Phi Beta Cons

Forget the Degree, Embrace the Savoir-Faire

Andrew Coulson of Cato Institute, writing on Cato’s blog, suggests that students forget about the traditional college degree. Instead, he suggests, they should “decide what it is you would like to learn over those years and then . . . learn it. Thanks to the Web, the material covered in virtually every undergraduate program is readily available at little cost.” The next step: “Create a website or even a YouTube channel on which you demonstrate your new skills/understanding. . . . When you’re ready to apply for work, submit your resume with a link to this portfolio of relevant work.”

That approach, Coulson argues, ought to appeal to employers, who will be better able to assess the individual’s competency and initiative. He concludes by suggesting, “Why don’t we call these portfolios-in-lieu-of-college-degrees the student’s savoir-faire. Literally, ‘know how to do.’”

The old-fashioned college degree could become as obsolete as printed encyclopedias in a few years.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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