We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, February 5. 2010
From Phi Beta Cons:
True indeed. Nothing wrong with a liberal arts education, though, as life-enrichment for those too lazy to figure out how to obtain it on their own. (It's called "reading.") A rigorous high school education ought to be enough for most practical purposes, and adequate preparation for any job training or apprenticeship which doesn't require advanced math or science.
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The connection beween education and gainful employment has been evolving...
When the US had a manufacturing industry economy, a high school degree was sufficient to get a good blue collar job. Then we outsourced manufacturing overseas, because of environmental regulations and union wages.
When the US had a service economy, a college degree was sufficient to get a decent job. Then we outsourced the services to well-educated foreigners where $5000 a year was double the national average income.
Nowdays, when we have virtually no economy, the purpose of most higher education is to provide tuition/incomes to overpriced colleges. The graduates are saddled with huge student loan debt, which cannot be paid since the few available jobs pay so poorly. The colleges then hire adjunct faculty on the cheap to teach the classes, foregoing the risk of giving tenure to anyone.
Most young people would really be economically better served if they enlisted in the military and learned a real skill, instead of blowing large amounts of money for a worthless 4 year liberal arts degree. Or better off going to a trade school and apprenticing as an electrician or plumber, so they could start their own business later on. Even science or engineering degrees have limited value, if the only way you can put them to use is working for someone else with a big research department. Lots of big companies think it is more cost effective to takeover smaller companies that created interesting intellectual property, than invest to develop their own. That way, they avoided the risks of research.
The plans to increase the availability of government funds for student loans are intended to sucker kids into going to college and going into debt. Colleges will just keep ramping up tuition costs to absorb any extra money that becomes available. Student loans are really just a way for government to subsidize universities, and saddle the students with the long term debt. A graduate with debt is a vulnerable person; they can't afford to pass up mediocre paying jobs, and once employed, they can't afford to buck the system. Think of it like indentured servitude.
Any job training that puts you in a profession that requires you to be employed by someone else, like a large corporation or government, is just making a workforce vulnerable to someone else's whims and decisions. Everyone should assume that the only job they'll ever get is the one they make for themselves....self employment means never having to be laid off.
ruralcounsel ... I'm with you on the value of military enlistment as part of a young person's introduction to the pragmatic real world. Switzerland, a country that is entirely surrounded by other countries which have at times been hostile, has one-year mandatory military service for all young citizens before or during the time the young people finish their educational preparations for the real world. But I do advocate generalized higher education for those who can afford it if they plan on working in such intellectual occupations as the professions, like lawyering, engineering, business management and similar activities -- even journalism as it used to be practiced. [Today's agenda-ridden journalism is more like fan magazine writing and only requires an infinite supply of credulous belief in what the powers-that-be want to have disseminated.]
In the classic higher-education template established and followed fifty or sixty years ago, the overall plan was to equip the student with at least a general understanding of how the world really works no matter what field the student eventually entered. Courses in economics and civics, world history, American history, basic science like biology, literature [that material written by splendid dead white guys, as well as by black authors like Ralph Ellison] were required for graduation. I remember one mission statement from M.I.T. [yes, that engineering school in Massacusetts] from back in the 1950s which stated that their graduates should have a generalized understanding of what makes civilization civilized, as well as highly accurate knowledge of their specific field of endeavor.
Not any more.
I can understand why you feel that the only safe workplace is working for yourself. But that's not always practical. Many of us have at times to work for others -- other people who are as oriented toward their own success as you are. The way I see it, one needs to be armed by as much accurate general knowledge of the world as it is, as you need the specialized knowledge of your particular field.
That's the reason for acquiring a good, broad general education. Unfortunately, thanks to the tampering of 'progressive educationists,' that's not nearly as available as it used to be.
Since every business is a "people" business, I believe that a broad education can be of benefit if only to help with the intangibles we bump into along the way. Marianne's reasoned responses and wise counsel are again on the mark. Exposure to military training, if nothing else, will teach our youth how to clean.
While working for yourself often gives the illusion of safety, it can be rewarding. However, you may find that instead of just one or several bosses, everyone becomes your boss. I think that unless you are a self-starting person(born, not made), self-employment can make for a very long day, week, or year.
Aptitude and pure enjoyment of what you're doing make self-employment successful. In any case, college doesn't hurt. Is a college education tied directly to gainful employment? Not necessarily, but that's often not the point.
I only got one thing of value out of college: I met my wife there. Everything else -- books, knowledge, etc. -- I could have done on my own with a good library. The subject I majored in has nothing to do with what I do for a living. In fact, of the people I know, just about all of them do something unrelated to their college degree.
Colleges stay in business because company HR managers and professional school admissions officers are lazy.
JJ Luna is a privacy advocate who self-publishes a variety of books. I'm of two minds about the importance and practicality of some of what he suggests. But for what it is worth, he is a strong advocate of skipping college. His book on the subject is here:
There is a sample chapter available for free. I recall reading that he'll provide the book for free to any high-schooler who contacts him and asks for it, but cannot find that reference now.
My opinion is that we have been falsely advertising the value of a degree. We are encouraging students to go into debt in order to spend 4 or more years "investing" in education that will allow them to earn back the money and more post-graduation, but the numbers we quote are biased upwards by the useful majors such as engineering, whereas a lot of the students are in fields which with lifetime earning potential that is less than a trade such as plumbing.
The popularity of the learning company products shows that education for education's sake still has a place in our society. And I think 18-22 is a fine time of life to do that sort of thing. And there are positives in terms of social development and networking effects of doing university early in life. But it is hard to overestimate how much freedom you give up by having a debt that exceeds your expected annual income by many times, right at the time you are really entering the workforce.
Oh, and any employer using a skill or competence test to screen potential hires is entering a legal minefield, but requiring a degree can often accomplish the same thing without such risk. If that is your hurdle, then the community-college courses are just as good as the ivy-league ones, and you are probably much more likely to be taught by dedicated professors rather than 23-year-old graduate students with no life experience.
College, in too many cases, is now the place to learn what you should have learned in High School. I'd dearly love to see High School return to being a place where students really do get a decent grounding in literacy, numeracy, civics and history and basic sciences, and skilled-trades as well for those who do not want to go farther. College would then be for those with both the inclination and ability to go into more theoretical/ in-depth/ advanced areas (the hard sciences, some forms of engineering, some aspects of the liberal arts). There should also be technical schools for the masters of skilled trades - I'd love to work with a plumber who knows and cares enough about design and engineering not to cut through structural beams when he does a repair!
The current U.S. President and First Lady are lawyers and have a wall full of college degrees.
Howz that workin' for ya America?
I found it helpful to study literature and history and anthropology with live teachers who could stimulate discussions. Of course one should keep reading about these things indefinitely, but that doesn't defeat the value of a human guide in one's youth.
Not that much of that had any real impact on my ability to earn an honest living trading a needed service for a negotiated price.
It needs be that some of the rich must go to college so's us common folk can be reminded that it only produces overeddicated idiots and is a waste of time for the thoughtful.
The key word here is "rigorous". As in a "rigorous primary education". Since a primary education appears to be anything well short of rigorous, then a college education becomes imperative for basic knowledge. In short, as far as i can see we've turned schools into poorly run child care centers, and turned over the task of teaching our young to secondary education.
So the next time you see a recent college bound high school graduate, ask him how it feels to be starting school at the age of eighteen.
LittleRed1 ... You say that there should be "technical schools for the masters of skilled trades." There already are specialized schools for those who want certain skill-sets. But the liberal arts colleges in the U.S. denigrate these vocational schools. I understand that in western Europe, in countries like Germany, degrees in skilled trades are respected more than they are here.
Ok--so how about a high school education?
Read it and weep!
A timely blog post about the "college premium":
"the average difference in lifetime earnings of college graduates compared to high-school graduates — is a lot less than previous estimates, reports the Wall Street Journal."
Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs on Discovery started a website as a PR campaign for hard work and skilled labor. Part of the site is a “Trade Resource Center” which is an informative and interactive resource center for people in, or looking to explore the trades. There's education and financial aid links for those looking for an alternative to a four year college degree too.
In Mike’s words … “Dirty Jobs has reminded people of a time when hard work was not seen as a thing to avoid – when craftsmanship was lauded, and Master Tradesmen were seen as role models …”
Check it out and see what else is happening at …