Peter Thiel famously quoted, “I don’t think college is always bad, but our society seems to think college is always good, for everyone, at any cost—and that is what we have to question”. It would seem that that’s exactly what we question as well.
The keyword here is “high performing”, and not “dropout”. If someone is motivated and skilled enough to work and perform well in a tech startup, then the lack of a college degree is not going to be the only thing that would keep us from hiring him or her.
It all boils down to how resourceful/inventive the candidate is. I believe that a college degree is becoming more and more obsolete with time, and there is more value in finding driven, intelligent people than chasing college degrees.
Back in the day, people started hiring graduates over candidates who didn’t have a degree to make sure that they were recruiting the cream of the crop. This was back when college degrees genuinely validated the candidate’s prowess in a particular subject.
If you were a recruiting for the position of, say, an engineer of electronics, the recruiter simply went to a top tech/applied sciences university, conducted an interview, and hired a graduate who had aced the test. This still holds true for certain job roles and certain industries, but times have changed.
An electronics engineering graduate no longer aims to only join an electronics firm, and this is the same for several other courses that universities offer. A mechanical engineer becomes a marketer, an electrical major becomes a business development executive, and a biotech graduate becomes a product designer. Jobs and job opportunities have changed, evolved, and grown significantly, and so have the interests of freshers.
This is the world that we live in, a world where the college degree is no longer the certificate that accurately represents that value that a candidate will offer to the company.
Teenagers these days grow up with the internet being only a smartphone away from them. May it be to learn to illustrate, code, design or write content, high-school and college students seek the help of the internet, and learn it way before they are taught that in the classroom.
In a world that progressively facilitates learning from home, a college degree is not always the accurate representation of the knowledge of a person.
While startups may seem like the mecca of high performing college dropouts right now, but this is changing as well. Startups have pioneered the change in mindset that dropouts can be a valuable asset to companies too, but it doesn’t stop there.
Tech giants like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Apple (many of which are arguably the dream companies of a vast majority of ambitious graduates) are reported to hire employees who do not carry a college degree (Source: WSJ). This includes interns as well asfull-time employees, and it looks like these companies pay more importance to what the candidates have to offer them than the college that they went to.
It’s also to do with the profession that you choose to follow. A bio-tech research firm or pharmaceuticals manufacturer may pay more importance to your educational background, while startups in certain industries might not. Loadshare, that manages logistics; Close.io, a CRM tool; and event management platform Explara, have all mentioned being open to hiring dropouts in the past for tech, business development and marketing positions – roles that don’t necessarily require a college degree.
There might be a sea of companies that take college degrees very seriously right now, but times are changing. College degrees are no more the only way to validate whether the candidate is the right fit for a company, and startups seem to realize this better than most MNCs. While college degrees will never become obsolete or unnecessary, there are many other interesting positions for which one doesn’t need a degree to prove their mettle.