There is a term called Academic Inflation. By this I don’t mean the increasing cost of education. What I mean by it is a situation where jobs which needed lesser qualifications are now able to attract applicants with higher qualification. I find this phenomenon very intriguing and certainly worth some exploration. The obvious explanation, that many would offer is that of increasing population. Certainly population is a factor especially because the Academic Inflation seems to be more of a developing economy’ phenomenon, however I strongly believe the reason is much more serious than just increasing population.
I think the reason lies in pursuing a course or a curriculum that is in demand and dictated by market requirement and not pursuing a course or curriculum as per one’s aptitude. In the blind rush to be among the people who could take advantage of existing trends in job market people take up courses that they often don’t have much aptitude for. In this process firstly there are more number of people with the same qualification but a very small number of people with the required aptitude and hence majority find it tough to get through job interviews. Frustrated with the situation many turn towards additional certifications, diplomas or second degrees, then reapply for jobs they could have got with their first degree. Also, even after getting the job most of the people would definitely find it tough to get noticed ahead of the people who have a natural aptitude towards the subject and job. In this I am not even touching the abstract topic of job satisfaction to make my point.
It is also because of this blind rush to line up for courses that are in demand that people indirectly encourage institutions to increase their cut-offs and also fees. Also if one institution becomes more popular and renowned for getting cushy jobs for its students, then one can imagine how the demand and supply would play out. So, not only is one paying more for the same degree, one probably is also gaining more degrees than is required for the job they want to apply for. At present the academic inflation is caught in a perennial vicious cycle. This is certainly a problem created both by the societal pressure and Government policies. Though I think the role played by parents and friends is of prime importance.
Can academic inflation be reversed or contained? I think it certainly can be. To start with parents need to encourage kids to find things that they like doing or enjoy doing. Parents must also observe the natural aptitude demonstrated by kids to see what comes easy and with less enforcement. Based on such observations the subjects to be taken up and hence the career to be chosen could become clear. More than the getting of the job the encouragement has to be to master the subjects one is interested in by not only focusing on marks but also the practical application in outside world. Once mastery is achieved on subjects the rest usually tends to fall in place as far as jobs are concerned. Genuine interest in subjects leads to additional drive to learn, it develops a passion which often is the essential ingredient to succeed in any endeavor. Any additional qualification or second degree sought would be to either enhance one’s knowledge or have access to resources which one degree can’t genuinely put them in touch with. Such second degrees don’t cause academic inflation but genuinely create intellectual capital which in turn has the power to fuel innovation and many industry implementable ideas.
Being run of the mill and falling in a rat race and running in a direction that majority are running is certainly not the right way to start. Self-realization followed by pursuit of excellence and a non-stop desire to be the best that one could be in the chosen field is the only way to avoid academic inflation