University Education Post a Global Pandemic

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment, the year is 2019 and you are conducting an interview for an entry-level position at your company. The candidate right in front of you, so far, is acing the interview. They are well spoken, knowledgeable, and exhibit the kind of drive/confidence you have come to expect from anyone who wants to work with you. The interview comes to a head though when you ask about their education. Come to find out, they got it… online. You know better than to wince visibly, but in the back of your mind you start to question the qualifications of this candidate even though five seconds prior you were on the verge of extending an offer. Something tells you that online education is less valuable compared to an in-class brick and mortar style learning environment. You, knowing better, table that thought with the intention to explore that assumption later.

Okay, you can open your eyes now, and for a moment forget how tongue in cheek that scenario was, remembering that the past year and a half have thrown us for a loop. If you had told me a few years ago that Class of 2021, 22, and 23 (maybe even 2024!) would have an online degree, and you were not talking about the University of Phoenix, I would have laughed! Yet, a vast majority of students are experiencing that scenario right now. Getting an education has become as easy as turning on your laptop or opening an app on your phone.

The question now becomes, what does that mean for students? Also, what does that mean for organizations whose talent strategy revolved around a certain assumption of what “good” schools and “great” educations looked like?

Thankfully, these questions are not original to my mind and countless others are working to find answers to them. Especially those at Ph.Creative. Towards the end of 2020 they formed a group named so appropriately “Rising Stars”. A group full of talented, driven, and capable leaders who are building their careers during these tumultuous times. By creating Ph.Creative’s “Rising Stars” they set out to shift paradigms, generate sustainable change through conversation, and challenge long held assumptions and beliefs about the way we work. I am honored to say that I was asked to join this group, and this post is simply an extension of an episode I had the privilege to be in.

The episode is titled, “University Education Post a Global Pandemic, with Andrea Hough” and you can watch it here.

I highly encourage you to watch the episode, as well as any/all the others that have been posted plus what is to come. Topics like Diversity, Compensation, Productivity, and Career Development are on a lot of people’s minds right now as new data reinforces some of what we know and tears down what we once believed. I am confident that with Ph.Creative and Rising Stars at the helm, the future of work is promising.

To get a taste of what is discussed, here are 5 things that I believe to be true about the University Experience and its effect on the workplace now:

  1. The need for a 4-year degree, outside of fields like Medicine, Engineering, and the like, is declining.
  2. Executives and Managers must capitalize on this shift from In-class to Online, Degree needed to not, by using this as a chance to teach their employees what it really means to lead. The classroom is moving from the University to the Office.
  3. Students gain much more freedom as it relates to their time when they have the option to learn virtually.
  4. Education (the institution) cannot be equated with Learning (the process). What it means to memorize and regurgitate information on tests, is not the same as having the skills to collaborate and pool together different information to form new ideas.
  5. COVID-19 has exposed the failings of our system, racial and financial inequities, academic inaccessibility, and much more. Although none of these have easy solutions, I do know that the more educated we are as a society, the higher we all rise in our pursuit of a better quality of life.

Rising Stars – Episode 6: University Education Post a Global Pandemic, with Andrea Hough was such a joy to be a part of. It was a privilege to sit alongside Nic Lupfer, Ph.D. and Karah Piepkorn to discuss things that matter, with those doing work that matters. Also, a huge thank you to Cher Murphy and Kristine Balicoco who helped form Rising Stars, none of this would be possible without y’all. Their insights and camaraderie have helped change the way I see the world in the best ways possible.

I look forward to hearing your feedback on what was discussed and hope you enjoy what is to come.