Human Interest

Will a College Degree Become Obsolete?

Will a College Degree Become Obsolete
Written by Izak Van Heerden

Many future students and anxious guardians are concerned that college degrees may become obsolete in the future for a number of reasons. With the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart technologies, and the changing evaluative measures that employers use, the value of a college degree seems to be jeopardy. Consider why this may be a huge issue for many in the years to come. 

The Effect of the Innovation Economy 

The innovation economy offers a vast set of jobs in the technology sector, and many companies are using other ways to evaluate the capability and level of skill and experience that a candidate has. In the past, college degrees have collectively served as credentials to show whether a candidate was capable of performing a job. Now, employers are looking at alternative ways to evaluate a candidate’s skills and abilities, and the college degree does not carry as much weight. For example, IT professionals and coders who have not attended institutions can easily display their work online, or perform a task to prove their capabilities. The Harvard Business Review declares that the traditional degree is becoming obsolete in a world with immediate access to evaluative information. As employees and members of every industry agree on new ways to determine whether or not an individual is worthy of a position, degrees are expected to become less relevant. 

Will a College Degree Become Obsolete Automation

The Reality of Automation 

AI is infiltrating many industries at an astonishing rate, and this has caused a widespread fear of the automation age that appears to be coming faster than expected. Many people are wondering whether AI will be a serious threat to jobs of the future, and this includes positions that currently require degrees. The McKinsey Institutesuggest that more than 60% of jobs could have 30$ or more of their tasks automated, and both high-wage and low-wage jobs will be replaced with robotics and AI in the coming decades. This means that future students may be investing in degrees for jobs now that may be inhabited by robots later. 

Many People With Degrees are Under-Equipped 

The Medium declares that many students who receive a degree do not meet the industry standards required to work in their field. This causes a serious issue, especially in the information technology field. By the time that someone finished their degree program technology may have significantly advanced, requiring the student to need additional training so they can fulfill tasks at work. In addition, many positions offer on-the-job training and allow their employees to learn the ropes from firsthand experience. 

College is Extremely Expensive 

Attending an educational institution can cost a student tens of thousands of dollars a year, and many are forced to take out loans that they struggle with paying for the rest of their lives. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, students owe more nearly 1.6 trillion dollars in college debt in 2018. With the hefty price tag that comes with pursuing a degree and other options for training and education on the horizon, many people are deciding whether or not pursuing a degree is a wise choice. 

Widespread Knowledge and Self-Learning 


The Internet has become a great source of knowledge that can easily be obtained by one with access to an internet connection and a search portal. Whether the information is in the form of articles, blogs, research papers, videos, and other multimedia, all of these sources are easily accessible from a desktop computer or through a mobile device. Due to the influx of information available at one’s fingertips, many citizens and underage learners are taking the step to teach themselves instead of paying expensive tuition rates to enter degree programs to obtain specialized knowledge. 

The Growing Mass of Nontraditional Students 

In the past, the typical college student was fresh out of high school, or in their early twenties. In modern times, many students are single parents, mature adults, or may already be working professionally in their field. This growing mass of nontraditional students have different needs, preferences, and expectations for education and higher learning. 

The Rise of the New “Expert” 

In the modern day, there are modern experts emerging in every field that do not have degrees, but have obtained massive knowledge, experience, and are significantly successful in their industries. This emerging collection of down-to-earth coaches, retired teachers, and accomplished professionals are deciding to teach others the skills and knowledge that they have learned through online learning platforms, websites, and email correspondence courses that take the fraction of the time, compared to the length of most degree programs. In addition, sources of information that were formerly not considered as credible as knowledge and training obtained from reputable, educational institutions and universities are fast becoming more legitimate avenues of obtaining knowledge, social references, and valuable experiences for eager learners. 

The idea that a college degree may become obsolete in the future is a very real possibility that will take time to emerge. Both parents and future students who are worried about the changes to come may wonder whether or not degrees are worth investing in. Certain industries will be more impacted than others, but those that require emotional intelligence and unique services for humans that people offer best are less likely to be impacted by the tidal wave of AI. However, knowledge that is obtained through a degree or other mediums can still retain its value when put into proper use, and built upon. Individuals that enjoy learning with the assistance of a teacher will continue to benefit immensely from instruction, whether it is from an unconventional online facilitator or a renowned university professor. Nevertheless, a degree in one’s field to obtain a position may not be necessary in the future.

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Izak Van Heerden
Izak has witnessed a couple of decades worth of changing tech. He hopes to make it a couple more until his conscience can be copied to a cyborg body.

About the author

Izak Van Heerden

Izak has witnessed a couple of decades worth of changing tech. He hopes to make it a couple more until his conscience can be copied to a cyborg body.

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