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I left 30% room for non-signaling value because, ya know, literacy and numeracy. But yea, it's sheepskins, baby.

Consider. No one would stop me from walking into a classroom at Cornell or Princeton and sitting in a classroom and listening to the professor everyday, all semester. Hell, they'd probably be flattered. Furthermore, a world class education exists a few clicks (or a library pass) away. But try slapping that on your resume.

I spent five years as a college dropout variously partying, traveling, working, and volunteering in all manner of places (alpaca ranch, elementary school, summer camp, to name a few). Made a lot of friends. Had a lot of fun. Had the formative experience living by my own decisions chasing my fancy, scraping my knee, and gaining some perspective.

An employer sees a five year gap in employment.

It was only because I had an (ongoing) degree at Tailgate State that Morgan Stanley offered me an internship. Non-conformism, no matter how ennobling, just does not look good.