Rem Lampa: On Web Development, Startups & Film Photography

The Academic Myth

August 02, 2019

There’s a growing consciousness about the failure and myth of the academic system.

Don’t believe me? Well, try watching this video and others like it:

In fact, some of the top tech companies in the US have stopped requiring degrees.

Sure, the school system might have worked for a few decades. But in today’s world, can someone honestly say that having a degree guarantees a fulfilling and well-paying job/career for the majority of its holders?

I happened to catch a morning radio show the other day. And their topic was “I hold a degree from a top school but my pay is s**t”. The callers, they had stories very close to mine: 10 years or so of being employees, earning Php 30k-40k a month. Enough to live by, but never going to get them anywhere near achieving financial freedom.

One of the DJs joked that his co-host earns four times their monthly salaries, hosting wedding receptions for 2 hours! Four times an engineer’s salary making people play musical chairs!

The radio show’s respondents were allegedly alumni of UP, Ateneo, La Salle… Engineers, teachers, accountants, doctors… Some have graduate degrees even! You can sense an absence of hope in their voices. These are people resigned to their fates.

Worse, this kind of system suppresses talent. I know a lot of great and promising individuals who have been reduced to being pencil-pushers. These people could’ve made significant impact on our society, but there they are drowning in the tar pits of corporate politics & bureaucracy and the dreaded metro traffic.

And for one full decade, I was one of them!

We were led to believe that going to school was the only way to have a successful life. You had to have a diploma or you’re deemed as a failure!

And it has exarcerbated the culture of resignation.

“Di kasi ako Atenista.”

“Di ako nakatapos kaya hanggang dito na lang ako.”

“Hayskul lang inabot ko e.”

Really? That’s it? You don’t finish school, or graduate from a prestigious school, and you’re suddenly out of options?! Kinda sounds like an elaborate scam, doesn’t it? And this is the kind of one-track mindset that has been plaguing us.

Technology is one of life’s greatest equalizers. There’s already plenty of options out there that don’t need a college diploma: virtual freelancing, vlogging, social media content creation, livestreaming, professional gaming, online trading, urban farming, founding startups, photography, real-estate flipping, dropshipping, and even building traditional businesses and many others… Don’t tell me these aren’t real jobs/careers, because I’ll take these “fake jobs” over what society considers “real jobs” any day. I know you probably would too.

Heck, you don’t even have to go to college nowadays to get a college-level education. Many of the Ivy League lectures are now available for FREE on the Internet! Granted, you won’t get the diploma along with it, but if you were only after the learnings, you’re all set.

There’s this one math concept (among many others) that has baffled me since college. I decided to take a free online course on Coursera just recently, albeit to study a different but related topic. Incidentally, right on the very first hour, the instructor managed to discuss that math concept in the clearest, most concise terms.

The instructor made me understand in less than an hour a concept I had difficulty grasping during the past two decades! And I don’t have to pay a single cent (payment is optional; I’m still planning to pay since it’s worth every dollar).

The career I’m currently enjoying is not caused by my engineering degree and license. It is a product of a non-profit educational service, freeCodeCamp, an online platform where many people like myself learn web development FOR FREE. And freeCodeCamp is arguably the largest curated resource of programming knowledge there is today! Again, EVERYTHING FOR FREE!

Makes you think, with knowledge easily acquired and freely available on demand, is the traditional school system finally moving towards a long overdue obsolescence?

Rem Lampa

Written and maintained by Rem Lampa.

JavaScript Developer, Live Coder, Community Manager, Startup Founder, Film Photographer