It’s the need for a college degree that makes racism worse

How College Degree Requirements Wreck Race Relations

When it was time for me to attend college I never looked at a financial aid form. My dad had money, and he paid for my classes out of his pocket.

But when he resigned his position, his pockets split into a giant hole and he could no longer pay for my classes. So, I dropped out of college to work.

I’ve been fortunate to work and earn a good living despite not having a college degree. But, for many Americans, this is not the case.

And yet, people know damn well many jobs do not require a college degree. I’m quite sure hiring managers are bitter because they have debt from degrees. Or even worse, businesses force hiring managers to uphold a standard they didn’t achieve.

One survey in 2014, showed that 65% of executive assistant and secretary positions required a college degree. But, only 19% of those employed in those jobs held one.

And, as businesses insist on applicants with degrees, they also find those employees aren’t so stellar.

Another study showed how college graduates cost more, create a higher turnover rate, and are no better than a high-school graduate for the same job.

Myself, I supervised a few college graduates who didn’t know the basics of any Microsoft programs. And, every time I had to retrain them to use a copy machine I wasted my life.

A workforce with practical skills would better serve many businesses and workers.

Most of all, college degree requirements exacerbate race relations.

Racial groups fight over power, and a college degree is a form of power. It’s all because we believe “knowledge is power” and “the more you know the further you’ll go,” right?

So then, we fight over a piece of paper that’s supposed to make green paper. And, when we don’t make green paper we turn red.

College degree requirements create debt and don’t close income gaps for most people of color.

I know several Black college graduates who feel their degrees don’t help them. They expected a degree, or two, to level them in life and open doors. Instead, they found pay gaps and higher degree requirements with debt on their shoulders.

A report by the Harvard Business School, Dismissed by Degrees, says higher degree requirements amount to ‘degree inflation.’ And, the report shows how degree inflation hurts people and businesses.

While college degrees have made it possible for many people of color to get jobs that racism and bias would not, the lack of one also holds many back.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 61% of Asians, 29% of Blacks, and 20% of Hispanics hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

And, for the white working class the outlook isn’t so great.

According to Princeton University researchers, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, there are two Americas — one for people with four-year degrees and one for those without.

Whites with a high school diploma or less now have higher mortality rates than Blacks on the whole.

They call these “deaths of despair,” with white Americans dying from suicides, drug overdoses, and alcoholism.

These are the same voters who feel like a college degree is a gamble and they’ve lost hope. These are the same voters who believe whites face discrimination.

Those sentiments and statements should concern everyone. So, I am not interested to see the stats for any racial group tumble to the ground.

How We Fix These Degrees

Ending college degree requirements

We have to end college degree requirements for jobs that do not need them. If we end unnecessary college degree requirements, we can better separate economic anxiety from racial resentment.

The Trump administration says it can quell racial resentment with a good economy for everyone. But, college degree requirements will continue to keep people out and down in life.

The report by the Harvard Business School shows that 61% of employers passed on applicants with the skills and experience because they didn’t have a college degree.

But, if we remove the unnecessary college degree requirements more people can enter the labor force.

And, the lawsuits by non-Black racial groups over college acceptance may diminish. For certain, the Trump administration’s desire to investigate colleges for discrimination against whites will not help race relations.

College degree requirements are a form of discrimination against everyone. This is not a good form of discrimination for jobs that do not need a college degree.

Employers think their educational requirements foster nondiscrimination. But, those policies are unfair if people don’t have access to college.

And, some say these practices violate federal law because they create disparate impacts. So, we need to change the entire college and workforce systems.

Second, college must be tuition-free.

Every state needs a four-year institution that’s tuition-free. If a college degree is so important to the quality of life, everyone should be able to get one debt-free.

Most would agree, there are many reasons to reform colleges and universities. And one reason to reform higher education is to make better citizens. College can be an opportunity to encounter diverse individuals and information.

Now, a college degree isn’t perfect for race relations.

Even college-educated white millennials are mediocre in their viewpoints on race. But, a college degree is correlated with more open viewpoints and less explicit prejudice.

There are many ways to improve race relations. Cross-group friendships and anti-racism education are two proven ways.

Groups can also resolve conflicts with a mutual goal. Psychologists call those goals superordinate goals.

Superordinate goals require groups in conflict to work together to solve a common problem. The combined efforts of the group will solve the problem and ease their conflicts.

Well, if you haven’t noticed we have racial conflicts and conflicting views on race. And, we have many problems to tackle together.

College, and college degree requirements, must be one of those goals.

These are big problems that require many hands to fix. And, if we fix those problems we will help many hands too. I know, it’s an impossible dream. But we ought to “give it the old college try.”

They say “college teaches you to think.” Don’t you think it’s time for a change?