Why go to college?

28 Nov

Adam Davidson has written an interesting New York Times article, It’s the Economy: The Dwindling Power of a College Degree:

A general guideline these days is that people are rewarded when they can do things that take trained judgment and skill — things, in other words, that can’t be done by computers or lower-wage workers in other countries. Money now flows around the world so quickly, and technology changes so fast, that people who thought they were in high demand find themselves uprooted. Many newspaper reporters have learned that their work was subsidized, in part, by classified ads and now can’t survive the rise of Craigslist; computer programmers have found out that some smart young guys in India will do their jobs for much less. Meanwhile, China lends so much money to the United States that mortgage brokers and bond traders can become richer than they ever imagined for a few years and then, just as quickly, become broke and unemployed.

One of the greatest changes is that a college degree is no longer the guarantor of a middle-class existence. Until the early 1970s, less than 11 percent of the adult population graduated from college, and most of them could get a decent job. Today nearly a third have college degrees, and a higher percentage of them graduated from nonelite schools. A bachelor’s degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability. To get a good job, you have to have some special skill — charm, by the way, counts — that employers value. But there’s also a pretty good chance that by some point in the next few years, your boss will find that some new technology or some worker overseas can replace you.

Though it’s no guarantee, a B.A. or some kind of technical training is at least a prerequisite for a decent salary. It’s hard to see any great future for high-school dropouts or high-school graduates with no technical skills. They most often get jobs that require little judgment and minimal training, like stocking shelves, cooking burgers and cleaning offices. Employers generally see these unskilled workers as commodities — one is as good as any other — and thus each worker has very little bargaining power, especially now that unions are weaker. There are about 40 million of these low-skilled people in our work force. They’re vying for jobs that are likely to earn near the minimum wage with few or no benefits, and they have a high chance of being laid off many times in a career.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/magazine/changing-rules-for-success.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

The societal push the last few years has been to have more kids go to college. Quite often schools are ranked on the percentage of kids that go directly to college from high school. So, counselors are following cultural cues they have received from administrators, parents, and the media.

Chris Stout lists Top Five Reasons to Go to College Stout places the emphasis on the college experience and the fact that college is not just a place for possible career training. Forbes. Com published Five Reasons Not to Go to College Some people discover their passion earlier in life than others. Forbes.Com addresses its comments at those folks. The calculation is that if one already knows what they want to do, college could be an unnecessary detour. A US News and World Report article estimated the value of a college degree

Amanda Paulson of the Christian Science Monitor has a great article, Does Everyone Need A College Degree? Maybe Not Says Harvard Study about a new Harvard study.   

A new report released by Harvard Wednesday states in some of the strongest terms yet that such a “college for all” emphasis may actually harm many American students – keeping them from having a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood and a viable career.

The American system for preparing young people to lead productive and prosperous lives as adults is clearly badly broken,” concludes the report, “Pathways to Prosperity” (pdf).

Marcus Wohlsen of AP has posted the article, Tech Mogul Pays Bright Minds Not to Go to College at Seattle PI.Com. Wohlsen reports that tech tycoon Peter Thiel has set up a scholarship which two dozen gifted young people $100,000 not to go to college but to become entrepreneurs for the next two years.

A college degree is no guarantee of either employment or continued employment. Still, because of the economic uncertainty there is an “arms race” in education. Laura Pappano is reporting in the New York Times article, The Master’s As the New Bachelor’s

Call it credential inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree. The number awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.

Great Schools has a concise overview of various options should a child decide they do not want to go from high school to a four year college. What if Your Teen Wants to Skip College There are several options. Options include a gap year, trade school, vocational school, community college, and for some the military. The only option that should be off the table is to do nothing.

Whether a person chooses to attend a four year college after high school is a very personal decision and there is no one right answer. One thing the current economic climate has taught many is there are no guarantees in life, even with a college degree. The trades may offer some a means to earn a living and a fulfilling life.

Follow your passion, and success will follow you.
— Arthur Buddhold

There are no easy answers in the current economic climate.

Resources:

  1. A publication by the government Why Attend College? Is a good overview
  2. Article in USA Today about gap year
  3. gap year articles
  4. Advantages of Going to a Vocational School
  5. Vocational School Accreditation
  6. Accredidation Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology
  7. The Federal Trade Commission has Choosing A Career Or Vocational School
  8. How to Choose a Vocational School
  9. How to Choose The Best Trade School


Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

7 Responses to “Why go to college?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The International Baccalaureate program and vocational students « drwilda - November 29, 2011

    […] Why go to college? […]

  2. The IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC) « drwilda - June 28, 2012

    […] There is a reluctance to promote vocational opportunities in the U.S. because the is a fear of tracking individuals into vocational training and denying certain groups access to a college education. The compromise could be a combination of both quality technical training with a solid academic foundation. Individuals may have a series of careers over the course of a career and a solid foundation which provides a degree of flexibility is desired for survival in the future. See, Why go to college? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/ […]

  3. Georgetown University study: Even in a depression, college grads enjoy advantage « drwilda - August 15, 2012

    […] detour. A US News and World Report article estimated the value of a college degree    https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/Georgetown University has released a study that finds a college degree gives an advantage, even […]

  4. STEM majors profit college students of color « drwilda - August 19, 2012

    […] detour. A US News and World Report article estimated the value of a college degree    https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/ Georgetown University has released a study that finds a college degree gives an advantage, even […]

  5. ABA task force proposes sweeping changes to legal education | drwilda - September 23, 2013

    […] https://drwilda.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/ […]

  6. Pew Research: College education increases income potential | drwilda - October 1, 2013

    […] young people $100,000 not to go to college but to become entrepreneurs for the next two years. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/ Pew Research reported that college graduates make more income for a number of […]

  7. I-Best adult education prepares adult education students for employment | drwilda - November 5, 2013

    […] There is a reluctance to promote vocational opportunities in the U.S. because the is a fear of tracking individuals into vocational training and denying certain groups access to a college education. The comprise could be a combination of both quality technical training with a solid academic foundation. Individuals may have a series of careers over the course of a career and a solid foundation which provides a degree of flexibility is desired for survival in the future. See, Why go to college? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/ […]

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