This will be the BIDER quote of the day:
"A four-year degree in business – what's that get you?" asked Karl Christopher, a placement counselor at the Columbia Area Career Center vocational program. "A shift supervisor position at a store in the mall."I know someone with a college degree who now works as a manager at a mall store. She spent years looking for a "respectable" white-collar job, but gave up after a long line of low wage internships that went nowhere and didn't end up in a full-time job offer (sound familiar?). She's actually quite happy at her job which gives her a stable 40 hours each week, benefits, and enough money to support her young daughter. No, being a store manager doesn't sound as fancy as a job working for a non-profit, advertising company, university, shitlaw firm, or newspaper. But being a store manager probably pays as much or even more than these so-called white-collar jobs. At least it beats doc review for the JD crowd, right?
Which is why this young woman's decision to go to welding school over college might be a good idea:
In a town dominated by the University of Missouri's flagship campus and two smaller colleges, higher education is practically a birthright for high school seniors like Kate Hodges.
She has a 3.5 grade-point-average, a college savings account and a family tree teeming with advanced degrees. But in June, Hodges is headed to the Tulsa Welding School in Oklahoma, where she hopes to earn an associate's degree in welding technology in seven months.
"They fought me so hard," she said, referring to disappointed family members. "They still think I'm going to college."
Hodges should send her parents over to BIDER. Many of our readers have expressed the desire to work as welders, plumbers, and electricians. Why? Because it sure as hell beats being unemployed or working in doc review. Attending college and graduate school no longer guarantees anyone a decent paying, 40-hour/week job.
The notion that a four-year degree is essential for real success is being challenged by a growing number of economists, policy analysts and academics. They say more Americans should consider other options such as technical training or two-year schools, which have been embraced in Europe for decades.
...Spending more time in school also means greater overall student debt. The average student debt load in 2008 was $23,200 – a nearly $5,000 increase over five years. Two-thirds of students graduating from four-year schools owe money on student loans.
Angel and I have always said that college is not for everyone. I lean more towards college for good students who can get scholarships and vocational school for the rest who couldn't even get a 3.0 in high school. Really, what is the point of spending money to continue something one doesn't excel in when they can make money doing something else like being a store manager or welder which pays as much as what most college and graduate students end up making these days in an entry level job (if they can find one). Ninety-nine percent of college graduates shouldn't even bother with graduate school unless you get a full scholarship to a top 10 school or your parents are rich enough to support your "funemployment" trip around the world when you graduate. In this new economy, work experience gets you the job before someone with an advanced degree:
"College is what every parent wants for their child," said Martin Scaglione, president and chief operating officer of work force development for ACT, the Iowa-based not-for-profit best known for its college entrance exam. "The reality is, they may not be ready for college."
...Scaglione suggested that nothing short of a new definition for educational success is needed to diminish the public bias toward four-year degrees. He advocates "certification as the new education currency – documentation of skills as opposed to mastering curriculum."
"Our national system is, 'Do you have a degree or not?'" he said. "That doesn't really measure if you have skills."