Higher Education vs. Hire Education

It’s Back-to-School season, and many parents are busy scurrying around getting the kiddos registered, buying school supplies, figuring out car pools and schedules. These are short-term necessities and rituals that are familiar to anyone who has kids in school. But what happens after high school? College? Trade schools? Apprenticeships? 

For the past 40 years or so, there has been a major push to get kids into a good college. That’s not a bad thing, but it almost seemed like it was a collective perception as the only option, and a must-have for your kids to be successful in life. This was also reflected in the requirements to ‘get a good job’ by most hiring organizations. Many companies required a minimum Bachelor’s Degree to even be considered for entry-level jobs. This makes sense then, that parents felt so strongly that their kids weren’t even in the running for a successful life if they didn’t have that sheepskin hanging on the wall. (Many of us who have adult kids understand this belief system.)

To What Degree?

But, it is fair to question this philosophy–especially when so many liberal arts degrees have absolutely nothing to do with the job they may get. Does a degree in Gender Studies really prepare someone for an entry-level customer support position? Of course there are several careers that must be highly-credentialed (doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc.) and truly require multiple degrees; however, most white-collar starting positions can be learned on the job. Think about your first job - would you have been able to do it without a college education?

Again, this is not a manifesto against higher education institutions; however, as times change, so must our attitudes and beliefs on how our children can succeed and thrive in the 21st century. For example, 40 years ago we didn’t have the internet. But now, kids have amazing educational opportunities right at their fingertips. They can learn about anything at any time of the day–this has been a major game-changer. All educational institutions have integrated online learning options at some level. Most companies have online learning programs, tutorials, training videos so that people can learn on-the-job. So how much value does a formal college education provide, especially when you consider cost and the political indoctrination that most higher education institutions have repulsively weaved throughout so much of their curriculum and policies?

Learning or Indoctrination?

Many folks who send their kids away to a “good school” are shocked when they come back home to see how these institutions have indoctrinated their kids into hating their country and adopting absolutely ridiculous positions that are not grounded in common sense and critical thinking. But wait–isn’t that what we send them to college to learn - critical thinking and formulating a worldview on history, literature, mathematics and science that they’ve been studying?  Why does 1 + 1 = 2 no longer stand as absolute truth?  What the heck are they learning there? Ok, this may be a bit of an exaggeration,  but point is many higher learning institutions are more concerned about grooming activists for far-left agendas than actually challenging students to think for themselves. 

And for the parents who sacrificed to pay for their kids’ higher education, only to have kids return home without any actual skills and pathway to employment, it’s a major kick in the teeth. Especially when their newly college-educated kids now point out how wrong their belief systems are and how embarrassed they are by the American flag hanging on your house. And for the students who paid for their own highly overpriced education, they will pay the price for a long time–possibly not being financially able to move out of their parents’ home or start their own lives because of the huge debt they have amassed under the guise of ‘receiving an education.’ It is actually criminal how this system has created a generation of young people who have to put their lives on hold in order to get out of the extreme debt of paying for college.

Mike Rowe’s Two Cents

So how do we break this negative cycle? First of all, we have to change the mindset that our kids are only successful if they have a college degree. As pointed out above, this is not a ‘golden ticket’ to success as it may have been 50 years ago. There are so many other options for young people to start their lives without going into debt. We love Mike Rowe and his message around working. Mike, who gained fame from his “Dirty Jobs” television series, has always been a proponent of hard work. He has taken his philosophy around the values of working to another level with his Mike Rowe Works Foundation, designed to promote these values as a truly viable alternative to consider instead of a traditional 4-year college degree. Mike explains,

Today, the skills gap is wider than it’s ever been. The cost of college tuition has soared faster than the cost of food, energy, real estate, and health care. Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category in the United States with more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 7 million jobs available across the country, the majority of which don’t require a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of “shovel ready” jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel. We keep lending money we don’t have to people who can’t pay it back for jobs that don’t exist. Bit by bit, our culture reaffirms the misguided belief that a career in the skilled trades shouldn’t be desired. And that lack of enthusiasm has reshaped our expectations of a “good job” into something that no longer resembles work.

You can see why we love Mike! He really sums it up here, and provides tools and his Work Ethics Scholarships to provide real opportunities to high-school grads. And when you consider the economic outcome of obtaining a 4-year college degree vs. some of the trades and skilled jobs that are so highly needed (that kids can start to work out right out of high school–sometimes even while IN high school), well, you do the math. And if you don’t know how to do the math, you can google it and learn without having to pay for a 4-year degree!

Lastly, keep in mind the many billionaires who never finished college or even went to college. College does not beget intelligence–that is gifted to you from above. There are ways to become incredibly successful in life without going into debt and being indoctrinated.