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Editorial: Americans assume 4-year college degrees are a given
About politics and other thingsJune 4, 2014 | 4,958 views | 2 comments
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
-- Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is correct. Education is important to the future of our country, but our current single-minded focus of going to college may be missing the mark.
College is not for everyone, and everyone is not meant to go to college.
Consider some of the most successful people who never went to or never completed college. These include Andrew Carnegie, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Walt Disney. Closer to home are Rush Limbaugh and B. J. “Red” McCombs.
But today, students are told on the White House website and everywhere else, that higher education is a “prerequisite for 21st century jobs.” Not so fast. We should first examine the overall health of our high school education, as well as look at colleges.
Studies show that American students actually rank below average in math, science, and reading among industrialized countries. I am reminded of Joseph Sobran’s quip: “In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school, to teaching Remedial English in college.”
This is despite the fact that spending in the United States averages about $115,000 per student. That’s the fifth highest among 34 countries surveyed.
At the same time, the Slovak Republic, which has math scores similar to those of American students, spends only $53,000 per student. That leaves one to conclude that more money does not necessarily a better education make. Still, there isn’t a politician or a committee that doesn’t campaign on spending more money for education.
Some students would actually be much happier in a technical or trade school, but society frowns upon blue-collar careers. Parents go along with the status quo: “Gotta get that degree!”
There is another option. As Texans gear up for the next 40 or 50 years of activity in the Eagle Ford region, there is a growing job market for the trades. The oil and gas industry is but one area that has spurred demand for technical training and trade schools. Technicians, skilled mechanics, truck drivers, electricians, and other blue-collar workers are in high demand.
Because of the lack of job applicants, many companies even offer to help with the training. These are hardly jobs to be frowned upon. A mechanic no longer is the “grease monkey” of yesteryear. Mechanics are highly skilled technicians. As Mike Rowe likes to say, they are more like rocket scientists than grease monkeys.
Especially in the Eagle Ford area, truck drivers and other oil-field-related jobs are high-paying positions in great demand. These are professions that are quite obtainable without being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.
We should quit looking down our noses at blue-collar professions, and be more realistic about some of our educational programs.
Some of these student loans necessary for that college degree can take a lifetime to pay off, as students often are sold a “bill of goods.” They are influenced by parents, teachers, and counselors to get a college degree even when the student has no clue what they want to do in life.
Student loans are pushed. In fact, some think it is their right, both to get a loan and to get a college degree.
This is misguided thinking. As Will Hunting wrote: “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late charges at the public library.”
Perhaps he was only being partially facetious when he made that comment.
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