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Blouch: Degrees earned during pandemic will be worth more

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

With every login to our Zoom classes and every pre-recorded lecture we sit through, it’s natural to wonder whether a degree earned during a pandemic holds the same value as a degree earned in a traditional environment. 

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Though bleak times may overshadow judgment, there’s a strong case in saying that a COVID-19 degree is actually worth more than its regular counterpart. 

“Being well-versed in remote learning indicates a stronger sense of the type of communication style we will expect within the post-pandemic workplace.”

The pandemic cements cultural norms and styles of communication that are not going to simply cease once the lingering fears of the disease vanish. Businesses are already moving toward the organizational structure of “distributed work,” described by entrepreneur and web developer Matt Mullenweg, in which more workers within a company work remotely and asynchronously. 

Twitter is one such company. The company’s human resources head, Jennifer Christie, stated in an interview with BuzzFeed News, “I do think we won’t go back,” in reference to the old working organizational structure.

“People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way,” she said. “Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective.”

Being well-versed in remote learning indicates a stronger sense of the communication style we will expect within the post-pandemic workplace. 

Though it may be difficult to see how this type of formal communication can be seen as more attractive, such is the case with any dramatic adaptation within an organization, there is a period of assimilation. The economic theory of the productivity J-curve explains this well. 

“the element of perseverance displayed by students who continue to make the dedication to their education creates value for the degree earned during a pandemic.”

The National Bureau of Economic Research explains that, when companies first adopt new technologies, their productivity drops slightly but then increases significantly, mirroring the shape of a J. Earning a college degree during 2020 can be likened to the first stage of the rapid adoption process.

This indicates that by the time we are ready to enter the workforce, we will be equipped with the skills required for the large uptick in productivity expected by organizations shifting to this style of communication.

Additionally, the element of perseverance displayed by students who make the dedication to their education creates value for the degree earned during a pandemic. 

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My fellow columnist Cody Cooke makes the claim that, “students’ perseverance throughout these stressful and immensely disorienting semesters should certainly be acknowledged, but these circumstances don’t qualify our collective education for a higher value.” I disagree.

It should be noted that the nature of the shift in communication styles due to COVID-19 shares a strong similarity to the expectation of adaptability employers desire in order to keep up with the demands of rapidly changing working conditions. 

Management trends, as discussed in the Cost Engineering Journal, suggests workplace environments are moving toward “organic commitment, self-discipline and teamwork.” Continuing studies through such parlous circumstances sends a strong message to employers that you are able to keep up with a changing work environment, which is an advantage we have over our peers who earned the same degrees before us. 

Nonetheless, the future is uncertain. It’s impossible to state that a “pandemic degree” will be worth more or less once it’s time for us to walk across the graduation stage and move into the workforce. 

Certain degrees may be valued more than others. However, there is still solace in stating that, despite being thrust into such a confusing era, our unique experiences as students during a pandemic can make us stand out from our elder peers. 

Editor’s Note: The opposing viewpoint for this head-to-head can be found here.

Cat Blouch can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BlouchCat.

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About the Contributor
Cat Blouch
Cat Blouch, Social Media Editor
Cat Blouch is the social media editor at The Collegian. They are a fourth-year student at Colorado State University studying business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in statistics from Delta, Colorado. They have been on The Collegian's team since the summer of 2020, starting on the opinion desk and later joining the photo team. Blouch began their social media interest by working on the @colostatememes page on Instagram and looked at the social media editor position as a way to further engage with the CSU community. They are excited to find new ways to hear the voice of the student body and engage more with readers through their positions at The Collegian. Blouch enjoys the flexibility of being able to pursue creativity in multiple mediums at The Collegian. When Blouch is off the clock, you can find them engaging in other creative areas such as creating music, writing poetry or filming a video. They hope to continue their creative pursuits after college through work in marketing analytics and content creation.

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