Sunday, July 11, 2010

Education and the Whining of America

You mean some college degrees are worth more than others?

Another day, another whiny story from the New York Times...

First it was the girl who got a degree in womens lesbian comparative religion literature studies. She’s upset because she’s $100,000 in debt and working a dead-end job for $22 an hour in high cost San Fran Sicko. As one reader commented, “She got the job she’s qualified for.”

Next, the New York Times reports on a spoiled young graduate who just can’t find a job worthy of his grossly overinflated sense of self. He’s living with mommy and daddy.
After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder. ( NY Times - A New Generation)
Good choice, Skippy! Why stoop to Abraham Lincoln’s level by working your way up? So this pampered prince continues sponging off his parents. But he worries to the reporter that the folks won’t be too pleased to hear he turned down a job. This after his grandparents paid for all his college expenses.

He’s had to work for absolutely nothing, and pay for absolutely nothing, so he values nothing. If this is the face of the new generation, our country is in big trouble.

For two-thirds of us, college is a waste of time

The 22 year old baby still living at home actually got a useful degree, unlike the first person in this article. She may have been better off learning the trade of photography. Educator Patrick Welsh says...
Over the past five years, I have seen students who didn't have the skills one would expect of a ninth-grader going off to four-year colleges where fewer than 30% of entering freshman graduate.

That means that 70% of the freshman class is likely to end up not with a diploma but a pile of debt. (USA Today - Is College Overrated?)
He goes on to point out that two-thirds of high school graduates do not need a degree anyway:
Arnold Packer, co-director of the landmark study "Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century," points out that in 2018 — as is the case today — two of three jobs in America will not require either a bachelor's degree from a four-year college or an associate degree from a community college.
We’re sending people off to college who really shouldn’t be there, and the drop out rate reflects that. Worse, colleges are graduating students who lack basic job skills, which ends up cheapening the value of a bachelors degree.

So what should the other two-thirds do?

Vocational training and professional licensing. Non-college credentials are gaining currency in the professional world of work. Unlike a degree, a license or certification proves to an employer that the holder has passed a comprehensive test proving she has the necessary job skills.

Welsh observes...
Jobs in health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, retail trade and so-called middle-skill jobs such as plumbers, electricians, legal assistants and police officers will require job specific licenses or certificates from community colleges or technical institutes, and/or on the job training.

In fact, many graduates of four-year colleges are now enrolled in community colleges to get the specific training and licensure for jobs for which college did not prepare them.


Trestin said...

My college experience was a complete waste of time. I found it was all about the money. They claim that they are creating well rounded people, but I can learn far more watching the discovery channel. They just wanted to make people take more classes so they could charge more.

However, these idiots that make cultural studies their major are getting what they deserve.

Rob said...

Unfortunately, education is more quantifiable than experience. As a result, many (most?) corporate suits lean far too heavily on college degrees and the results are often disasterous. Book smarts very often do not translate well to the real world.

Having clawed my way up and amassed a wealth of experience, I was often infuriated by the money and credibility that degreed slackers got coming in the door that I couldn't get as an established, experienced, employee. Even now, after having slogged thru night classes and online courses to get a B.S., I can't come close to competing on paygrade with fresh-out-of-school snotnoses.

Maybe this is a sign of my generational thinking, but some of the brightest, most-respected people I work with are people who have bare minimum college and truckloads of on the job training. Conversely, some of the most bloated, overpaid, and generally inept people I work with have Master's degrees.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Another point about the situation is that the students are ill-prepared from the get-go due to the lack of education emanating from the high school level.

As to the whining, this to can be directly traced to the same as they are pushed thru that system without ever having FAILED so as not to "feel" bad and as such never learned.

The Born Again American said...

I posted the other day about Tamara Holder while debating the Arizona immigration law on Fox and Friends and realizing she was getting her ass kicked, spouted that Arizona's governor Jan Brewer doesn't have a college degree... I think that is a pretty good arguement as to the lack of importance of a college degree... I've always put common sense way before a degree...

BTW, I've managed to muddle through for sixty years without one...

Silverfiddle said...

It is true that getting a degree early and getting a high paying job early will gain you more in the long run if that's your bag.

"Late bloomers" like Rob find out that it's hard to make up that pay difference.

Smart employers value experience over just a degree. That's why many like to hire prior military. We know how to get the job done.

I was one of those kids completely unprepared for college (and broke) so Papa Silverfiddle pretty much pushed me into the military, and I am so glad he did.

For most of us, four years in the military provides a way more valuable education that four years in college.

And Born Again, you are right on! There is a difference between being educated and being smart.

WomanHonorThyself said...

edukashun sure aint making our youth smart Silver..great post..HOPE YOURE HAVIN A SUPER WEEKEND! :-)

jadedfellow said...

Yep did the college thing way back when, doing the double major deal, business and economics. Got myself kicked out with two classes left cuz I refused to accept two concepts. 1.) Government debt was not something to worry about, it was necessary to stimulate consumerism. 2.) Women were not qualified to get business degrees. Damn we had some good arguments back in the 70's, but the joke of education was on me.

Yep I did not know what tenure meant at the time, so I learned a hard expensive lesson, sheepskins now a days and back then don't mean nuttin but sheep dip. I've hired a bunch of graduates over the years who figgered life owed them a paycheck and nope they ain't around anymore because they failed the school of hard knocks.

So the moral of my story is this,

Life is gunna be a bitch at times and bitchin' about it won't make a positive difference. My advice is, just git up every morning, git with the program and git er dun. If one can not do that, go into politics, that is where major degrees of irresponsiblity are common place and blaming is considered to be an acceptable approach to impotence.

Smart Assedly Yours,



It's hot in Madras how's Colorado?

Canadian Pragmatist said...

A low percentage of the college-aged population in Both Canada and America actually go to college. It's about 20% here, and I assume less down there.

So, there's actually good reason to believe that those who do go can do well with encouragement, inspiring teachers and realistic expectations.

I'm going into my last year of a so-called 'useless' undergraduate degree with prospects of graduate school. When I finish my PhD, the unemployment rate for those who have done the same is less than a couple percent, so I do expect a fairly good paying job.

For those people in my classes who don't do as well, they either want to go into business, work for a non-profits, teach English abroad, etc... I haven't met anyone who thinks they'll become an executive with BA in philosophy.

Silverfiddle said...

Excellent advice as always, Jaded. I especially liked the part about if you can't do anything go into politics.

You are such an educated smartass, you need to continue on and get your degree. Then you can be a professional published smartass.

Canadian Pragmatist said...

Sure, but what does that have to do with the lack of people going to colleges?

There are people who think that with any degree they can get a job that plays 50k plus a year. Those aren't most people though.

Silverfiddle said...

CP: Lack of people going to college? There are too many people going to college.

Most Rev. Gregori said...

I could have told you all this. The vast majority of college graduates have nothing more then a piece of very expensive toilet paper.

All that crapola about pushing all those kids into college was only for money for the colleges, which in the end did nothing but cheapen a college education.

A vast majority of college grads are dumber then fly turds. I worked under a supervisor like that many years ago in a printing company. All that moron had was book experience, no practical experience. He didn't know that there are a lot of variables that effect the out come of how a printed page turns out, such as temperature, humidity and the ink mixture. He would chew us pressmen out it a page wasn't exactly 100%, yet this dope with his college degree and high paying position with two hour lunches didn't even know how to turn on a press. So much for college.

Bastiatarian said...

>We’re sending people off to college who really shouldn’t be there

And I see them every day! Oh, my freaking hudlinesss, I certainly do see them. I just failed a kid who couldn't even seem to grasp the concept that two mid-term exams worth a combined 40 points were worth 20 points each:

"So, they're each worth 15 points?"

"No. Each is worth 20, so together they are worth 40 points."

"Oh, okay. So they're worth 15 points each?"


He was a nice kid, but I have no idea how he got admitted to a major university...or why he was allowed to leave the house alone.

Some students just plain don't have the intellectual capacity for college (and only made it through high school thanks to social promotion). Others are very bright but just not interested in scholarly endeavors, or at least not as a full-time focus. Education is very, very important, but college isn't the only way to get an education. As you have said, there are other, better options.

I didn't do the college thing until I was well into my 30s, with a wife and a bunch of kids. Before going to school, I spent many years working for a few large international corporations. I didn't have any degree at all, but I had self-taught language and writing skills, and little by little I gained experience and more knowledge and abilities. During the latter part of my corporate career, not only was I the head of my department, but I was actually hired by the company to create the department. (Believe me, there's nothing better than being allowed to write your own job description!).

Now, I'm not talking about this to make it seem like I was something special. What I'm saying is the exact opposite. I was very successful in spite of not being special. I just learned something that was moderately useful, worked hard, started from the lowest position in that field, worked hard, learned from experience and personal study, and worked hard. Any knucklehead could have done it. (I can say the same thing about my PhD, but that's another topic.)

Now, even with a couple of advanced degrees, it's unlikely that I'll ever make as much money as I did when the only diploma I had was from high school. If I weren't in academia, I could, well, go back to doing what I did when I was "uneducated."

Five of the six kids in my family have at least a 4-year degree, and a few of us have or are working on advanced degrees. The sixth sibling is the only one who has a lot of money. He's a software engineer who has published a book and has conducted lectures for Microsoft.

All he's got is a GED.
(And it took him two tries to get it.)

Silverfiddle said...

I loved your story, especially the ending!

College is a wonderful thing if you're doing it for the right reasons, but your brother the software engineer is the wave of the future.

Silverfiddle said...

I loved your story, especially the ending!

College is a wonderful thing if you're doing it for the right reasons, but your brother the software engineer is the wave of the future.

Finntann said...

Its all what you do with it. What's the old saying? The cream always rises to the top?

Personally, I find a college degree to be a very poor indicator of future job performance. I've worked with High School graduates who have been exceptional performers and people with advanced degrees who could barely tie their own shoes.

I see way too many people with Master's degrees today who can't spell, write a proper sentence, research, or think logically. There's alot to be said about people too lazy to use a modern spelling/grammer checker.

I've even seen a senior engineer from a major multi-national communications company argue with a technician over whether the cathode voltage on a klystron was the 14kV he calculated it should be or the 12kV the technician was actually measuring with a calibrated multi-meter. You can guess who managed to actually fix the problem.

Overall, it has little to do with the degree and more to do with the person, of which the degree tells you nothing more than he managed to slog his way through four or more years of school, which these days doesn't seem to mean a whole hell of a lot.

TKZ said...

I was taught how to think by an English teacher in High School (Thank God for her!!!), and was taught how to be a good little liberal in college. They never taught me HOW to think, but rather only WHAT to think in order to be worthy of a degree, and therefore I graduated thinking that Al Sharpton would make a great president... and then after some real life experience that contradicted everything they taught me I started remembering that it's possible to think for myself. My degree is almost entirely worthless, but at least having been in their shoes I know how the other side thinks... or rather doesn't.

And if someone is stupid enough to get a worthless degree and then whine about it, then they obviously were never deserving of higher education in the first place.

Silverfiddle said...

TKZ: Reality can be an eye opener. How do so many avoid or deny it for so long?

TKZ said...

Yeah... I don't know. It's a defense mechanism, I guess. It takes a lot of soul searching and honesty with yourself to admit that your entire world-view is wrong, and that means breaking down a lot of walls that are there for self-preservation. Questioning everything is hard to learn to do, but once you do you can be certain when you finally find the answers.

I've been laughing at my last comment all night. It can be read very wrong and I find that extremely comical. :o) My degree got be a great job, so it was practical, but taught me nothing worthwhile and had a negative net effect on me and my ability to think, which is what I mean by calling it worthless. I wasn't dumb enough to get a degree in something that wouldn't make it easier to get a job, as the lady in the article was, and certainly not dumb enough to do it and then complain about it as though she was sure that a frou frou degree would open up a world of possibilities for her. It's like hitting your hand with a hammer and then complaining to the world that you're hurt as if it's someone else's fault besides your own.

Lisa said...

wow this is really a good read. Like my Grandpa used to say if you have a skill you an always make a buck.
I have a friend who is worth over 1 million simply by purchasing forclosed homes,fixing them up and renting them out and he's dyslexias barely graduation HS ,never going to college and never having a boss.

Silverfiddle said...

Lisa: Your fried is who should be lecturing at colleges.

TKZ: I'm still trying to picture you supporting Al Sharpton!

TKZ said...

Hahaha- I know, right? It shames me greatly to admit that. :o) The man's a race-baiting political whore who is supporting the absolute genocide and corruption of his own people.

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