College Isn't For Everyone

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  • #1
ZapperZ
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  • #2
Nabeshin
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Amazing that we need a Harvard study to tell us the obvious...
 
  • #3
eri
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I think anyone who's taught undergrads would certainly agree with that study. However, they say 'About a third of jobs in the next decade won't require a four-year college education...' - only about 25% of the population has a college degree now, when nearly 50% of them tried college at some point. Does that mean 2/3 of jobs will require a college degree? When only 1/4 of the population has one, and following the recommendations of this study would probably decrease that number?
 
  • #4
thegreenlaser
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I think parents should be a little more supportive of kids who don't want to go through college education. I know a decent number of people who went to college for a year or two, knowing all along that they had no desire to finish a degree because their interests lay elsewhere. The problem is, their parents basically gave the impression of "Go to college and get a degree or we're never helping you out financially again." Why are so many parents willing to drop thousands of dollars on college courses that their kid has no interest in, but they won't put a cent towards helping them get on their feet going into a job straight out of high school? Not all parents are like this, but a lot are. I know it's possible to make it without parental support, but it's pretty discouraging from what I've seen. Having parents put that much of a negative connotation on non-college makes kids feel like they're going to be stuck working at minimum wage for the rest of their lives.
 
  • #5
G01
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The problem is, their parents basically gave the impression of "Go to college and get a degree or we're never helping you out financially again." Why are so many parents willing to drop thousands of dollars on college courses that their kid has no interest in, but they won't put a cent towards helping them get on their feet going into a job straight out of high school?

People treat a Bachelor's degree like a high school diploma. Many people think it's something everyone must get in order to put food on the table. It's not. A bachelors degree does not mean competency. It is over and beyond competency and is the completely wrong type of training for many careers.

This attitude really needs to change. It lowers the value of a college degree and lowers respect for much needed, skilled careers that do not require a degree.

A college degree should be something that everyone can get if they want to, but it should not be something everyone is pushed to get.

Great find Zz!
 
  • #6
AlephZero
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One sentence caught my eye, just browsing through it (the quote may be approximate, from memory)

"The current situation shows that it is no longer a defensible position to ignore how the rest of the world addresses these problems." (my emphasis).

Only the US could take the two words in bold as being self-evident. You dug your own grave, so lie in it.

Only one thing angers me about the mess you are in: a procession of brown-nosed British politicians have done their best to convert the UK's education system into the same state as yours. The good news is, they only partially suceeded before the money ran out a couple of years back.
 
  • #7
Pengwuino
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I think parents should be a little more supportive of kids who don't want to go through college education. I know a decent number of people who went to college for a year or two, knowing all along that they had no desire to finish a degree because their interests lay elsewhere. The problem is, their parents basically gave the impression of "Go to college and get a degree or we're never helping you out financially again." Why are so many parents willing to drop thousands of dollars on college courses that their kid has no interest in, but they won't put a cent towards helping them get on their feet going into a job straight out of high school? Not all parents are like this, but a lot are. I know it's possible to make it without parental support, but it's pretty discouraging from what I've seen. Having parents put that much of a negative connotation on non-college makes kids feel like they're going to be stuck working at minimum wage for the rest of their lives.

Parents aren't aware that pushing someone through a degree they aren't interested in is going to end up with $50k of debt and no job because the person probably barely scraped by and never gained anything useful for finding a job. I've never heard of a parent whos kid ended up moving back in with them because they couldn't find a job (or didn't want to) who wasn't surprised that they're now having to pay their kids college debt. The parents are as blind as the students.
 
  • #8
xGAME-OVERx
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I would imagine the parents also love to tell their friends that their child went/goes to college X and got/is studying for a degree in Y, especially if everyone else's kids go to college.
 
  • #9
physics girl phd
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I'm even starting to wonder (with our middle child) if middle school isn't for everyone. Note: before anyone throws a cow (or slaps me with a fish)... I'm at least half-joking here, okay?
 
  • #10
Shackleford
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Often times, a trade/technical school is the right place for someone. A good majority of well-paying jobs out there do not require a degree, and those are often related to what you can learn in trade/technical schools.
 
  • #11
DDTea
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There's a lot to be said about trade schools. Skilled trades in construction, for example, are in extremely high demand right now. Also, you can work while you go to school and apprenticeships are almost mandatory. The pay isn't bad either.

On the note of getting on your feet after high school: I know of someone who always wanted to drive a dump truck. His parents were wary and tried to tell him to go to college. When he graduated High School, he still wanted to drive a dump truck. So his parents used his college savings to buy him a dump truck and hire a couple of people. He's doing alright now :P
 
  • #12
Ashuron
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The problem is people treat college like a vocational school.
Believing they will learn directly applicable skill for work.
 
  • #13
G01
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The problem is people treat college like a vocational school.
Believing they will learn directly applicable skill for work.

True. There is a difference between education and training. College is the former, yet many people treat it like the latter.
 
  • #14
Shackleford
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True. There is a difference between education and training. College is the former, yet many people treat it like the latter.

Making this distinction more clear to the public at-large would help a lot of people. It's the education system's action.
 
  • #15
flyingpig
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Grades is all that matters in college, the learning comes when we are on the job.
 
  • #16
Ryker
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True. There is a difference between education and training. College is the former, yet many people treat it like the latter.
I somewhat disagree with this. This is a very romanticized view of university education, and I think even in theory it is supposed to be a mixture of both, that is education and training. It's just that it's part training for a broader scope of job, not for working in cubicle #54 on the fourth floor of Shell's office in Houston.
Grades is all that matters in college, the learning comes when we are on the job.
Good luck with that attitude.
 
  • #17
rhombusjr
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I'm even starting to wonder (with our middle child) if middle school isn't for everyone. Note: before anyone throws a cow (or slaps me with a fish)... I'm at least half-joking here, okay?

It isn't, I didn't go to middle school (well, I was homeschooled between elementary and high school, so I guess that sort of counts). Middle school is sort of like a purgatory where you put kids until they're mature enough to go to high school.
 
  • #18
Pengwuino
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It isn't, I didn't go to middle school (well, I was homeschooled between elementary and high school, so I guess that sort of counts). Middle school is sort of like a purgatory where you put kids until they're mature enough to go to high school.

That's saying something.
 
  • #19
elfboy
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The smartest man in the world supposedly didn't finish college
 
  • #20
Vanadium 50
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Since there is no consensus on who the smartest man in the world is, such a statement is almost meaningless.
 
  • #21
Pengwuino
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The smartest man in the world supposedly didn't finish college

I finished college
 
  • #22
twofish-quant
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Amazing that we need a Harvard study to tell us the obvious...

The fact that Harvard people saying the obvious has credibility is why people want to go to Harvard.

If you can create a path by which someone going to vocational school ends up being President or CEO of a company giving orders to Harvard graduates, then people will go through route. But it's not hard to see why people aren't enthusiastic about making decisions which will cause them to forever take orders from Harvard graduates.

Harvard could make vocational school a lot more attractive if the MBA programs and the undergraduate programs admit even a small fraction (say 5%) of their incoming class from people that went through vocational school. Otherwise, you are forcing people to put themselves into a lower class, and it's not surprising when people refuse to do so.
 
  • #23
twofish-quant
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Having parents put that much of a negative connotation on non-college makes kids feel like they're going to be stuck working at minimum wage for the rest of their lives.

Because it tends to be true.
 
  • #24
twofish-quant
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Often times, a trade/technical school is the right place for someone. A good majority of well-paying jobs out there do not require a degree, and those are often related to what you can learn in trade/technical schools.

Which is why I think MIT should figure out a way of boosting enrollment by a factor of 10 or 100. (seriously)

The problem with trade/technical schools is that you will never make them attractive if you have a situation in which people that go to technical schools are taking orders from people that went to Harvard. If you change the perception of technical schools so that people think MIT when they think "technical institute" then you might be able to change things.
 
  • #25
twofish-quant
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"What we'd like is a system where people of all backgrounds could choose to be plumbers or to be philosophers," Baum added. "Those options are not open. But we certainly need plumbers so it's wrong to think we should be nervous about directing people in that route."

And as long as the plumbers are the people giving the orders to the philosophers, I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem with a system that creates a Plato-like world of philosopher-kings, and I worry that the Harvard study is pushing things toward that world.

If Harvard really wants to make a difference, they could admit some plumbers to their MBA program.

Also, I'm not sure it will work in the United States, since a lot of people ended up in the US precisely because they where plumbers in Europe that couldn't get anywhere.
 
  • #26
chiro
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The smartest man in the world supposedly didn't finish college

Who is this smart man you refer to? Name?
 
  • #27
twofish-quant
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One of the findings of the report is that most jobs today require some post-secondary education. So if you define "college" broadly to include two-year community colleges, then yes, college is pretty essential.

The other thing is that the apprenticeship model is something that most engineering schools use. After the first two years, you are highly encouraged to get an internship somewhere.
 
  • #28
chiro
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One of the findings of the report is that most jobs today require some post-secondary education. So if you define "college" broadly to include two-year community colleges, then yes, college is pretty essential.

The other thing is that the apprenticeship model is something that most engineering schools use. After the first two years, you are highly encouraged to get an internship somewhere.

Most professions worth their salt follow this model, and I would hate to know a professional body out there that doesn't require an apprenticeship or internship as a requirement of obtaining accreditation.
 
  • #29
G01
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The fact that Harvard people saying the obvious has credibility is why people want to go to Harvard.

If you can create a path by which someone going to vocational school ends up being President or CEO of a company giving orders to Harvard graduates, then people will go through route. But it's not hard to see why people aren't enthusiastic about making decisions which will cause them to forever take orders from Harvard graduates.

Harvard could make vocational school a lot more attractive if the MBA programs and the undergraduate programs admit even a small fraction (say 5%) of their incoming class from people that went through vocational school. Otherwise, you are forcing people to put themselves into a lower class, and it's not surprising when people refuse to do so.


I've met plumbers/electricians who do quite well for themselves. Also, the people running plumbing and electrician firms tend to be trained as plumbers/electricians. They aren't usually Harvard MBA's. So, I don't know what you mean by "taking orders from Harvard graduates."
 
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  • #30
twofish-quant
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I've met plumbers/electricians who do quite well for themselves. Also, the people running plumbing and electrician firms tend to be trained as plumbers/electricians. They aren't usually Harvard MBA's. So, I don't know what you mean by "taking orders from Harvard graduates."

I'm thinking about being on the committees that generate these sorts of reports. One thing that I found pretty striking was on the committee of people talking about vocational education, there didn't seem to be anyone that was a plumber or electrician.

Also there did seem to be a major problem with the report. If it is the case that people are failing out of four year colleges because they are unable to meet general education requirements, then I'm not sure how they are going to make it through a two year vocational program.
 
  • #31
G01
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I'm thinking about being on the committees that generate these sorts of reports. One thing that I found pretty striking was on the committee of people talking about vocational education, there didn't seem to be anyone that was a plumber or electrician.

OK, I see your point.

Also there did seem to be a major problem with the report. If it is the case that people are failing out of four year colleges because they are unable to meet general education requirements, then I'm not sure how they are going to make it through a two year vocational program.

Fair enough. The initial point still stands, though. If these people are unable to meet general education requirements then there are only a few possible problems:

1. College is not for them.

2. They have had poor secondary education. (Given the state of of US public schools, this is quite possibly the case.)

So the question is:

The students who are not thriving in college, are they:

1. not cut out for any skilled career, vocational or college trained?

2. college able, but just poorly prepared for college/

3. vocation able, but just poorly prepared for vocational school?

4. a mix 2 and 3?
 
  • #32
Shaun_W
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I quite often talk to the mature students at my university, and every single one of them who is doing their first degree is there because there was a glass ceiling in effect at their work where no-one without an honours degree could get promoted above a certain level. And this certain level was fairly low. Those with degrees were going straight to the management level, giving out orders to those who had the years and years of experience. I guess that hacked them off a little, too. If I was in my late twenties or thirties and had been in a job for years I also wouldn't like 21 year olds with no experience making the orders. But that's life and I guess the system is fairly effective in keeping social mobility down.

So it's fairly obvious why parents really, really push their children to get a degree. Because without it, unless they are a one in a million entrepreneur or something, they aren't going to amount to much without it.

Of course, the plumbers and electricians might have the last laugh when everyone else's jobs are outsourced.
 
  • #33
Fizex
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So it's fairly obvious why parents really, really push their children to get a degree. Because without it, unless they are a one in a million entrepreneur or something, they aren't going to amount to much without it.

But if they really don't care about college then there is no point for parents to push them. They don't really know the benefits of college and won't do well because they aren't motivated enough. If they're happy being plumbers or ditch diggers then let them be. Just ask mathwonk.
 
  • #34
twofish-quant
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But if they really don't care about college then there is no point for parents to push them. They don't really know the benefits of college and won't do well because they aren't motivated enough. If they're happy being plumbers or ditch diggers then let them be. Just ask mathwonk.

The problem is that plumbers and ditch diggers require a large amount of skill and even low/no-skill jobs require a lot of motivation (probably more so than being a college freshman). If you aren't motivated enough to go to college, you just are not going to get a job digging ditches or doing plumbing. If you miss a class, no one cares, but if you miss a construction or plumbing appointment than really bad things happen.

Also plumbing requires a fair amount of skill, and most ditch digging today involves power equipment which can be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.
 
  • #35
twofish-quant
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OK, I see your point.

The other point is that most European countries have rather strong labor movements in which there is a path by which someone that becomes a plumber can get into a position of political or economic power. The US has very week labor movements, so if you start out as a plumber it's not clear to me how you will be able to either be a Congressman or influence one.

Also, knowing the vocational-technical system in China, people that come out of vo-tech high schools all are able to do algebra and often calculus and can also write essays and reports.

1. College is not for them.

In that case, they are screwed, because pretty much any non-minimum wage job today in the US requires post-secondary education. Also, if they problem is a discipline issue, then they are really screwed, because even minimum wage jobs require that the person involved be able to follow instructions and show up to work on time.

[QUOTE[2. They have had poor secondary education. (Given the state of of US public schools, this is quite possibly the case.)[/QUOTE]

That's probably the case. People get annoyed when colleges are used for remedial courses, but if colleges don't do it, then someone has to.

The students who are not thriving in college, are they:

1. not cut out for any skilled career, vocational or college trained?

2. college able, but just poorly prepared for college/

3. vocation able, but just poorly prepared for vocational school?

4. a mix 2 and 3?

Dunno, I think you can ask them. Also it could be that colleges are just not set up to teach the general education skills that students need. The problem is that general education is *extremely* labor intensive, and it's not a high priority for most education institutions.

One reason I'm allergic to these sorts of reports is that the blue-ribbon committees that write them seem to me totally nutty when they talk about physicist-training. I'd be quite interested in how a plumber reacts to these sorts of reports.

Also, having worked with plumbers (and tried it myself), I don't think that becoming a master plumbing requires less effort than getting a post-graduate degree. If you get a two year associate degree that gives you enough skill that you can handle basic things, but you aren't going to be opening up your own business without another few years of experience.
 

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