Some Educated Thoughts To Consider

Its an annual event this time of year: students graduate either high school or college, there are inspiring stories of old immigrants getting degrees, students overcoming emotional and financial hurdles, and of course politicos making commencement addresses to show they are “pro education.”

Just today we encountered a couple of youngsters (nearly everyone is a youngster to the GUARDIAN) mixing those foo-foo latte drinks at a local java joint who graduated from BSU “Magna Cum Laude.” Asked their plans for when they “grow up,” they both planned to go to grad school. A fellow barista is already working on a masters degree.

We also contacted a guy who left a flyer in the door that was NOT from a politician, so we read it. He wanted to do yard work. We gave him a call and caught him in the middle of a high school shop class where he is a senior about to graduate.

From a business standpoint (return on investment), the highschooler is much more “profitable” than the brilliant baristas. He has low overhead, little investment and can make upwards of $20 an hour.

The college grads have at least 4 years and perhaps $40,000 invested, are probably in debt to the government for student loans and have no job prospects on the horizon. This picture is common in the USA and something’s wrong with it.

This doesn’t mean we should be training landscape laborers, but it certainly offers food for thought regarding the value of a college degree, the “right” course of study, and the state of economics and education in America. Your educated thoughts please.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I have worked in IT for quite a few years. No degree. But, I have seen instances where not having a degree has held up my career. I am not fixing that, and will graduate with about 20 years experience in the field, plus a fresh, up-to-date degree. I’ll probably go for my masters in business admin, to move into management, to manage those like me.

  2. “This doesn’t mean we should be training landscape laborers……”. Who the heck is “we”, Dave? Sounds like the young man has trained himself. He apparently didn’t need “we” to train him. Why should “we” be training anyone? Make sure he has his government required contractor’s registration along with government required liability insurance policy, no doubt lobbied for by existing contractors and insurance companies along with a few nanny staters. Good luck to the young man.

  3. Didn’t you know? The path to the future is education. Get the education and a job will be created for you. Obama said so!

    And don’t worry, the finacial condition of America is just fine until after Obama’s re-election.

  4. Rod in SE Boise
    May 14, 2012, 9:40 pm

    It’s not just a college degree that will make a big difference in lifetime earnings, it is also a matter of getting the right degree, both for you and the job market.

  5. I agree that we can’t pigeon hole everyone into a college education (and shouldn’t). But let’s look into the future and, I suspect, the barista with a degree will be more likely to have an income greater than the young man mowing the lawn (who is probably earning the money to go to college, by the way). On average, a college grad still earns 30-50% more OVER A LIFETIME than the high school graduate. It’s easy to find examples in education that don’t fit the general populace, but trying to claim that they are the norm just isn’t accurate. If we don’t continue to educate people in all aspects of our needs (including math and science) we’ll become depending on others who do. I don’t want to see that for America.

  6. Some silly comments on here.

    First, many of us college graduates mowed lawns through high school. The young man the Guardian cites is not unique.

    Second, has anyone tried to actually get a job in the past 10 years (and especially in the past 3) without a college degree? Good luck.

    We can wax philosophic about whether the market is saturated with college grads and taking on large student loan debt is prudent; these are interesting questions. But the reality is not having a degree pretty much forecloses you from most jobs. That secretary with a doctorate the well-educated electrical engineer (irony!) references: all else being equal, would you hire the college graduate or the lady with only a high school diploma?

    The job market now is like any job market: it is competitive and people do all they can to become better positioned to succeed, whether that’s starting their own business or working for someone else.

    EDITOR NOTE–TJ, for clarification. We make no conclusions, that’s why we put up the topic. There IS a problem when we keep pumping out college grads and don’t have jobs for them.

  7. Tj – I’d probably hire a high school graduate for a secretarial position. The doctorate in history would be most probably arrogant, upset and angry because of what she had to settle for and always looking for the next best thing.

    And that kid that’s making his own job? That’s precisely what we need in this country – a drive to succeed and a willingness to do hard work.

    An eighth grade education in the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s meant a better education than a high school diploma with a few years of college does today. Brother Rabbit is right. We spend too much time and energy and money dithering over self-esteem and diversity and pc stuff and not enough on sheer educating in math, science, reading, spelling, and writing. But there will be a trophy for everyone who shows up!

  8. Rod in SE Boise
    May 15, 2012, 4:45 pm

    Nobody ever suggested that “everyone” (quoting Brother Rabbit) get a degree or own a home. They just wanted to make it easier for more people to get a degree or own a home.

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