This is distinct from trades and arts, where there is a simple scale of competence.
The reason most jobs demand a university degree today is because of the professionalization of management and HR means that the people making hiring decisions have a direct interest in preserving and increasing the value of their own positions and credentials.
For example, have fun getting P&L responsibility or significant direct reports without a degree, let alone getting a work visa. The reason for this is not because of competence, it is because of a tribal identity that the schools inculcate.
The thing about "uneducated," people is that because they have to trade on their skills and performance, and not credentials, over a certain intelligence you can't trust them to sustain cognitive dissonance (or to lie) on behalf of the team, because they will defect if they perceive risk to their competence-based identity.
When you hear someone say an uneducated person "doesn't get it," they are not referring to competence, they are referring to recognition of a power dynamic that means success and group survival is about relationships and the perceptions that drive them, and not about the material quality of the work.
This may sound nihilistic and cynical, but recognizing non-technical education credentials as more of a tribal membership or a kind of managerial officer training than a signifier of skill clarifies the dynamics of companies and organizations, and could save a lot of stress wondering if people are evil or insane.
They aren't necessarily evil or insane, they are indexed on perceptions and relationships that are not decided only by skill and competence.
Few will articulate it this way, but there is no incentive for people with an education to criticize it, and without one the perspectives and tools to do so are rare.
That said, as someone who's going for a greencard, I'd be shut out of this process in 2 seconds without a degree. The degree itself? It was good, but let's not kid ourselves, it's a middle class stamp of acceptance.
As for Silicon Valley, good luck getting anywhere without a degree. Look at the founders of virtually every startup and you'll see a pattern, Harvard, Stanford, MIT etc.
I have a degree from a no-name University in New Zealand.
As someone who vehemently despises the US education system, I have no sympathy for ethos-bound decision makers.
with that said, i still find education valuable and have had lots of it by now. it took that plus time and life experience to be able to properly criticize education itself (so i'm nitpicking at your concluding line a bit).
I'm obviously biased, but I have a lot of interest in linguistics, history, political theory, moral philosophy, and a lot of other non-coding fields, for which I have purchased and read many of the college textbooks. I also do not have a degree, as I dropped out after two years towards a math degree, and work as a "senior" software engineer (I think titles are kind of stupid but it works for my point).
I typically did well on the tests, but for various reasons too elaborate to get into in a post, I had trouble focusing on and completing a lot of the homework, leading to poor grades, and then me dropping out.
Of course a lot of dropouts don't have much curiosity, but once they get to a professional level, it's basically impossible to avoid learning a fairly diverse set of skills.
I think most people who want to work in a professional field should probably go to college and get their degree, but college is not for everyone who joins. Autodidacticism can lead to new perspectives on projects, and allows people to focus on things that are important, but not emphasized in most colleges.
For example, I greatly dislike how concurrency is taught in the undergrad level. It seems like with many curriculums, the students learn a bit of some locking glue, what a semaphore is, and then they promptly forget any of the safety mechanisms that follow, at least in the people I've interviewed.
Not to say it's universal, but it's rampant—the view that they're just there to pick up their ticket to an easier life. (if it's accurate, or not!)
However, a sort of consequence of this is you create a sort of inadvertent filter of "normal" people, e.g. the people who passed the classes designed around them.
It also allows people to veer into becoming cranks, without appropriate teachers to guide you along the way. As long as we're exchanging anecdotes, in my undergrad I've met my fair share of "physics autodidacts" who seem to believe they've "solved" massive problems related to engineering/physics.
I think my point still stands, however.
Why do we pay all of our own training costs at this point, I have no idea why. I think that the workers of America deserve the same as the workers from Europe.
I think the UK is actually more expensive than the USA in many cases as almost every uni is 9k GBP per year here vs. the USA where you have cheaper public colleges and community colleges etc.
I'm not sure what else they could offer; most of the information they provide isn't "forbidden"; you are welcome to go buy the textbooks and read them yourself if you wanted.
I have no formal education... I've worked with others in software development with no formal education who can code with the best rock star developers. I've also met those with a masters in CS who couldn't think their way out of a paper sack. It really depends.
Exactly - how many employees has Apple hired who don'5 have college degrees and are working on something essential?
I do believe that the US corporates do this to convince graduates that their college education isn't that valuable so that they would be more willing to work for less.
Colleges push that propaganda but they only offer perspectives that fall into academia approval.
Life is much much more than structured curriculum. Life is chaotic. Knowledge can be obtained through structure. Wisdom is obtained through chaos.
Except that for most, they are adding profit to a different machine: the $1.5T in student loan debt, averaging almost $40k each. $40k to become "a more well-rounded person"
Of course, the majority of these are probably retail, manufacturing, and support staff. Cook himself has a degree (MBA), as do most of the software engineers at Apple, I’m sure.
Aren't those outsourced (to different countries, no less), so they wouldn't actually be counted as US employment statistics?
80,000 jobs - direct employment with Apple;
450,000 jobs - indirect employment with their US suppliers;
For more context surrounding Apple's employment numbers, start here: https://www.apple.com/job-creation/
Much of the population would probably do better with trade training, but we've sold it to "everyone must get a 4 year degree" and it's likely doing a lot of harm to people who are better served learning on the job or in apprenticeships than college.
I think it's a good argument to have. I'm hopeful that online education and more sensible thoughts toward future debt loads among prospective students will start to chip away at the absurd costs of higher education these days.
The only way to do it though, is if people have options.
Don't discount the trades.
Take the HVAC guy who just spent a morning putting in a heat pump at my neighbor's place for $6000. It was < $2000 worth of equipment (wholesale) and just he and a helper working under the house for a few hours. Let's be extraordinarily generous and subtract out half that for overhead (licensing, rent, van, advertising, insurance, taxes) and that's clearing $2k per day. $8000 per month. Owner's surely making more than the laborers, but let's just split down the middle. That's still roughly $45k per year for working 8 hrs per week. Yes, that's poverty in the coastal elite towns but a middle-class lifestyle in flyover country.
Move up to doing two such jobs per week (or even three) and a very solid upper-class lifestyle is within reach. Get a couple crews working under you doing a couple of those jobs per day, and now you're talking about a high standard of living, indeed -- vacation home on the coast/mountains and luxury vacations.
Another example: The guy who built my home is an Ivy-League MBA. After graduation he quickly discovered he couldn't tolerate sitting in a cubicle, so he turned the "side job" doing home renovations (used to help pay for his $250,000 degree) into a full-time profession. Now 20-years on, he has built hundreds of homes and is a millionaire many times over. By swinging a hammer.
The average Joe Tradesman never makes no more than $50K per year and has to retire in his 50s because the hard physical work (and inadequate health care) has worn down his body and he can no longer keep pace with 25 year olds. That's not a winning career strategy, especially in a future in which the rise of product disposability and building with modular components will simplify and reduce demand for much of today's trade work.
When I left School in the UK you could leave school at 16 with 4 or 5 O Levels - (Exams taken at 16) and get a Job in the Bank now its joining at 22 with a degree
Asa opposed to in the past leaving school at 16 - in US terms this is not graduating from high school
I'm looking for autodidects and could care less what educational format they prefer.
The hard problem is finding a way to filter out fresh graduates (from either college or highschool) who can't code from those that can without having to slog through reams of poorly written coding tests in the process. For people who have been in the business a while it's a bit easier because you can usually take a look at their work history and the keywords they decide to use on their CV and intuitively get a reasonably good feel for where they are career wise. It's still very important to have them go through the code test as well though because CVs can be misleading and I'm still regularly amazed at people that come through with 10+ years of experience on paper who somehow still fail at basic programming tasks.
Ultimately I think tech recruiters may need to just step up their game. It's no longer sufficient to just play buzzword bingo to try to find candidates for a position, they need to actually have some amount of technical chops themselves in order to screen potential candidates. At the moment it seems like the industry standard is that recruiters function primarily as advertisers for open positions, while all the heavy lifting of actually evaluating candidates (of all levels) is ultimately left up to the devs at the hiring company.
I think what you meant to say is you're looking for people with passion for the field, grit and curiosity and with a proven track record of delivering. The best engineers learn from others and stand on the shoulders of giants.
Non-degreed applicants almost always need a recommendation to bypass recruiter screening (though recommendations work better than recruiter CV screening in general).
You should have the ability to write 20-30 pages well structured text to show that you can think, organize your thinking and communicate your thinking to others in your field. Many people graduate without this ability, but at least they have had some practice and can write 5 pages better than when they started the college.
You should know about the things in your field even if you don't master any of them yet. Being smart but restricted is not substitute for college degree. For me the value from higher education came from mandatory classes where I had to learn stuff that I was not particularly interested in. I was interested in algorithms, machine learning and low level programming. I would have never studied database design, computer networks and software engineering as methodologically on my own.
You can avoid learning most of the above when you go to college, but you learn at least something. If you don't have a college degree, you should try to learn on your own. You should have completed large projects that you can demonstrate your grit. In many ways college degree is showing for others that you can delay gratification enough to graduate.
Almost all engineering programs I've seen, practically don't have any English requirements. I never needed to write a paper like that.
This is certainly true if you're a rich international student paying international student fees.
I disagree. A degree shows that the individual is capable of following structure, rules, and traditions.
While I feel that the cost of college is totally out of line with the salaries most people make, I know that I wouldn't have been hired without a degree.
Although I'm far from a Thiel fan, he at least offered an alternative approach using his own money (not a lot, mind you, but still).
Of course the environment changes over time. And so trying to create a business selling computers from your dorm room or moving to California planning to teach yourself to code and then [something] is probably not likely to work out so well. But I think the moral of these stories is often one of creativity and drive. Now teaching oneself programming is trite. When Ellison did so in the 70s, it was something extremely uncommon to do which meant it had vastly more value.
In reality, I think our opinions are going to be driven by our experiences. In contrast to your experience, I've only ever even mentioned my degree for exactly one job. And that job very much did not require a degree. Since then I've found endless opportunity in spite of the fact I'm pretty much the embodiment of anti-networking: dumb phone, no social media, etc. But I enjoy development. Create one product that's impressive and useful, and it's like the world just opens up to you. A lesson I rather wished I'd learned about 15 years ago. But hey, something I can pass on to my kids - perhaps not so different than one William Gates who enlisted in the army right at school, served in WW2, went to college on the GI bill, and eventually had a somewhat more well known William.
In any case, it's always made me question the value of the degree. I came from a very poor family which means that sheet of paper had quite the price attached to it. And that was before prices really went into lala land.
In either case, I'd fully agree with you though that a degree makes things much easier for most people. However, I think that is rapidly changing. Most of the big tech employers are now dropping college degree requirements and I expect we'll gradually see the same in ever more fields. A degree used to say a good deal about a person, and all positive. Now that's changing, and so the market is adjusting in response.
You're proposing that the executives don't know what recruiting practices their company is employing to sustain talent for their operations?
Cmon, that's ridiculous. They would be terrible executives if this were true.
Most people I meet agree that recruiting is broken. A huge part of this is regulation. The education system is integrated into the backbone of society which is maintained through regulation.
If you were hired for only a degree then I would be wary of Price's law. https://dariusforoux.com/prices-law/
I apologize for the extreme edge case.
In a way, the applicant is still hired because of a degree rather than skill if that's what's used for initial filtering. Everything after that is derivative reasoning.
If I assume correctly that you're talking about US working visa.. What you said sounds much much more US-centric than anybody who ever said "don't need a degree".
For example, Japan's Highly Skilled Worker visa can be pretty easily achieved without a degree.
Really that definition matter a lot and the you might need a college degree to be successful
It's not to say accountants won't exist at all: we still need them as Subject Matter Experts to make changes to the software. But we won't need huge numbers of them like we do today.
There is even less of a basis for thinking you can automate actual corporate accounting with known technology. Contrary to popular belief, that does not involve just applying clear-cut rules to ledger entries, but rather lots of judgment about how real-world transactions should be treated under the accounting guidelines.
True, but I was making commentary on a large number of college education required positions. They are mutually exclusive assertions.
All the reasons to get Andrew Yang on the debate stage! Andrew Yang 2020! YangGang!
>Apple is one of several corporations that doesn't require a college diploma for certain jobs
Does anyone else feel like this is just an attempt by Cook to increase the supply of people able to code competently so Apple doesn't have to pay out as much for software engineers like they do now? Just increasing the labor supply to push down wages? Not saying if that is a good or bad thing, just a thought..
I'm also incredibly cynical about that moves motivations - it really does sound like an attempt by the tech giants to flood the market. I just don't think it'll work.
1. Our lives is surrounded by technology, and thus software, and it'll just get more prominent in the future. Knowing a bit about how programs are put together can help reason about how a program works and its possibilities and limitations. For doing rote work it usually doesn't matter, but once you're off the beaten path this can really help.
For example, it can allow you to be confident about exploring a certain function in a program, aiding in self-discovery.
2. I found that the way you have to think when programming has improved my analytical skills. This has made me better at analyzing and making arguments, for example when reading or writing texts. This is something that's useful in most facets of life.
Is programming for everyone? No. But I think it's useful that people know what goes on behind the scenes, that it's not magic.
What we really need is basic computer literacy since most jobs will use software to accomplish things. Coding skills may help people work with the expert systems they will use at work.
This is economic game theory. Supply and demand dictates profit share.
Its also why wages tend to go up after plagues and wars.
If Apple wanted to pay less for developers, they could start by getting out of California.
Cook has to remember, without academic research there will be no cutting edge technology like chip or processor that support hitech company like Apple. He should be wiser.
But I have no doubt it helped me get not just my first job, but also subsequent ones, probably due to 'his code/tech talk could be better, but he seems smart and has a physics doctorate from a prestigious institution'.
Think software hiring+quality would be much better if we had an apprecticeship culture, instead of based on perceived prestige from excelling at University.
Apprenticeships and trade schools will become a strong alternative path as soon as employers accept them to be. Moreover, often times the credential itself isnt the big deal, just its viewed as a competition and someone who got a good GPA from a top school seemingly displayed an ability to do well in that competition.
I wish it were different, but I don't see employers changing their game anytime soon.
IMO, things must change if we are to survive future obstacles.
A stat nearly as meaningless as the headline unemployment rate.
- Since we're talking about "successful" or not, what is the median annual compensation for Apple's retail workforce in the US?
- For non-college educated retail staff (or non-tech staff), what training opps does Apple provide to help them move up in the company?
Without University, how many years I would take to understand ACID databases, for instance. How many bad decisions and mistakes I would do, how less competitive I would be, how much time I would lose doing things wrong. In the University I was guided and tested. I learned theory and practice, through the books and also by the mistakes of others.
The answer could be "less than four years" or "a lifetime."
Everything is "self taught" when you get right down to it. The only difference is whether one has/needs guidance about what to study, and advice from others with more experience.
It's quite the same with education.
If you do well in high school you can obtain a lot of college level general education credit and knock off a year.
The last 2 years are probably more like what you did in 1 year.
In the UK the A-levels we do at the end of high school cover first-year uni material and there are no general education requirements at university.
The downside is we don't have the major system either - you pick what you will study at 18 before you go and it is rather difficult to change.
I preferred such a focused system but I can see why others may not.
Now, if we talk about memory optimization or the intricacies of concurrency, that's a much different story. Though, both of those things can't really be taught in the basic sense. They require a lot of experience to really understand.
I imagine almost all Electronics, Electrical, Mechanical engineers at apple and elsewhere have degrees in their respective fields. With good reasons. One being that it is really difficult to learn these fields on your own, unlike CS/programming/coding/etc.
I am a female software engineer and encourage the girls I know to not worry about the fact they are in their mid 20s stuck in retail jobs. I tell them to take udacity etc. Bootcamps. At our company some of our best hires are girls and guys who are doing bootcamps or took udacity courses.
One great benefit to this is
1. From my view they arent tainted in tech. As a female I hated going to a tech school with men and I would have loved to haved skipped the four years of social hell.
Getting hacked keylogged and told I only got accepted into college because im a girl despite having a 4.0 and making perfect SAT scores was the norm and ive confirmed from other tech schools as well including but not limited to MIT.
2. They dont have egos or entitlement associated with having a degree. They only have their relevant work.
3. They have the ability and initiative to be self taught and learn new things without it being handed to them in a curriculum.
4. They often feel inferior because they dont have a college degree which is bad but often as a result they are incredibly humble, open minded, respectful, greatful, eager to learn and grow.
We are currently hiring two great female candidates from bootcamp and honestly they know alot more relevant to my job because the classes are very applied whereas im stuck paying off loans and teaching myaelf everything they learned as well.
Yes, for example studying for one of those degrees, that well... are unrelated to CS.
While i agree that some could replace college with self-study, especially in the age of open-source, can't help but think that some of these high profile managers could say that college is not essential just because employees without college debt and with a non-standard resume could be willing to work for less.
Edit: actually there are many in just this thread. Bizarre.
So, it's fine when it's Tim Apple saying this! What happened on Twitter was So Unfair and So Sad!
Universitys job isn't to rote teach how to code
Why do a lot of HN commentators fetishize "trade" skills when they have no real idea what they are talking about.
Possibly if your going to target a CS/EE degree you should have bean learning to code from 13 or 14 - in the UK you wont get to study Physics if you haven't specialised in physics and maths at the GCSE and A level.
I am sure I got dropped from a FANG job I applied for as the initial screening was done by an entry level hr person in a European country which is even more strict about having a degree and less liberal in dealing with atypical candidates.
Encouraging people to go into six-figure debt, so that they can get a degree that has zero marketability (except of course to continue on in college), is a deeply cynical enterprise. At least drug sellers and casino owners are open about what they do.
That is just wrong, the average student debt in the US is ~$30,000. It still a lot for a 22-year-old to have, but that is far shy of ~$100,000. It holds for some degrees or personal situations, but in the macro sense isn't accurate.
>they can get a degree that has zero marketability (except of course to continue on in college)
I do think this is true for a good number of degrees, but I think it simply points to a larger issue with the system as it stands now. The fact that for most jobs, even if you don't need a degree, most businesses won't even look at you if you don't have a degree.
Like you are saying, the system encourages a "deeply cynical enterprise" by creating this ginormous industry of college degrees, loans, etc. all so students can simply signal to businesses their "competence" or whatever you want to call.
So much for an efficient market!
(Stay away from for-profit schools.)
If one of your exemplars has lower lifetime earnings than a UPS driver, your point may be on shaky ground.
There are multiple specialities and multiple pay grades. I'd appreciate seeing a citation for this claim.
People who go doctoring have it good (& hard).
It used to be the company’s prerogative to train hires for their job. Now that is being outsourced to colleges, with the media and politicians helping them broadcast their cost-saving strategy. It’s sickening.
So those companies hired people like me and trained them. I was 14 working nights, weekends, and summers.
Now, the web is Serious. It has enough pro devs to make it nothing but a waste of time to drag along some high school kids. But there are still high school kids getting recruited, you're just not in the same low-standards part of the industry that they're in. Motivated kids these days are building weird shit in VR and hitting bug bounties. If anything it is not a problem of training and mentorship, it is a problem of getting people interested in programming in the first place. When I got my first computer at 4 years old I had to use a CLI to get around. Most of my games were in QBASIC and could be inspected and changed, which I would do when I was bored. It's harder to get the spark these days, but once it starts it is so much easier to learn than it used to be. I was struggling with pointer math at 10 years old.
Does it really matter what the technology or application area is? Electricians train and apprentice, as do scientists (what a PhD and post-doc are after all).
Given that you are a senior, do you feel these kids would not benefit from your mentorship? If so, does the organization you work at create opportunities for such mentorships? Do they count towards your promotion case?
Disadvantaged groups have less educational attainment. If you want a diverse workplace, you have to invest in training for people without the stanford/mit/etc background.
Verbally recommitting to diversity at every all hands is some frustrating, cynical bullshit when the company expects recruiting to magically source diverse candidates who have the same credentials as people who grew up without institutional discrimination.
as you say, there are very few companies left that are willing to properly train smart employees who may not have the background they need. it is very disappointing. this furthers the STEM myth, and it negatively affects other fields. let's say someone is interested in history. how are they supposed to feel comfortable with their decision to study history in university, if they are basically unhirable (in today's climate and for no good reason) afterwards? there is even pressure on actual STEM fields to learn software as well. the number one suggestion for mathematicians looking for a job is "learn to code". companies won't even hire mathematicians who don't already know how to code. it's so silly that companies can't say, oh, this person dedicated a lot of time to learning something i would probably struggle to or not be able to learn, but i won't hire them because they don't already know how to code, and i don't want to train them. that is the STEM myth.
universities should not be job mills, but u.s. corporations are doing everything they can to make them into that. university should be about exploration and learning and doing and not about how to land your future company's ideal job for you.
“Geniuses” funnel into QA mostly while “Creatives” funnel into marketing and design.
We did hire many, many interns too when I was there but they were from college programs.
That is, the lowest paying and least respected "tech" jobs in the company.
2) The delta in salaries isn't much since Apple doesn't pay their engineers much compared to other companies in the valley in the first place.
I am currently at a large university in the bay area. The competition is pretty tough. "CS" is a heavily impacted major and many schools have instituted gpa caps (while simultaneously espousing that equity and equality are of utmost importance).
So what are we all competing for exactly? I am not sure. I do not like the system; as it stands now it often feels like we are all competing for some sort of raffle ticket that we can then go door to door––company to company––asking "did I win," "did I win?" Many of my peers are confused as to why I dislike a system that we are benefiting from. My answer is that it seems off––something just doesn't feel right.
Companies save time and money, by not only feeding off of university pipelines, but also avoiding many smaller schools. I can understand the rationale. They seek skills––algorithmic and programming ability––perhaps also the ability to adhere to a factory environment.
I can see the rigor gap between my coursework and that of my friends at various other universities. I witness many talented students who struggle to find internships. I also see many students with tons of algorithmic ability, but cannot begin on a project of their own or contribute elsewhere.
I find it very odd that people (Tim or whoever) talk about not needing a 4-year degree, while possessing a 4-year degree. Likewise, as others have noticed, where are all of the mentoring programs?
To tell younger students that they do not need a 4-year degree is misguided if not negligent if not dangerous (that is under the assumption hiring/mentoring practices do not change).
I believe part of the problem is that Computer Science (or Software Engineer) has become the new "doctor"––except that you're out of the pipe in four years.
But of course, this (Tim's words) is just lip-service. What Cook and others actually mean may be two things––(1) they want talented people, period (2) they want to pacify those they will reject.
I agree with motohagiography, "there is no incentive for people with an education to criticize it." If I drop out and criticize the system, I'd probably be seen as "a sore loser." If I stay I am a cog.
I'd love if what Tim and others said was a truthful representation of reality. But the fact still remains, the fancy school name on my resume gets far more looks than a lesser-known school––what would it get if no school were listed? Hmmm, don't know. I do know that my linkedin profile got way more traffic when my school changed...
Lastly, I feel like Computer Science (and the degrees offered under this title) are meant to pipeline someone into a masters--->phd and not necessarily software engineering. You might be able to say that CS is a superset of software engineering, but even this is somewhat wrong.
I've been doing some soul searching lately and I'd appreciate advice. I see everyone in my community working so hard; for all the work to culminate in selling people things, ads, and maintaining the freemium-universe we live in seems... kind of dark. I know this isn't entirely the case, but yeah.