June 20, 2016

 While still reflecting on last Wednesday’s blog, ““VIRGINIA STEPS INTO THE FUTURE“ I was reminded of the fact that while serving as CEO of ITC, I had first hired (and, later promoted to VP) two of the smartest and contributive employees the Company enjoyed in its long history.  Both were sans college degrees.

One of those individuals had gone from high school directly into the blue collar work force and the other had joined the Navy after high school before going to work in a nuclear power plant.  Each had told me that, had they stayed in their positions, future management promotions would have been closed to them simply because they had no college degree.

Well, I can assure you that their employers lost two highly intelligent individuals with creative leadership skills — solely because of their companies’ slavish attitudes to the college degree myth.  ITC profited immensely from each of these two individuals during their long careers here.

Robert Maynard Hutchins, America’s great educator and President of the University of Chicago, argued similar ideas in the mid-twentieth century — but, to little avail as the GI Bill had changed American higher education forever.  And, when American business institutionalized a college degree for almost every job classification, our nation shifted its focus from “ability” to “codification.”  And, we became much the worse for it.

The problem lies not with our colleges and universities.  All who choose to get a college degree should be afforded that opportunity.  The problem lies with American business and industry and, specifically, with their HR departments.  In their misinformed zeal, college-trained HR employees have mistakenly assumed that they can formulaize qualifications for every job classification within their organization.  Hence, college degree requirements have sprung up everywhere.  Had these same HR employees actually had on-the-job experience within their own organization, they would have quickly realized that intelligence, skills and leadership ability can be readily found outside the college-track arena.


Obviously, corporate leadership needs to wise up to this deficiency in their HR groups.  Too many highly contributive employees are being bypassed for promotion and too many highly qualified job applicants are having their resumes tossed into an HR wastebasket.

Skills, intelligence and leadership can be effectively acquired outside a college degree track — but, only when American business and industry accepts those individuals as equals.  In the meantime, our country continues to waste the talents and potential of so many gifted young people.

After all, a college degree is proof only that you graduated.  It is not a measure of the skills or knowledge you may possess.  It’s a mistake to assume otherwise.

More on Wednesday –  –  –

      — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)