COLLEGE EDUCATION VS JOB CREATION
The Myth of Higher Education
With the cost of a college education going through the roof, what would you tell your child to study so they can be sure of getting a good job when they graduate?
If your child’s main goal is to get a job, I would suggest he rethink the whole idea of going to college. There is, it seems, a major cause of confusion in our society because people don’t understand the difference between education and training. Education is akin to research and development in that one never knows where – if anywhere – it will eventually lead. It’s certainly a nice luxury if one can afford it and if one has the capacity to grow intellectually but it’s no guarantee of a steady income. Training, on the other hand, addresses the skills and knowledge necessary to do a job. Traditionally, advanced education was reserved for just a tiny portion of the population while all others learned a trade and that was often through the apprentice system.
The idea of four extra years of schooling got started in the late 40’s when a great many first generation college students enrolled in institutions of higher learning. This wave was mostly the result of WW2 veterans returning home and finding themselves eligible for free tuition…which, in turn, was simply the government’s way of keeping all those able bodies from overwhelming the rapidly swelling labor force.
After that, a newly prosperous middle class and the notion of keeping up with the Jones’ fostered a second wave of towns going off to join gowns. With the value of a free, public high school diploma in tatters, additional waves brought the elephant in the room into sharp focus. Intellect is not democratically distributed. It became obvious that not all who are exposed to higher education have the wherewithal to profit as college students attempted to burn down college campuses.
But the idea that earning was somehow tied to learning had by then become firmly entrenched despite the fact that college professors often made less than plumbers.
Of course, there were those who worked their way through school and into monied slots but those were mostly schools that trained for a profession such as colleges of law, medicine, business, engineering, etc. The following two jokes should make the difference between training and education clear:
Four years ago, I couldn’t spell engineer…now I are one. This is a readily understandable example of training as opposed to:
I have a Liberal Arts degree…do you want fries with that? This tells the tale of those who mistakenly equate a good education with a good job.
So what do you tell your child? If a job and the income it will provide are most important, then keep in mind that four years of education will cost not only the tuition and living expenses but four years of lost earnings as well. Instead, he might want to consider earning a wage while learning a trade and then putting the same cash and credit into starting a business. Or he might want to consider attending a community college…a hybrid that combines mostly remedial schooling with a form of apprenticeship. Stick to the readily applicable skills and/or technology classes (nursing and computers, for example) and there might actually be a job available upon graduation.
The Collage Hoax
While it is becoming more evident to disillusioned college grads who are victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that’s just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle, there is little thought given to the fact that we place kids in schools with a promise that if they do well in school and then in college, they’ll be rewarded with a life time of success and opportunity not otherwise available to them. We need to start rethinking what we’re taking as a given in school today, because the reality is, we’re lying. Our new crop of college grads, known today as generation debt because of the huge pile of debt attached to their diploma, have no real guarantee of a job. In fact, what was true for the parents of today’s kids, isn’t true for them.
The goal of school should not be college readiness. It should be supporting students in determining the lives they want to live when they leave school.
We need to stop spending so much time focusing on subjects or courses that “they need for college” but don’t interest them in the least. we need to help them become learners who will be able to find and make good use of the knowledge that they need when they need it, whether that means finding an answer online or taking a college course to deepen their understanding. And finally, prepare them to create their own credentials that will powerfully display their capabilities, passions and potentials.
The reality today is that the kid who selects a path without college, may very well be better off from a financial and happiness standpoint, then the kid who went to the “good” college.
Let’s teach our children that empowerment is the ability to create wealth for themselves.