November 21, 2018
by Sharon Moran
A quick glance at that comment section of any article decrying the rising cost of college tuition and the resulting high student loan debt burden is often met with a dismissive, “Don’t pick a art or humanities major that you can’t get a job in. Major in STEM.” I’m convinced the majority of people who criticize liberal arts majors don’t really understand what liberal arts even means, a majority often confuse the terms liberal arts and liberal political views.
They also probably haven’t read Mark Cuban’s thoughts on liberal arts. Mark Cuban has cautioned that in a decade as automation begins to automate itself, a philosophy degree is going to be worth more than a computer science degree. In fact, while touring Temple University recently with my high-school junior I overheard a Philosophy professor telling a prospective student what Mark Cuban thinks about the liberal arts, exactly what I had read months earlier.
Obviously, there are certain STEM professions that require a degree, basically nearly anything that falls under the Engineering or Medicine subsets of STEM. Thankfully, you can’t just show up at a hospital and perform surgery without nearly a decade of higher level education plus residency experience.
I can offer numerous examples of liberal arts grads from one small liberal arts college who have attained high-level, pure business-oriented positions. Dickinson College is a small, liberal arts college and one of only a dozen Colonial-era colleges. The current President and CEO of L.L. Bean is a 1992 graduate of Dickinson College, and guess what he majored in? If you guessed business, you’re wrong. He majored in Art History, proving you don’t need to major in business to be successful in business. There are definite drawbacks to higher education that is too specialized.
While engineering, medicine, and law have a lot of barriers to entry, certain areas of software are largely exempt from such prohibitive barriers. I’m not advocating skipping college if you’re otherwise inclined to attend. Rather, I’m providing a counter argument to the assumption that STEM degrees are the gold standard and illustrating why a college degree is not necessarily required for many computer-related professions.
There are ways to sidestep your way into a career in software. Open source projects have no barriers to entry. You won’t exactly get a six-figure salary or even any salary for contributing to an open source projects. What you will get is a valuable portfolio that can lead to you being recognized as an expert in a specific technical area. Also, keep in mind, there are ways to monetize free software (since free doesn’t refer to price, but refers to freedom). IBMs recent acquisition of Red Hat Linux for $34 billion proves the potential profitability of open source projects.
Having the opportunity to be self taught by reviewing the codebase of any one of hundreds of open source projects isn’t the only path to a career in software without the price tag of a college degree. Massive online open courses (MOOC) offer free courses in a wide variety of topics from many universities even including schools like Stanford and MIT. Beyond traditional institutions of higher education, other online learning portals have begun to gain traction. BitDegree is one example.
BitDegree is formed around an interesting concept and really demonstrates technology disrupting higher education. BitDegree utilizes the blockchain to offer online education by connecting students with both teachers and employers. I’ve written about BitDegree before. They are now post-ICO and are continuing to achieve milestones on their roadmap.
They offer interactive courses in a variety of categories including Crypto & Blockchain, Data Science, Graphic Design, Information Security, and Programming Languages. BitDegree offers an interactive format, and all their courses are completely online.
Full Disclosure: There are many basic courses offered free. If you use the following link to enroll in any premium or advanced BitDegree course, I will receive commission as an Affiliate.