I've found there's a concept called Emotional Labor. I'd like to explore this idea a little bit.


When you perform your job are you actually 'performing' at your job?
To what extent are we performing a role when we go to work? Does it change over time? How much of your 'real' you is put into your work?
In the ideal, how much separation should there be between you and your job. Should your work be a part of you or something separate from you?

Are emotions a part of work? Are they supposed to be?
Are you emotionally invested in your job? Always, or just some parts?
Do emotions detract from doing a job well? When is this true?
Do they enhance the ability to do a job well? When is this true?

Should our emotions be the commodity? Should our emotions be part of the skillset we're offering to a job? Should our emotions be part of the job, be for sale?