Engineering degrees or Engineering ?
My past four weeks have been quite “busy” as I’ve had Exams ! Exams at where I go means I either have to solve a 90-minutes problem in code (for J2EE, .NET or similar classes), or I have to face a jury where I would answer technical questions about – specialization field – projects (iOS, Android and NativeScript apps and a 2D Unity game in my case). All this added to an Integration Project, which is the reason that got me to write this post down about the well-known controversies of “school kills creativity” and “degrees do matter“.
Integration projects are a basic stone for each 3d and 4th year student at ESPRIT, where teams of 4 students mentored by an instructor put in 5 months to look for innovative project ideas, and develop the business and technical sides of their projects, to end up presenting them in stands during our ritual-event known as “Le bal des projects”. This edition of the event took place outside ESPRIT’s buildings for the first time in six years! And here’s a glance at the projects built and how we showcased them :
This event, just like each exam I took or school project I worked on, made me re-think the whole thing about degrees and education ! I am already in the “degrees are nonsense” team (and I will always be ) but I do reflect alot on “the need to a standardized education”, specially in fields like tech. Which inspired me to write and share this post with you, as we developers and software engineers are on top of the self-taught list.
Creativity or grades ?
In this interview, Elon Musk has answered the question on how would he hire people, that goes “Which college, or which university?” with the following :
No it’s.. it’s not.. There is no need even to have a college degree… at all.. or even high school… I mean, if somebody graduates from a great university, there maybe an education that they will be capable of great things but that is not necessarily the case… So I am looking just for evidence of exceptional ability and if there is a track record of exceptional achievement then it’s likely that that will continue into the future.
So Musk separated degrees from “being an exceptional achiever”, just like so many folks did and are doing. This doesn’t mean that people with intense focus on school and degrees can not be Exceptional ! but it certainly means they are making it harder for themselves to be ! One of the main reasons is that college makes you what it is ! If you attend the best colleges in the world you’d be lucky for becoming just a best version of what you are not. And more than often who you truly are and what you can achieve is way more than what formal education makes you think it is ! This could be detailed on how standardized education makes one less curious, more of a consumer than a producer, even less interactive and more uncreative . This is the truth we all know even if we don’t all approve. And it isn’t what I tend to highlight by this post, because it exists enough articles and talks about it !
What I really hope you all get after finishing reading is that it’s all about character, intelligence and imagination.
If it’s grades, does Namings matter ?
Yes of course they do ! It’s about Prestige ! You can do “stupidity” differently, and it’s tuitions are different from university to another, from a country to another !
Now, jokes apart, I am a huge believer that it’s about character, intelligence, and imagination more than it’s about grades or universities’ reputations. Though, technically speaking, the world’s greatest universities ARE the greatest, being devoted to excellence in teaching and having the word’s geniuses as their alumni. Psychologically speaking, “where we live shapes who we are” , and it applies to us attending Great colleges, as well as us attending average colleges. And practically speaking, it’s in 1636 that we used to Need to attend a Great university or a top ranking college to get excellent quality education. In 2018, we obviously do have Internet access, and all one needs to be Exceptional as Musk says is “Grit”. It’s actually grit, and, intelligence and character. So, if for any circumstances you’re attending an average college, you don’t have to worry ! You still Can be and do the world Great. But you’d have to worry if you’re no smart, no empathic, not a problem-solver or no imaginative. ( well I am not sure you “still can feel” worried if you’re none of these! )
If Namings do matter, how fair could we go ?
What to do if we live in a world that writes and reads about how degrees and ingenuity are way too different things, but still treats people, job candidates and even friends on “Oh ! what college did you attend ? Wow that’s cool !” ? Well, the answer is still “intelligence and character” . No one could make the world fair for you but you my friend ! That’s what the brave serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck always says ! So it’s only three options :
You attend a college with “Pres.tiiii.ge” and you work yourself hard to keep a good level at studies without loosing your “intelligence, character and imagination”. Or, you attend an average college (or even better, no college at all) and you be you (but a genius you) ! Or, you fail it: you get an Engineering degree (even from a prestigious college) all in being “a brick in the wall”, no creativity, no brave thinking, no stupid jokes, no smart talks, no logic, no critical thinking, no art, no empathy, no thing ! Just good grades.