Re: Degrees vs. smarts

Elizabeth Childs (
Mon, 4 Oct 1999 13:27:52 -0700

Kathryn Aegis said:
> Yes. I see the concern, however, over the societal bias that individuals
> who have a graduate degree are viewed as more capable, smarter, etc. In
> the upper classes of American society, an advanced degree is viewed as a
> societal credential, and people do not ask 'did you get a graduate degree'
> but 'what is your graduate degree in'?

It depends on where you are. At my company, we pay college dropouts with a few years of programming experience more than twice what we would pay a PhD in any other field. This is, I think, fairly typical for the whole industry, and it applies to jobs other than programming. You have to get a break somehow, and a degree might provide that, but there are other ways, and at a good company performance will count.

To many in Silicon Valley, "PhD" can have negative connotations. They think "missed the boat on the whole internet thing" or "can't deal with the real world". It's certainly not a universal attitude, and there are many people with ties to academic culture who value formal education. But there is a Wild West, "You may have book learning, but can you shoot?" attitude that I've seen before, even among the elite.