The Hidden Agenda Behind College Degrees in Tech

by Lex Grezlak, Founder

Are you ready to challenge the status quo? In tech, degrees are often seen as a ticket to success. But what if they're not? What if they're just a symbol of conformity, a sign of playing by the rules? At BasedCode, we believe in the power of skills, innovation, and courage to break the rules. Let's uncover the unspoken truth about degrees and discover how you can redefine success in tech.

The unspoken truth about degrees

In the corporate world, degrees serve a different purpose than showcasing skill. They act as a symbol of submission, indicating that you're willing to endure even when it's not worth it. It's not about your tech skills; what they really want to know is whether you'll hesitate to leave when something better comes along. They seek people who play by the rules and stay loyal, but loyalty rarely pays off for the individual.

Group of students at graduation ceremony

Corporate culture deeply ingrains this mindset, where 'teamwork' is an euphemism for obedience and conformity. Aligning with company objectives outweighs individual competence and innovative thinking. As a result, climbing the corporate ladder isn't about technical skills, but rather navigating the complexities of company culture. Unfortunately, there's a weak correlation between job performance, position within the organization, and salary.

Tech skills vs. college credentials

In the tech industry, where innovation and practical skills are highly valued, more and more people are questioning the necessity of a formal degree. In this rapidly evolving digital world, one could argue that formal education, particularly in its traditional sense, hinders more than it helps.

My personal journey, which you can read about more on our About page, serves as an example of this. As the founder of BasedCode, I didn't follow the conventional route of academia. Instead, I taught myself how to code, gaining tech skills and leading my own education. This path wasn't easy, but it has been significantly more rewarding and effective in preparing me for the real-world challenges of the tech industry.

Countless individuals have followed similar paths, from coding bootcamp graduates to self-taught programmers. They're now at the forefront of tech innovation, proving that it's not the diploma you hold, but your ability to write efficient code, manage time effectively, and seize opportunities that truly matters in this industry.

It's time to challenge the outdated belief that a college degree is necessary for success. In the tech industry, what sets you apart is your ability to produce real results, innovate, and adapt to new technologies. Formal education, with its focus on theory and slow response to industry changes, simply can't compete with the value of hands-on experience and practical skills.

Path to success

Wondering about the optimal path to financial success in tech? It's not just about having the right skills. It's also about courageously breaking the rules. While a college degree might provide some advantages, it's not always the most efficient investment of your time and money. In our rapidly evolving tech world, the abilities to adapt, innovate, and take calculated risks outshine any piece of paper.

Consider these strategies on your journey to success:

  • Skill development: Stay ahead of the curve by focusing on tech skills that the industry demands, such as Go, TypeScript, Node.js, React.js, and AWS. Refuse to work with low-paying technologies like PHP and Java, which companies often choose due to their high supply of developers at cheaper rates. Instead, specialize in high-demand, low-supply languages like Go and Rust to increase your market value. By becoming an expert in a relatively new language, you can position yourself as one of the top professionals in your field. Don't compete with people who have decades of experience when you have the opportunity to stand out.

  • Personal branding & networking: Take a page out of Elon Musk's book and use social media to build your personal brand. Be bold and provocative in your statements to grab attention and keep people talking about you, and then capitalize on it. Engage actively on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and GitHub. Share your thoughts on industry trends, spark discussions, and take a stand on hot topics. Even if you're not experienced or knowledgeable, offering critiques can make you seem like an expert. Exploit this to your advantage.

  • Freelancing: This strategy is my favorite and it's how I started my career in tech. Freelancing is not only a great way to gain experience but also a means to bypass traditional job requirements. As a freelancer or contractor, you have the freedom to set your own rates and choose projects that match your skills and interests. This not only provides financial independence but also allows for continuous learning and growth in a flexible work environment. While freelancing often leads to employment contracts, remaining a freelancer or contractor usually provides a better deal.

Final thoughts

The tech industry's bias towards degrees won't disappear overnight, but you have the power to shape your own success. Start by mastering in-demand skills, building a personal brand, and proving your ability to deliver real results. Remember, you are more than just a degree-you are defined by the skills and impact you bring to the table.

Your tech career begins with you. Take that first step now. Start learning, start doing, and create your own opportunities. Your unique path in the tech world awaits.

More articles

Becoming a Frontend vs. Backend Developer

Want a lucrative career as a developer? Learn why backend development may be the better choice for you.

Read more

The Dark Side of Open Source

Free code feeds corporate greed, training you to accept no pay for your labor. Know your code's worth.

Read more