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Skip College. Google Instead.

Could an affordable, marketable-skills certification program from the search giant undercut the Ivy League?

by
Liel Leibovitz
March 22, 2021
Tablet Magazine
Tablet Magazine
Tablet Magazine
Tablet Magazine

Are you smart? If you’re not sure, here’s a single-question quiz to help you find out.

Would you rather:

A) pay $340,000 and commit four years of your life to a never-ending stream of mirthless lectures about America’s inherent evils and why gender is fluid but race is set and sacred, only to join the 41% of folks like you who are underemployed; or

B) pay $240 and spend six months working at your own pace to complete a host of online courses teaching you valuable and marketable coding skills before receiving a certificate from one of the world’s most thriving corporations, making the prospects of a future lucrative job strong to very strong?

If you answered A, there’s no reason for you to read any further. I hear The New York Times has just the sort of content folks like you enjoy: Here, for example, is a thoroughly discredited bit of propaganda.

If you answered B, I have some good news for you: Earlier this month, Google launched a new certification program, training everyone—no college degree necessary—in everything from project management to data analytics to user experience design, which is to say skills employers actually reward and will need increasingly as more and more of the economy grows digital and automated. The program costs $39 per month, and if you’re diligent, the company estimates you can complete it in anywhere from three to six months. This means you’d spend slightly less than you would’ve on a video game console to obtain the sort of career advantage very few college programs these days can offer.

“With more businesses embracing digital ways of working, it’s estimated that 50 percent of all employees will need reskilling by 2025,” Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichal, wrote in his announcement. “As U.S. job growth returns with more people getting vaccinated, we are committed to ensuring that all Americans have the skills they need to benefit from greater economic opportunity.”

Amen to that.

You may wonder, of course, how wise it is to cheer for disruption when it comes from the direction of a behemoth like Google, which has long forgotten its early, unofficial motto—Don’t Be Evil—and which is now closer to a security state keeping tabs on all of its citizens than it is to a cheerful startup improving online search. This is a case of choosing the obvious lesser of two evils: For America to survive, the rotten edifice of mutually accrediting mediocrities who bask in their own meaningless expertise, occupy too many critical roles, and make too many disastrous decisions must be radically overhauled. And considering that universities like Harvard now have endowments that put them on par with midsize European nations, it’ll take a Google-size battering ram to bring the Ivy-covered house down.

So if you’re young and Jewish, say, and don’t particularly relish the fact of spending half a decade and accruing a lifetime of debt only to be told that your people—alone of all of the world’s nations—do not deserve the right to a state of their own in their indigenous, ancestral homeland, don’t fear. Drop Columbia or Princeton a note and say thanks but no thanks. Instead, spend a few months and a few hundred bucks, learn a good trade that can keep you in the black, and spend the rest of your free time reading the kind of great books colleges repeatedly toss aside these days in favor of fashionable dross like critical race theory, or traveling and talking to real people outside the smelly little orthodoxies of media and academia.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.