I hated school with a passion. It took everything my parents had in them to keep me from dropping out of high school and taking the GED exam. I was 18 at the time and realized a few years earlier that everything I was required to learn was an absolute waste of my time.
Biology? Stupid. I don’t dissect frogs for a living.
Trigonometry? It’s amazing how often I don’t use that either.
History? Well, I’ll concede that while I hated this in school, I actually enjoy it now. Chalk it up to crappy teachers.
Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor, said it perfectly when he told his shareholders, “If calculus or algebra were required to be a great investor, I’d have to go back to delivering newspapers.”
He also said that we should “beware of geeks bearing formulas.”
Sage advice if you ask me.
What’s my point in all of this? Great question. A couple of weeks back, I met a guy named Rob Hahn at a tech conference outside of Atlanta where I gave a talk titled “The Millennial Revolution: How to Prepare Your Business for a New Generation” (click here to watch it). Rob is a very smart provocateur (for those who barley graduated college like me, that means he provokes people) and challenged me to a “blog debate” about the Millennial generation and their impact.
I reminded Rob that I’m a Millennial and a “debate” seemed to imply there would be a winner and a loser. Since we didn’t keep score growing up, this offended my delicate sensibilities so I suggested a blog “conversation” instead. [NOTE: In all honesty, I personally love to debate but that’s a personality trait that goes against the majority of my generation and I just like to make fun of us.]
Rob kicked off the debate conversation with a post on Millennials and Family Formation which you can read by clicking that link. It’s well-written and, because Rob is substantially more educated than I am, he uses a lot of really big words like “hypergamy” that I had to Google in order to understand.
In all seriousness, you really should read it because he raises some very interesting points about the future of the family based on a number of trends. For those pressed for time, I’ll do my best to summarize Rob’s main point and provide you with my response.
Female Millennials Are Really Smart. Man-Boy Dumb.
Before I jump into Rob’s points (no, the above header is not one of his arguments), I need to share a few stats with you. If your eyes easily glaze over when you read stats, feel free to jump ahead.
- 60% of college students are women
- 60% of adults holding advanced degrees are women
- Women are 1.5 times more likely to graduate college than men
- In knowledge-based economies such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Seattle, women out-earn men (they flipped the income gap)
- 99% of all men are dumb (okay, I just made that one up to see if you’re still with me)
Rob’s Point: Hot, Educated Women Won’t Marry Hot, Uneducated Men
Okay, that may be a bit simplistic. However, in Rob’s own words, “Women throughout the known human history have always, always, always sought to marry up. This has been true of every human society, East and West, North and South, of every language, every culture, every religion.”
Poor, hot, dumb man-boy will never find a spouse. Sorry, I’m not buying it and here’s why:
Rob defines “up” as “college-educated” when “up” should mean “ability to provide for the family.” Now, most people will point to stats that show that a college degree will earn you more money over the course of a lifetime.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that those are historical trends based on educations that people received in decades past. They are not indicators of what’s to come in the future.
A College Degree Is Overrated
Let me state this clearly: college is not an indicator of future success regardless of what the colleges tell you. Does this mean you shouldn’t go to college? That depends. Do I think doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers should go to college? Of course. Do you need a college degree to start a business or succeed in business? Nope.
And by the way, do I care if my doctor took two years of a Spanish and received a “C” each time? Of course not. Let’s not kid ourselves and let’s call a spade a spade. Colleges are businesses and the goal of any business is to get more customers and keep them for longer periods of time. Otherwise, a doctor would just take “doctor” courses.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what appeared in a USA Today piece called Is College Overrated?:
In a paper about to be released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Arnold Packer, co-director of the landmark study “Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century,” points out that in 2018 — as is the case today — two of three jobs in America will not require either a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or an associate degree from a community college.
Jobs in health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, retail trade and so-called middle-skill jobs such as plumbers, electricians, legal assistants and police officers will require job specific licenses or certificates from community colleges or technical institutes, and/or on the job training. In fact, many graduates of four-year colleges are now enrolled in community colleges to get the specific training and licensure for jobs for which college did not prepare them.
So, contrary to Rob’s claim that a college degree is needed to be successful, the jobs of the future are becoming less-and-less dependent on a 22-year-old’s ability to pass the course “Arguing With Judge Judy” – a real course offered at that bastion of higher learning, UC Berkley.
Anecdotally, one of the dumbest financial decisions I ever made was to go back to college and complete my degree (yeah, I dropped out of USC when I was 21). At the time I decided to return, I was in my mid-20’s and making well into the six-figures. Never once has that stupid thing helped me. And nobody ever asks me about it except those who like to talk about their degrees at fancy dinner parties.
In his book, The Millionaire Mind, Dr. Thomas Stanley interviewed and studied people with a net worth over $10 Million to find out what made them successful. What he found is that SAT scores, class rank, grade levels, and college degrees – measurements we use for college admission and determining who will be successful – were statistically insignificant in determining success unless the person was a doctor, lawyer or participated in a career in which a degree is required by state mandates in order to practice.
College (And School) Is Designed For Girls
I figure that, since I’m attacking a valued institution, I may as well finish the job and leave nothing out.
If you’re one of those people who don’t see differences in the genders, feel free to hate me in the comments at the bottom of this post. But the fact remains that men and women are gloriously different. Studies show that men and women learn differently from one another and that school is the playground of girls.
It follows that women would excel at a game designed by them and for them. However, as anyone who works for a living can attest to, school is not the “real world” and it takes more to succeed than the ability to get good grades.
Does this mean that women are ill-equipped for “the real world”? Of course not. But don’t confuse them being highly educated with them being necessarily more prepared than their male counterparts.
On the whole, the gender gap still favors men despite all of the education of women and, if the study quoted by the USA Today is correct, all the 4-year degrees and PhDs won’t change that.
Without a doubt (and as I said in my talk), Millennial women are a force to be understood and appreciated. They are going to be very successful and be a large contributor to the family finances (if not the largest contributor in some families). I’m just not prepared to concede that the economy will continue to reward 4-year degrees and advanced education in the same way that it has in the past.
The Devaluation of the College Degree
Do you know why college degrees used to be so important? Because very few people had them. If you had one, it meant that you were special and different from those competing for a position inside of a company.
Colleges used this to market the need for a degree. They’ve created courses and programs that have little to no bearing on your ability to succeed and they’ve convinced people they need to go into serious debt to pay for it.
Did you know that it takes nearly 17 years on average to work of the cost of a 4 year degree? I would bet that if you took that same graduate and showed them how to succeed without a degree, the numbers in favor of attending college might make it look like a bad joke.
You see, college people love to compare their salaries with the people who didn’t go to college. That’s where the stats come from. But it’s the person holding the degree who succeeded, not the degree as pointed out by Dr. Thomas Stanley. Except in the case of professions with mandated degrees, those people would have had the same level of success without their degrees.
There’s also the problem that when more people hold college degrees, they become less valuable because everyone has them. That’s why a Honda is worth less than a Ferrari. Scarcity drives up value. That’s why more and more colleges are trying to convince people to come back and get advanced degrees. The problem is that most people realize they don’t need advanced degrees right around the time they’re finishing up their “basic” degree.
You Are Not A Walking Calculator
The reality is that you don’t select spouses based solely on their education. Sure, it’s a factor, but our attraction to others is multi-dimensional. At no point in time do we run financial calculations on each person we meet.
We look at personality, character, beliefs, work ethic, family values, education – and yes – appearance. Education is great. I continue to read an incredible amount and I have hundreds and hundreds of books. Learning is not something you do once in college and then stop. It continues throughout your lifetime.
However, we shouldn’t elevate one criteria above all the others and say that a woman or a man is “marrying down” simply because they chose someone who doesn’t share the same level of education as they do.
What Do You Think?
I’ll step off the soapbox now. I want to know what you think. The floor is yours so leave a comment below. All I ask is that you be cool to one another or I might nuke your comments.