I think you’ve got an excellent point. Two points, actually:
- People who know how to show their value to others will always be more successful than those who rely on generic credentials.
- Many people get little out of a college experience.
The first part is undeniable in pretty much any context. The second is true primarily because many people just show up to college and try to piece something together to make a path to completion. It’s coasting, and no surprise it leads to nothing much.
I’ve been hearing arguements similar to yours for about 10 years now. They elicit the same response in my mind — I picture a young man or young woman, clearly very bright, coming from a wealthy, socially-connected family. Said young person walks into a family dinner with their parents and grandparents around and holds up an acceptance letter to Yale (or Stanford, or insert-name-of-impressive-school here). Everyone cheers. Then he or she announces “but you know what? I’m not going. I’m going to try my luck through some alternative credential start-up, earn some online badges and cast off into the world!” Now imagine the reaction…
Of course, there’s a good chance that person might achieve great things, especially if they’re bright, motivated and willing to do what it takes.
But the elders in the room will still blanch. When that scenario ends with them shouting “great idea!”, you’ll know the conversation has actually been shifted.