To go or not to go to college or university

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  • #1
Astronuc
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I heard this interesting program on NPR.

Opting Out of College for a Blue-Collar Life

In a small office at the public high school in Kingsford, Mich., guidance counselor Kip Beaudoin is doing what many parents might consider treachery: He's encouraging a student to just say "no" to college.

Senior Will Anderson tells Beaudoin that his parents are pressuring him to apply — that his mother "is always thinking, 'Be a doctor, be something.'"

But Anderson says his passion has always been working on cars. He sees college as a waste of time.

"I don't need math, science. I just need to learn what I need to learn and get out there," he says.

In recent decades, the number of U.S. high-school graduates who begin college has risen dramatically. But so has the number of college dropouts. Beaudoin is one of many educators who think these figures reflect a growing pressure on students to follow the college track, even when they might be better suited to other options.

When Anderson graduates from high school, he plans to enroll in an automobile mechanics' apprentice program, with Beaudoin's encouragement. But more often than not, Beaudoin says, parents consider such advice a betrayal.
There is nothing wrong with making a living in the trades. However, I think it is important to have some level of education beyond high school, such as courses in financial management, business management, law, and perhaps political science and history, in order to understand better the society and the world in which one lives.

NPR has a very good series - The College Admissions Game
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7537888
The frenzy surrounding college admissions, especially at a small group of highly selective colleges, is intense and, according to some college deans, out of control. In a seven-part series, NPR explores the alternatives.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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It seems that in most western countries, governments and pressure groups confuse 'access for all' with 'access for everyone'. Making sure everybody can go to college if they wish to doesn't mean making sure everybody goes to college.

You do have a point, though. In the case of the kid they're talking about, motor vehicle technology is likely to experience a paradigm shift very soon. Skills useful on the current generation may not be as useful on the next and this guy may find himself out of a job if he doesn't have the adaptive reasoning skills to learn and understand the ins and outs of new technology.
 
  • #3
I think everyone should go to at least a two-year community college if they can. They may just find out that they do like school, and that going into trades may be a bad idea after all.

Besides, since when has anyone known what they want to do - let alone someone who isn't even out of high school yet?
 
  • #4
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I spent a few years after high school as a roofing foreman, which made me realize that I needed to go back to school, so I did.

In high school, I didn't do much of anything and spent my time as an automotive vocational student whom never even passed Algebra 1. I did well, even came in 9th in the country in a competition in NYC, but when I left the automotive field (had a nice job at a Mercedes dealership) very very shortly after graduating high school, I had no skills or experience in anything else, which led me to roofing. I hated working full time as a roofer, but the money is very attractive for a young guy. I made more $$ then than I will see anytime in the next 6-7 years and probably even when I'm a postdoc (if I make it that far).

One can make very good money at a young age in construction and vocational trades, which I think tends to trap people in those jobs. They start living the lifestyle of making such money, settledown, and possibly have a kid before they come to realize that it's really not what they want to spend the rest of their life doing for work. I came very close to making that mistake, but something just clicked one day, and I took a few classes at a community college (starting at the very bottom in pre-algebra because I didn't learn anything in high school!). Now, I'm two classes away from a math minor at a university and do really well. However, I could have saved a lot of time and money if I had taken real classes along with the vocational classes instead of neglecting any form of high school academics.

I think what that guidance counselor is doing is perfectly fine, but a high school student should never be discouraged from taking harder math classes etc in high school just because all they want to do is work in a trade as a career.
 
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  • #5
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I have to agree with the counselor... college just isn't for everybody. The world needs plumbers, auto mechanics, and roofers too.

That said, I don't think that anyone should ever be discouraged from trying to become more educated...
 
  • #6
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I've had a number of friends who could barely pass highschool, but loved to work on cars/construction/ <insert trade here> and if they're smart they will be making more money than I will in alifetime 10 years from now.

as a mechanic you can work your way up to owning a shop (people will always need their cars fixed)

as a carpenter you can start free-lancing and eventually be the boss of a full crew.

same thing with plumbers/roofers anything you can name. college is unnecessary for some.

Also have you seen all of the college educated secretaries pulling down less than 30,000? or how bout the guys who end up going into retail even after college? these people could have been doing the jobs they ended up with without the college and without the debt. Because at the end of the day college did nothing for them.

people don't get stuck in jobs bcause of a lack of education, or money. They get stuck in them because of a lack of will and intelligence.
 
  • #7
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people don't get stuck in jobs bcause of a lack of education, or money. They get stuck in them because of a lack of will and intelligence.
And I know quite a few who are at a good university, just managing to have decent grades in their classes toward a degree, all while not attending class, not caring about their classes or their education whatsoever, spending all their free time partying, etc. And the sad thing is that they will get the degree with their name on the paper because their parents had enough money to send them off, and because they got to party just as much, if not more than they had to study...meanwhile, many others who could be more intelligent, certainly more hardworking and productive, are out of luck because they can't afford the degree.

Of course this does not describe (hopefully) most of the people at your average university, but a good number will fall into that category in my experience...
 
  • #8
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what i don't understand is why trade schools/professions are not part of the whole university setting. Also to bad they won't fix public childhood education.
 
  • #9
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Blue collars and white collars were present at Jesus' birth- except that the white collars were a few months late.
 
  • #10
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Originally Posted by: neurocomp2003
what i don't understand is why trade schools/professions are not part of the whole university setting.
Often times the equiptment used at a trade school, for instance a mechanics school, are specialized and expensive. Take into account that many universities also put alot of money into the sciences, which are highly money intesive fields of reasearch, and you will realize that it is only realistic to have one or the other. Or that would be my best guess.

However, I do know of community colleges, that because of a lack in the need to support research do opt for having trade schools attached to them.
 
  • #11
JasonRox
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There is nothing wrong with making a living in the trades. However, I think it is important to have some level of education beyond high school, such as courses in financial management, business management, law, and perhaps political science and history, in order to understand better the society and the world in which one lives.
I disagree. Many students graduate college not knowing anything about their society not to mention those who actually dropout.

It comes down to it's a waste of time again. Sure, it would be nice to learn those things, but many just don't learn it anyways. In the end, that in itself, is a waste of time.

I hate to pessimistic, but that's reality.
 

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