Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Love This!

I was directed to a post by Roy H. Williams on college today, But Why Are You Going To College? and how the paradigm of college education and the workforce has changed, and how the model of school we know is not meeting the needs of the workforce. He argues that the number of blue collar jobs has indeed shrunk but the proportion of white collar jobs has stayed about the same. The difference is found in jobs that require vocational skills, skills you don’t get with a liberal arts degree.

Meanwhile, our universities graduate exactly 10 times more psychology majors each year than there are jobs for psychology majors. But these bright-eyed innocents are never told, “There will be a job for only 1 in every 10 of you. The rest of you will have to find some other way to make a living.”

I’m betting you know at least a dozen young adults with college degrees who are struggling to find work today. Am I right? But the problem isn’t that there aren’t any jobs. There are plenty of jobs for people with the right skills. These “educated unemployed” simply chose a course of study for which there is no demand in today’s workplace.

Oooooh that is good stuff!

How many Christian parents, even homeschoolers, will walk in lockstep with prevailing wisdom and demand that their kids “go to college”? By “going to college” we typically mean figuring out which four year university they like the best and that we can maybe afford and then applying for the schools they like before going to the best one that accepts you. Rarely is there much thought about what the kid will study or why, it is viewed as a time of exploration. A really, really expensive time of exploration.

Granted there are some occupations, and they tend to be the highest paying ones, that require a college degree: accounting, actuaries, registered nurses, many health care fields. For many kids though, even the "business" majors, what they get at college is an experience and what they need in the work force are skills. Even when I went to college there were quite a few people who really were not exactly mental giants. The number of people getting degrees just for the sake of getting one was pretty high and these college kids left college like me with no marketable skills. Granted I make a pretty good salary, way above the average salary nationally, but that has more to do with my interpersonal skills, ability to speak and write coherently and on the job experience starting from the ground up in a call center. Basically what I got for four years of college was not an education, it was a degree. The education came later when I had to provide for a family, learn how to do my job, started reading books that were not written by my professors and finding out what is really important in the real world.

That is not to say there is no value in a four year degree. Many employers unfortunately see it as a bare minimum qualification even though the effort and intelligence required to get one has very little to do with one’s mental aptitude or work ethic. I am saying that we need to step back and ask “Why is my child going to college” way before we ask “Where is my child going to college”.

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