The two easiest things to sell Americans is time and ease. If something can be done quicker and easier, they will buy it.
This has spilled over into the world of academics with a lot of talk about “hacking” your way through college. I’ll admit, the concept is tempting. Just like everyone else, I want more time for myself and an easier way to get things done. But, if I may get academic myself for a second – the purpose of college isn’t a degree – it is preparation. Sure, the degree is nice, but it only means something if the person who owns it is prepared. To get a diploma is meaningful because of what it represents – a person who is prepared for a particular field of work.
Sadly, many college student focus on earning a piece of paper rather than being the best in their field. This leads many students into cheating (the ultimate timesaver) their way through school. However, what they find when they enter the workforce is the one thing that hacking an education won’t prepare you for – competition. Those who show up to work prepared, at the end of the day, succeed.
Thus, the goal of education should always focus on becoming prepared and the degree will naturally follow as a result. Thinking that the skills you can gain by hacking can be applied to the corporate world is simply theoretical. I am still waiting for one example where this is the case in the real world.
There is a Better Way
I get it. Hacking will get you in and out of school quickly and easily. And, I get the idea that you may already have a job and a degree will allow your employers to pay you more, and so forth. But what would happen if, instead of just earning a degree, you used your education, your professors and their wisdom, your textbooks, your college networks, and your free time (if you have any) to become the absolute best in your field?
What would happen if you not only earned a degree, but published a paper in the area of your degree? Wrote a book to show off your expertise? Started a blog that branded your name above the thousands of others who are vying for the same job you are? What if you took the entire force of your life, your education and you purposefully moved them in the direction of being the best? Could you do it? Would you want to?
“Nothing in life worth having comes easy” the old adage goes – and education is no different. To succeed in America you have to be more than an honor roll student – you have to be innovated, smart, hard working, and creative. A hacker could get good grades (or pay someone to earn them for him) and maybe a job, but only a determined student with the right approach to education will take over the world.