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.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, December 10. 2010
At Insty. One quote that he quotes:
The error is in considering a BA as job training. It is not. It is a paper credential for sure, but I am not sure it makes sense to view it as an investment. America needs more gunsmiths and plumbers and software developers and small business creators, not more BAs in Anthropology.
A skilled gunsmith makes more money than any anthropologist - if income is what one wants. My gunsmith charges $170/hr for metal work, a bit less for wood work, and leads a fun, interesting, and adventurous life and gets to meet and befriend all sorts of fascinating people (like me). My local digital equipment repairman charges $175/hr. Scholarly types go to college for spoon-fed intellectual nurturing and development, but I am not convinced that those things "pay off" very much in a financial way - especially nowadays, when anybody can go to college. There are plenty of schools eager to accept a fat check from anybody who can sign their name.
"Twenty years of school and then they put you on the day shift..."
When people are curious and want to learn everything, they will do it with or without a BA, and they will never quit doing it until they die even if they never make a penny from it. Real learners never quit reading and learning and trying new thoughts. It's easy to identify real scholars - after they finish whatever formal schooling they do.
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Just consider two of the most famous college dropouts... Bill Gates and Michael Dell.
And Bob Dylan, Daniel Barthelme, Ray Bradbury ("I never went to school. I went to the library.")
Long list of them here: http://www.collegedropoutshalloffame.com/b.htm
RE: The Ray Bradbury quote.
Yep, that's me. that was a thing I probably said the most to my kids (besides "Life is tough, then you die.") I said "If you can read, you can do most anything". Me? I read technical manuals for fun. Programming manuals. Repair manuals. The college thing never stuck with me (although I probably have more physical hours as a student in a classroom than 99% of college graduates. My "education" addendum to my resume/portfolio is two pages of single spaced lines of technical classes and seminars I have attended.) I self taught myself how to program from reading machine code (well, assembly code) listings for a Varian 620i computer and said "I can do that!". And the rest for me is history.
Although I will say, there is a lot of prejudice against be un-credentialed by the indoctrinated masses, an experience I have had over my career. That was probably my impetus for pushing my kids (see below) towards the college career track. Oh, well. we all make choices. Mine have worked well for me (I make more than any of my siblings (2 brothers, 2 sisters) in spite of being the only one without a formal degree).
If you read about the the business tycoons of late 1800s and early 1900s, a lot of them had no college education (Edison, Carnegie, Schwab?, Henry Ford?, etc.) They made it up for the rest of us. There are some very interesting stories - most about people who never went to college - in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
(Post whoring myself. heh.) I think we (that is Maggie's Farm) has been over this ground many times. The question is... what can we do about it? I too fell for and pushed the college meme on my kids to their (and my $$$ detriment). I should have been pushing a more technical education for my youngest and something entirely different for my oldest. They both have done well in spite of my efforts (holding jobs and real estate for example), but I always wonder how much better they could have done if I had not pushed them towards college as my peers were doing with their children. I suppose that is the parents' lament, wondering what we could have done better.
Now I have grandkids, the oldest just now getting to the kindergarten stage, wondering what subtle hints I can drop in his father's ear for consideration. (The first being avoid Houston schools whatever it costs you!)
I am glad you have posting been on this. I often wonder why the rise in higher education costs are not viewed through the same prism as medical costs.
I have a friend who is a tenured professor in the humanities department in one of our southern states. He works 30 hours a week and makes a very comfortable living telling students how capitalism is failing us.
I have come to view our higher education complex as a kind of NPR. NPR uses journalism and "the public good" as a cover for a propaganda wing of the liberal social democrats. Our colleges have long ago shifted from the preparation of the student for employment to a liberal indoctrination, for the "good" of society.
A student who leaves their studies motivated and competent to perform in their chosen field, but not a liberal, is seen as illegitimate. It has taken on the form of a religion. With the prof's as high priests.
It is amazing that universities, especially state schools, have no pressure at all to reduce costs. Tuiton at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has gone up 239%. Instead of putting the U on a diet the Madison media calls for more money for student loans. Feed the pig more money. Insane.
Whoops. Should have previewed my previous comment. That 239% increase in in-state tuition for Wisconsin students was from 2000 to 2010
It was not long ago that High School was considered Higher Education, and a path to the Middle Class.
It wasn't long ago that high school actually taught you something.
Yep, a high school diploma used to be proof that you were at a minimum solidly literate, capable of math, and knew some civics
Now that's what a BA does, except not really with the math and civics.
And it only costs $40,000-$400,000 to prove you can read and put a sentence together.
Good to see this getting traction. I've been commenting on it for 15 years.
I'm at the point where I'm about ready to stop saving for my kids' college. I figure there are options:
2. Let them get jobs and they can homeschool/comm college for most of what they need.
Tsutomu Shimomura was very proud of himself for occupying a position of a "Post Doc" in the PBS special about taking down Kevin Mitnick, even though Shimomura didn't have a PhD. I'm not sure he has any degree. (Of course his father won the Nobel Prize in chem, and Tsutomu studied under Feynman) BUT the point is, you can go far w/o falling into the system's traps.
And I think it's a very good thing for young people to work a year or two before college. Let them know themselves so they use the time in college to their advantage. This is an absolute requisite if a person is unsure about what to major in.
I'm in the same boat. I'm 4 and a half years out with the oldest. We have already talked about a nice car if either of them enlist or get an ROTC scholarship.
Community College business classes and a franchse (Burger King, etc...) are also an option instead of $200k of private college.
I think they'd be better off having help in getting a franchise than going $200k in debt for a degree where they can work for the franchisee. At least, if they borrow $200k for a business and the business goes broke, they can get help through the courts to discharge the debt. But as for college debt? That albatross will be hung on their necks until one of them is dead.
Part of the scam relates to how well a college education has been sold to kids and parents. The supply of four year college graduates has increased much faster than the need for knowledge at this level by the labor market.
As a former (and now retired) human resource manager I observed and participated in raising the education requirements for many positions simply because the supply was there. For example lets say you get 150 applications for a job and 100 of them have the requisite experience you need. And if 75 of them have a college degree you don't waste your time giving the 25 of them w/o the degree a chance at the job.
This is how higher education has been able to show that you earn so much higher money with a college degree than without. Essentially systemic discrimination against those who don't have degrees that succeeds because the supply of degree folks is so large.
I've busted my ass to get a 3.9 gpa for an accounting degree at a decent school, and I'm going to join the military, woopdee doo. It won't be a total waste, officer pay is 45k+ compared to 30K for enlisted, and I won't have to swab decks. That's if they accept me for officer...
Do discount enlistment. The training the navy gave me netted me a 6 figure job, one of those jobs not requiring a degree. AND they are now paying my school costs.
Navy technical schools sent me on this career path in the 1970's and netted me my first job as a technician, a choice I do not regret.
"...graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor’s degree or more."
For starters, the "same" job back in the 50's now may involve a great deal more computer experience, education, and training now that we are in the digital world.
Secondly, I believe "graduates are" instead of "graduates is" would be the proper grammer.
You pasted a fragment of the sentence. The entire sentence is: "Only a minority of the increment in our nation’s stock of college graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor’s degree or more."
When the whole sentence is there I can see that the "is" is agreeing with the subject, which is not "graduates".
Seems to me the digital era has simplified many formerly complex tasks that required a good deal of education.
Through the aid of software a person knowing very little about accounting can handle the "books" for a small business. A person knowing very little about statistical tests can perform advanced analysis with very little knowledge of how to calculate the correlations or of what tests are appropriate to use and when. Push a few keys on the computer and you have results that used to take me many hours to calculate by hand.
The people with degrees holding minimum wage jobs are mostly those with computer science, software engineering, physics, and chemistry degrees now that their jobs have been offshored to India and China.
The sociologists, anthropologists, and other "soft science" kids are all employed by the US government, which has room a millions more of them.
Years ago I used to talk with an old man about "things." He said that it wasn't education that we needed, but proper education. Any education that allows us to make choices for our lives is of value to us.
As I've said before, I work at a college.
I keep pressing my conventionally successful peers at parties and such about what they expect and want for their children in terms of education (We are all the parents of teenagers). It is surprising how they all see no alternative to college. Really surprising.
When I express doubts as to whether or not college is the right path for my son, you can tell from the expression on their faces that they want to get as far from me as possible. I should expect to be drummed out of this social circle if I keep expressing this notion.
My son will attend an exceptional private high school starting next year. If after graduating from there he enlists, I will be thrilled.
Little late in seeing this. I've a different perspective on college now than when I graduated from High School. It's been 28 years, a career in the Navy and now a career as a carpenter.
Basically I'm going back to college now to earn money. I've got the GI bill which pays 90% of my tutition, plus the Pell grant which pays the rest and my books. This more than covers my cost, so I get a nice check from the college. Also, I'm taking out Stafford loans. At 3% interest, I use them to pay off my high interest credit cards and save a ton of money.
Trick is to go to a local Junior college that is relatively inexpensive. Plus it is a huge bonus that most if not all the classes can be taken online so I don't have to spend time in class trying to stay awake listening to a professor who talks in monotone.
After I get my degree in Business Management, I may never use it for getting a job, but it may help when I set up my own woodworking business.
My kids on the other hand is a mixed bag. I have one going for an Education degree and is moving right along. Another that is working on a culinary degree and should graduate this year. One other that is in the Health field and is going to school part time for a Health degree. Those three are in good shape.
My other two are not in so good shape as regards to college. Neither one has a goal other than to get a degree. One has just about stopped going at all to college and is now working in retail management. She may go back to college eventually, but probably not for a long time.
My take is that college is good if you have a goal and you are not throwing away your money for a high-priced degree at a premium school.