Ditch college, learn a skill

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Kizmet, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    Well, I do sometimes go to a little bar and shoot some pool, though I don't drink the devil's juice. If I had a bike, it would look pretty cool parked outside next to the other bikes.

    Adios hermano!
  2. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Maybe it did. But that doesn't negate the point that a perfectly happy life and career can be pursued without a college degree.

    I know a young woman who works in marketing. She was thrilled when, after about 7 years of professional experience, she was able to (just barely) break the $40k mark. She could have made more her first year as a welder.

    Naturally, as Kizmet said, there is an intangible or non-economic element to all of this. Which path makes you happy? If you are happy as a low paid marketing person with the eventual hope of making better money, then power to you. It isn't always about the cash reward.

    But there are many young men and women today who look at a list of college majors as a definitive list of their career options. They have been told that no college leads to poverty and any college leads to prosperity. There are certainly people out there chasing a dream. But I'd wager there are many more who just want to make a decent living so they can do the things they really enjoy. My ex was a social worker. She became a social worker because it was the most attractive major on the big list of majors at College Misericordia. Upon graduation she found herself unable to find work that paid more than $10/hr. So, she got her MSW. Then she couldn't find work that paid more than $13/hr. She also discovered that social work wasn't nearly as rewarding (for her) as the marketing materials made it out to be. She went back to school one more time and earned an associate's to become an ultrasound technician and began making a better living wage.

    College isn't bad. Degrees aren't necessarily useless. But the promotion of degrees came at the expense of slandering the skilled trades and professions. The result is that we have a higher demand for those skilled trades and an over abundance of unskilled people with liberal arts degrees.
  4. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    More people live in poverty who is not college educated. It is much more likely to earned more with a college education. It is not an either or college education versus skill trades. My guess most skill trades can be earned at the college level. For those who choose not the college level, there are other options like Aveda Institute for $15k per year which is not immune from its own set of issues.
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    You bring up a good point. For regions that don't have a lot of unions that offer training, some of the best places to learn a trade is at a community college or public technical college. An AAS is a college degree, after all. Some students will end up studying trades at for-profit colleges at $10k-20k per year. Some will go into fields with decent pay. Some will go into fields that pay $11-14 per hour. You can make that with just a high school diploma or GED at a call center or as a security guard with just one week of training.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2016
  6. apriltrainer

    apriltrainer New Member

    My cousin graduated with his AAS in electrical engineering. So he has his associates and a trade. He also did it the smart way by getting his education at the community college. He makes more than my boyfriend who graduate from U Penn(that's the ivy league Penn, not Penn State!).

    then again my own sister went to one of those private career college places to get her associates in medical assisting. I tried talking her into getting her LPN and telling her NOTHING Would transfer. SHe didn't listen. She now has a worthless associates in medical assisting and made a whopping $7.50 an hour after she graduated. Now she makes $11.50.

    I will end up paying less for my masters degree than she did for her associates. I tried telling her there was a glut of medical assistants and doctors offices don't pay much. To be honest, she wasn't smart enough to pass the test to get into the nursing program, RN or LPN so I told her to take a few classes at the community college to improve her math. She didn't listen. I then told her if she had her heart set on being a medical assistant, go the community college route. Much cheaper.

    But she wanted that associates degree in medical assisting. That is one trade that is a RIPOFF. And these career school take advantage of people like my sister.

    She also would complain that I made more money as an LPN without a degree, and she had her associates and was barely making ends meet. Sometimes you just can't talk sense into people.
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I could have remained a welder, targeted a nice clean high-tech work environment, etc. and if I was willing to relocate to anywhere then I could probably make more money than I'm making now as a blue-collar engineer (that's what I have been called, at times). Now, I'm working more with my head than my hands and in the long term I'll probably have more longevity as a result. Welders break down physically after a time and they're replaced with younger, stronger bodies. There are "bench welders" that do complex TIG welds in a nice lab environment and they do better as long as their eyesight holds up but no matter what they tell you, if you spend 8 hours a day staring into a welding arc your eyesight is going to fade. So, in my field that's one of the big factors, being able to live up to the physical demands of the job over the long haul. There are people who manage to do it but I think they're a little bit like the people who smoke for 50 years without getting sick. Really pretty unusual.
  8. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Two unskilled laborers. One has no degree. One has a BA in English. Please, tell me what the second unskilled employee will be qualified for. I have encountered some call centers that pay a small premium ($1-$3k) annually if you have a degree, is that what you're referring to?

    Colleges and universities, for the most part, are not in the skill business. They are in the academic business. It's the reason why having a BS in CS is not the same thing as learning how to code at an intensive coding camp. It's the reason why a person who attended that coding camp might find a job and the person with a degree in CS won't.

    Skills come in different forms. But a BA in English does not endow it's holder with a PN immediate marketable skill. They might acquire skills such as are necessary for journalism or teaching. But the degree, in and of itself, doesn't turn you into a skilled worker and does not actually give you anything that is sought after in the job market.

    As for unions, that's a different issue entirely. Locksmiths are not unionized in many areas and their national average wage hovers somewhere around $50k. Welder scan make a fine living without ever paying Union dues, and these are skills that one can acquire from a trade school, a community college or through apprenticeship.
  9. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    Hmm, I thought about your post today. Something occured to me. It's not always how much you make, but how you spend it. I know plenty of people who have made a lot more money than me over the years, but yet they always seem to break even or even end up owing on things. They spend according to what they make, I guess you could say. I especially agree with you one the personal trainer thing. There is good money to be had in that.
  10. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I guess I wasn't clear. A lot of people receive training through unions. However, if you don't have a union around that will provide training, you will often end up at a college. The rest of what you said is just a repeat of what I said. My point is there is no reason to demonize people for telling others to go to college and earn degrees because community colleges and technical colleges are, indeed, colleges; and, associate's degrees are, indeed, degrees.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    For what it's worth, I've belonged to two unions so far in my career and I never felt like they did anything except take my dues. On the other hand, I've known a lot of people in blue collar jobs (mechanics, techs of different types, etc.) who really got their careers started with an Associates degree. I don't think that college is for everyone but I think that increasingly CCs are becoming even more vocationally oriented and so more useful for those who aren't interested in pushing for a Bachelors degree.
  12. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    They certainly can be. At the first CC where I taught they had programs for CDL, welding, printmaking, CNA, plumbing, HVAC, auto mechanics and a bunch of other things that fall solidly in the "vocational" category. My current CC has none of that. Most of the programs are designed for transfer to a SUNY four year college. That's good too but in a different way.

    I was recently speaking with a union carpenter who told me that his apprenticeship program had partnered with a college to award an A.A.S. upon completion of the program. I wouldn't be surprised if we began seeing more of that.

    Of course some of these are skills that were previously trained in 6 months to 1 year that are now being integrated into 2 year degree programs. Degree inflation is not necessarily a good thing. But as long as people are getting the skills who will complain?
  15. Graves

    Graves Member

    College programs in most majors teach valuable skills. But a lot programs don't offer direct experience in related career fields.
  16. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Get college degree, get education AND learn skills.
    Its possible to combine the two for the winning combination.

    I know a person who worked as a plumber while going to Med School to become an Orthopedist.
    In IT it's a winning combination a degree and certs with skills.
  17. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Most majors? I disagree.

    The majority of college majors are not applied skill areas. Accounting teaches a skill. Business admin, marketing, economics, finance and management do not. Even applied fields like engineering tend to provide only a theoretical foundation with actual skills being acquired through internships and your first job. CJ doesn't teach you to be a cop. CS doesn't teach you to be a software developer.

    Now, if you're talking about a CC with a largely vocational set of offerings then maybe. Someone with an AAS in HVAC Repair is leaving school with a great many more marketable skills than someone with a BA in Mass Media Communications.
  18. Graves

    Graves Member

    It's true the application of some fields come from years of work. But I feel like a lot of programs fail to prep students on a practical level when they are fully capable. Why don't a lot of criminal justice programs offer minors (or certifications) in law enforcement? I was a computer science major at one point in junior college. Could they make me into a software developer? Probably not. But I was offered little to no help with programming language certifications. Why?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2016
  19. Graves

    Graves Member

    (I took too long to edit. Sorry.)
    I respect your viewpoint, Neuhaus. I don't think all programs have an obligation to teach practical skills, or set up students with practical experience. I just think more should be available.
  20. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    The answer is, "Because that's not the way the system has worked, historically." A lot of the threads we've seen lately raise the same basic question that you've asked. People go through college, incur debt, but then can't find jobs afterward. Or the jobs they get are low level, low paying, relatively unskilled jobs. One position is that it's not the schools job to make you fit into a job. If I can play devil's advocate for a moment, if an English major earns a Bachelors and then winds up working at Target, is that the schools fault? If you want to be a software developer isn't it your responsibility to figure out what qualifications you'll need to reach that goal? Or do you just sign yourself into a CS program and assume that it will be the right ticket? These questions are amongst the bigger ones in the world of higher education right now.

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