Monday, October 22, 2012

How necessary is college?

In many cases, not necessary at all. In other cases it is imperative.

I worked under a guy that didn't finish high school for several years and he made out all right and did a hell of a lot better than an awful llot of people with a degree. I also worked under a guy with a degree that seemed to be OK and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't so much the degree as it was the man.

Then again, there are a lot of career fields that genuinely require a bachelor's degree or even more than that. I suppose that a physician needs a little more than a bachelor's degree even though some of the best medical treatment I have ever recieved was from people that have never ever seen a college classroom but I won't get into this in detail except to say I have gone under the knife of a high school graduate. When I got a physical a couple of years later the (real) doctor asked me about the resultant scar and commented that it looked like I had been operated on by someone pretty expensive.

Yes, I am being vague.

Anyway, I am not trying to overthrow the medical system as I write this even though I once got treatment for a broken bone from a (real) MD that didn't finish high school. He was a perverse bastard that was proud of the fact that he didn't finish high school yet was an MD. He got drafted during the Vietnam war and got sent to Ft. Sam Huston for Medic training, proved himself in combat and got offered a deal from the army, retiring after about 25 years as a colonel. Leave it to the United States Army to take a high school dropout and turn him into an orthopedic surgeon. Go figure.

Then again, the guy was a real character and knew his stuff and had good advice and aligned all the parts so the miracle could occur which is what doctors really do. Anyone that says doctors perform miracles is full of crap. They just align things so the REAL miracle can occur.

But I digress.

College is nothing more or less than a tool to put in a toolbox and as a tool oriented guy that has a lot of tools in his box, I can honestly say that there are a few tools in it that I should have not coughed up my hard earned cash on. They will sit in the box and rust in peace but I think the tools I have coughed up for are a whole lot cheaper than paying for a useless degree.

These days in places Starbucks is hiring. They hire a lot of people with college degrees and there are a lot of people there that are serving coffee with a college degree. Then again, Starbucks hires people that have not finished high school because they are still in high school.

I have not been able to figure out the difference between the coffee that is served to me by a high school student and a college graduate. Maybe I am missing something but I sort of doubt it. Then again, I have been told I could comfortably live in a concentration camp comfortably which may or may not be true.

Truth is there are a lot of worthless degrees out there and anyone that is stupid enough to believe that a mere degree guarentees them a good job should guess twice. There are a boatload of people out there with unmarketable degrees.

I really have little sympathy for someone that goes into debt to get a degree in, say, photography to find that all she can find to make a living is to serve coffee at Starbucks. Incidentally,if they took out student loans I want my money back. They got their degree, I want my money back. I diddn't choose their majors. They did.

There is a guy that I know that mows lawns for the neighbors, he has about 100 different lawns he mows and has first class gear to do the job. He started his little business to put himself through college and after he graduated he discovered that if he went from part time mowing to full time mowing he would end up making more than any of the offers he got when he graduated. He's mowing lawns full time now and has someone else working for him, too. He's now a small businessman.

Right now we have an awful lot of people getting degrees in various humanities which is generally useless and not a whole lot of people seem to be interested in hard sciences which likely has something to do with why we are hiring a lot of engineers and the like out of India. Part of the reason we hire engineers and scientific types from overseas is because too many Americans go to college for the humanities which is a a pretty flooded market these days.

We produce enough humanities types in this country to keep state in the union supplied with photography, basketweaving, and kumbaya types for the next three generations and that includes Texas.

What we don't seem to have are specialists, scientists, engineers and tecnicians. It seems we get many of these from somewhere else.

Of course, the humanities types all get upset when they graduate and find out that there are no decent jobs for them out there and bellyache about it, but they have only themselves to blame. They didn't do their homework and look before they leaped. I still want my money back, though. They still have to pay their student loans off.

Another thing people don't realize is that it is really pretty easy to be successful without a degree if you have a skill. Anybody out there hired a plumber recently? They make pretty good money and seem to be in pretty good demand these days because if they were not in demand they would not be as expensive to hire if the market was flooded.

Electricians are in another in demand trade. They command a pretty good paycheck and generally are booked up. After a few years as a journeyman you can take the test for Master and open your own business. I hired a guy to do some electrical work for me a while ago and he seemed to be doing OK. I paid him with a trade because he told me he was trying to keep his income DOWN for some reason. Most likely taxes.

I chatted with a body and fender guy that teaches the trade in a community college and he reported to me that every single one of his graduates that have any talent whatsoever are fought over by local businesses that need skilled people. I am not surprised as good body and fender guys are magicians.

Of course, a lot of parents are still stuck in the mentality their parents were stuck in years ago and that is that you can not be a success without college. My mother believed it, I do not think my father did even though he had a degree. As I have aged I have seen a number of people of the generation of my children are dissatisfied and are sweating bullets over mortgages and raising kids. A few of them have confessed thay would have been better off in a steady trade.

The college mentality still persists. MY kid is going to COLLEGE and that is that because I want him/her to be a success.

College in itself is not going to make him a success. If he gets a marketable degree he will simply have another tool to work with. If he gets another worthless degree he will likely wind up underemployed.

One of the most interesting people I have met over the years is a guy that had a father that insisted on college for a son that wanted to be a plumber. This was back in the day when college educations were more affordable. He is now a plumber running a small plumbing business.

His goal of being a plumber was not put aside in college. He took business as a major and after he graduated he went straight into a plumber apprenticeship program and burned up the league and in record time became a master plumber and opened his own plumbing business. He had a few employees during the period he raised his family.

He raised a couple of kids and after the kids were up and grown he shrunk his business and simply picks and chooses his jobs and does well.

I do have to admit that it does make me snicker when I get a cup of coffee served to me by a newly graduated humanities major.
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