TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Obsession with University Degrees From:Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM> Date:Sun, 22 Sep 1996 07:48:12 PDT
Tony Rocco writes:
>Having an MA rather than just a BA/BS is meaningful in
>itself. It says that you are dedicated, goal oriented, achieving, and at
>least somewhat above-average in intelligence.
I have heard people assert that the posession of an advanced degree
shows an aversion to growing up and entering the real world, a preference
for a hierarchical environment where you will be told what to do, and
basically indicates idiocy and wimpiness.
I do not agree with this analysis.
In fact, I do not agree with ANY analysis.
I think that most people choose to enter college or not enter college when
they are teen-agers. Personally, I am not willing to judge others by
the choices that made as teens.
People enter and do not enter college for a wide variety of reasons, many
of which are not easily understood by people who were not there at the
time. Also, teens are influenced both both by the pressures and the
examples of their parents, and one would expect the actions of someone
in late childhood to reflect their family more than their own eventual
In essence, a university degree confers specific skills based upon the
classes in which one mastered the material. ALL of these skills can also
be learned independently. Many crucial skills are not taught in classes.
As far as tech writing is concerned, the Big Three (sense of audience,
writing ability, technical ability) rarely if ever show up on the same
cirriculum. Furthermore, there are multiple valid ways of approaching
all of these three pivotal skills.
So, personally, I try not to draw sweeping conclusions based on how
someone spent his teen-age years. When I hire writers, I feel
that focusing on writing is better than focusing on something that
kinda-sorta ought to correlate with writing.
The people I hired as writers fell into three camps: people with Liberal
Arts degrees, degreeless people with experience as technicians, and
people with engineering degrees. None fit any particular sterotype.
All could write. The biggest difference between the people in the
three groups was that, when a task veered into something directly in
line with someone's prior experience, it was easier for them. But,
in general, we were documenting things that were not very similar to
things the writers had done before in a different capacity, so this
didn't matter much.
Robert Plamondon * robert -at- plamondon -dot- com
"But let's be honest, userboy. If you needed to be told THAT, you're
too stupid to use this product." -- Tina the Tech Writer, in DILBERT