The most confusing thing about a college education, even for those who have already graduated with a degree, is what that education actually means. What does it mean to have a college degree? What does it represent? What can you do with a college degree that you can’t do without one?

Why would an employer care one way or the other if you have a degree? Why do employers put so much emphasis on your major course of study?

The answer might surprise you.


The Purpose of Education

If you go to a university and study communications or political science, the purpose of your education is not to make you an expert on either subject. It isn’t to turn you into a speech writer or a political campaign manager. The purpose of that education is to teach you how to learn.

When a graduate of a university goes out into the world and starts a career, the one indisputable fact about that person is they know how to learn. They have demonstrated through years of research, writing, study, debate and overcoming challenges that they are capable of tackling complex subjects and expressing ideas related to those subjects.


The Myth of the Major

An accredited university may not offer an undergraduate course of study that does not include a minimum general education requirement. Further, almost every university in the United States limits the number of units in a major course of study to roughly one quarter of the total units required to graduate.

That means the ancient cultures major and the mechanical engineering major will be sitting next to each other in three of every four classes. What is the actual, practical difference in their respective educations? About ten classes.


Utilizing Education

Some of the richest and most successful people on Earth have college majors that nobody would ever expect. The reason for their success ten, twenty and even thirty years later often has little or nothing to do with what classes they took in college. They never intended to turn philosophy, archaeology or history into a career, but they did intend to take their skill and ambition and make something of themselves.


What they did demonstrate was they had the ability to finish a complex task, and that may turn out to be the most marketable skill of all.