Last evening I was watching the “news” with FD SCP and was exposed to the high schule student – woman – who wasn’t going to college but to trade schule to become a grease monkey.[Link] Ostensibly the reason for this was debt avoidance.
I sincerely hope this is an instance of “good” sense. But given the media attention, I have my doubts. Nonetheless, it did give me occasion to consider the matter of college.
First of all, a larger fraction of adolescents/YAs go to college than in my day. And my day was more populated than my parents’ day. And most of these students incur a stercus load of debt. Which cripples them for years if not forever.
So why college indeed?
Going back to my day, most of the people who attended college did so poorly and wastefully. You had women who were attending college to find a husband with “good prospects”. You had Greeks who were attending college prior to joining the family business. And you had rich kids attending college to avoid the draft.
And you had kids attending college to major in what they “loved”.
And you had a few kids who majored in something useful.
I realize that women don’t go to college to “mine” a husband any more so I’ll try to back off on offending the asentient and aintelligent who don’t recognize analysis from insult. But I won’t back off on people who go to college and end up not using what they studied. That includes those who can’t get a job in their discipline and those who find they can’t make a living with their discipline. Part of this is people paying attention to what their parents want or what they want but don’t recognize those as poor choices. My parents wanted me to go to business schule and become a physician, both of which would have been failure states for me. I may not be a very good physicist… but I am better than average. And I was moderately successful.
I know a few people who are in the same state, mostly STEM NERDs and business Geeks. What they have in common is they like/enjoy their discipline and they found someone who would pay them to do stuff they like. In my cosmos, that’s called success.
I know a lot of people who have done moderately to extremely well doing stuff that has nothing to do with what they studied in college. They had the good sense to find something they could do that paid and they did well by working hard in that thing. Some have returned to their disciplines in retirement, especially the ones who studied arts, and they are uplifted in retirement with that.
Just like I still do physics.
But I come into contact with more people who had to do things that had nothing to do with their disciplines and they did poorly. Part of that was that they had no discipline and drive and part was the opposite of enjoyment in doing. I don’t have any friends like this because there seems to be some sort of forbidden-ness to these people socializing with people who had enjoyment of what they did. They do clump with other people who disliked their work.
That seems to be covered by the social nature of humans.
My point being that the latter folks would have benefited by not going to college. Or by competent counseling in high schule. In mu experience most of the adult unhappiness in Amerika is due to incompetent high schule counseling. And parent stupidity. Both of which are strong arguments for education standards and licensing. Especially for parents.
But bottom line. We need to take a stiffer stance on college. If someone wants to go to college to get i career ticket punch they need to have their nose rubbed in the likelihood of failure. If someone wants to go to college in some discipline that they can’t get employment or survival pay, we need to make it hard for them to get in.
I’m of mixed mind on the current system of telling people they will likely fail because of aptitude or grades. That argument would have kept Einstein out of college. The most successful people I know are the ones who overcame the academic instrumentality’s foretelling of damnation.
And we need to offset the crap espoused by parents who want to live through their children or have a whacked view of reality.
Which boils down to fewer people need to go to college.