Does Upward Mobility Require a College Degree

Monday, 02 October 2023 677 Views

Watched a video by the Economist on how upward mobility (a person makes more than their parents) is much more difficult now than forty years ago (particularly here in the US).

To summarize, the commentary largely focused on placing a larger social-economic pool into flagship universities. While I applaud what some organizations and feeder preparatory schools are doing, like getting first-generation college students into a top 500 university or college, I think this only addresses less than 1 percent of the population.

I remain convinced what we are doing with the Skill Based Approach methodology might be a completely different solution to the upward mobility problems (at least in addressing a much larger segment of the population):

  1. focus on skills (match learning skills with job skills)
  2. change the learning trajectory to shorter intervals (allow for pivots)
  3. stack credentials (not degrees)
  4. build learning pathways from a number of sources (include a course or certificate from a top university, if necessary)

For me the biggest problem with focusing only on the placement in elite higher education is that there are too many late-bloomers, teenagers who face adversity, and students who simply learn differently. I also do not think upward mobility requires going to one of these institutions and maybe a college degree. 

A more practical solution is to discover and constantly build your skills, pivoting along learning pathways when necessary, and find a job best suited with what you do best.