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creekland

The Myth of the Successful College Dropout

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Another interesting one today:

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/the-myth-of-the-successful-college-dropout-why-it-could-make-millions-of-young-americans-poorer/273628/

 

Sensational media stories about millionaire drop-outs miss one thing: The vast majority of America's 30 million college dropouts are more likely than graduates to be unemployed, poor, and in default

 

Like any myth, this story has a kernel of truth: There are exceptional individuals whose hard work, determination, and intelligence make up for the lack of a college degree. If they could do it, one might think, why can't everybody?

Such a question ignores the outlier status of these exceptional drop-out entrepreneurs and innovators.

Those who are able to achieve such success often rely on a set of skills already developed before they get to college. They know how to educate themselves, get a bank loan, and manage their time and their money. They may benefit from a network of family, friends and acquaintances who open doors and provide a safety net.

I've heard the myth perpetuated over and over again - I guess, because it shows a glimmer of hope in the similar manner that buying a lottery ticket does. But with the lotto, one is usually only out a few bucks. Dropping out of college can leave one owing a whole lot more.

These are the 34 million Americans over 25 with some college credits but no diploma. Nearly as large as the state of California, this group is 71 percent more likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to default on student loans. Far from being millionaires, they earn 32 percent less than college graduates, on average.

I'm seriously thinking youngest son might get some benefit from reading this - just in case college gets hard.

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Most of the people I know that were successful without a degree still had an education. It might not have been through academia, but they were skilled in some other aspect of business or career. They paid their dues in other ways, just not a degree.

 

So dropping out and hoping your wild hair idea might bring fruition and riches is not a plan, it's a wish.

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Creekland, I remember looking at something like this a while back and the successful dropouts dropped out of places like MIT, Reed College, and Stanford. These were people already operating in a different realm than your average drop-out from State U.

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Creekland, I remember looking at something like this a while back and the successful dropouts dropped out of places like MIT, Reed College, and Stanford. These were people already operating in a different realm than your average drop-out from State U.

 

I agree, but I still bet the majority don't do as well as their degreed counterparts (comparing average with a degree to average drop out). For one thing, the average drop out drops out because it is hard or they find things they don't want to do, but must and decide the "don't want to" part wins out. To get a successful business, both doing hard things and things you don't care to do are part of the picture (along with what you like). My guess (yes, pure guess) is the average college drop out who starts a business also ends up failing with that business - mainly due to things they don't like or finding out running a business is difficult.

 

Some definitely do succeed and it helps to come from a school where your entrance stats proved you tended to be more capable than the average student (at least at test taking and with teachers), but I bet more successful business folks come from these schools AFTER getting their degree vs dropping out.

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Creekland, I remember looking at something like this a while back and the successful dropouts dropped out of places like MIT, Reed College, and Stanford. These were people already operating in a different realm than your average drop-out from State U.

 

Enh. I dropped out of a state university. I know that I am not on the nationally known radar. But I consider my life quite successful and satisfying to me.

 

In fact, in our family, right now, the drop out (me) is the one with the job while my husband, who has 2 bachelor's degree (economics and Mathematics) and a Master's in mathematics is struggling to find a job at all. We just WISH that his degree would guarantee that higher salary, etc. because we want him working and me home! That's why we sent him back to school when his first degree wasn't working.

 

My sister's kids are older than mine and approaching college years. We are not against college entirely -- if what you want to do with your life requires that degree. But we DO urge going out and getting an internship. Make relationships over the summers, esp, with companies that hire people in your field. Because those internships and personal relationships from our experiences have been much more valuable than the degree in getting an actual job.

 

(3 of the 4 jobs I've gotten over my job career have been temp-to-hire. The last was purely a gift from God.)

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Enh. I dropped out of a state university. I know that I am not on the nationally known radar. But I consider my life quite successful and satisfying to me.

 

In fact, in our family, right now, the drop out (me) is the one with the job while my husband, who has 2 bachelor's degree (economics and Mathematics) and a Master's in mathematics is struggling to find a job at all. We just WISH that his degree would guarantee that higher salary, etc. because we want him working and me home! That's why we sent him back to school when his first degree wasn't working.

 

 

I don't think that's quite the same unless you dropped out and started your own business and/or make the same amount annually as the average college grad from your U.

 

In any event, no one is saying all college drop outs are unemployed and/or earning little (or all college grads are employed). With statistics, there's rarely an "all" or "never." It's looking at the odds for planning a viable future, then figuring out how those odds affect your situation.

 

It's easy to look at headlines and everyone imagines themselves to be the main character/hero/survivor as that's how we're wired. But in real life, not everyone is that person.

 

ps I wish your hubby luck in his job search.

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Enh. I dropped out of a state university. I know that I am not on the nationally known radar. But I consider my life quite successful and satisfying to me.

 

In fact, in our family, right now, the drop out (me) is the one with the job while my husband, who has 2 bachelor's degree (economics and Mathematics) and a Master's in mathematics is struggling to find a job at all. We just WISH that his degree would guarantee that higher salary, etc. because we want him working and me home! That's why we sent him back to school when his first degree wasn't working.

 

My sister's kids are older than mine and approaching college years. We are not against college entirely -- if what you want to do with your life requires that degree. But we DO urge going out and getting an internship. Make relationships over the summers, esp, with companies that hire people in your field. Because those internships and personal relationships from our experiences have been much more valuable than the degree in getting an actual job.

 

(3 of the 4 jobs I've gotten over my job career have been temp-to-hire. The last was purely a gift from God.)

 

 

Vonfirmath, my comment was in no way meant to slam state universities or dropouts. My reference is to the myth of the successful college dropout that is prevalent in the media. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard. Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College where it is currently $56,000 a year to go to school and live in the dorms. These guys had advantages going into the schools and in the time they were there, they met others that helped in their careers. This is not the typical experience of someone dropping out of a local state university. Not impossible, just not typical.

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i dont think most people decide to drop out because they've heard drop outs are wildly successful. i think most people drop out because something got in the way of them finishing, and stories of successful dropouts help keep their hopes up. I dont think i really get your point . . it sounds like "See, dropping out isnt better than finishing college" but afaik no one ever suggested it was. They only suggest that college degree isnt the only viable path to have a happy and successful life.

 

i'm also a drop out. I even dropped out of life for a while, living on a commune. When i married dh, who had 5 degrees and had worked all his life, he was only making 25% more money than I was. considering how many years he spent living frugally so he could pay off his student loans, that didnt convince me that advanced degrees are a guarantee of anything.

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So, why does the article not state how much debt these young people go into in order to get that degree? Why doesn't a degree guarantee a job? There are so many reports of college graduates working entry level jobs, or still living at home with no jobs. The best thing to do is not to go into debt for a college degree, but to take the long term approach work, and go to school, pay as you go, if you can not get scholarships to go to college. No need making your student a debtor to his degree. How many families are struggling to pay college debt while trying to start a family?

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it sounds like "See, dropping out isnt better than finishing college" but afaik no one ever suggested it was.

 

But right now, it is becoming in style to suggest it. I agree with you that it wasn't that way in the past.

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So, why does the article not state how much debt these young people go into in order to get that degree? Why doesn't a degree guarantee a job? There are so many reports of college graduates working entry level jobs, or still living at home with no jobs. The best thing to do is not to go into debt for a college degree, but to take the long term approach work, and go to school, pay as you go, if you can not get scholarships to go to college. No need making your student a debtor to his degree. How many families are struggling to pay college debt while trying to start a family?

 

Because most do not go into outrageous amounts of debt to obtain a degree. The average debt among college grads is < $25000 and that doesn't count those with no debt who make up a significant proportion of grads.

 

Those with huge debt make the headlines, but they aren't the norm and NO ONE I know ever recommends a student take on so much. The other article I posted today showed that many employers prefer state schools as much as private (with flagships scoring higher).

 

With regards to not getting jobs, college grads still have a lower unemployment rate and higher earnings than those without a degree of some sort. That degree can be a two year or trade school.

 

Again, with stats, "all" and "never" don't apply. But looking at the odds, one is likely to do better with some sort of post high school education that leads to a piece of paper (degree, certification, whatever).

 

It's those not capable of getting anything (and no money to sustain them from other sources) that I fear will really have trouble sustaining themselves in life. There simply aren't enough jobs.

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You might want to read this news article too "How author hacked his own education" He was given a grant of $100,000 for dropping out of college to pursue specific goals over a two year period. The article did not say what he is going to do after the two years is up.

 

ETA:

I post the article to illustrate the media propaganda. I counted 22 fellows in 2011 and 19 fellows in 2012 (Source)

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I grew up in the industrial Midwest at a time when non-skilled factory labor often paid more than jobs that required degrees. Even then many industrial positions required some form of post-secondary education: welder's school or tool and die apprenticeship, for example. Today's factory jobs also require, if not a bachelor's degree, maybe an associate's. Similarly, you can earn money mowing grass at a golf course, but someone with pesticide certification earns more. Someone with a two year turf degree (yes, they exist) will supervise the crew.

 

No, I don't think that everyone needs a BA or BS. That is not the point of the article. Apparently some responders to this thread have not heard the myth that this is the age of the college dropout. I have read repeatedly that a degree is unnecessary. Just get a "great idea" and the world is your oyster. You can be the next Bill Gates!!! If it were only that easy...

 

As parents I think we need to help our kids find their way in the world. Perhaps construction jobs are hot again in your area. Perhaps your 18 year old son or daughter can make a good living doing construction. But they need to keep in mind that this sort of work is hard on a person's body. Have a Plan B. All of us, degreed or not, need a Plan B. Post-secondary training of some sort can open the door for promotion or alternate plans.

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Yes, I think a lot has to do with the times and generations.

 

I've read several articles indicating that it is a lot harder to start an IT company now without a degree because investors feel that a degree is a must in that industry. Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google) were both PhD students when they met at Stanford, and that is the trend. Back when Microsoft and Apple started, IT/computer science degrees were rare and the personal computer market was just beginning. Some speculate that being a college dropout and founding a giant company like Microsoft or Apple in 2013 isn't going to happen. And keep in mind that for every Microsoft and Apple, there are thousands and thousands of software and hardware companies that didn't make it. Founding a successful software company that is still open 5 years later is a lot like opening a restaurant. Most don't make it.

 

Among our relatives and friends, I can only think of one who says that they are glad they didn't go to college. A lot depends on where you live and where you work of course, but locally even the administrative assistants have college degrees.

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DH and I are both engineers. I have a BS and he has two BS and MS. We own our own company. We wouldn't be able to do that without having our degree and while I understand there's other fields out there where you can own a business without a degree it's not easy. You can't just be "awesome" in a field and have a business. You have to know how to do business. You have to be able to market and know how to keep your books and what type of requirements your municipality has. I wish I had taken MORE business classes in college and if I could go back I would.

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You might want to read this news article too "How author hacked his own education" He was given a grant of $100,000 for dropping out of college to pursue specific goals over a two year period. The article did not say what he is going to do after the two years is up.

He was the recipient of a Thiel grant. Twenty were given to ??? applicants. Not exactly something one can bank on.

 

I think this speaks to Lisa's point earlier. Thiel Grant recipients have something going on beyond a charming personality and a cute smile.

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Thanks for posting this! The article is right on, as are your comments. It's all about betting the odds. There are high school dropouts who are very successul - but I won't let my kid bet on that. The odds look a lot better for college.

 

Another interesting one today:

 

http://www.theatlant...-poorer/273628/

 

 

 

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I've heard the myth perpetuated over and over again - I guess, because it shows a glimmer of hope in the similar manner that buying a lottery ticket does. But with the lotto, one is usually only out a few bucks. Dropping out of college can leave one owing a whole lot more.

 

 

 

I'm seriously thinking youngest son might get some benefit from reading this - just in case college gets hard.

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I grew up in the industrial Midwest at a time when non-skilled factory labor often paid more than jobs that required degrees. Even then many industrial positions required some form of post-secondary education: welder's school or tool and die apprenticeship, for example. Today's factory jobs also require, if not a bachelor's degree, maybe an associate's. Similarly, you can earn money mowing grass at a golf course, but someone with pesticide certification earns more. Someone with a two year turf degree (yes, they exist) will supervise the crew.

 

No, I don't think that everyone needs a BA or BS. That is not the point of the article. Apparently some responders to this thread have not heard the myth that this is the age of the college dropout. I have read repeatedly that a degree is unnecessary. Just get a "great idea" and the world is your oyster. You can be the next Bill Gates!!! If it were only that easy...

 

As parents I think we need to help our kids find their way in the world. Perhaps construction jobs are hot again in your area. Perhaps your 18 year old son or daughter can make a good living doing construction. But they need to keep in mind that this sort of work is hard on a person's body. Have a Plan B. All of us, degreed or not, need a Plan B. Post-secondary training of some sort can open the door for promotion or alternate plans.

 

Jane, thank you for this explanation. My older two children have heard this message that you don't need a college education and to not go into debt to get one and they are taking it to heart. What my daughter is discovering is what life looks like when there is no plan.She is attending cosmetology school and working part time, but many of her friends that remained at home and did not go on to college, are really struggling. Suddenly, the world is not your oyster and there is never enough money and worse yet, little hope. My older son thinks that he has had enough schooling and that he is a "physical" kind of guy. He bucked freight boxes last summer and thinks that might be a good way to make a living. After all $10 an hour is a huge amount when you just turned 18. My dh rather coldly pointed out to him that the guys at the warehouse went "easy" on him due to his age and that we know someone who has done that work all of his life and is now permanently disabled at age 46.

 

Your point about all of us needing to have a "plan B," is excellent

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Jane, thank you for this explanation. My older two children have heard this message that you don't need a college education and to not go into debt to get one and they are taking it to heart. What my daughter is discovering is what life looks like when there is no plan.She is attending cosmetology school and working part time, but many of her friends that remained at home and did not go on to college, are really struggling. Suddenly, the world is not your oyster and there is never enough money and worse yet, little hope. My older son thinks that he has had enough schooling and that he is a "physical" kind of guy. He bucked freight boxes last summer and thinks that might be a good way to make a living. After all $10 an hour is a huge amount when you just turned 18. My dh rather coldly pointed out to him that the guys at the warehouse went "easy" on him due to his age and that we know someone who has done that work all of his life and is now permanently disabled at age 46.

 

Your point about all of us needing to have a "plan B," is excellent

 

Two of my son's friends left their LACs after a year. One is still floundering. I'll be honest: he needed a gap of some form just to help him figure out what to do with life before he attended college. It was not surprising when he determined that his academic path was not a good one. He'll get it figured out eventually.

 

The other went from an LAC to a technical school where he is doing hands on work. At this point he can earn a living but he wants to be able to work in other countries where certain certifications or degrees are necessary. This is a case where a BS can open doors. He is looking long term.

 

A couple of decades ago the myth was that a business degree was all one needed for success. I think it was heartbreaking for some kids to study something they were not interested in only to find that they were being employed in positions that had not required degrees for the previous generation (fast food or retail manager). From my perspective, it is all about fit. You can force your kid into engineering, but he will not succeed if he hates it.

 

Our young adults need all the support we can give at this point.

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Most of the people I know that were successful without a degree still had an education. It might not have been through academia, but they were skilled in some other aspect of business or career. They paid their dues in other ways, just not a degree.

 

So dropping out and hoping your wild hair idea might bring fruition and riches is not a plan, it's a wish.

 

Exactly!

 

My dad went into the Air Force directly from high school, nearly acing his AF placement exam, and into the missile engineering program to running his own business eight years later. BUT, he and my mom were some of the last graduates of a local PS that in the early 60's still provided an amazing education to those willing to take advantage of their offerings. They also ran their high school more like a two year college in that there were core required classes, but so many electives of every kind you can imagine with each elective having multiple, successive, advanced years after, that one actually majored and minored in high school.

 

Dad "majored" in math and minored in physics which meant that he had three years of practical drafting/design/basic engineering before it was over with along with beginning, intermediate, and advanced metalworking.

 

Mom majored in Home Economics and minored in English. This meant she had four years of cooking which went from basic nutritional instruction plus grocery shopping on a budget up to chef quality courses (advanced cake decorating and pastry work too) as well as catering, four years of sewing that took her from basic hemming a square to designing a couture wedding gown for her own wedding, and interior design and textiles. When mom left school, her custom patterns were in demand and Butterick wanted her to come work for them. She chose to be an Air Force wife instead and follow dad. But, that is the level of skill that was taught along with all of the necessary business classes to operate her own business should she have chosen that route.

 

This is NOT a level of education high school graduates have today. Shoot! As hard as a bust my backside to give my kids a great education, I can't equal it, sad to say. Yes, they'll get some of the specialization - ds will be JAVA certified before he enters a college dorm, another ds will have taken part in some meaningful amphibian and ecology research, and the youngest will have some serious engineering exploits for one so young. But still, it won't hold a candle to what mom and dad had because I don't have access to enough experts nor the funds to provide so much for them. Sigh....

 

The local PS today????....well, the diploma is for most kids, not worth the paper it's printed on and these young people have NO skills on which to build without going through another course of academics at the uni. Many will not be able to handle trades licensing until they've done two years of community college work at a GOOD cc just to get them up to speed in basic mathematics and writing skills or to improve their reading comprehension. They.just.do.not.bring.a.well.honed.set.of.basic.skills.into.adulthood.

 

Plus, I'd also like to point out that many of the college drop out millionaries became successful at a point in US history in which banks were giving out money like candy. In our neck of the woods, one cannot begin to get a small business loan and certainly not some 20-something. They will be laughed out of the lobby just for asking. So, unless mom and dad are flush with start-up funds, that makes it even tougher to get started in entrepreneurial pursuits.

 

Faith

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I bet if you divided the dropouts into different categories for reasons of dropping out, you would see some interesting results. For example, those who drop out to work at a job (either self employed or otherwise), will probably have a different future than someone who drops out because of a substance abuse or mental health problems. Those who drop out due to lack of funds are probably going to have different futures than those who drop out because they feel academically overwhelmed, etc..

 

As far as the billionaires dropping out of highly competitive schools, there have been studies that show students either accepted into these schools but who did not attend, or students who were denied but who had similar SAT scores to those accepted, did not have lesser salaries than those who attended the exclusive schools and graduated. So there's probably a significant IQ factor at play.

 

In fact if you divided dropouts by SAT scores alone you would probably see a stark difference between the high and low scorers.

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As parents I think we need to help our kids find their way in the world. Perhaps construction jobs are hot again in your area. Perhaps your 18 year old son or daughter can make a good living doing construction. But they need to keep in mind that this sort of work is hard on a person's body. Have a Plan B. All of us, degreed or not, need a Plan B. Post-secondary training of some sort can open the door for promotion or alternate plans.

 

One of the things that really makes this hit home for me is to think back on our friends from the preschool and early homeschool days. We all thought we'd homeschool forever but then there were so many changes for so many people - disabling health conditions, divorce, special needs kids, jobs that no longer exist due to changes in the economy, etc. Not to say that life is all gloom and doom, not at all, but yes we all need a plan B and probably a plan C. Life can bring so many unexpected changes.

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The article noted the increased number of people with a BA/BS. Every trend I look at says this is the minimum that Dd should plan to do. She understands what that means (starting a family later, more years of spending, more years of uncertainty...)

 

That said the 5% unemployment rate, even factoring in underemployment for a BA/BS is more encouraging to strive for than the high rates for those without degrees. I listened to a panel discussion recently where they made the point the underemployment and unemployment of those graduating now will have lifelong consequences (they will not be developing the skills that foster income growth...)

 

It would just be nice if some of the news for kids and their futures was better.

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Jane, thank you for this explanation. My older two children have heard this message that you don't need a college education and to not go into debt to get one and they are taking it to heart. What my daughter is discovering is what life looks like when there is no plan.She is attending cosmetology school and working part time, but many of her friends that remained at home and did not go on to college, are really struggling. Suddenly, the world is not your oyster and there is never enough money and worse yet, little hope. My older son thinks that he has had enough schooling and that he is a "physical" kind of guy. He bucked freight boxes last summer and thinks that might be a good way to make a living. After all $10 an hour is a huge amount when you just turned 18. My dh rather coldly pointed out to him that the guys at the warehouse went "easy" on him due to his age and that we know someone who has done that work all of his life and is now permanently disabled at age 46.

 

Your point about all of us needing to have a "plan B," is excellent

 

Plan B, plan C, sometimes plan D. I'm currently on plan F.

 

My dh was the physical guy, great fit, good money 30 years ago for a single guy. He's a go-go-go type person, construction is his gift. But at 52 that gift hurts. He's had to work with two broken wrists, back injuries, head injuries, in the snowy weather, at night, long hours, and dealing with customers who are not one boss but many. Physical is good if you're thrifty and save and live a frugal life with a family and save more and don't plan on switching careers. At 52 my dh really shouldn't be doing what he's doing. Without a degree many opportunities were closed to him, even within his industry. It's not the same game it was when he was young.

 

I printed off a sign that say "Only the Educated are free" - Epictetus. I'd like to think that doesn't mean a degree, but life changes, stuff happens, and what you planned on doing forever may not be there forever or you may not be able to do it forever. Without a degree, you need to know the right people and carve out those opportunities. It's just harder.

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Physical is good if you're thrifty and save and live a frugal life with a family and save more and don't plan on switching careers. At 52 my dh really shouldn't be doing what he's doing. Without a degree many opportunities were closed to him, even within his industry. It's not the same game it was when he was young.

 

I printed off a sign that say "Only the Educated are free" - Epictetus. I'd like to think that doesn't mean a degree, but life changes, stuff happens, and what you planned on doing forever may not be there forever or you may not be able to do it forever. Without a degree, you need to know the right people and carve out those opportunities. It's just harder.

 

I agree. Opportunities have changed through the generations. My late paternal grandfather was a self-employed blacksmith without any education beyond elementary school and made good. My uncles open small manufacturing plants with a engineering diploma and did decently well. My cousins inherited the family business from my late uncles. My nephews and nieces now have engineering and accounting degress and are helping out in their parents' family business. When I was in the university, my aunt was lamenting that some paperwork require a professional engineer to sign off. In the end a few of cousins went on to get degrees and professional engineers license. My nephews and nieces are actually born with a silver spoon, some could not get employment but daddy can always hire them.

It is the same as I used to be able to get decent pay hourly jobs when I am 14. Now it is very unlikely than anyone around me would be interested in hiring a 14 year old.

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Faith -

What a great high school for your parents to go to! How sad that it is hard to find something even remotely close to this now. Even in my own educational history I am amazed at the change. When I went to Kindergarten it was what preschool is today. We didn't even begin to learn letters until the end of the year. Now, kids who aren't reading in Kindergarten are behind. And yet...

 

Standardized tests and graduation requirements seem to keep dropping since I graduated. Obviously there is a fundamental problem, but then we all know that ( which is why many of us homeschool).

The problem carries over to college as more and more kids show up unprepared and incapable of doing the work. I agree with most that has been posted already. Not everyone is cut out for college because not every career can adequately be taught in a classroom. Forced apprenticeships had their problems in the past, but wouldn't it be great if teens could work real world internships into their course work to explore what the work world is really like. That is a great chance to learn that physical labor type jobs cause sore muscles, etc. Other jobs are repetative and boring. A rotation of 4-6 two month on the job internships could be a real eye-opener to teens if they were given the chance to work in vastly different career categories.

 

Butterflymommy - Your musings about SAT correlations would make a fascinating research project. I think there is much truth to it.

 

Except for the very elite universities and colleges, a degree is pretty much just a piece of paper. Unfortunately, we are still in an era when that piece of paper is required as a matter of course. As more people have them, their value is becoming deflated and more people feel the necessity of earning advanced degrees. A degree may or may not reflect any body of knowledge or any acquisition of a skill set. It open doors. It is kind of the same with SAT scores. Unis can't personally interview each prospective student, so they make certain standards to help narrow down the numbers. Once you're on the job or in the school, you may or may not succeed, but that is usually up to you (hard work, personality, etc).

 

My dad considers himself a very lucky man. He went to college (3 in 4 years), enjoyed learning and so took classes he was interested in (never graduated), but really was just biding his time to join the Air National Guard. He became a fighter pilot and later went with American Airlines. I grew up on a street of 15 homes. The homes were built at the same time the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport was completed and so 11 of the 15 original owners were airline pilots. Some unfortunately were employed by Braniff, TWA, and other airlines that went bankrupt. One father even had to move to Saudi Arabia to fly for an airline there. Others lost seniority in new airlines and lost lots of pension dollars. There is certainly an element of luck that my dad's airline didn't experience any financial troubles until after he had retired and received his lump sum pension. He would be the first to agree with you.

 

Even if you don't wind up "using" your degree, I think the fact that you "finished" is a good indicator of perseverance and as an employer would be a plus.

 

The next decade or two could see some really interesting changes as the internet and open courses offer a chance to individualize a degree and potentially show a future employer that you have drive to learn about a particular field and used the resources available to become knowledgable. That is truly the way of successful people.

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I agree with much of what Faith said above. My thought as I was reading that article was, why on earth are we waiting until college to provide kids with these kinds of skills and opportunities? Are we just keeping them occupied in school until they turn 18? This is basically the main reason why I homeschool, and why I really hope that DS will continue to homeschool through the high school years. So that he can have the opportunity to discover what his interests and strengths are, and to learn real life skills, and to learn things in the context of the real world. We have technical schools here where kids can do a certificate program during the high school years for various trades, but it seems like we must not be encouraging people to take advantage of finding skills in this way, as we have so many people who don't have jobs after high school.

 

I also want to provide my kids with more guidance than what I received during high school. I didn't have any help finding a "plan" that felt right for me, and I did flounder quite a bit. Now, I still have student loans because I only work part-time. I do not want my kids to be my age and still paying off student loans.

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i guess - maybe i was an exception. i was a national merit semifinalist and dropped out of some really good schools and continued educating myself at community colleges and got in to database programming. i keep worrying about being able to get back to work after homeschooling, but dh is sure my skills are highly marketable. i can only hope.

 

i'm steering my kids towards getting a 2 year degree first - we dont have the emotional stability to make it through a 4 year . . .

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i guess - maybe i was an exception. i was a national merit semifinalist and dropped out of some really good schools and continued educating myself at community colleges and got in to database programming. i keep worrying about being able to get back to work after homeschooling, but dh is sure my skills are highly marketable. i can only hope.

 

i'm steering my kids towards getting a 2 year degree first - we dont have the emotional stability to make it through a 4 year . . .

 

 

This is almost exactly my story!

 

I started playing games online in college (MUSH. Text based). Could only doing it between midnight and 6am... so wasn't sleeping. Then ended up missing a class here and there... and it snowballed. When you don't go to class, you don't get good grades.

 

I did EXCELLENT in high school and loved it. But I couldn't handle the freedom of college. I got all As my first semester. And then I found computer games and it all went downhill. I moved states, started working for a temporary company, and ended up with a job programming Access databases.

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My dad considers himself a very lucky man. He went to college (3 in 4 years), enjoyed learning and so took classes he was interested in (never graduated), but really was just biding his time to join the Air National Guard. He became a fighter pilot and later went with American Airlines.

 

Unless things have changed, you can't become a fighter pilot now without a degree.

 

Even if you don't wind up "using" your degree, I think the fact that you "finished" is a good indicator of perseverance and as an employer would be a plus.

 

I think this is what many employers use it for (those where the info in the course work is not needed for the job). We work so hard (not "kids" work so hard, but schools/educators do) to get as many as we can to graduate high school that a high school degree has become meaningless. Courses are watered down, deadlines aren't, etc.

 

The next decade or two could see some really interesting changes as the internet and open courses offer a chance to individualize a degree and potentially show a future employer that you have drive to learn about a particular field and used the resources available to become knowledgable. That is truly the way of successful people.

 

Maybe in a decade, but that other report I listed here showed that online degrees were negatively looked at right now.

 

This thread:

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/456861-theres-a-whole-lot-of-info-in-this-report/

 

We have technical schools here where kids can do a certificate program during the high school years for various trades, but it seems like we must not be encouraging people to take advantage of finding skills in this way, as we have so many people who don't have jobs after high school.

 

I can't speak for all areas, but in ours there just aren't enough jobs for all the kids who graduate with these certifications or degrees (pending program). I even had a nurse recently tell me that nursing can be tough to find jobs in now - esp with just a 2 year degree. Even mechanics and plumbers (around here) are more plentiful than jobs.

 

i'm steering my kids towards getting a 2 year degree first - we dont have the emotional stability to make it through a 4 year . . .

 

There are many recent reports showing a 2 year degree can definitely be a viable path - as much as a 4 year degree (meaning no guarantees, but better odds). Make sure the path chosen fits the student. That gives them the best chance to do well in it (and get a job).

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All the people I know who were successful--hell, even stable--without a college degree have two things in common: they work very hard, and they have a great sense of initiative. When they were 18-20, they were ambitious enough to find a job that had some sort of growth potential (i.e., not delivering pizzas) and worked that potential: they busted their butts, were reliable as could be, and were not afraid to take on tasks they didn't really understand if those things needed to be done, because they had the confidence that they could figure it out as they went along. Those people do fine without a college degree. They eventually learn how to do things that other people can't do, and that's the key to making a living wage. It's easier to become one of these people in period of rapid economic change and expansion (say, the 90s), because employers are more willing to hire and train. Not so much right now.

 

The other path is more common: drop out of college, spend two years on mom's couch, delivering pizzas, smoke too much pot, play too many video games, eventually move up to a shift manager at something retail. They stop there, because they don't know how to do anything a 16 year old couldn't do, and they haven't a clue how to figure it out.

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Those people do fine without a college degree. They eventually learn how to do things that other people can't do, and that's the key to making a living wage. It's easier to become one of these people in period of rapid economic change and expansion (say, the 90s), because employers are more willing to hire and train. Not so much right now.

 

Definitely true - and with more regulations from some states and the fed gov't it's more costly to open your own business (with or without a degree) even if you have a great idea.

 

I was talking with a UPick Strawberry farmer last fall and he told me (therefore hearsay, but I can't see why he'd make it up) that he may end up shutting down that part of his farm due to new regulations that would require him to fence in all his fields to not allow any animals to walk through - not groundhogs nor deer or whatever. He (rightly) says that's nigh onto impossible and very costly to even try. If it ends up being the enforced law of the land, he's says it's not financially worth it for him. I don't recall hearing any reports of people getting sick after eating strawberries from his farm...

 

I haven't talked with him since to see if there's been any change on the horizon. This spring I'll see him.

 

Hubby gets part of his income from all the new regulations on businesses and homes, so I suppose I shouldn't complain, but we've also seen more than a few decide against expansion due to the costs (beyond construction or set up) involved with it.

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Except for the very elite universities and colleges, a degree is pretty much just a piece of paper.

 

This is NOT true in all fields. In many fields, the piece of paper represents a specialized knowledge that the student could hardly have acquired as an autodidact. And many public universities provide a student with this expert education, not just elite schools.

An engineering or science degree is way more than a "piece of paper" and definitely stands for a skill set.

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An engineering or science degree is way more than a "piece of paper" and definitely stands for a skill set.

 

Perhaps. but other than JUST out of college, at least for engineering, the tests you take and the jobs you've had amount for way more than that degree.

 

I knew a fellow working at Wendy's (and before that a game store) who had an aerospace engineering degree and an accounting degree. He couldn't find a job in aerospace engineering and after a while the degree was too old to be worth anything so he went back and got the accounting degree. :( But then never finished the internship.

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Perhaps. but other than JUST out of college, at least for engineering, the tests you take and the jobs you've had amount for way more than that degree.

 

But you would not be able to do the jobs in your field if you did not have the knowledge acquired during your college education.

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...Perhaps your 18 year old son or daughter can make a good living doing construction. But they need to keep in mind that this sort of work is hard on a person's body. Have a Plan B. All of us, degreed or not, need a Plan B. Post-secondary training of some sort can open the door for promotion or alternate plans.

 

My oldest worked as a plumber straight out of high school. He could have made a good living that way. After he had fallen off a second story roof, ruined his knees and back lifting cast iron boilers, scarred up his hands welding, and almost lost an eye when a pipe fitting exploded, he (always my cautious, meticulous, careful one) decided that he would rather go to college. As it happens, he will probably make more post college than if he had stuck with the plumbing, but that is a rare situation. It would have been more likely that he would be earning LESS money than he would have been plumbing. On the other hand, he would have been less likely to lose an eye or go falling off roofs... He's not too tired to enjoy his free time. And various other things. I think once your salary gets to the point where you can support a family and have a bit of fun and improve the world around you a bit, you have to consider quality of life. More money does not necessarily mean better quality of life. If you want to be a doctor because you want to help people, or you want to be a teacher because you love to teach, or you want to study philosophy because you are unbearably curious about philosophy, or a musician because all you can think about is music, then you are probably willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary in order to be able to do what you want. If that means taking on a significant college debt (thinking doctors here) or giving up a grad program because the teacher you wanted left (thinking about a poster's oldest) or going to school to become certified (teaching) or not going to Berklee because you are learning more music playing bars with your friends (thinking of a friend), then you might not be making the most financially advantageous choice, but that still might be the right choice. Life is messy.

 

I agree with Creekland that somehow there seems to be a myth floating around that a college degree isn't worth it. I think there are a few famous fabulously rich examples which put together with the one young person everyone knows who is managing well without a degree and all the old people everyone knows who did fine without a degree all the people who went to college just because it was expected and then either didn't find that it helped them or are blind to its advantages (deep breath because this sentence is way too long) make sure the myth is perpetuated. I think the bad economy is making it hard for many, many recent graduates to find a job, so people are beginning to put that together with the myth and wonder whether it is worth going to college. I think that everyone needs to remember that a life is a long time. College is easier to do right after high school while one still remembers one's math and one is less likely to have a full-time job and family. Just because a college education wasn't useful right away doesn't mean that it won't be later. I'm not saying it definately will be. As I said, we all probably know cases where it wasn't. I'm just saying that I don't think you necessarily can tell whether it will be useful or not in your particular case just because it wasn't useful right away or just because an outlier dropped out and made a million or just because you know people who have managed without that degree. You have to make an educated guess based on statistics (which Creekland has been trying to supply), family culture, aptitudes, academic capabilities, future dreams, state of the world, and yes, unfortunately, current finances, and probably lots of other things.

 

It is complicated. I guess that's why people discuss it so much, here and in the media. I think we need to be careful, though, when discussing IN GENERAL (rather than for a specific person) that we take into account the statistics and not just the myth.

 

Nan

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But you would not be able to do the jobs in your field if you did not have the knowledge acquired during your college education.

 

But why couldn't the knowledge be acquired elsewise? just like K-12 knowledge can be acquired elsewise than in a school? There's nothing magical about college that makes it impart knowledge that one can not get in a different manner. We've just got our society set up right now such that people put a lot of faith in the college degree. In other days and ages, they used an apprenticeship system to impart the knowledge. Because of laws and such, one can not become a P.E. without going to college, I'd agree with you. But I'm not 100% certain college is the only place to gain the knowledge.

 

I know someone who got a 2 year degree in culinary. But that's just to have the certificate that makes people feel good about her skills. Her real skill in cooking came from her mother. The jobs she's had, and hands on cooking herself.

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Jane, thank you for this explanation. My older two children have heard this message that you don't need a college education and to not go into debt to get one and they are taking it to heart. What my daughter is discovering is what life looks like when there is no plan.She is attending cosmetology school and working part time, but many of her friends that remained at home and did not go on to college, are really struggling. Suddenly, the world is not your oyster and there is never enough money and worse yet, little hope. My older son thinks that he has had enough schooling and that he is a "physical" kind of guy. He bucked freight boxes last summer and thinks that might be a good way to make a living. After all $10 an hour is a huge amount when you just turned 18. My dh rather coldly pointed out to him that the guys at the warehouse went "easy" on him due to his age and that we know someone who has done that work all of his life and is now permanently disabled at age 46.

 

Your point about all of us needing to have a "plan B," is excellent

 

We are watching oldest's non-college friends founder. It is heartbreaking. They, too, bought into the I'm-not-going-into-debt-for-a-useless-piece-of-paper mindset. This is really hard to combat.

 

Nan

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One of the things that really makes this hit home for me is to think back on our friends from the preschool and early homeschool days. We all thought we'd homeschool forever but then there were so many changes for so many people - disabling health conditions, divorce, special needs kids, jobs that no longer exist due to changes in the economy, etc. Not to say that life is all gloom and doom, not at all, but yes we all need a plan B and probably a plan C. Life can bring so many unexpected changes.

 

I know. It is really sobering to look at the future lives of my playgroup friends. That's what I meant by life is long. It is so hard to balance "live as though you were going to die tomorrow" with "live as though you were going to live forever". They both are so valid. In some respects, I think that is what this discussion comes down to. In the end, I am just grateful to live in a time when the college decision, yeah or nay, is reversible.

 

Nan

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But why couldn't the knowledge be acquired elsewise? just like K-12 knowledge can be acquired elsewise than in a school? There's nothing magical about college that makes it impart knowledge that one can not get in a different manner. We've just got our society set up right now such that people put a lot of faith in the college degree. In other days and ages, they used an apprenticeship system to impart the knowledge. Because of laws and such, one can not become a P.E. without going to college, I'd agree with you. But I'm not 100% certain college is the only place to gain the knowledge.

 

I know someone who got a 2 year degree in culinary. But that's just to have the certificate that makes people feel good about her skills. Her real skill in cooking came from her mother. The jobs she's had, and hands on cooking herself.

 

I consider myself a fairly smart, curious, and reasonably intelligent person. I have no college experience. I'm 45. I have a lot of life experience, work experience, and common sense. All that to say, I could acquire the knowledge I want for many fields. I have wicked google skills, college texts and books enough probably to outline a nice humanities degree. I like learning. I have tons of things to cover for myself once ds graduates.

 

However, I have no proof of my learning. No employer is going to care if I took all the Coursera courses, watched every video on Khan Academy, and can argue a thesis at the doctoral level (I haven't and can't but...) Just as homeschoolers needs SAT/ACT scores to establish a baseline for college entrance, for higher level jobs I'd need a degree. Even if I was 25, I'd need a degree to pursue what I'd really like to study.

 

With no college experience, what happens is you get cycled out of opportunities. There were things I could have done in my 20s, but no one except through the colleges or to persons with degrees were offering to even crack open those doors. Study abroad? Nope, maybe with a huge outlay of cash, but it wouldn't have been the same experience. Working as an intern in specific fields with professional? Nope, didn't even know the opportunities existed.

 

My dad worked his entire career with 2 years of college. Broadcast engineering was his passion, he liked the work and spent 40+ years in the field. A decade before he retired they started requiring a BS/BA for new hires. They didn't know crap. My dad was training them.

 

I personally got stuck in the decade where degrees started to really matter. I have a good worth ethic and worked for 10+ years before ds was born. A few jobs I topped out in promotions because of lack of degree. None of these were a passion, they were jobs.

 

In some fields, yes, you can learn outside of academia. No one is going to be allowing you to show it because they want that magic piece of paper. In many of the fields Regentrude has discussed, you cannot acquire the knowledge outside of academia. These are highly specialized fields that can't be home studied.

 

There is the degree, there is the learning experience that happens in college. None of my non-college friends in my 20s were remotely interested in the things I wanted to study. It not just peers (I know we go through that as homeschoolers), it's being around like minded people with goals in mind. Our goals then had more to do with getting to the weekend than long term thinking or careers. Personally, I want ds to be around people that are excited about the same geeky things he's excited about.

 

Yes, you can be smart without a degree, I don't think anyone is saying that. Most jobs with advancement these days want a degree of some sort. There are exceptions, but right now, for now that piece of paper keeps doors open.

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But why couldn't the knowledge be acquired elsewise? just like K-12 knowledge can be acquired elsewise than in a school? There's nothing magical about college that makes it impart knowledge that one can not get in a different manner.

 

Well, for one thing, quite obviously, there is access to specialized equipment that most people would not have in their basements. Learning to use lab equipment that costs a quarter million $ , or even just a computer cluster, would be almost impossible for normal students.

 

But, more importantly, is the second aspect (and I say this from my experience both as a student and as a college instructor in physics):

Even the very best of students reach a point where they need the help of a teacher who is an expert in the field, because eventually, concepts become so complicated and problem solving so complex that just working through a book does not suffice to acquire the skill. Also, it is extremely important to have somebody knowledgable as a sounding board to clear up misconceptions through discussion. Sure, the material of the introductory courses can be self-studied by very bright students - but when it comes to upper level work, it is essential that the student has access to somebody who has been working with the concepts and methods and can train the student.

 

For that, it does not suffice to watch recorded lectures - because the professor on the video does not know what specific questions YOU have, where YOU got stuck on the problem solving (and a solution manual is not helpful for clearing up misconceptions either).

If the student has access to people with this kind of expertise outside of school, more power to him - but that will be very rare. Usually, that will not be the case - so to study advanced problem solving in quantum theory, you can't rely on chatting to your neighbor at a cocktail party, you need to go to a college where you find a professor working in this field.

In my discipline, it is not about memorizing a bunch of facts - it is about conceptual understanding of very abstract material, and about acquiring the skill of problem solving which requires training and practice and feedback.

 

If self-study were possible, we would see more students taking us up on the free option of credit by examination: nobody HAS to pay tuition for any course; they can simply request to be examined fro their knowledge acquired outside of school. in my eleven years of teaching, I had one single student test out of introductory physics by exam. I am not aware of any colleague teaching higher level courses who has students request examination because they successfully self-studied statistical mechanics or quantum physics.

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I hear 2 opposing sides to the college argument: Drop outs won't make it and Going into crazy debt for a degree will cause you to not make it.So go to college, get a degree and do it with out debt. Good luck with that. Seriously.

 

Some of my thoughts: The world is changing. The jobs are changing, the markets are changing, the people are changing. We have entered a global economy. Look- you can pay My Man in India pennies on the dollar to do executive work in a timely manner. The globally minded are earning money in the developed world and living and paying for help in the 3rd world - the rest of us are pinching pennies and hoping to God we don't end up in a state run nursing home in 20 years. There's a group of billionairies working together to do off world mining- the disparity between the haves and have nots is growing and the middle class might just find themselves in the have not group.

The sense of entitlement that is rampant in the U.S. is NOT rampant in developing countries.

 

SO- the bottom line being what it is demands that we ramp it up- hard work is still hard work and expertise is still worth something -if you can market it successfully- regardless of a piece of paper. And our kids are going are going to have to be innovative and entreprenuerial.

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But why couldn't the knowledge be acquired elsewise? just like K-12 knowledge can be acquired elsewise than in a school? There's nothing magical about college that makes it impart knowledge that one can not get in a different manner. We've just got our society set up right now such that people put a lot of faith in the college degree. In other days and ages, they used an apprenticeship system to impart the knowledge. Because of laws and such, one can not become a P.E. without going to college, I'd agree with you. But I'm not 100% certain college is the only place to gain the knowledge.

 

I know someone who got a 2 year degree in culinary. But that's just to have the certificate that makes people feel good about her skills. Her real skill in cooking came from her mother. The jobs she's had, and hands on cooking herself.

 

I do think the laws are part of it. There really isn't any reason one couldn't apprentice (for a few years) under a PE and gain the info and experience needed to do a great job, but if they sign the work and aren't a PE, there would be lawsuits all around. Ditto that for a doctor or many other professions.

 

For the rest, I think it's a buyers market for employees, so everyone is looking for "the best" and have plenty to choose from. High school grads often come out of high school feeling they are entitled to a ton of things - actual work to get something accomplished not being one of them (a job is, but the "work" part bugs them). By requiring "a" degree (or certificate) employers are hoping to reduce the pool of applicants a bit to try to find better prospects. Sure, there probably were some diamonds in the high school grad bunch, but few want - or need - to go digging to find them.

 

It also likely impresses the stockholders or clients/customers when everyone has a degree.

 

But mostly, I think it helps an applicant get past that first bar in the job hunt.

 

I hear 2 opposing sides to the college argument: Drop outs won't make it and Going into crazy debt for a degree will cause you to not make it.So go to college, get a degree and do it with out debt. Good luck with that. Seriously.

 

We decided minimal debt (< 30K total) was ok. It will likely go higher if middle son wants med school. Minimal debt was worth it for an investment to us. Both hubby and I had minimal debt (< 15K combined) and we paid it off within 5 years easily. We've been reaping the rewards of the degree ever since (with him owning his own Civil Engineering business). We had $$ saved for our boys, but had to use it (and lost a bit of it - used what we didn't lose) in the economic downturn (do NOT come to me for investment advice...) Rather than not go to college at all or going to lower caliber schools for less debt, mine chose schools that offered both merit and need based aid that were closer to their abilities. With that came more in loans, but not past our personal limit.

 

Every family has to decide their limit for themselves. For me, some debt is worth the investment for a decent college degree. We are likely to help them be able to pay off their loans if the economy continues to improve. If not, they should be able to manage on their own in the fields they have chosen.

 

With youngest, we may end up with more debt since he doesn't have great scores (yet). Time will tell. Pending what the final tally is, we may increase the limit a little bit for him as I do feel a degree is more needed than ever before in history. We haven't 100% made that decision and I'm kind of hoping we won't have to. Only time will tell.

 

We don't have any parent loans for their schooling. We wouldn't qualify for them if we wanted to based on the prior economy. One school did have us try... then gave our son more aid. I really appreciate that!

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I hear 2 opposing sides to the college argument: Drop outs won't make it and Going into crazy debt for a degree will cause you to not make it.So go to college, get a degree and do it with out debt. Good luck with that. Seriously.

 

Some of my thoughts: The world is changing. The jobs are changing, the markets are changing, the people are changing. We have entered a global economy. Look- you can pay My Man in India pennies on the dollar to do executive work in a timely manner. The globally minded are earning money in the developed world and living and paying for help in the 3rd world - the rest of us are pinching pennies and hoping to God we don't end up in a state run nursing home in 20 years. There's a group of billionairies working together to do off world mining- the disparity between the haves and have nots is growing and the middle class might just find themselves in the have not group.

The sense of entitlement that is rampant in the U.S. is NOT rampant in developing countries.

 

SO- the bottom line being what it is demands that we ramp it up- hard work is still hard work and expertise is still worth something -if you can market it successfully- regardless of a piece of paper. And our kids are going are going to have to be innovative and entreprenuerial.

 

I agree with part of what you're saying. The world that allowed my dad to work manufacturing for 40+ years without a 4 year degree doesn't really exist anymore. He knew plant supervision, safety, workplace rules, and how to drive fork trucks because he'd been doing it for decades, starting out on the line in a door factory. He tried to retire once, but the college grad hired to replace him couldn't hack the job, so he stayed on for a couple more years to train a couple of people to replace him. But the fact is there wasn't someone 10-15 years his junior in the company ready to do all the work he's been doing.

 

I think that we have to teach our kids not to be dupes. They need to not think that they are the next Bill Gates just because they like to play video games.

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DH has a MS, BS in two fields, and an MBA. He makes good money, but there are folks who work for him that make more. Why? He's salaried and they make overtime. He works sixty plus hours a week.

 

We are not encouraging our children to go to college as the next thing... Go to college if you specifically want to work in a field that requires a degree and definitely do NOT get student loans. Interest accrues and no one needs those payments. We are not discouraging then, but we aren't having then assume some random liberal arts degree us the way to go either.

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We are not encouraging our children to go to college as the next thing... Go to college if you specifically want to work in a field that requires a degree and definitely do NOT get student loans. Interest accrues and no one needs those payments. We are not discouraging then, but we aren't having then assume some random liberal arts degree us the way to go either.

Exactly - if a kid really WANTS to go to 4-year college, fine. but i make it clear that I dont think is a great idea unless you are really committed to it and have a clear idea of what you want to do. My mom was really upset that i wasnt forcing my daughter to go straight to a 4-year school like she did to me, but when SHE was ready, SHE found a school and applied. but she still had a breakdown and dropped out. I think its our curse . . . i really hope she goes back. she was majoring in communications with an emphasis in advertising, at the local state school which has a FANTASTIC advertising department. She loved it and she was doing great! sigh.

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DH has a MS, BS in two fields, and an MBA. He makes good money, but there are folks who work for him that make more. Why? He's salaried and they make overtime. He works sixty plus hours a week.

 

I see that in engineering where hubby and I worked. The good bosses made up to us for all the overtime by giving performance bonuses. I was not entitled to any overtime pay so that was how my boss kept those of us occasionally working on weekends happy. Is your husband expected to work sixty plus hours per week as part of his job scope or just seasonal? My pay was a lot higher when I had to work 24/7 on-call but I still get performance bonus for working on holidays. My former job position did require at least a degree because the major clients demand it.

I heard often of engineers (who are my friends) complaining about earning less than the technicians because they are not entitled to overtime pay. I ask them to ask for bonus money if they need/deserve it.

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I see that in engineering where hubby and I worked. The good bosses made up to us for all the overtime by giving performance bonuses. I was not entitled to any overtime pay so that was how my boss kept those of us occasionally working on weekends happy. Is your husband expected to work sixty plus hours per week as part of his job scope or just seasonal? My pay was a lot higher when I had to work 24/7 on-call but I still get performance bonus for working on holidays. My former job position did require at least a degree because the major clients demand it.

I heard often of engineers (who are my friends) complaining about earning less than the technicians because they are not entitled to overtime pay. I ask them to ask for bonus money if they need/deserve it.

but dh's company has been giving 1% annual raises and no bonuses. he's furious because he's asked to work unpaid overtime, he has to correct the work of people above him, and VPs keep demanding him on their projects . . . and the pay is awful. He doesnt want to job hunt again because of health insurance issues - there's often a 3 month gap. I am convinced that part of the problem is where we are in the country, but he's had 3 seriously toxic workplaces since i've known him . . .this one isnt toxic its just unfair. so its an improvement. he has 5 degrees ...

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Hubby solved the overtime/pay situation by opting to go into business for himself. He still works oodles of hours, but more work = more pay. He can also take time off almost whenever he wants and it's enabled us to take off up to 3 months in one year for trips (can't do that with 3 - 4 weeks paid vacation).

 

I actually don't recommend it for everyone. We went about 18 months without getting significant income due to setting it up and he's had to tweak many things (e.g. started with an outside office, but quickly realized he didn't need that expense and started working from home). You also have to be able to market yourself (a huge biggie) and understand how taxes and regulations work - or be willing to learn. Then too, you have to be good at what you do and have great people skills to keep repeat customers.

 

All in all though, we don't regret it. He's owned it for 14 years now and, except for the start and a few years during the downfall (where many companies went under) made more money with more freedom. He's happier being his own boss. I'm happier with the flexible schedule. He's expanded (via the net) to doing jobs worldwide and we're both looking forward to traveling (being nomadic) after youngest heads to college.

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We are not encouraging our children to go to college as the next thing... Go to college if you specifically want to work in a field that requires a degree and definitely do NOT get student loans. Interest accrues and no one needs those payments. We are not discouraging then, but we aren't having then assume some random liberal arts degree us the way to go either.

 

I agree that it's better to not go to college than to go to one without some sort of plan - esp if money is an issue.

 

Could you let us know what jobs your kids will be considering that offer a decent sustainable living without some sort of degree or certification post high school?

 

Some kids from our high school enlist in the military - the pay isn't great, but the benefits are good and it gives them a start. As long as the military keeps taking people in, it's a viable choice for those who like it.

 

Some kids work at local food production - very little pay there which works for a "second" job for a spouse (where both work), but I'd hate to have to live off it as the main income. Those who do tend to live paycheck to paycheck and/or receive gov't assistance unless both work there - even then - there isn't much extra if you want an "average" house around here (NOT meaning a McMansion - average houses in our area cost around 150K). Oldest worked at one of these as a summer job, so got to see the "inside." Few, if any, there were happy with their jobs. Most took their remains from their paycheck to the bar, then were back working on Monday.

 

Others work at local retail or restaurants. I see them often. It works (esp if both work when a couple), but again, these seldom own an average house or other things I'm hoping my guys can do.

 

Some try to go into business for themselves (tattoo, baking, and photography come to mind). Some of these have worked for a minimal income - more like a side job. Most haven't worked.

 

Some go into construction though this didn't work for the past few years. With Sandy relatively close by and some local expansion going on, this works for now, but few feel stable with the job as in years past. It's definitely tough on the body, but some like that and it's definitely needed when we want things built. Again, with these, those I know have both spouses working (not that I'm against that - I chose to work part time too).

 

Some work on the family farm - a definite viable path for those whose families have one.

 

I can't think of other options students have chosen, but it could be that my brain just isn't thinking about them right now. Having a list here could help others who have kids that aren't so academically inclined.

 

NOTE: I'm not including plumbers, mechanics, electricians, hair dressing, and similar because the kids I know who go into those fields get extra certifications after high school (sometimes during high school if they can swing it). That really is equivalent to a degree for their chosen field.

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