Your cre­den­tials are hold­ing you back


Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

Ican’t leave now. I don’t want to waste the $50 000 I paid for my master’s de­gree.” Su­san mulled over her sec­ond-year ex­pe­ri­ence at a large con­sult­ing firm. She didn’t feel passionate about her job, but she didn’t de­spise it, ei­ther. When I pressed fur­ther, she main­tained a steely re­solve: “I’ll be damned if I’m go­ing to quit the job I spent my en­tire school life try­ing to get, at the firm all of my class­mates wanted to break into.”

Peren­ni­ally caught be­tween the dream of pur­su­ing her true pas­sions and the re­spon­si­bil­ity of gen­er­at­ing a di­rect re­turn on her ed­u­ca­tion, Su­san once again de­cided to grin and bear her cur­rent role.

While con­duct­ing re­search for my book, Pas­sion & Pur­pose, I met many tal­ented young pro­fes­sion­als who showed un­lim­ited po­ten­tial but found them­selves hand­cuffed in low-im­pact, high-paying cor­po­rate jobs. The lim­it­ing fac­tor? Cre­den­tial over­hang. De­fined sim­ply, it’s the per­verse way in which our univer­sity school­ing lim­its our ca­reer op­tions rather than en­hanc­ing them. If you’re scep­ti­cal, con­sider th­ese fig­ures: 58% of mil­len­ni­als now have univer­sity de­grees (com­pared with 36% of baby boomers), driv­ing to­tal stu­dent loan debt in the US past $1tr. As un­em­ploy­ment in the US con­tin­ues to hover around 8% and av­er­age salaries for re­cent grad­u­ates re­main stag­nant, the un­for­tu­nate eco­nomic re­al­ity be­gins to take shape. We’re now lit­er­ally un­able to put our cre­den­tials to work.

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