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Old 03-10-2018, 03:33 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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Will we ever see a middle-class backlash against college?

Americans split on whether a 4-year college degree is worth the cost.

Maybe I'm too privileged to see what is going on, but I can't imagine telling an academically strong and pragmatically-minded young person to not bother going to college. I could see myself trying to convince them to major in something marketable and to save money by going to a community college or living at home (fuck the "real" college experience). But I don't think I'd tell someone that a college degree isn't worth it unless I felt they had a special talent or they just sucked at academics.

I love what I do. I would not be able to do what I do without a college degree, and I don't see that ever changing.

Do you think we will ever see middle-class parents en mass dissuading their kids from going to college? Have you ever done this?
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Old 03-10-2018, 04:07 PM
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I certainly haven't, but I know plenty of people near me, all middle-class, who if they didn't argue against college were not supportive of it. In fact before ACA some sent their kids to the inexpensive community college solely to keep them on their insurance. The kids didn't really attend and the parents didn't care.
Some of these kids, when persuaded to give a shit, did fine.

All this started long before college in parental disinterest in academics at lower levels. If you give your kids the impression that school is a waste of time, it is not surprising that college will be seen as a waste also.
Yes, trade schools are really good for those with that bent, but none of the kids I'm thinking of were interested in that path.
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Old 03-10-2018, 04:40 PM
Not a Platypus Not a Platypus is offline
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I hope that we can at least kill the idea of going to college simply because it's "what you're supposed to do" or that you'll never get a good job without a degree in something. I'm in my 30's and my mom still keeps pushing me to go back to school. For what? I have no idea. Just, y'know, get those pre-reqs done at least. Never mind the fact that I do not have career aspirations that require college and I already did a year of trade school because I'm much more inclined to look at a trade career for long-term goals. If that changes I can go back and take classes that will actually further my goals.

College is a great resource for careers that actually need further education, but I strongly feel it should not be pushed on teens and young adults just because. Encouraging young people to take on debt if they don't really have an academic path in mind feels irresponsible, and it happens constantly.
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Old 03-10-2018, 04:51 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Even though they don't need them, a lot of jobs require a college degree. so until that changes I don't see a true backlash.

I once saw a job where you were supposed to scoop dogfood into small bags and carry them over to the quality control lab. They wanted a BS in biology to do that.
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Old 03-10-2018, 04:55 PM
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We should be preparing all high schoolers for their life after high school. For some of them, that means college, but not everyone. There are still plenty of perfectly good jobs you can get without a college degree, so let's prepare at least some students for those jobs.
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Old 03-10-2018, 06:22 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
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Most of the local colleges here are just fancier trade school's ..with just enough traditional subjects to say it's a college
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:35 PM
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I once saw a job where you were supposed to scoop dogfood into small bags and carry them over to the quality control lab. They wanted a BS in biology to do that.
Yeah, I sort of hate that kind of thinking. My old job wanted managers to have a college degree... in anything. We never had someone with a business or finance related degree - philosophy majors, comparative religion, teaching, acting, nutrition. On average they left after a couple of years, having gotten something on their resume.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:49 PM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is online now
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I wonder if education tourism would start to be a thing, rather like medical tourism is. It strikes me that it must be starting to be pretty competitive to look at a good overseas university, even at international rates.

For instance, my alma mater, Edinburgh, is a pretty good university, ranked here 23rd in the world, just behind Duke and Michigan. Currently, a year's tuition at overseas rates in an Arts-type field like literature, philosophy or history will set you back about GBP19,000 or a little under USD27,000. This compares pretty well with, well, Duke itself, which appears to be charging about USD53,000.

I know there are other barriers - for instance, you probably can't get loans so easily from American lenders for o/s education. But it strikes me that that's a big enough cost differential that it actually might be worth people's while to flee the country for education, if it's the sort of thing that occurs to them as a possible strategy in the first place.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:50 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Even though they don't need them, a lot of jobs require a college degree. [
no, the jobs don't require a degree. the hiring companies just use that as a filter. And we've contributed to that by considering anyone in a trade (especially if they have a name tag on their shirt) as a useless shit-kicker.
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:02 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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I wonder if education tourism would start to be a thing, rather like medical tourism is. It strikes me that it must be starting to be pretty competitive to look at a good overseas university, even at international rates.

For instance, my alma mater, Edinburgh, is a pretty good university, ranked here 23rd in the world, just behind Duke and Michigan. Currently, a year's tuition at overseas rates in an Arts-type field like literature, philosophy or history will set you back about GBP19,000 or a little under USD27,000. This compares pretty well with, well, Duke itself, which appears to be charging about USD53,000.

I know there are other barriers - for instance, you probably can't get loans so easily from American lenders for o/s education. But it strikes me that that's a big enough cost differential that it actually might be worth people's while to flee the country for education, if it's the sort of thing that occurs to them as a possible strategy in the first place.
you miss the point. a hell of a lot of essential trades are jobs which can't be learned in a classroom. Sitting in a classroom won't make you a good plumber; you need to actually be out there building or fixing shit. Sitting in a classroom won't make you a good millwright; you need to actually be out there fixing and maintaining machines.

I'm a degreed mechanical engineer, but I started my "career path" when I was 15 and got certified as an auto mechanic. And it's given me the insight to know that just because someone is skilled and knowledgeable in one field, that doesn't mean they know one damn bit about another field. Even if they think they do.

as an example, when I was 16 (as a licensed auto mechanic) I had a local doctor bring his car in because it was "making noise." the engine was trashed. He was convinced we were trying to rip him off even though he didn't know he needed to change his car's oil to keep it running. he called me all sorts of names because he was obviously smarter than me, and I was just some stupid kid feeding him a line of bullshit.

this, from a guy who didn't realize his car needed oil changes.

and honestly, even as a seasoned engineer, I have far too many days where I wish I was still a mechanic. even with the assholes, most of the time I was able to fix people's problems and make their day better.
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:24 PM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is offline
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I teach 4th grade in a Title I district, so college is a pipe dream to most of the students in the schools. The district encourages college, but are beginning to see that the investment in college promotion is wasted. I tell my students that they can have the career they want if they are willing to work hard for it. I encourage them to look into trade schools as well as college. I don't ever say so, but I hope that they realize they are not destined (cursed?) to have the same jobs their parents have, which is an awful but necessary industry.
I tell as many people as I can about the Mike Rowe Works Foundation's scholarships for trade school.
If you don't want a career that requires a degree, like education, sciences, or others, than college is just indoctrination and a waste of money. I f we had kids who wanted to go to college, I'd be looking at Patrick Henry College or Hillsdale.
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:26 PM
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And most classes for the trades aren't just sitting in a classroom. There are high-school courses where you actually repair real cars, or build real structures, or solder real electronics, or the like.
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:33 PM
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I'm a Registered Nurse. Nursing is in an odd position, we are called "professional" and yet we literally deal with poop. I try very, very hard to live up to the professional end of things, while still dealing compassionately with the actual bodily functions, including poop and whatever else comes my way.

I got my degree from a community college and would recommend that to anyone who wishes to pursue a nursing degree.

I feel we need more people who actually know how to *DO* things.
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:57 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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I don't ever say so, but I hope that they realize they are not destined (cursed?) to have the same jobs their parents have, which is an awful but necessary industry.
can you explain why having the same jobs as their parents is a "curse?"
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Old 03-10-2018, 09:55 PM
Not a Platypus Not a Platypus is offline
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can you explain why having the same jobs as their parents is a "curse?"
I can't speak for CelticKnot, but I think the idea is that the kids are from low-income families, so ending up with the same jobs as their parents just means continuing a life of poverty. Not really the kind of thing kids dream of.
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Old 03-10-2018, 10:09 PM
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can you explain why having the same jobs as their parents is a "curse?"
My father hammered into my head that when he was 18 he was "shoving rolls of newsprint around" at a printing company, and expected me to get a job that wouldn't involve manual labor.
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Old 03-11-2018, 12:09 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is online now
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In any case, the OP explicitly said "I can't imagine telling an academically strong and pragmatically-minded young person to not bother going to college." which doesn't actually sound like talking about plumbers.

If you're saying "people who want to learn trades should go to trade school, not college", well, I agree. Or even "middle class people should be open to their kids doing a trade rather than a white-collar job".

Saying higher education is unnecessary for white-collar jobs might be true, depending on the white-collar job involved. But jobs for which it is helpful, are the sort of jobs middle class families are angling for.

This is also a whole different ball of wax from "should shift manager at K-mart be a job which requires a 4-year degree", which I agree is ... unhelpful.

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Old 03-11-2018, 03:48 AM
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Quite frankly, I'd be surprised to see any kind of a backlash against anything fostered by the establishment. People see the "invisible hand" as the one that feeds them in a precarious existence, and few will be willing to bite it.

If that's what this question is about.

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Old 03-11-2018, 07:19 AM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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People always talk about the proverbial plumber making $120,000/yr and the kid with a B.A. making bumpkiss at the local coffee shop. But the plumber making $120k/yr is not an average plumber: he's smart, he's a self-starter, an entrepreneur, the sort of person that works hard and looks for opportunities and when he sees them, he's brave enough and hard-working enough to make the most of them. The kid with a a B.A. who can't figure out what to do with his life and drifts into a job at a coffee shop wouldn't have been that plumber. And if that plumber had a B.A, I kinda suspect he'd be making even more as a professional.

Now, I'm open to the idea that some people want to be plumbers; that different people have different personalities, and for some college and a professional career just isn't what they want, even though they have the drive and the ambition to be successful. But the kid who doesn't have enough drive or ambition for anything at all isn't going to be a rock star plumber.
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:28 AM
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I work with a fair number of both college students and dropouts/never enrolled. Those who've dropped out don't see the use for even an associates "because it's a waste of money I'm going to have to pay back." In a couple of cases grades weren't either good enough to transfer to a 4-year university or requirements were such that they'd have to chase them down at another school to get the credit "and who wants to do that?" Those who never enrolled have been working all along, hoping to get FT: Either they're not academically talented, not interested, or need to earn $ to help their families. The ones who are enrolled either work minimal hours or they work evenings and/or weekends, maybe a day or two during the week here or there. They're all chomping at the bit to live their next life chapter.

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Old 03-11-2018, 08:30 AM
CelticKnot CelticKnot is offline
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can you explain why having the same jobs as their parents is a "curse?"
A job that studies show causes people to develop a form of PTSD. Employers refuse to acknowledge it, so employees get no treatment or recognition for the brutality of the job.
It's not just any manual labor. It's an industry that pays little for very tough jobs, and the government imports refugees to work there, so people have little feeling of security.
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Old 03-11-2018, 11:03 AM
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I hope that we can at least kill the idea of going to college simply because it's "what you're supposed to do" or that you'll never get a good job without a degree in something. I'm in my 30's and my mom still keeps pushing me to go back to school. For what? I have no idea. Just, y'know, get those pre-reqs done at least. Never mind the fact that I do not have career aspirations that require college and I already did a year of trade school because I'm much more inclined to look at a trade career for long-term goals. If that changes I can go back and take classes that will actually further my goals.

College is a great resource for careers that actually need further education, but I strongly feel it should not be pushed on teens and young adults just because. Encouraging young people to take on debt if they don't really have an academic path in mind feels irresponsible, and it happens constantly.
Just curious (and don't take this the wrong way, unless you must): what are you currently doing for work, and do you see a path to retirement without significant reliance on social security?
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Old 03-11-2018, 12:01 PM
Not a Platypus Not a Platypus is offline
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Just curious (and don't take this the wrong way, unless you must): what are you currently doing for work, and do you see a path to retirement without significant reliance on social security?
I'm a supervisor in a medical records department. I do, but this is also a career path I just fell into, and not one I'm particularly thrilled about. Retirement will definitely be challenging if I don't either climb the ladder in my current career or figure out something I would rather do that could turn out better. There are several paths I could take in my industry, some of which will require going back to school. At that point I think it would be worth going back for the specific classes I would need.
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Old 03-11-2018, 12:21 PM
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Einstien's Third Law of Relativity:

"The more parents spend to send their kids to Princeton University, the more impressed the relatives will be, in general"

We'll never see a backlash to this kind of popularity ...
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Old 03-11-2018, 01:24 PM
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We should be preparing all high schoolers for their life after high school. For some of them, that means college, but not everyone. There are still plenty of perfectly good jobs you can get without a college degree, so let's prepare at least some students for those jobs.
And in fact there is a massive shortage of people working in the skilled trades to the point that as a nation we're critically understaffed to support any kind of infrastructure improvement, rollout of wide scale nuclear power, or even maintain our current systems indefinitely without turning to immigrant labor. We've cultivated a system in which being any kind of success outside of the creative arts means having to obtain some kind of four year degree even though very few people use anything from their four (or more) years spent in post-secondary education unless they are in a STEM field. And the beneficiaries aren't the students, who are often mired in student debt or default for years and sometimes decades, but the schools and loan financiers who are selling an 'investment' that isn't necessary for most occupations except that it has become a de facto threshold of entry.

As a nation we are in desperate need of skilled welders, pipefitters, electricians, carpenters, millwrights, and of course all of the medical 'trades', and with a few years of experience and the willingness to go where the work is one can easily make a six figure income without putting in an excess of overtime. Many of these jobs pay per diem for travel as well which offsets the costs of having to travel to a worksite. These aren't coal mining type jobs with long hours, low pay, and high incidence of mortality and morbidity, either; while trade work does offer more opportunities for injury by dint of doing something other than sitting in a chair, the modern trade workplace offers and widely uses protective equipment and mechanical aids not just because of government regulation but also because it is far cheaper to rent a manlift for a few weeks than to pay out on a personal injury claim and lost time at work.

Coming back from WWII and the 'baby boom', people (both men and women, for different reasons) had new access to post-secondary education, and even those who didn't go to college saw the benefits of it in terms of wealth and social status, and thus worked and scrimped and saved to send their children to college for a better life. But somewhere in that calculus we equated college with betterment and labor with a lack of will, and grew a quiet contempt for those who chose to work in skilled trades. As a society, we need to rethink education in terms of vocational aptitude, interest, and need on one hand, and education as a public and social benefit (i.e. creating an informed electorate) on the other, instead of trying to fuse them together in some hybrid version of the liberally educated white collar worker who only uses his or her hands to do 'work' around the house.

Short of a universal offering of free college tuition (which I don't think is workable regardless of how loudly Bernie Sanders yells it) I think college is going to be priced out of the ability of many students unless they have avenues of alternative funding, and as intellectual labor becomes automated as many forms of industrial and agricultural labor have previously they will be competing for fewer and fewer jobs. Even in the STEM fields, often promoted as being good opportunities for students with math and science skills, there are overall fewer jobs than applicants (and often few enough qualified applicants for the jobs, creating a disconnect on both sides).

Education in terms of knowledge should be open and available to all at minimal expense; vocational training and direction should be provided based upon what aptitude a candidate has and where their interests lie, along with what skill sets are needed in the economy. You cannot force or plan for people to fill a specific role (at least, not with enthusiasm and success) but you can offer guidance and incentives, and I believe there are plenty of people who would be happy to perform a 'blue collar' job doing valuable skilled labor if it were not seen as beneath them. What we do not need (and I think will be rapidly disappearing) are more McJobs in soulless cubefarms or masses of Uber drivers roaming around looking for underserved areas and chasing surge pricing. What we could use are skilled trades and craft people building and supporting a modern infrastructure and contributing to both the practical and aesthetic value of the world we live in.

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Old 03-11-2018, 03:00 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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Short of a universal offering of free college tuition (which I don't think is workable regardless of how loudly Bernie Sanders yells it) I think college is going to be priced out of the ability of many students unless they have avenues of alternative funding, and as intellectual labor becomes automated as many forms of industrial and agricultural labor have previously they will be competing for fewer and fewer jobs. Even in the STEM fields, often promoted as being good opportunities for students with math and science skills, there are overall fewer jobs than applicants (and often few enough qualified applicants for the jobs, creating a disconnect on both sides).
It's pretty telling that if I was starting college today, I would not be able to afford to go to the school I got my degree from. I started in 1994, and just going by a regular CPI inflation calculator I was paying about $380 per credit hour for undergrad tuition (in 2018 dollars.) However, undergrad tuition at the school today is $1,100 per credit hour. Almost three times higher. and I think a big part of that is the notion that "everyone has to go to university" combined with ".gov-backed loans anyone can get" means schools can ratchet up tuition. Plus, where I went (an engineering- and sciences-focused univ.) they've had an influx of international students (mostly from China) whose well-heeled families will pay pretty much any price. So the place has jacked up its tuition and spent it like drunken sailors on newer and bigger buildings and a bunch of other shit. Occasionally I get a mailing from them asking to pledge an "alumni donation," those go straight into the trash. and if they ever call me they're getting an earful.
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Old 03-11-2018, 04:37 PM
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And most classes for the trades aren't just sitting in a classroom. There are high-school courses where you actually repair real cars, or build real structures, or solder real electronics, or the like.
Fewer and fewer of them. My daughter's tech theatre director was just bemoaning that he is getting students who never had the option to take shop - they have never used a saw or a drill, they don't know what a pilot hole is.

And the shop in my kids' school was not great - they've moved resources out of trades into 4 year college prep - so that when my son started trade school they started with the basics because you can't get them in school.
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Old 03-11-2018, 05:08 PM
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I'm more surprised that there isn't an upper middle class backlash against college: middle class families and students take on some loans but they also receive assistance; the lower reaches of the rich might grouse against six figure tuition but can still easily afford it; while the upper middle class must pay it without subsidies (except maybe at the most expensive schools.)

For the past few months I myself have been kicking around the idea of starting a thread that the price of schooling might be a hidden tax on the upper middle class.
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Old 03-11-2018, 05:34 PM
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I'm more surprised that there isn't an upper middle class backlash against college: middle class families and students take on some loans but they also receive assistance; the lower reaches of the rich might grouse against six figure tuition but can still easily afford it; while the upper middle class must pay it without subsidies (except maybe at the most expensive schools.)

For the past few months I myself have been kicking around the idea of starting a thread that the price of schooling might be a hidden tax on the upper middle class.
Upper middle-class parents are more likely to see their college graduates getting "good" jobs than middle class parents. Not because the upper-middle class kids are smarter or harder working, but because they have the kind of network that is enjoyed by the upper class. When you can't find a job on your own and you come from an upper middle-class family, you can expect someone in your network to come through with a position that's just perfect for you. And there's always someone who will put in a good word for you. The typical middle-class college graduate isn't that lucky.

Also, it's not true that weathier students don't get scholarship money thrown at them.
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Old 03-11-2018, 05:48 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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There was an article in the NYTimes a day to two ago about a bricklayers' competition (how high a wall can you build in an hour, points off for any irregularity) that mentioned that there is a dire shortage of bricklayers. Apprenticeships take 4 years and people are just not interested. So the industry is starting to use robots, although robots capable of doing the job are extremely expensive and still require human assistance. I wonder how many other such jobs are around.

As for going out of the country, about 25 years I had a conversation with a student from NY state. I asked him why he had come to McGill. His answer was that it was much cheaper even than SUNY. It cost him about CAD12,000 a year. And that amount of $12,000 was the amount that we got from every student between tuition and provincial subsidies. Foreign students weren't subsidized at all. Non-Quebec Canadians paid about $4000 and locals about $2500. So yes edu-tourism is a real possibility.

The most disheartening thing I read recently on the subject is that over 50% of Republicans think colleges are, on the whole, negative and should be abolished. (Okay, that last clause is my take on what they said, but I don't see any other way to take it.)
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Old 03-11-2018, 06:10 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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The most disheartening thing I read recently on the subject is that over 50% of Republicans think colleges are, on the whole, negative and should be abolished. (Okay, that last clause is my take on what they said, but I don't see any other way to take it.)
Actually it seems like many Republicans (at least those on the vocal neocon side) feel that education in general should be restricted and public education abolished in favor of parochial charter schools paid for, of course, by taxpayer money. This is, of course, a strategy that has worked very well for flourishing egalitarian democracies like Iran and Pakistan, and is a model we should certainly embrace to Make American Great Again, because nothing says greatness like double digit illiteracy rates and basic ignorance of history and science.

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Old 03-11-2018, 07:39 PM
Fretful Porpentine Fretful Porpentine is offline
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I'm more surprised that there isn't an upper middle class backlash against college: middle class families and students take on some loans but they also receive assistance; the lower reaches of the rich might grouse against six figure tuition but can still easily afford it; while the upper middle class must pay it without subsidies (except maybe at the most expensive schools.)

For the past few months I myself have been kicking around the idea of starting a thread that the price of schooling might be a hidden tax on the upper middle class.
That seems unlikely, since attending a selective college is so central to upper-middle-class identity. People don't have backlashes against their own class's preferred status markers. (Collectively, I mean -- it's obviously possible for individual upper-middle-class kids to choose to revolt against the system by becoming a truck driver instead, but they usually do that because, consciously or not, they don't want to identify any more with their class of origin and its values.)
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:42 PM
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This is, of course, a strategy that has worked very well for flourishing egalitarian democracies like Iran and Pakistan, and is a model we should certainly embrace to Make American Great Again, because nothing says greatness like double digit illiteracy rates and basic ignorance of history and science.

Stranger
Also nothing says steadfast Republican voter than that. Those guys may be evil, but they're not stupid.
  #34  
Old 03-12-2018, 12:03 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Actually it seems like many Republicans (at least those on the vocal neocon side) feel that education in general should be restricted and public education abolished in favor of parochial charter schools paid for, of course, by taxpayer money. This is, of course, a strategy that has worked very well for flourishing egalitarian democracies like Iran and Pakistan, and is a model we should certainly embrace to Make American Great Again, because nothing says greatness like double digit illiteracy rates and basic ignorance of history and science.

Stranger
Up until 2016 education didn't make much of a difference in party ID (among white people), but once Trump came onto the scene he pushed the college educated whites away and drew the high school educated whites to him. Education has very little role in which party to support among non-whites though.

As far as people earning great incomes in the skilled trades I suppose it is possible. But a lot of people I know who work in the trades work jobs that are pretty hard on their bodies and while thy earn a good income (about 40-50k which goes pretty far in the midwest) they aren't earning amazing salaries. As of 2010, only 6% of individuals over 18 earn 6 figures a year (that figure may be higher now since 2010 was not a good year for employees). Many of them are probably highly skilled white collar jobs.

There are people in the skilled trades earning 6 figures. But I'd assume a lot of them are either extremely lucky (they got a great union job) or they work long hours in dangerous jobs that take them away from family and are in the middle of nowhere.
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  #35  
Old 03-12-2018, 05:04 AM
Asuka Asuka is offline
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I went to college in the early 00's and was probably in that first generation where everybody got 4 year degrees in absolute crap and when the market tanked in 2007 pretty much all my college friends wound up either taking entry level jobs or going back to college and getting a new degree. Had a friend who got a 4 year degree as a "Musical Historian" just because it sounded cool and was absolutely surprised to find out he couldn't do anything with it besides go back to college and be a low-level intern in the music department.
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Old 03-12-2018, 05:32 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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There are people in the skilled trades earning 6 figures. But I'd assume a lot of them are either extremely lucky (they got a great union job) or they work long hours in dangerous jobs that take them away from family and are in the middle of nowhere.
Or are self-employed (and work long hours.)
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:01 AM
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I'm more surprised that there isn't an upper middle class backlash against college:
I'm only one data point, but...

We're upper class according to Investopedia. We actively discouraged college for one of our kids. It just didn't seem right for him, and there was no possibility of scholarship assistance for us. I didn't want to spend the money, nor him to waste the 4 years out of the workforce. I explained to him I had easily passed six figures working oil rigs and there were as many, and perhaps more high earning opportunities in blue collar work. I encouraged a few of the trades and actively steered him toward transportation or plumbing/hvac. He held jobs in both and did extremely well, and in a few years was a shift supervisor at a UPS hub. Then one day he rode jump seat in one of their 767s, and from that point was determined to become a commercial pilot. He recently finished a degree (online), but only because it's required to move beyond regional airlines.

I think the trades are a better choice in today's world than most college track careers and I actively* discourage them when asked. A lot of my friends' kids are competing for diminishing white collar jobs, while my son has a six figure income, and is fending off recruiters with a stick.

*A few months ago, the millennial barkeep at the marina was grousing about college costs, baby boomers screwing us over, etc. We had a short conversation about it and she asked what I would do in her situation. I suggested she pursue Mortuary Science at the local community college. It pays really well, and she could spend each week burying us old baby boomers. (I got free drinks for that one )
  #38  
Old 03-12-2018, 05:47 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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There was an article in the NYTimes a day to two ago about a bricklayers' competition (how high a wall can you build in an hour, points off for any irregularity) that mentioned that there is a dire shortage of bricklayers. Apprenticeships take 4 years and people are just not interested. So the industry is starting to use robots, although robots capable of doing the job are extremely expensive and still require human assistance. I wonder how many other such jobs are around.
It's likely that people choosing not to undergo a 4-year bricklayer apprenticeship are making the rational choice.

Sure, the robots to do the job are expensive and require handholding today but where are they going to be at the end of your four years? or in 10 or 15 years when you're entering middle age. Does anyone think that there are going to be human bricklayers in 25 years?

Now, I don't know a thing about bricklaying, so I could be greatly underestimating the amount of intellectual work that goes into it. But you really don't want to be in an industry where your main competitive advantage over the robots is that they're slow and expensive right now. Because robots only get faster and cheaper.

I think the backlash against (most) traditional college is going to come, but it's going to come because alternative educational models (read: online schools) can deliver just as good an education at a fraction of the cost, with better measurement of abilities. Elite universities will survive (Harvard could live-stream and open source every single class and it wouldn't matter, because people don't go to Harvard to learn the things that Harvard teaches, they go to Harvard to be around other people who go to Harvard), but the bottom, say, 60% are in serious trouble.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:04 PM
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We saved for our kid's education and since my son chose tech school, over saved for it. So I filled out a FAFSA - more so the package was complete - and my daughter applied to a bunch of small private liberal arts colleges that were around $50-$70k a year tuition/room and board. Its a lot of money, but its why I spent their childhood's working and wasn't a stay at home mom - its there.

She got accepted to four schools (including her ED school - at which point she pulled out of the other schools - we still got several acceptances, but never heard from several more). And they all came with merit money. Almost all with a package that put them all within $5k of each other (remember, they started about $20k apart).

Now, the amount we will pay is still coming down to "pretty much unaffordable if you weren't a two professional income household saving like anything for college or actually wealthy." But it did drive home that the sticker price for college is not what people pay.

(Notable, she applied for schools that were in her sweet spot for GPA and test scores - she wasn't applying for reach schools or schools where her record was exceptional. I would think that she wouldn't have gotten as much aid at the first, and she would have gotten more at the second.)
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  #40  
Old 03-12-2018, 06:15 PM
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Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quoth Dangerosa:

Fewer and fewer of them. My daughter's tech theatre director was just bemoaning that he is getting students who never had the option to take shop - they have never used a saw or a drill, they don't know what a pilot hole is.

And the shop in my kids' school was not great - they've moved resources out of trades into 4 year college prep - so that when my son started trade school they started with the basics because you can't get them in school.
Well, I can't speak for the whole country, but all of Ohio is split up into career technical districts (separate from and usually larger than the standard school districts), each of which contains a school that offers trade training, and all students are eligible to go to such a school (though not all eligible students get in-- there's some competitions for spots).

Now, not all districts offer all trade programs: My district, for instance, which covers four western suburbs of Cleveland, offers the three I mentioned (automobile maintenance, construction, and electronics) plus a few others, but does not have a metal shop. But there are definitely at least some options available.
  #41  
Old 03-12-2018, 06:32 PM
China Guy China Guy is online now
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Parent of high school senior checking in. She's absolutely switched, pragmatic, good grades, good test scores, and been practicing art seriously since she could pick up a crayon. I can afford it but it will still be beaucoup expensive to send her to a 4 year private University in LA to do digital animation without debt. Will she greatly improve her skills and have a lot of opportunities to work or intern in this field - yes! Do I think she could just go on her own to Hollywood now and be a successful animator - no, no and hell no!

That said, both the students and the Universities need to be more transparent and coach on the realistic graduating salary ranges of majors. If you're a poor student, it probably doesn't make sense to get that really interesting art history major if that means racking up $200k in debt vs getting an accounting degree with an art history minor.

IMHO the biggest issue with University costs has roots in State Legislatures cutting budgets. Then the schools, such as the University of California system, started increasing the acceptance of out of state or out of country students to help bridge the gap, thus forcing in state students to go out of state. Negative feedback loop. Great State Universities at "affordable" prices helps to keep the overall higher education system in check. This is now broken.
  #42  
Old 03-14-2018, 01:33 PM
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I went to college in the early 00's and was probably in that first generation where everybody got 4 year degrees in absolute crap and when the market tanked in 2007 pretty much all my college friends wound up either taking entry level jobs or going back to college and getting a new degree. Had a friend who got a 4 year degree as a "Musical Historian" just because it sounded cool and was absolutely surprised to find out he couldn't do anything with it besides go back to college and be a low-level intern in the music department.
Me too. I have a bachelors in Philosophy (full scholarship, so no debt from it.)

I've never used the degree. While I was still in college, my husband* and I bought our first house, which we flipped and made a bunch of money on. I've been in construction/investment real estate since. Give me a pile of construction materials, and I can design and build a house, from the foundation to the electrical system. Construction work is fun and fulfilling if you're working for yourself. I know lots of people who are quite well off working in the trades.

If we had kids, I wouldn't be pushing them toward college, unless they had a very specific career path in mind that required it.

*also got married at 20
  #43  
Old 03-14-2018, 03:28 PM
Ashtura Ashtura is offline
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I recommend college to my children, simply because I believe there are a significant amount of "HR Screeners" who don't really know much about the positions they are filling, that s__t-can applications from people without any degree. They do that, because they can.

I can't prove that my communications degree (which has almost nothing to do with my career) has either gotten me, or not gotten me an interview, or a job. People have asked about it in interviews, though, so I figure it probably plays some sort of factor in a hiring decision.

I, however, am not pressuring any of children. One of my kids went to community college and dropped out a couple courses short of an associates degree. I have no doubt that this has something to do with maturity and work ethic (I didn't graduate from the first school I went to either, I was a bit of a late bloomer). I certainly am not going to brow beat him into finishing, though I think it's a bit of a shame.

My daughter has seen my son's failure and decided to pass. That doesn't make me happy, but she seems a little aimless as far as her interests go. I definitely wouldn't want to push her to go and then have her change her major 5 times.

I definitely, would always recommend getting a STEM related degree, as I think that is pretty marketable, and pays well. As long as you are interested in STEM, and only then.

If you are just fine making sandwiches for a living (both my older kids are doing that at the moment), then yeah, no college necessary.
  #44  
Old 03-14-2018, 06:02 PM
MacLir MacLir is offline
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A graduate with a science degree asks "Why does it work?"
A graduate with an engineering degree asks "How does it work?"
A graduate with a business degree asks "How do we make it work economically?"
A graduate with a liberal arts degree asks "Do you want fries with that?"

Any questions?
  #45  
Old 03-14-2018, 06:32 PM
BetsQ BetsQ is offline
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I really hate the idea that college is career prep. College is for learning; learning is good. (It's probably worth noting here that I have an undergrad degree from an elite liberal arts university and a Ph.D.)

I have a teenager who is not particularly academically motivated. He may very well want to work as a plumber or whatever. That's fine. However, I want him to go to college first, learn stuff along the way, develop the social networks, have some fun, have an experience living away from home without having to be entirely independent, all that. I'll pay for it, because I think it's important. I don't care what he studies.
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Old 03-14-2018, 08:10 PM
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What about people who, despite having the ability to do well, find college excruciating? Our older son is in that category. For now he wants to try to make it on his own without college. If he decides to go back he should be a lot more motivated after a few years of dull jobs and crappy apartments. I needed college because I lacked the aptitude for the skilled trades.
  #47  
Old 03-14-2018, 08:14 PM
ITR champion ITR champion is offline
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The OP asks an interesting question. Total enrollment is dropping, but not all that quickly. What lies ahead?

Let's take a calculus class. When I was a freshman in the fall of 2000, dinosaurs roamed the earth and we bought a $100 textbook from the university book store. Then we did problems from that textbook on notebook paper. Using pencils, if you can believe that. We physically handed in our homework at the end of class, and the graders graded it with red pens. We took quizzes and tests on paper with pencils as well. During lectures, the professors wrote on the board with chalk.

Today many calculus classes have online assignments. Grading is automatic, done by software, not by a person. Tests and quizzes are moving online as well. Lectures often involve video segments or computer animations of key points. Students often turn to Khan Academy or things like that outside of class, even if they aren't being used in class.

So sooner or later, every intelligent student surely has to start asking the obvious question. If my homework, my tests, my quizzes, and my lectures are all digital and available online, why should I take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt to live on this campus and attend classes? Why should I pay for professors with 6-figure salaries and a mob of administrators who don't do anything, when online options are available?

Of course, there is one obvious answer. The traditional 4-year, on-campus experience allows for plenty of drinking, partying, sex, football, movies, concerts, etc... Some students may stay on campus mainly for that stuff and not consider the debt question very much. (Ages 17-21 are not peak years for rational planning.) So perhaps the more relevant question is whether middle-class parents will ever collectively put their feet down and declare that enough is enough.

Last edited by ITR champion; 03-14-2018 at 08:16 PM.
  #48  
Old 03-14-2018, 09:24 PM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is online now
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I find value in the experience of having an actual directed course, managed by experts who are paid to answer questions you have about what you are doing, and with compulsory benchmarks that you have to hit. It's useful enough that I can't see physical in-person education disappearing any time soon.

I've gone back to Uni this year to do a masters-by-coursework - so, higher level than an undergraduate or "college" degree (I put that in quotes because I don't really have a good feeling how closely American College <=> British or Australian University map to each other. I suppose that they're close enough). But it's still essentially lectures, assignments, exams just like any other non-hands-on higher education.

The lectures are all recorded and put online, so in theory I could just stay home and watch the videos, but I don't because it's just not as good. And Khan Academy won't force you to complete the worksheet by 5pm on Monday or else you drop 5 points in your year's assessment, nor will it facilitate your meeting up, in person, with other people who are studying the same things at the same time (discussion boards are also a thing that could in theory fulfil the need ... but are just not as good). Even though Khan Academy is very good, and the lecturers have in fact directed us to some Khan Academy modules to fill in any gaps in our former education.

So ... yeah, students do do a lot of sex, drugs and partying, but if you're serious about your study and LIKE what you're studying it's not all about the sex, drugs and partying. And "an online course is just as good" is something I seriously disagree with
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  #49  
Old 03-14-2018, 10:03 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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So ... yeah, students do do a lot of sex, drugs and partying,
this is so far removed from my personal experience that I can't view it as anything but borderline fictional.
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Old 03-14-2018, 10:14 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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I really hate the idea that college is career prep. College is for learning; learning is good. (It's probably worth noting here that I have an undergrad degree from an elite liberal arts university and a Ph.D.)
I never understood that attitude. If you want to be a doctor, you need to go to medical school. If you want to be a lawyer, you go to law school. Engineers and accountants study engineering and accounting. So on and so forth. Going to an "elite liberal arts university" to "learn" just seems to me a luxury reserved for people who don't really need to figure out how they will earn a living after college.





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Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
I think the backlash against (most) traditional college is going to come, but it's going to come because alternative educational models (read: online schools) can deliver just as good an education at a fraction of the cost, with better measurement of abilities. Elite universities will survive (Harvard could live-stream and open source every single class and it wouldn't matter, because people don't go to Harvard to learn the things that Harvard teaches, they go to Harvard to be around other people who go to Harvard), but the bottom, say, 60% are in serious trouble.
More than that. There is a growing dichotomy of "winner" and "loser" colleges. Harvard is arguably the top, but it's really the top 50 or so elite schools. In some cases, it may be as few as the top 10. In many cases, these are schools where one can get an "elite liberal arts university" and then land a job in a new hire training program at an investment bank, tech firm or Fortune 500 company that puts them on a management track.
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