Exposed: Why Skipping College Could Make You the Best Hire of the Year—The Untold Advantage of Urban Savants in the Job Market

Regis Arzu

9/8/20234 min read

The role of a college degree in determining a person's future success has always been a controversial subject. But for Urban Savants—individuals who've risen from the adversity of inner-city life to become resourceful, hard-working individuals—the issue takes on an additional layer of complexity.

The Case for College Degrees

Traditionally, a college degree has been viewed as a significant milestone, a marker that signifies a certain level of skill and dedication. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a bachelor's degree earn, on average, $502 more per week than those with a high school diploma. Employers often argue that a degree provides a "foundation" of learning and "proves" an individual's capability to complete a long-term project.

The Reality of the Urban Savant

However, this perspective largely ignores the immense value and unique skill set that Urban Savants bring to the table. Life lessons have taught them skills like grit, resilience, charm, and a talent for sales and bargaining—skills that are often not part of a traditional college curriculum but are crucial in the real world. If resilience could be graded, many Urban Savants would graduate summa cum laude. They've survived and thrived in environments that are undoubtedly more challenging than any academic institution. Furthermore, did you have to be pressured to drop out of school, and grow to be the man or woman of the house, to support your family who made nothing? A College degree is not a simple decision for most.

Breaking Barriers

The lack of a college degree can be an insurmountable barrier for many. The social stigma attached to not having a degree, coupled with systemic factors like skyrocketing tuition fees and lack of access to quality education, creates a cycle of perceived inferiority. Research by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce reveals that workers without a bachelor's degree make up 64% of the workforce but are "stuck in 25% of jobs."

Quality Over Paper Credentials

Degrees are increasingly used as a filtering mechanism in the hiring process, much like how credit scores are used to gauge financial responsibility. This overlooks the essential qualities of character and experience that can't be judged on a piece of paper. According to a study by Harvard Business School, degree inflation is a real concern, where jobs that used to require a high school diploma now list a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite, despite the job responsibilities remaining the same.

The Plea to Hiring Managers

If you're a hiring manager, the message is simple: Give Urban Savants, the people you see as less prepared, a chance. Their life experience has equipped them with a unique set of skills that are often more valuable than those acquired in a classroom. With clear instructions, these individuals can outperform anyone in terms of revenue generation, problem-solving, and resilience. If you need proof that they can accomplish a goal, please ask them, "What did it take to survive or get out of the ghetto?" "If you are still there, what did it take to get to where you are now?" I promise the response will bring chills down your back.

Diversity and Inclusion

For organizations that pride themselves on diversity, examining degree requirements for jobs can be eye-opening. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate clear racial disparities in college graduation rates, suggesting that reliance on degrees in hiring practices perpetuates inequality. Now, the case here is not to remove college stipulations but to consider experience equally.


Personally, I would burn the whole college system down and rebuild it from the bottom, but at the same time, because I know my kids will be evaluated by the most expensive piece of paper society puts pressure on them to get, my kids will get a bachelor's; does that make me a hypocrite?

College degrees, while beneficial for many, shouldn't be the sole measure of an individual's worth or potential. Urban Savants, with their unique set of life-taught skills, deserve to be judged on their merits rather than the absence of a degree. Discriminating based on educational attainment not only robs organizations of untapped talent but also perpetuates a cycle of inequality that society has been struggling to break. So before you filter through that next stack of resumes, ask yourself: What am I really looking for?

a man standing in front of a fire
a man standing in front of a fire