Cognitive Bias Awareness:
How to accept and act on changes
It is very hard to get rid of old ideas. We are all ‘guilty’---or well-meaning ‘innocents’ but still wrong—of holding on to society’s old ideas, or, wanting to cling to our ideas that we have held.
So, on this journey through college past and present, be very aware of cognitive biases that trick our decision-making process, usually returning us to all our old beliefs. Even when we do the research for ourselves, we make common mistakes. Which of these are you ‘guilty’ of?
• We tend to go with the first bit of research that backs up what we already believe.
• We see patterns in incomplete information.
• We will go for the easy answer over the more complicated one.
• Too much information drives us back to the old, simple idea.
• We accept as truth things we have heard repeatedly.
• We are drawn to what we are familiar with.
• The extreme or shocking idea is more attractive or believable than the boring, mundane.
We grasp the impossible dilemma that our youth will be ‘studying’ for careers that haven’t been invented yet. But how do we intend to ‘’fix” this problem?
We look to what worked in the past. We listen to who ‘shouts’ loudest. We listen to what we hear repeated most. And we almost always go for the simple solution or go back to our original ideas.
But is that the best idea when it isn’t just ‘careers not yet invented’ but a completely new way of working? Technology’s exponential ‘destructive’ innovation means the transformation of work: the rendering of some jobs obsolete and the creation of new jobs, happening faster than we can train for them. The job for life is being replaced with seven to ten completely new careers for life. A gig economy, where workers are employed for short term stints, like a musician performing in different clubs weekly, has replaced full-time, year-round company employment. Agile planning allows for quick progress. Five-year and ten-year plans are replaced with 5-month plans. Business thrives by quick incorporation of new technology. Learning will be needed as a ongoing fact of life.
So, is a traditional academic education the answer? It could be. What are other ideas? I am NOT suggesting NOT going to college. Just make sure that education is matching with the outcome desired.
When considering the necessity of approaching college and career in a different way, the reader needs to know that the tendency will be to reject any ideas of doing anything different or new. Try to hear the whole argument, aware of the human tendency to do everything the way it has always been done.
Whether or not you hire a college choice advisor or take on that job yourself, this is a starting point for every parent.
Examples of our biases:
-We feel sickened at the thought that college isn’t the guaranteed Golden Ticket to a top job
--We may recoil at the thought that College-for-All may be wrong.
--We believe that a selective college taking 20% of the applicants is better than a college that takes 50% or 89% of applicants (selectivity can be faked.)
--For many parents, career discussion should be avoided until the last moment. “A STEM degree is the ticket.” “The college degree will open any door.”
==College means higher pay.
Many of these were true for fifty years. Or longer. We don’t want to entertain that our beliefs are not as valid as they once were.
The Industrial Age worked one way—for a very long time. The Technology Age doesn’t work that way. So what do we need to adapt for ‘now’ and the future?
Confronting new truths
How do we process that a high school grad can earn over $100K starting salary and the college grad $28K; a nurse can make more than a doctor doing the same work. Top careers can be reached by professional degrees and certificates and four-year & advanced degrees.
Not just Blue Collar/White Collar
Traditional class divisions are blurring: grey collar (college grads who take jobs that don't need a 4 yr degree) green (environment & renewable energy) new collar (tech), no collar (artistic), gold (intellectual labor), red (government), brown (military), etc
For grad school, one tries for the best school for one's speciality. At the Bachelors level, with the internet, more professors, etc, colleges meet a higher standard than the past. Chem 201 is virtually the same anywhere, best at the college that matches the student's learning style