Uyboco: Diplomas are Meaningless (Part 3)

Freethinking Me

SO ARE diplomas really meaningless?

There was an interesting discussion among my businessmen and executive-level friends about their hiring practices, whether or not they actually looked at the diplomas and transcripts of their applicants. Some said they shunned graduates of big name schools as they tend to have bloated egos and unrealistic expectations of high salaries even before having proven anything in terms of performance. Some said that they looked at the school as a measure of the applicants’ ability to do assigned work -- whether desirable or not -- meaning, the more difficult the school, then the more compliant and obedient the graduate was.

One remarked that the school could be an initial indicator of the applicant’s intelligence and ability, but that was only as a first impression -- and only one part of the hiring decision and not a sure ticket to acceptance. Many have experienced being burned by high expectations of graduates from supposed top schools only to be underwhelmed by their performance (or lack of it). Quite a few also remarked that they had employees who were high school graduates but were top performers in their field.

What was interesting as I surveyed the group, was that those who were employees in high positions were the ones who valued diplomas and degrees more, while those who were the owners themselves couldn’t care any less. They just wanted people who could get the job done, diploma or none.

The owners were an interesting mix. Almost none of them were top achievers in school. A good number of them were troublemakers and underachievers in school. Many admitted to cheating or bribing their teachers just to get a passing grade. Yet, these were the ones with the highest incomes and biggest businesses in the group.

Is this just a fluke or is it a microcosm of a pattern we see around the world?

Almost everyone today knows that Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg never had a college degree before building their empires, but did you know that the following people also don’t have diplomas?

1) Walt Disney - dropped out of high school at 16, founder of the Disney Corporation.

2) Ray Croc - worked as a salesman, partnered with the McDonalds brothers and eventually bought them out to build the multi-billion global franchise.

3) Oprah Winfrey - took a job at a local television station while in her sophomore year and never looked back.

4) Michael Dell - sold computers from his dorm room while he was a premed student and eventually dropped out because he was already making $80,000 a month.

5) Matt Mullenweg - discontinued his political science degree and started Wordpress.

6) Larry Ellison - dropped out of not one, but two colleges. Later created a database for the CIA and named it Oracle.

7) Lady Gaga - left college to pursue a career in music. Think she made the right choice?

8) Ralph Lauren - did two years of college, joined the army, then became a tie salesman, then eventually experimented with his own designs.

9) Ellen Degeneres - left college after one semester, worked restaurant and customer service jobs, did a lot of stand-up comedy in small bars and coffee shops.

10) Brad Pitt. ‘nuff said.

Of course, the takeaway here is not that dropping out of school is the way to success. These people still had to endure a lot of challenges and hardships along the way, but they were meeting these on their own terms. They were following their own paths in pursuit of their own measure of success, not another person’s or institution’s measure -- which is essentially what a diploma is.

Email me at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me


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