Once upon a time a degree was really something. Those letters after your name raised eyebrows especially if followed by the extra valued (Hons). Of course, when you went on and did the doctorate, well you could chose – letters after the name…. or before and then deliberately confuse people by changing that choice periodically. One minute you are Dr. XXXXX and the next you are incognito as XXXX Ph.D. Great fun! Actually, you could build up letters after your name by adding rather grand memberships of various societies too. In fact, you could wangle it so that, by joining the right societies, those letter actually spelled something meaningful – and sometimes you could make them spell something rude! Sometimes, over a beer or three, we young students would make up whole reams of letters just for fun…. T.I.T and D.I.K. and so on. Juvenile I know but none the less, good laughs. The point is, the degree and those letters had a bit of snob value but more than that, it actually had value and meant something.
There is a slight problem these days though. Too many people have those letters after their name.
I think there are actually two issues here. First, its pretty easy to ‘buy’ those letters now. You just sign up at a ‘private’ college and do your three-years knowing that the money you invest will result in those nice letters. It’s endemic here and in the US – degrees for sale. I watched one individual here pass their undergraduate degree having others write their essays, thesis and they even called me via cell phone from their English final to ask me the answers to the questions! Incredibly, that same person added three more letters recently at the same school for a bunch of money and is now planning a Ph.D. Sorry, but this is BS! This individual would have been laughed out of town had he applied to a college in the UK in my day…. he isn’t college material but a wide boy who knows how to pull stunts and bend rules. Nice guy but why does he get away with paying for letters after his name?
OK, now I defend my statement about too many people having degrees. Sorry, the idea is that you keep something worth having by making it hard to get. The value of having those silly letters now has been minimized to virtually nothing because they are ten a penny and a good proportion of them are bought.
Here in the Czech Republic, cleaning jobs now require a degree and I am NOT joking. The sorts of jobs 15-year old CSE students coming out of regular school would get in 1975 now require a bloody degree. Furthermore, they pay like a part-time job.
The employers have figured it out you see. Everyone now has a degree – many not worth the paper they are printed on so if you want to pull pints in my pub – get a degree!
There is also another side to this and it is one that causes me great concern. The next time you visit your GP, might you not just be wondering if their degree is real?