The Age of Education Inflation

50074019Inflation: [in-fley-shuhn]: Inflation is defined as a sustained increase in the general level of prices for goods and services. It is measured as an annual percentage increase. As inflation rises, every dollar you own buys a smaller percentage of a good or service. The value of a dollar does not stay constant when there is inflation.

The above is the definition of inflation that we’ve all read and are accustomed with. But now, we observe a new type of inflation – In the domain of education. Everybody today is an engineer. Those who had a little more spine opted for commerce in high school. Those are now trying to be an accountant. With the ever increasing number of engineers, we see a decline in the quality of job and income that these engineers get. The trend is going towards the same direction for accountants as well.

So, sans a job, an engineer tries his hand at CAT. Being an engineer and having played with numbers for 4 precious years of his precious life, he gets a good percentile and consequently a good college. Now, he’s a B.Tech + MBA. Now he has good job offers. Now he can choose a company from a number of options. Similarly, companies seeing that this person is a B.Tech + MBA offer him higher pay. More companies want a B.Tech + MBA (B.Tech and MBA are two mutually exclusive streams of study. So pursuing an MBA after B.Tech is pretty much a waste of B.Tech). Now, slowly but steadily, there’s a demand of B.Tech + MBA candidate. A person who has only a B.Tech does not get a good job because there are already a shitload of engineers out there eyeing the same job. An MBA graduate does not get a good job because there are now a shitload of B.Tech + MBA out there eyeing the same job. We have effectively and pretty successfully created an education inflation.

Degree-InflationEducation Inflation: [ed-you-kay-shun in-fley-shuhn]: Education Inflation is defined as the lowering of value of a degree because there are a SHITLOAD OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WITH EVERYBODY PURSUING THE SAME GODDAMN DEGREE WITH LITTLE OR NO REGARD FOR THE EDUCATION.

This is the reason why being an engineer does not evoke the same response from society that it used to 2 decades back. And it won’t be a matter of surprise if you see a decline in the number of students appearing for AIEEE examination in a couple of years from now. That would be the time when this herd mentality of B.Tech and then B.Tech + MBA would get erased. Those will be the good times. But whom are we kidding? That day is still a good 50 years away. But the day that is near is when parents burn all their savings to make their children engineers and after graduation a majority of them do not get jobs good enough for survival. That would contribute towards more children opting out of science and pursuing arts/humanities/commerce. No matter how bad or absurd it sounds, it is going to be a great revolution.

Now, the question that arises is why society wants kids to become engineers/doctors/accountants. This has a very simple answer. Back in the 18th century and with the oncoming of the 19th century, Industries started to pick up. Termed as the Industrial Revolution, it created a huge number of jobs. Engineers and accountants drew the best deals with enormous paychecks. The laborers withdrew a meager sum. So those who studied engineering were seeing such monstrous growth in their career that everybody wanted to become an engineer. The others, who did not/could not study engineering were forced to work as day laborers. Nobody wants to become a laborer. So everybody wanted to study. Then came up banks. With meticulously planned education loans. The intention might be good behind it. To give everybody a chance to earn big. No matter how steep the interest rate was, one could always cough up big bucks after becoming an engineer.

Cut to present; the bubble hasn’t burst. The mentality hasn’t changed. Banks are still providing education loans at higher interests. Parents have the highest interest to see their kids as engineers. The kids have no interest. But following what has now become a cult, they still go for engineering. With no interest or aptitude, they pass. Then in absence of jobs, or sometimes absence of passion for their job; they start preparation for MBA. Vicious circle.

In the corporate world, the degrees don’t mean anything. You won’t get a higher pay just because you’re an engineer. Everybody’s an engineer. You won’t get something of your interest, because there isn’t much of interest and whatever little there is, it’s taken up by the senior engineers.

The realization hits when you’re staring at an engineering degree from a reputed college and no idea what to do with it. Getting education is not a sure shot way of ending your poverty. It’s not a sure shot way of getting a job. However, slowly but steadily this is changing. Not because the students are getting on the right track, but because we are now getting into a culture of startups.

StartupIn the startup world, the degrees don’t mean anything. Now, this is a good thing. You could be an engineer working in marketing. You could be a civil engineer programming for a software. Hell, you could be a 12th pass and a manager. All you need to have is aptitude and passion. This culture, budding in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai is a hope. Startups provide the right exposure and platform. More than that, you have a chance to work in a field that interests you. Sins of the past are resolved and you can start afresh. So there’s still hope. There’s a chance we won’t be running blindly after a B.Tech degree to get a job. There’s a chance that in a few years only those will be engineers who wanted to become engineers, not those who were forced or had no better knowledge. Education inflation can still be tackled. Only if we are a little more practical and ready to take a few risks.

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