You might have heard the phrase, “a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.” Simple economics says when supply goes up, demand goes down, and that’s part of what has happened with college degrees. They have become commodities. They no longer set you apart.That’s not the whole story though.

If a degree and all that came with it was truly valuable, it wouldn’t matter so much that there were more of them. That would just mean that more people are better off.

So what really lead to the collapse of the college credential?

Two people did it: Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page.

Just kidding. Kind of. It really comes down to the accessibility of knowledge and communication. Mark and Larry had a lot to do with that.

First, let’s start with knowledge.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google in 1998 with one goal in mind: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They (along with many others) have done a great job towards this end. Right now, you have access to a majority of the information available through the device in your pocket. A simple Google search will locate you a book, podcast, website, blog, or resource no matter where, who, or when it came from. HUGE amounts of knowledge are unfathomably accessible to each and every one of us.

Before this was the case, people couldn’t have books instantly sent to their kindles at the click of a button. Instead, they were forced to gather together, pool their resources, and create libraries.

These libraries grew into universities which became geographical hubs of knowledge. People with a thirst for knowledge began to gravitate towards them. The experienced ones became professors, and the younger ones became the students with a mission to learn as much from the local experts as possible. This process made sense and it actually worked quite well for the time, given the resources available.

Now for the second factor: communication.

Communication has never been easier. Our smartphones and apps like Facebook and Voxer have done incredible things. You can have a video call with someone on the opposite side of the globe. You can communicate across thousands of miles via phone, email, text, and more in a matter of seconds. You can also hop on a plane and traverse the country in a matter of hours, something that used to take months.

When universities were the best way to attain knowledge, they were also the best way to connect with professionals. People couldn’t chat on the phone or travel quickly. They gathered into these geographical hubs, and because of the secluded nature of cities and countries, you had to make do with the resources around you.

So put the two together. Not only can you access all the world’s information at the click of a button, but you can communicate that information with people across the planet by the same means and at the same rate.

Why would you limit yourself to attending one college for tens of thousands of dollars when you can use the resources from all of them for free?

It’s not just easier to build the skills you need. You can also create a better signal than a degree by tapping into the world’s knowledge and interconnectedness. There are more resources available and at much cheaper costs. You can connect with the best mentors and attend the best classes in the world for free from your living room. It doesn’t make sense to limit yourself to the resources and staff of your local college.

Getting a college degree is the educational equivalent of a horse and buggy. Clunky, slow, expensive, and simply not practical. The same credential that used to be the holy grail for a job search has been sliced up and made available. You can build a better credential for less money and in less time.

This is not to say that building a career without college is easy. It’s hard work and it takes some creativity. The world’s information and resources is available to everyone–not just you. The fact that you have access to it is your new baseline. Your differentiator will be how you choose to use these resources.