Kids, don’t go to college

May 5th, 2009 by | Permalink

Photo by Justas Cekas

Photo by Justas Cekas

Why are we pushing college on every kid when not every kid is cut out for it? There’s no shame in not going to college, in fact, going to college just may be a waste of time for most high school grads. And if you listen to some talking radio heads, it may just be a colossal waste of money too.

Currently around 65% of high school students are college-bound and some experts are calling for a re-examination of college level education and what it actually gets you these days. Furthermore, as more and more jobs are now being outsourced overseas, a college degree creates a certain dichotomy — while corporations expect and require degrees for jobs in which college degrees aren’t even necessary, like sales positions, conversely, skilled laborers or technicians only require more expedient training through trade schools. One clear benefit of these tradesmen skills is that most of them can’t be outsourced overseas.

For example, I’m an Account Manager for a hospital. Nothing in my 50k waste of a college education prepared me for what I’m doing. What it did do is get me a foot in the door for an administrative position some 17 years ago, where I worked my way up. The rest has been on the job the training. Never have I had to pull from my college textbooks, lectures, assignments or tests to understand how to manage coordinating people’s health benefits in my current position. One has to wonder, what is the point of a B.A. if all you need for is to weed out people that are perhaps more qualified but couldn’t afford to go to college?

Often times I regret not just going to a trade school or becoming a nurse, medical technician or even a paralegal. I could have completed many of those certifications in 2 years or less, instead I wasted 5 years (yes, I was on the 5 year program) of balancing missing classes to hang out in Grant park with my friends while still meeting the minimum requirements to get passing grades.

Welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers — they’re all jobs that can’t be outsourced, yet my job can be. So who’s the real chump here?

As www.bluecollarandproud.com points out, these tradesmen are not your grandparent’s skilled labor workers. Many of these trade schools require some critical thinkers, like welders, who deal with complex mathematical equations to figure out trajectories and angles.

While not all kids are cut out for the trades just as all kids are not cut out for universities, the future of the tradesmen just might translate to job security and skills that seem to be lost on younger generations. When and if my children want to go to college, I will be there to support them emotionally and financially (as much as I’m able), but I won’t make them go. I hope they understand all their options, unlike my parents, who pretty much said, “Go to college or I’ll never speak to you again.”

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