Is this degree really necessary?

Scott Walker, who did not graduate from college, says he wants to obtain his degree. According to his spokesperson, Walker would like to do so through the University of Wisconsin’s FlexOption once it expands its degree offerings.

Walker attended Marquette University but left in his senior year in 1990 for a job with the American Red Cross. He then launched his political career and never returned to school.

Walker says he regrets not finishing his degree and I don’t doubt his sincerity. But finishing it in anticipation of a 2016 presidential bid strikes me a transparent, unnecessary, and futile attempt to placate elitists. (If Walker isn’t contemplating a 2016 presidential bid, he will have opportunities thereafter to obtain his degree if he really wants one).

The move would be transparent because of its timing (why, after all these years, does Walker suddenly crave that degree?). It probably would be unnecessary because most Americans are not elitist enough to believe that a highly successful governor lacks the qualifications to be president by virtue of having completed three years of college, not four. And it would be futile because those who are that elitist won’t be impressed if Walker completes college after all these years via correspondence courses.

There are, of course, good reasons to obtain a college degree. Most people obtain one because it increases their prospects of obtaining a good job and advancing thereafter. But Walker hasn’t needed a degree for that purpose.

Attending college also offers learning opportunities, and one can learn more in fours years than in three. But it’s difficult to see how someone of Walker’s age and experience would obtain much educational benefit from a bit of additional college coursework.

I grant that some voters might applaud Walker for completing his degree and a few might become marginally more inclined to vote for him. But others, like me, will be marginally less inclined to vote for Walker if he kowtows to elitist critics by obtaining a degree that he hasn’t needed before and doesn’t really need now.

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