Are College Degrees Obsolete?

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College graduates are currently entering the workforce with more than just their degrees; they are graduating with more student debt than any other generation. Because of the level of debt they are faced with post-grad, many young professionals are questioning the necessity of their degree on their chosen career path. Luckily, this is not a conversation that is only had over drinks between members of younger generations. Many employers are starting to question whether having a college degree is an accurate indicator of an individual’s success within their organizations. In fact, this exact question was posed in a recent article by Michael E. Echols in the October 2018 edition of the Chief Learning Officer magazine in an article titled “Is a College Degree Obsolete?”

One of the key points made in the article is the differentiation between education and training; training being the refinement of technical skills necessary to a particular company, industry, or job function, and education being the teaching of critical thinking skills needed for complex problem solving. For many obvious reasons, technical training is often times necessary for employers to take on, but what about education? As the job market changes and shifts and familiarity with new technologies is necessary, employers are shifting their focus to, “What will employees need to know in 10 years?”

As Echols stated in his article, “What is certain to be required in the future is communication, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.” He goes on to state that these skills are taught in colleges and universities and therefore are considered education rather than training. Anyone that has graduated from college can attest to the need to develop these core competencies in order to be successful in school and ultimately graduate. Most formal university coursework utilizes a combination of self-study, discussion, group projects, and formal assessment that requires students to solve complex problems and effectively communicate the solutions to such problems with their peers and professors. These tasks undoubtedly help develop the skills that Echols recognized as necessary in the future workforce. However, it can be argued that these “soft skills” can be taught, practiced and developed outside of a formal university classroom as well.

At Abilitie, we have considered this topic many times and tasked ourselves with developing a program that equips participants with the same knowledge and skillset as a formal MBA program, without the crippling debt and time required to acquire a formal degree. Because we recognize the importance of teaching “communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills,” we created our Immersion MBA program. This program equips aspiring business leaders with the management and business skills necessary to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced global business environment. The Immersion MBA program gives participants an opportunity to interactively practice their communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills that are becoming more and more necessary in modern business. We do this through a combination of action learning projects, assessments, and blended business curricula.

So, the question still stands: is a college degree obsolete? There really isn’t a clear answer at this time. However, the answer could be dependent on the employer’s dedication to an individual’s development and growth.

Read the full article by Michael Echols on

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