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AndrewThan35's avatar

Do you think that people with college degrees are smarter than those who choose not to attend college?

Asked by AndrewThan35 (192points) November 17th, 2014

How important is higher education to you and do you think life is the best schooling one can get?‎

Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.

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35 Answers

longgone's avatar

No, definitely not. Neither is the reverse true. Intelligence is so very varied, I have trouble even defining it.

Welcome to Fluther, we’re thrilled to have you.

talljasperman's avatar

Equal. I.Q. has nothing to do with education.

AndrewThan35's avatar

@longgone : Thank you for your answer.

AndrewThan35's avatar

@talljasperman : Thank you for your answer too.

marinelife's avatar

I think that in today’s economy a college degree is a good thing to have, but people who do not attend college or graduate from college are not less smart: take Bill Gates, for example. Or Ben Affleck. Or Walt Disney, Richard Branson. Or too many others to name.

AndrewThan35's avatar

@marinelife : Many thanks for your excellent response – I would not have expected anything else. I just want to compliment you on your very comprehensive answer.

AndrewThan35's avatar

@marinelife : I know from what I see that you are extremely intelligent. You are very clever. I can see that all right.

AndrewThan35's avatar

Thank you everyone. You are examples to all. You all radiate a certain degree of intelligence. I appreciate that.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Sure, there are anecdotal examples at both ends of the spectrum but, this chart prepared by the US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an absolutely positive correlation between weekly wage rate and level of eduction, and a strong negative correlation between unemployment rates and education. See chart: Earnings and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment
There are people who do very well without school education but on average the vast majority are better off with a professional degree.
You may not like the answer but the (2013) data from 100 million (est.) samples of persons 25 or older is had to refute.

I have a friend who lives in the Louisiana Bayou. Education is not highly valued there, to say the least. He often uses the expression: “That guy’s as useless as a brain surgeon on a shrimp boat.”

Welcome to Fluther!

AndrewThan35's avatar

@LuckyGuy : Thank you for your extraordinarily warm welcome.

ucme's avatar

Yes & no…i’m so fucking deep :D

SQUEEKY2's avatar

It makes them educated, smarts is another thing altogether, I have seen educated people so stupid you want to cry, and uneducated people smarter than a whip, as others have said education gives you more choices and has it’s advantages .

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I believe the sheepskin is only relevant in certain fields where you can only learn from study at a university. Other than that, it is only important of you plan to spend the next 3 decades in a ”Just Over Broke” JOB endeavor. If your goal is making money than it really doesn’t make that much difference, people of marginal intelligence can be smart enough to think of a good moneymaking idea.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Yes, I be smat. I has piece of paper that says I is. Unmitigated bullshit. Smarts are common sense, knowing what you don’t know, and caring about people.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Really? Has no one else ever seen some really smart, educated people and some dumb-as- rocks uneducated? Am I the only one who has?

There are extremes, but if you had to bet, the smart money would be on having an education.
The US Dept of Labor has the data to prove it.

marinelife's avatar

@LuckyGuy You are right, which is why I started my answer the way I did. Smart has nothing to do with education, but it can only be enhanced by education.

jerv's avatar

@LuckyGuy Some of the dumbest people I ever met were those that I went to nuke school with. Considering that you need an 80+ ASVAB to even be considered to be given the entrance exam, I think that says something.

Also, some of the higher paying jobs require a degree, so there is an obvious link between education and income, but that doesn’t prove a link between education and IQ. Correlation is not causation, so I have to wonder if the labor board statistics are a straw man or just a red herring.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It depends on what you mean by smart. Having an education doesn’t mean you have common sense. Having a college education doesn’t mean you will score higher in an IQ test than someone who doesn’t have a college education. I too know some college educated people who are completely lacking in common sense and practical skills. They may be brilliant in their field, but beyond that – forget it.

As has been pointed out, there are some great examples of individuals who didn’t go to college and have been incredibly successful in their fields. People like Bill Gates and Richard Branson are extraordinary though. They aren’t the norm. Still, there are many successful, average people who haven’t attended college.

However, as @LuckyGuy has suggested, research shows those with a college education will generally end up earning more than those who do not. Not always, but research suggests they’ll have a higher earning power and less unemployment.

My own experience (and I work in the university sector) is that a college education changes the way people process information. Not always of course, but I have witnessed students becoming more critical and developing a more questioning approach. They may become less likely to accept generalisations and to take a more evidence-based approach. This isn’t always going to be the case but I do think a college education forces people to seek evidence to back-up their assumptions. Does it make them smarter? No. However, it quite likely makes them more critical of information and ideas. In some fields of work, the theory and knowledge acquired at college, when teamed with hands-on experience, is likely to produce more proficient employees than the person who only has hands-on experience. They may leave college as novices when it comes to their hands-on skills, but when they acquire those skills, they have both theoretical knowledge and the practical expertise.

josie's avatar

Smart, and educated, are not necessarily the same thing.

But I think it might be worth exploring these variables: What is the percentage of smart, but not well educated as compared to well educated and not smart, as compared to well educated and also smart.
I bet smart and well educated tops the list, followed by smart and not well educated, followed by educated and not smart.

This takes into account the fact that education requires some participation on the part of the one being “educated”. Where I live, the public schools are full of morons who do not give a shit about participating and they will leave school, graduate for heavens sake, as stupid as the day they enrolled-by choice.

AndrewThan35's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit : Thank you very much for that full, helpful and informative reply. I enjoyed reading your answer very much.

talljasperman's avatar

If this was D&D I would say that Intelligence (int) is different than skills points. Smart people have a higher number of things that you can learn, and education is how you spent your points. So smart people chose to learn independent of a classic education. A stupid person can focus on a few areas and specialize in something like math and little else.

jerv's avatar

@talljasperman Lets keep the gaming theme here.

In Shadowrun, one gets a number of free Knowledge/Language skill points equal to (Logic + Intuition)*2. Intuition is roughly analogous to Wisdom in D&D. You don’t always need brains if you have good instincts. I never really studied math, mechanics, or computers; I just have a knack for some things.

GURPS has a nice line in it; “Sometimes intelligence is merely the profound lack of stupidity.”. In other words, you don’t have to be smart if you are very not-dumb. Some (arguably, many) people need to be taught to be not-dumb, but there are quite a few people out there that manage to avoid being stupid just fine without an education.

JLeslie's avatar

Smarter? Not necessarily. Having a degree usually means odds are the person has a certain level of smarts, but they still can be idiots about some things. People without a college degree can be smart, they can be self taught, and life does usually give us experience and knowledge even when we don’t actively pursue knowledge. Almost everyone has a lot of smarts about some sort of thing. Their work, a hobby, being a parent, something.

We can look at averages as @luckyguy pointed out. I think the averages mean something, but they are just averages and generalizations, we can’t assume something about an individual based on averages.

talljasperman's avatar

@jerv GA I will keep reading your answer over and over.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

As much as people would love to believe that there is no real correlation between education and intelligence on average there is. It’s not the final word but getting to a certain level of higher learning takes a baseline intelligence and work ethic that some individuals frankly do not have. There are plenty of smart people who did not pursue higher learning though. That cannot be addressed by using education as a benchmark. There are some people who could be considered “dim” but have an exceptional work ethic and made it through schooling by working 10X harder than their peers. Higher learning will make you more intelligent and wiser overall, especially if you choose a course of study that is challenging. It’s not a stretch by any means that if you use your head you’ll get better at doing so. Higher education is critically important. It’s a damn shame that it’s not more available to everyone. Anyone who wants it should be able to have reasonable access. All that said one can be “over educated.” Part of intelligence is being well rounded IMO. If someone spends their entire life learning about one thing and nothing else I do not view that person as being particularly smart.

jca's avatar

There are some very intelligent people who have not had the opportunity to attend or graduate from college. There are some people who have graduated and/or attended college who are not smart, but did enough to get the degree and fortunately for them, the college was not that difficult. In general, though, I feel that if you graduated from college, you can’t be a complete moron because you have to be able to pass tests, research and write papers, be persistent enough to pursue the degree and read some fairly comprehensive books and understand what you are reading.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LuckyGuy I’d agree with you. The more education an intelligent person has, the better their skills. If I have to trust some mechanical device, I want you to engineer it. But I also met one of the best farmers I ever came across, and I screwed up the loan deal because I didn’t realize he couldn’t read or write.

Katz22's avatar

No people with a college degree aren’t necessarily smarter than other people, just more educated. Some people who are “book smart” aren’t necessarily intelligent. @marinelife indicated there are and have been very intelligent people who did not attend college. Also agree @Adirondackwannabe that a piece of paper only indicates that the recipient satisfied the requirements for that degree. A college degree guarantees nothing, intelligence and motivation are key factors to being successful.

ibstubro's avatar

First of all, I think the distinction should be “Do you think people who have attended college…” and my answer would be yes. The drive to continue general education past high school shows a higher level of curiosity, i.e. intelligence.

Second, I feel like that the OP has turned in the assignment, and is done?

gailcalled's avatar

I have a buddy who rarely reads and has trouble writing clearly, but he can walk around my woods in winter and ID all the decidious trees by their shape and bark, an enviable skill.

Esteban1's avatar

My great grandfather went to Harvard and Harvard Law, while I dropped out of college. But even two fancy degrees couldn’t stop him from have 5 kids and becoming an alcoholic. I have zero kids and smoke weed. Guess that makes me smarter than a Harvard grad.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My degree didn’t make me any smarter, but it did teach me to look at things differently and to think outside of the box. That may cause me to appear smarter than I would be otherwise.
(Hope that wasn’t a repeat. Didn’t read all the answers)

snowberry's avatar

Due to circumstances beyond my control I never finished college. My IQ is around 150, but I manage to converse well with everyone from cleaning ladies to people with doctorates. @Dutchess_III I got the “think outside the box” thing from reading from a wide range of topics from differing points of view.

ibstubro's avatar

…less than 12 percent of all jobs now require a four-year degree, yet today’s average college borrower is willing to graduate with $26,600 of debt.

NPR had a feature recently and I think the figure was that the average electrician makes $5,000 a year more than the average 4 year college graduate.

I don’t think that a college degree necessarily equates with either intelligence or success.

linguaphile's avatar

Some of the dumbest questions I’ve been asked came from full tenured professors.

Some of the wisest phrases I’ve ever heard came from children.

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