Should Everyone Attend College?

I’ve always said YES to this. I’ve always felt that college opened my eyes to other cultures and helped teach me to think and articulate ideas. I still believe this and wouldn’t give up my degrees for anything.

But lately, I’ve been reading some interesting points of view that have given me pause. So now I am softening my stance on mandatory college educations. I still think that elementary and high school educations are horrible in the U.S. and kids come out basically dumber than a bag of hammers – BUT THEY TEST WELL!! So I do feel that college is still a very valid and worthy path.

However, Mike Rowe (and my basic common sense) tell me that what this country needs is to go back to the trades. We’ve got a generation of kids (it’s about to be TWO generations) who went to school and were taught how to take multiple choice tests but can’t spell or write a cohesive essay. In addition to being functionally illiterate, they don’t know how to DO anything, either. That is a BAD combination.

When I was in high school in the 80s, the vocational education kids were looked down upon. (Yes, we had vocational ed back in the olden days! Things like carpentry, welding, electrical, etc.) The common opinion was that those kids were the ones too dumb to get into college, so they were learning a trade instead. I now see how totally OFF that opinion was. 100% wrong.

Now that I’m a grown up and have a house to take care of, I see very clearly that the trades are a wonderful and necessary thing. You’d think that growing up in a family who did construction, I’d have figured this out, alas, it took me a minute. ;)

So anyway, the point of this post is to say that I think the trades are a valid career choice and a damn sight cheaper than going to college and coming out with huge debt. I still think one should be curious and educate oneself about subjects outside the chosen field no matter which field that is.

Mike Rowe has a foundation that supports education in the trades as well as an awesome site (Profoundly Disconnected) with tons of information.

The world needs tradesmen. There are pipes to fix, hair to cut, things to build and gobs of other stuff that needs to be taught by doing. Even making jewelry is a trade because you learn by doing! I’ll no longer threaten my niece with death if she chooses to do hair or some other non-college path. As long as she educates herself on a larger scope and is not a dumbass who doesn’t know who Monet is, I’m OK with no college.

What I am against is being ignorant (like my family) and not doing anything about it. READ. LEARN. EXPLORE. I strive to learn something new every day. If it’s a word or fact or whatever. THAT is what I want instilled in young people, not necessarily college. The ability to solve problems and THINK are the most important skills anyone can have and that doesn’t come from a book. That comes from doing.

3 Replies to “Should Everyone Attend College?”

  1. If college weren’t so expensive, I would still be firmly in the mandatory college camp. However, I can’t see forcing my kids to start their lives with a debt that will crush them when they are supposed to still be figuring out who they are and what they want to do.

    The value of a good education is to teach people how to THINK – and that rarely happens on the public school track anymore. I mean, we live in an allegedly excellent district, and yet I am still forced to homeschool my child to ensure his needs are met. Girl child will probably spend a year or so at “mommy school” as well, since I have to fight the calendar AND her IQ.

  2. I agree. 1000%. In fact, if I were to go back to school, I would go back to a 2-year tech school and NOT a 4-year university.
    My high school economics teacher in the mid-90s told us that we would be wise to go to a tech school rather than a university because the job market would be overloaded with people with 4-year degrees.

    I can respect going to school to become more well-rounded, but you can do that without taking on the crushing debt required to get a 4-year degree. Right now, college isn’t a practical option for ANYONE. Hey, my former sister-in-law got a bachelor’s in English from UGA and she… worked retail for the next 15 years. She still does not make what I make. I have no degree, just a couple of computer certifications. I work in a TRADE, though, really.

    There is much speculation that the education “bubble” is going to burst sooner rather than later. When that happens, and college becomes affordable to the middle class again, THEN I may consider pursuing my bachelor’s. Til then, it makes no practical sense for me to take on a ton of debt with no guarantee that the degree will bring me any more income. If I’d gone at 18 and finished at 22, it’d be fine. I just can’t do it now, at 35, on my own dime. I make WAY too much to get a pell grant.

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