From the Left



Death to the Credentialocracy

Ted Rall on

The summer after junior year, my college expelled me. Six years later, I returned and graduated with honors. During the interregnum, I worked. But finding a decent job was tough.

No matter how easy or rote the gig, every prospective employer listed a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite to apply. I drifted from temp work to short-term project, barely scraping by. Then I came across a listing by a bank searching for an entry-level administrator. Amazingly, they didn't say anything about having to have a college degree.

I didn't lie on my resume. "9/81-5/84 Columbia University" listed the dates I attended. I didn't state that I'd graduated. Nor did I announce: "DROPPED OUT/LOSER."


Interviews went well and I was offered the job. It was 1986, my income rose from $10,000 to $17,000, and I felt grand.

On my first day, though, after I'd quit my previous job, my new boss offhandedly asked: "You graduated, right?"


"Yes," I said. I needed the money too much to be honest.

Four years went by. I was repeatedly promoted and given big raises. I worked on big deals. My boss loved me. We became friends. His kindness was too much. I couldn't lie to him anymore. I confided the truth.

Something wild happened: He apologized to me.

"I should never have listed that college degree requirement," he said. "You're a great employee; if you hadn't lied I would never have gotten to work with you. I'm sorry you've been scared all this time. Thank you for lying."


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