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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Value of a College Degree?

If you have a son or daughter who is nearing High School completion, should they go to a University? Or would a trade school or technical school be a better choice?

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • In the United States today, there are 5,057 janitors with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees.
  • In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
  • In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.
  • Total student loan debt in the United States is climbing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second.

I would say that unless your son or daughter has SPECIFIC STATED GOALS to major in something like engineering, chemistry, math, physics, or accounting, you would be far far far better off letting him or her learn a trade, and then pursue whatever liberal arts interests s/he has with money they make on their own. That is, if your goal for sending him/her to college is to be able to provide a decent standard of living, let them learn a trade and pursue the education on their own. That way you accomplish your goal of equipping them for life and avoid the fiscal black hole. I have a Masters Degree, but the things I learned on my own over the years have proved far more valuable than most of the education I received in school. With the bone crushing level of debt most kids hit the streets carrying, and the ubiquity of college degrees no one wants, this is even more so.

There is a world of learning out there and available to persons who are intellectually curious and motivated, and you don't need a college degree to explore that world. You also don't need a hundred thousand dollars..., just an agile mind, an internet connection, and a willingness to smile when your friends look at you like you are from Mars and say "where do you GET this stuff?"

On the other hand, if your kid is not the kind who is bored by school so that s/he pulls out encyclopedias to scan for interesting articles (my history in the third grade and following), they are very likely to be more successful in becoming a plumber, electrician, a/c tech, machinist, welder, nurse (you have trade and four year degrees both), medical tech of some sort, mechanic, electronics tech, or any number of trades which "make things go." What is more, they will have an experience of mixing with people who view the world FAR FAR FAR differently from a middle class kid cloistered in the suburbs, insulated from real life by layers and layers of the protective cocoons we have built. I thank God that the first job I took out of college was as a plumber running a backhoe (a skill I picked up in HS, due to a father who insisted I work summers and holidays). I moved to a research position in a lab in 4 months. Interestingly enough, I made more running the backhoe than I did in the lab.

The facile and energetic and motivated ones will wind up owning their own electrical and a/c etc., companies and be far more successful economically than someone who majored in Political Science, or English, or Psychology, or Sociology, or Economics and is shuffling around in some corporation xeroxing papers and answering phones.

What is more, University degrees in those disciplines tend more and more to be ideologically strait jacketed, taught my non-thinking leftist ideologues whose idea of instruction is only slightly better than some Kommissar shouting slogans from Mao's little red book. I assisted my daughter recently in writing a paper on a review of the role of the USA in the post colonial cold war years, regarding the new countries coming out from being colonies of European states. I was appalled at the sloppy "scholarship" for supporting a case I actually AGREED with (US foreign policy was counterproductive to freedom in those fledgling countries). The idiot who wrote the article clearly did not know what "capitalism" was in the first place, and confused colonial slavery and oppression with capitalism, utterly confusing the truth that "capitalism is essential for freedom" with the false conclusion that "capitalism then must EQUAL freedom" (see this video where Milton Friedman destroys this assumption). The the sole resource listed for historical support for this position came from My daughter, bless her heart, when asking for help, prefaced it with "Dad, I just want to write the paper, not to argue with them!" (HA! she knows me too well!)

For an average total outlay of over 25,000 dollars a year, don't you think that AT LEAST your child should learn to analyze positions, think and argue clearly, and know how to spot logical fallacies? If, on the other hand, you want a drone who is able only to be mesmerized by Glen Beck or Jon Stewart and allow that person to do their thinking FOR them, then a liberal arts University degree sounds like as good a deal as any.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was the author very convincing, or did he miss a few points? Care to share?
I don't think it's up to anyone to judge what people's posts should be about. Why not allow everyone to just say what they want (in designated threads, ofcourse)?
How do I promote my website?
I'm a little slow, please don't remove my comments or I will get upset.

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