April 24, 2013

"The real issue we have with admitting that college is not a path to the work world is then we have to ask ourselves why we send our kids to high school."

"There is plenty of data to show that teens are able to manage their lives without the constraints of school."
The book Escaping the Endless Adolescence is chock full of data, and a recent article by my favorite journalist, Jennifer Senior, shows that high school is not just unnecessary, but actually damaging to teens who need much more freedom to grow than high school affords.

86 comments:

Expat(ish) said...

Do we really have that problem? I don't see it around me.

My kids know that they have to have a major that will satisfy at least one of two requirements before I shell out a red cent: get you a job after school (teaching, CPA, whatever) or have people say "wow you must be smart" (BA in Physics, etc).

My oldest is looking at a service academy - he can do the math on cost, benefit, and the jobs market when he graduates.

-XC

garage mahal said...

I bet that looks awesome on the ole resume.

High school: none
College: none

But I had freedom to grow!

David said...

Jobs are great preparation. It's as important as school.

Now good luck finding one kids.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Penelope Trunk seems like she's got a couple of screws loose.

bagoh20 said...

We need to have some form of structured development of skills for people going through childhood, or they will not become useful adults. High school does not currently provide a robust system of that education. It has been for some time little more than daycare run by people primarily concerned with self-interest. We made it into a union interests driven animal that leftists can plug their pet theories into for fun and profit.

We should return shop classes and physical education. These develop the soul with real world experience, that lasts a lifetime, and have centuries of proven value. They are not experiments run on our kids.

We could have awesome education in this country, we already spend the money, the only real problem is politics. We have very poor education in many places, and it has been run continuously by the same people with the same ideas while that happened. We need to change the people in charge, period.

tim maguire said...

Garage is pretty much on point here. It's generally recognized that primary school is tax-payer funded daycare.

And higher education is not for education particularly either. It's no secret that a great many jobs that you don't need a degree to do, you do need a degree to get. Employers use it as a weeding mechanism--part "cover your ass," and part "there are too many applications, what's a good way to get rid of most of them easily? Of course, we'll just set some bright line criteria and ignore everybody who doesn't have...whatever we decide to put on there."

Jana said...

Penelope Trunk openly admits to having a couple of screws loose, but she raises some very interesting and compelling ideas about school. One of which bagoh20 points out, which is that people send their kids to school partly out of need for daycare. Partly because it is what they did, and they turned out fine. Partly because it's very hard to go against the grain and try something like homeschooling in an interest-led way.

Not until the last century did the idea that we need to warehouse kids in an institution all day come to be the ideal way to prepare children for adulthood. It's mighty convenient for parents, though, so I don't see an end to it any time soon.

Paddy O said...

Other countries have standardized tests that funnel them into different kinds of secondary schools. They're trained to go on to college or to learn a trade that doesn't require college. The trouble with our current high school system is that it has very little 'trade' teaching now. And its college prep path is a secondary goal now too, with moral and social conditioning the primary goal.

My high school GPA was about 3.0, I didn't study, very rarely did homework. It was a waste of my time and more than that because I'm a pretty strong introvert, it sapped my energy for other tasks because most of high school is about being managed and arranged into social groups (formally in classes, informally in other ways). My 3.9 for master's and 4.0 for PhD work shows how little high school really matters.

The other big problem, of course, is jobs. Getting rid of school is a great idea if there are lots of low skill jobs out there. There aren't. And those that are out there are being undermined by minimum wages that are increasingly about a minimum to support a family rather than a minimum to support one's own self with a minimized lifestyle. Couple this with the other goal to allow for unrestrained immigration, and there's just 3 or 4 mutually exclusive goals going on.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Bitchtits Mahal says

"But I had freedom to grow!"

So are you blaming your expanding waistline and obesity on not being able to hack in in college now fatty?

I'll admit, thats a novel theory.

James said...

I have long argued that American high schools are simply warehouses that exist to delay the maturation process and to ease competition for jobs that would otherwise exist.

edutcher said...

A good education has worth beyond getting a job (a teacher once told us (5th grade, I think), "You don't go to college to learn how to make a living. You go to college to learn how to live")".

These days, the sheepskin isn't worth as much as it once was except as a benchmark you passed certain measures of proficiency.

In IT, certification is the big deal and the vendors - Cisco, Microshaft, Sun, etc. - run that.

Methadras said...

There are many people who have been successful without going to university. The things they had to overcome the stereotype of 'degree required' were things like perseverance, tenacity, skill, expertise, and mastery of their field. Work experience is a massive leg up vs. a degree, one is practical knowledge gained vs. the theoretical knowledge understood. Not everyone is cut out for university, but I think the minimum should be a high school diploma. However, what we have neglected in this county are trade and technical schools. We need to have a revitalization and resurgence of these institutions and they need to be legitimized and accredited.

Methadras said...

garage mahal said...

I bet that looks awesome on the ole resume.

High school: none
College: none

But I had freedom to grow!


What do you care about either, blue collar hick schlub fat boy?

bagoh20 said...

" bet that looks awesome on the ole resume.

High school: none
College: none"


As someone who has hired over 1000 people personally, it doesn't seem to help much either, despite taking decades and costing a fortune.

I've hired high school and even college grads who can't do simple math or write a letter. I do get them cheap though.

I generally have to teach people simple things like how to read a tape measure, or translate fractions to decimals, or paragraph and sentence structure. And obviously I'm not even very good at it. If I have to teach the stuff needed to do the job, why do I want to pay for their years of training in things like "gender studies", "race relations in government", or "power structures in nonindustrial cultures".

There is just too much fluff at the expense of useful skill development, which is probably too boring to teach for most people. Teaching is hard work - it's not a job for people with other motivations beyond making people useful.

Patrick said...

Garage has a good point. Almost no one would hire someone with a resume like that, at least before they do anything. We are all conditioned to recognize high school and college as achievements, without regard to whether they are useful.

DADvocate said...

teens are able to manage their lives without the constraints of school."

My soon to be 17 year old daughter would certainly agree with this statement. And, I'd have trouble arguing with her. She makes good grades but thinks high school is mostly idiotic. She has a part-time job waiting tables and buys her gas for her car, her clothes, etc. Her primary goal in doing this is to earn as much freedom as she can, and I try to give it to her no matter how much it worries and scares me.

Of course, garage makes the usual idiotic, totally off the mark statement.

bagoh20 said...

There are plenty of jobs that absolutely require robust education through college, but not nearly enough of them to justify how many we send to college. K - 12 should be designed more to prepare people to be useful and self-sufficient without college. I think most of college is a complete waste, and a loss of many years of income and skill development.

Rocketeer said...

It's no secret that a great many jobs that you don't need a degree to do, you do need a degree to get. Employers use it as a weeding mechanism--part "cover your ass," and part "there are too many applications, what's a good way to get rid of most of them easily?

This was formerly true, but I believe it's changing - it certainly is in my own case. It can cut both ways, too: Ivy league degrees, due to horrible previous hiring experiences, have become "reverse indicators" for me. You graduated from Dartmouth, Brown, or Harvard? Sorry, your resume now goes into the same bin as those without a bachelors at all. I'll take every hungry, driven State U grad that had to scrap and work their way through school over you ALL. DAY.

MadisonMan said...

Colleges have colluded with other institutions -- like Teachers' and Nurses' Unions -- to make College Degrees the be-all and end-all of hiring and promotion decisions.

Want to be a nurse? You need a degree. Want to be a teacher? You need a degree. Want to be a Principal? You need an advanced degree. Want to supervise Nurses? You need an advanced degree!

Undoing all this inefficient degree-needing will take time, and colleges will suffer. Oh well.

My daughter the College student recognizes this somewhat, and she's planning on an internship next Summer (this summer is her last summer of a 'fun job'). Otherwise I don't think she'll find a very attractive job, but at least she'll have no student debt.

Matthew Sablan said...

The problem is a college degree became like a HS diploma: Pretty much everyone has one, and graduate/master degrees are getting so plentiful that there's no real difference between Harvard and University of Your Home State for most employers, I'd wager.

bagoh20 said...

I have people with no college making six figures, and frankly, they are underpaid, but taxes take a big chunk out of what's available to them from both the company and then again from their own paychecks. That money taken from them is mostly wasted, being spent on people who get much better pay and benefits without being anywhere near as productive. This is immoral.

Matthew Sablan said...

Heck, I've seen some graduate programs that are kind of meaningless. But the credential means you're allowed to apply for jobs that, frankly, anyone could do, but the only legal way to weed out incompetence is to see if you're able to sit in class, write mediocre papers and regurgitate as needed -- all while not drowning in debt to the point of insensibility.

G Joubert said...

The whole concept of teenagerism didn't exist at all until the 40s. A culture built around adolescence, with its own fashions, music, pop-culture heroes, and ideals, such as they were. About the same time as Mickey Rooney was making the Andy Hardy movies and Max Schulman was writing The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. That's when we began treating teenagers as s unique group. Before that kids were needed in the fields. There was too much hard work to be done for such foolishness.

It's just as well we move past the concept. Some say we already have, as about 2000 or so, when teen culture merged with overall youth culture.

Balfegor said...

Re: garage:

I bet that looks awesome on the ole resume.

High school: none
College: none

But I had freedom to grow
!

Part of the problem is that entry level hiring is done in such a depersonalised fashion. By which I mean you fill out an application and send out a resume and the whole process is very bureaucratic, very mechanical. We don't carry it quite to the same extent as some other countries (there are very few employers, I think, who have an entrance examination before the interview stage), but it's an atomised individual interacting with a bureaucratic hiring apparatus.

In contrast, though, there are people who get their first jobs with just a high school degree because they know someone -- maybe through their parents or their friends or neighbours, or through a part-time job as a student -- and that gets their foot in the door. Now, that still leaves them cut off from the whole universe of depersonalised HR bureaucracy hiring, where their lack of a college credential will likely send their resume into the trash bin without a second glance. But oftentimes, after you have that first job, you can get other jobs not by blind mailing random HR departments, but through your friends and business contacts.

bagoh20 said...

I'm Sorry, but a college degree is actually something someone should not put on their resume if I'm gonna see it. To me it generally says a wasted youth, and means they will expect to be paid more than they are worth. But I'm in an industrial, hands-on business where when you need highly educated work done, you just farm it out.

My customers and vendors often send over highly credentialed people who just look at what my people do, and say "wow, so that's how that's done!" It doesn't generally go both ways though. We usually say, "do they really pay them to do that crap, because that was complete waste of time."

ken in sc said...

As a former middle school and high school teacher, I can say that the reason that many parents send their kids to school is to get them out of the house. Some of them won't pick their kids up after school or even after field trips. We had some kids hanging around in the parking lot until midnight after a field trip. A teacher had to stay there until they were picked up. If I had been in charge, I would have taken them to the police and reported them as abandoned, but I wasn't in charge. I was just a teacher.

Pastafarian said...

I'll agree with many of the points already made in these comments: For me, too, a degree from a prestigious private university has become a negative indicator.

And as a (small) employer, the value of any degree on a resume has gone way, way down.

I don't look for a degree for the value of what the student has learned (unless we're talking about engineering, say); but as an indicator that they were in the top half of their class in high school. They could save the $100,000 and four years if they just showed me their SAT scores.

Maybe as the higher education bubble deflates, we'll start to see more good students with a decent work ethic choose to enter the work force at 18 and skip college altogether. Once that value of the degree as an indicator of studiousness is gone, that bubble deflation will accelerate to a -POP-.

Shanna said...

actually damaging to teens who need much more freedom to grow than high school affords

My brother did not enjoy the structure of high school so he finished a year early. (Then he went to college and skipped all his classes for a year. I'm not sure how much good that did him but at least it wasn't high school!)

bagoh20 said...

To be fair, my company is not the kind of place you apply if you are a top performer in college, so the people who generally do come to me are those who never should have gone to college in the first place. I just wish they would have come to me first, and I wish K-12 educators would ask business people what they need young minds to learn.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

I would posit that a quality education through at least age 16, on either a vocational or academic track, is on average necessary to provide basic skills in reading, writing, mathematics, the sciences, and history.

Most schools k-12 however do not efficiently provide that. They more resemble day-prisons.

School Boards, often dominated by employees of neighboring school districts and relatives of employees in the self-same District, ensure that the system is run for the benefit of the employees rather than the tax payers who fund it.


For this, I fault the voters enfranchised in the District.

bagoh20 said...

It's really as shame, because we have lost confidence in how much and how fast people can learn and become proficient when you get right into it and don't doddle about.

For example, think about WWII and how quickly we trained people from blank slate farm boys to fighter pilots, or ballistics people, welders, metal workers, builders, managers, and leaders in just a few months. We had to, it mattered, we really cared about succeeding then. We don't now. We have other priorities.

TML said...

Agggghhhh! Popeye's TRICEPS aren't huge. It's his forearms. Little missed details like that drive me crazy. Popeye's triceps are string beans.

Shanna said...

In contrast, though, there are people who get their first jobs with just a high school degree because they know someone

Many, many people get their first 'real' jobs that way, degree or not.

garage mahal said...

Undoing all this inefficient degree-needing will take time, and colleges will suffer. Oh well.

Unemployment rate with a college degree is around 4%. With high school diploma is around 10%. Less than a high school diploma is around 15%.


Æthelflæd said...

I think we are in the midst of an education revolution. The next ten years should be interesting.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Unemployment rate with a college degree is around 4%. With high school diploma is around 10%. Less than a high school diploma is around 15%."

-- Cite please; that doesn't quite sound right, given how high the current unemployment rate is, the number of people who have left the work force, etc.

Patrick said...

Unemployment rate with a college degree is around 4%. With high school diploma is around 10%. Less than a high school diploma is around 15%.

Yeah, that's the trouble. Employers use the college degree as a mark of achievement and hire them whether a particular job needs a degree or not. It will take a long time to change the perception that the skills one typically learns in college are useful to employers.

Synova said...

I think that forcing teenagers to continue high school to 12th grade is based on preparation for college and the resistance to allowing a Votech track is that it is viewed as a permanent branch in the education tree. So allowing the freedom for a young person to decide that they want to get into the work force, to fix cars or be a nurse's assistant or work in retail or construction or anything else is seen as shutting them off from college forever.

The same, actually, for teens that want to drop out.

But the permanence of all of those decisions are entirely artificial. The *answer* isn't to force all students to pretend that they intend to go to college, the *answer* is to build flexibility into the system itself so that it's as easy as possible for a teen who decides she didn't want to work in retail forever or she didn't want to do construction after all, to return to school for "college prep."

Renee said...

And you wonder why people don't want to have children?

Seriously. It's an issue, for anyone who can see beyond the diapers and t-ball games.

After a certain age, they have their cute appeal and you actually have to guide them into adulthood and let them figure out what to do with themselves.

garage mahal said...

College Grads vs. Non-Grads and Unemployment Statistics

Bill Beeman said...

I would tend to argue that the degree to which high school delays maturation has increased with time.

As one who was in high school in the mid-1950s, I can say that expectations for behavior were much higher, and the degree of freedom for the student was an order of magnitude greater.

High school students are treated today about the way elementary school students were treated in the '40s and '50s.

Matthew Sablan said...

Note that for the other groups, they used people over 25. For college people: "The civilian population with college degrees in the workforce from 2009 to 2010 was 45,500 to 49,000." Maybe they meant to include the caveat, maybe not. Either way, sloppy work. But, yes. There is no doubt that a degree is a gate keeping tool; the question is whether it should be.

Synova said...

"We had some kids hanging around in the parking lot until midnight after a field trip. A teacher had to stay there until they were picked up."

Yeah, my kid ended up last in the parking lot late and at night once... because I'd been calling the school ALL DAY and NO ONE could tell me when they were expected back. The band teacher wasn't picking up his cell phone either.

Matthew Sablan said...

Also... that's a very small workforce (around, what, 150k people?) Did I miss something and were they not looking at the country as a whole's workforce? Or did I miss something else?

Matthew Sablan said...

Ah, there we go. It is the italicized text at the start that clarifies.

Why they don't add zeroes is beyond me. Another part of the sloppiness.

Matthew Sablan said...

(Note: You use abbreviations like that for -tables- because you lack space. You don't lack space in paragraphs. Another issue is the lack of consistency in commas for their thousands. But, that's just being nit-picky.)

Synova said...

Of course, having proven your ability to tolerate years upon years of bull-sh*t probably means you'll be a decent employee.

Æthelflæd said...

Bill Beeman said... "I would tend to argue that the degree to which high school delays maturation has increased with time.

As one who was in high school in the mid-1950s, I can say that expectations for behavior were much higher, and the degree of freedom for the student was an order of magnitude greater."

I am in the middle of raising teenagers. I was allowed to do so much more than my own kids are, and I am purposefully liberal in that area. In other words, even those of us who are aware of the helicopter parent phenomenon sometimes just can't help ourselves, and/or we don't want to get arrested. I don't think it is all the schools' fault. It is a cultural phenomenon that is all of piece. We're all involved. Sexual sophistication happens at earlier and earlier ages, while actual maturity is delayed later and later. It is puzzling.

carrie said...

I think that they are trying to dumb down the electorate. A high school education gives everyone a broad world view and a basic understanding of government, the constitution, and political process that makes them better participants in that process. If you have a huge pool of people with 8th grade educations who have a limited world view and are focused on their own achievements, you lose that and set the groundwork for dictators, benevolent or not.

Inga said...

As far as nursing is concerned, it's absolutely true that the more advanced the degree, the better. If a nurse wants to stick with floor work, hands on nursing a ADN or BSN will do, but if one wants to teach or supervise, it's going to take a MSN or more.

Balfegor said...

Re: carrie:

I think that they are trying to dumb down the electorate. A high school education gives everyone a broad world view and a basic understanding of government, the constitution, and political process that makes them better participants in that process.

Uh, carrie, have you gone to an American high school? How can you possibly believe this? Or was your high school just exceptionally good?

Larry J said...



Methadras said...
There are many people who have been successful without going to university. The things they had to overcome the stereotype of 'degree required' were things like perseverance, tenacity, skill, expertise, and mastery of their field. Work experience is a massive leg up vs. a degree, one is practical knowledge gained vs. the theoretical knowledge understood. Not everyone is cut out for university, but I think the minimum should be a high school diploma. However, what we have neglected in this county are trade and technical schools. We need to have a revitalization and resurgence of these institutions and they need to be legitimized and accredited.


My brother Steve is a case in point. He dropped out of high school and got his GED. He went on to become a master machinist and welder, making a very good income. There was a local high tech company that decided to insource their prototyping work to demonstrate their CAD/CAM capabilities. They said they were looking for someone with a master's degree in engineering but they hired Steve because they knew he could do the job. And he did.

My wife grew up in the Philippines. Her family made a lot of sacrifices so that all four children could get an education. Her schooling lasted 10 hours a day and 11 months out of the year through grade 10. She was able to skip a grade, so she graduated high school at age 15 and college at 19. They didn't have the luxury of a prolonged adolescence.

We do need to bring back vocational/technical training at the high school level. Not everyone needs to go to college but everyone needs skills that others are willing to pay for. There are a lot of college grads who come out with a fancy piece of paper and a lot of debt but no marketable job skills. When a resume of a recent college grad comes across my desk, I look to see what kind of work experience they have. It doesn't matter if it was restaurant work or whatever, at least they show they had the ability to keep a job. Those who made it all the way through college without ever having worked get very little consideration.

Tari said...

Her focus on ideas and not achievements is really disturbing. I work at a tech company, and yes, we need "idea guys" - of course we do, our business depends in part on innovation. But we also need a whole bucket full of people who get it done, every day - people who write code, test code, take the support calls, write the documentation to make it somewhat readable, file the tax returns, make sure we can recognize the money we bring in, make the sales calls, take the customer out golfing and listen to him, draft and negotiate the agreements, etc, etc. If you can't commit to do the boring sh!t at least some of the time (aka, go to high school and slog through) then I don't want to work with you.

jimbino said...

Our education system is there to serve teachers and their unions.

Nursery school and elementary school also provide babysitters for parents.

It is claimed that the goal of gaining a "liberal education" is no longer that of students, who prefer to attend only those classes of interest to them. However, we taxpayers who pay for their education in many ways have an interest in forcing them to study what might not interest them at all: things like math, literature, language and science.

As long as they spend their own money, I don't care if they study only cannabis and video games.

Balfegor said...

Re: Tari:

But we also need a whole bucket full of people who get it done, every day - people who write code, test code, take the support calls, write the documentation to make it somewhat readable, file the tax returns, make sure we can recognize the money we bring in, make the sales calls, take the customer out golfing and listen to him, draft and negotiate the agreements, etc, etc.

It's kind of a sad comment on the state of GAAP and tax accounting today that software revenue recognition is so complicated it warrants top billing alongside writing and testing code, and schmoozing with the customers.

(I assume you're talking about software revenue recognition, since you're talking about coders).

jr565 said...

There is no longer the return on invest for a college education that there used to be. Part of that is because people are going to college not as a sprinboard for a job but just to go to college.And many of the majors offered are not really there to get you into the workfore but to pique your curiosity.
There are a hell of a lot of cheaper ways to do that than pay 30 grand a year to be taught some garbage.
For example, if you are interested in a subject that a class teaches, go out to the college bookstore, find the books on the syllabus and read those books. You've then learned the subject and saved yourself thousands.
In many cases trade schools are better than college.
That being said, even though college isn't worth the expense, NOT going to college will definitely be a detriment to you getting your first job.

Tom said...

I'd argue we have some of the worst 18 year olds in the world and some of the best 35 year olds (used to be 30 but I we're maturing slower). Americans embrace a concept of a lifetime of learning. Think about how superior (and focused) non-traditional students are to traditional students. Americans will learn skills at any age. From personal experience, I'll say that college and grad school was much more important to my education than high school. Sports in high school we're helpful to build preserverence. But academically, it wasn't much use at all.

Methadras said...

DADvocate said...

teens are able to manage their lives without the constraints of school."

My soon to be 17 year old daughter would certainly agree with this statement. And, I'd have trouble arguing with her. She makes good grades but thinks high school is mostly idiotic. She has a part-time job waiting tables and buys her gas for her car, her clothes, etc. Her primary goal in doing this is to earn as much freedom as she can, and I try to give it to her no matter how much it worries and scares me.

Of course, garage makes the usual idiotic, totally off the mark statement.


At 17, my daughter did as well. The difference was, is that she really hadn't solidified the wisdom or the life lessons that just come from getting older and experience. But then again, a case can be made that we overly coddle our children to the point of extending their adolescence well into their 20's much to their detriment.

Tari said...

Balfegor, yes, that's exactly it! An entire team of accountants who do nothing but, and drive everyone else crazy as a consequence. Over-regulation at its finest.

Jupiter said...

I recently finished courses offered by Stanford (Algorithms), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Digital Signal Processing) and the University of Illinois (Heterogeneous Programming). I am currently enrolled in another Stanford course, and one from MIT. All through Coursera and edX. I expect to get my children all the college they want from MOOCs. And I expect that the MOOCs available in a few years will be much better than the ones I'm taking now (although the Algorithms course offered by Stanford's Tim Roughgarden was *really* good. I can't wait for Part 2). And, I suspect that once all major universities are vying for students online, and start charging fairly small fees in return for accreditation, we will see some changes to the curriculum.

el polacko said...

There are at least 18 billionaires that dropped out of high school, as well as 10 Nobel prize winners and 8 U.S. presidents. the list of famous high school dropouts is extensive: albert einstein, william faulkner, richard pryor, robert de niro, henry ford, groucho marx, wolfgang puck, jack paar, leon uris, gloria vanderbilt, simon cowell,princess diana, ray kroc, frank sinatra, peter bogdanovich, anais nin, ringo starr, will rogers, vidal sassoon, richard branson, george carlin...and the list goes on and on and on.
we may not all be einstein, but maybe high school and college aren't for everybody.

Alex said...

garage - getting into crazy levels of debt just to have a piece of paper is NOT the answer either. Or do you think crazy debt is A-ok?

DADvocate said...

Some of our liberal, open minded friends here at Althouse seem to have great trouble thinking outside the proverbial box. Switzerland provides one model for an educational system that successfully puts "kids" into the work force at an early age, better prepared, with less expense, and contributes to a much lower unemployment rate.

K-12, let alone college, need not be the educational paradigm.

Tari said...

"There are at least 18 billionaires that dropped out of high school, as well as 10 Nobel prize winners and 8 U.S. presidents."

And for every of them there's a 100 dropouts who are lucky to have a job sacking groceries. It's not impossible to succeed without a degree, but you aren't going to find many parents recommending it as a career choice, no matter what Ms. Trunk may say.

rcommal said...

Sorry, but a college degree is actually something someone should not put on their resume...

What if a person also includes on that resume a list of jobs worked at while attending school along with any other practical activities that demonstrate real work experience?

Or is a college degree so terrible a thing that it automatically cancels out any and all other work experience?

Seriously, I am curious.

Pastafarian said...

garage, unemployment among college grads is lower because the credential is still used as an indicator that the candidate isn't a total fuckup.

So when I'm looking for an administrative assistant and offering $12 per hour, if I can hire someone with a bachelor's in accounting, what the heck, I might as well. That doesn't mean her investment of $100,000 and four years in that piece of paper paid off for her. But hey, she does have a job. Two, in fact -- she'll have to get a second job on weekends to cover her student loan payment.

But eventually even some of the better students will see that the $100,000 piece of paper is a bad investment; and then employers will stop paying attention to that piece of paper in those situations, when there are just as many hard-working intelligent candidates without the paper as there are with it.

And then we'll see a total collapse of the credentials market.

bagoh20 said...

"Or is a college degree so terrible a thing that it automatically cancels out any and all other work experience?"

I value any work experience or any experience where a person did something useful other than study hand-fed material in order to pass tests in irrelevant subjects, but 4 years of college usually means you spent much of your time doing just that instead of getting real experience that we can both make use of. The graduate knows internally that it was wasted time; he was there. He can't use what he learned, but still hopes to be paid for it anyway. I don't blame him; he was told it was valuable, but he was lied to as part of a sales pitch from people selling a product, and they make very good money on that product, but there lots of money made in homeopathy too.

Two people with the exact same abilities, but one has a degree? I don't know, but why should I pay more for the degree. In reality this never happens, college people are always very different in both skills and expectations and in my experience, the combination seems to favor non-degreed people for many jobs - of course not all jobs. But those jobs that don't need it should be targeted by our education system. It's currently missing badly.

carrie said...

Balefor--I have two kids that graduated from high school in the last four years and I think that they came out of high school much smarter than they came out of 8th grade and I don't think that they would have gained that knowledge in the real world if they had quit school after 8th grade. I did go to high school too. I'm from a small town and 70% of my high school class did not go on to college and probably 10% did not finish high school. There is a big difference between those people in my class that finished high school and those that didn't. I think college is unnecessary for most people, but not high school. My rural high school was great and so was the high school that my kids graduated from in the last few years (and their high school has an internship program and the internships are usually paid).

Jupiter said...

carrie,

There's high schools, and high schools. Did you see the videos from the Chicago teachers' strike? I wouldn't let my kids anywhere near those freaks. And the situation is not improving. Not long ago, a lot of intelligent, ambitious women went into teaching, because it was the only option they had. For better or worse, those days are over, and the modern school system is a sump.

Balfegor said...

Re: carrie:

Balefor--I have two kids that graduated from high school in the last four years and I think that they came out of high school much smarter than they came out of 8th grade and I don't think that they would have gained that knowledge in the real world if they had quit school after 8th grade. I did go to high school too. I'm from a small town and 70% of my high school class did not go on to college and probably 10% did not finish high school. There is a big difference between those people in my class that finished high school and those that didn't.

(A) you seem to be very lucky in the quality of high school you have -- other than calculus and a bit of chemistry, I don't think I learned anything in particular at my high school -- and

(B) the difference between those who finished high school and those who did not may stem from reasons other than the educational content high school. In the current system, where finishing high school is easy and expected of everyone, failing to finish high school sends a strong negative signal about the student's focus, discipline, and perserverance. It may have been different when you went to school, but my impression is that at for at least a generation, every American has been expected to complete high school.

Alex said...

There's high school and then they're preparatory school. Then there's Bill Gates:

At 13 he enrolled in the Lakeside School, an exclusive preparatory school.[20] When he was in the eighth grade, the Mothers Club at the school used proceeds from Lakeside School's rummage sale to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric (GE) computer for the school's students.[21] Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC, and was excused from math classes to pursue his interest. He wrote his first computer program on this machine: an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. Gates was fascinated by the machine and how it would always execute software code perfectly. When he reflected back on that moment, he said, "There was just something neat about the machine."[22] After the Mothers Club donation was exhausted, he and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC), which banned four Lakeside students—Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Kent Evans—for the summer after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time.[23][24]

At the end of the ban, the four students offered to find bugs in CCC's software in exchange for computer time. Rather than use the system via Teletype, Gates went to CCC's offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system, including programs in Fortran, Lisp, and machine language. The arrangement with CCC continued until 1970, when the company went out of business. The following year, Information Sciences, Inc. hired the four Lakeside students to write a payroll program in Cobol, providing them computer time and royalties. After his administrators became aware of his programming abilities, Gates wrote the school's computer program to schedule students in classes. He modified the code so that he was placed in classes with mostly female students. He later stated that "it was hard to tear myself away from a machine at which I could so unambiguously demonstrate success."[22] At age 17, Gates formed a venture with Allen, called Traf-O-Data, to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor.[25] In early 1973, Bill Gates served as a congressional page in the US House of Representatives.[26]


That is so full of awesome.

carrie said...

Belfegor-- My high school did not even offer calculus. However, you learn how to be a good citizen in high school without even realizing it. The military only accepts high school grads-- a GED is not good enough-- and I assume that there is a reason for that. You do a lot of growing up between the ages of 14 and 18 and need a structure that develops you as a person and teaches you about the world--you don't get that working at McDonald's. There are millions of high school age kids in America and to think that all of those kids will be able to start businesses that will be purchased by Yahoo or Google is ridiculous. As someone said, there are different kids of high schools. Kids from affluent areas probably don't learn practical skills in high school like bookkeeping, manufacturing, metal working, auto mechanics, etc. because their high schools have shifted their focus to college prep. If you shift the focus from college prep back to job skills, then the constraints of high school do not hold people back and high school does train people for the work force. I didn't read the article closely, but I bet the author went to an affluent high school that didn't offer vocational classes or internships.

carrie said...

I want to add that the high school graduation rate for Milwaukee public schools is about 62% and for Madison, Wisconsin, public schools it is 73%.

Synova said...

There is a great deal of maturing that happens between 8th grade and 12th grade.

It's a mistake to think that because that maturing happened while a student was in school, that school was the cause of the greater maturity.

Opponents of home schooling often use the same logic... since all children are in "school" anything developmental (socialization skills, etc.,) that happens while they are in school would not happen if they were not in school.

People naturally learn about their world and about people. The supposition that unless a teenager is forced to, for example, learn about current political issues or how the government works, they won't learn that, is unsupportable.

Yes, sure, drop outs of our current system are pretty hopeless. But that says nothing at all about the value of school for those who succeed at school. Put the A student in a less restrictive environment where he is expected to intern or work and it's unlikely to turn the A student into a loser.

Bruce Hayden said...

Modern society requires a certain limited ability to read and do simple math, as well as perform certain functions like make change, etc. K-12 education should provide that, if nothing else. But, it often doesn't, and I would argue that that is primarily because it is being used for a number of other things, including as a baby sitter, for political indoctrination, etc. And, public education now seems to be run primarily for the benefit of the teachers and administrators, and not the students. To the school systems, the students are often not much more than numbers and dollars (nowhere more evident to me than learning that the PHX school system would typically throw out maybe 10% of its high school students early every fall after taking the money for them for the year).

Remember, the teachers and administrators all have college degrees, and most often any more, advanced degrees (so that they can make more money). So, it should be no surprise that the vo-tech that we saw in HS has mostly disappeared in many school systems.

I wouldn't read too much into all the college dropouts who became drop outs or made billions (I think you forgot one of the most famous - Bill Gates who dropped out of Harvard after getting a perfect 1600 on his SATs). I have known a number of successful people who dropped out of college and then did quite well. The one thing that they had in common was that they felt constrained by college. They knew what they wanted to do, and dropped out to go do it. These weren't the ones cutting class to get stoned or drunk, and then got thrown out, but rather invariably went into business or working on their dream right after leaving college. And, of course, you don't hear about the millions who dropped out, and then weren't successful.

Synova said...

"You do a lot of growing up between the ages of 14 and 18 and need a structure that develops you as a person and teaches you about the world--you don't get that working at McDonald's."

Not picking on you but this is profoundly wrong.

Any job, even McDonald's, is going to provide strict structure and teach responsibility every bit if not more than attending school. Not only that, but you have to be worth it as an employee or they aren't going to keep you. A student can be a slacker in school... McDonald's won't put up with slacking.

I mentioned my son's piddling pizza making job... he's working and going to community college full time now, but what is going to do more to prove to a future employer that he's worth hiring? A college degree with several years of work history, or a college degree with no work history at all?

And why? Because working a crappy fast food job or making pizzas teaches things school doesn't even begin to teach.

carrie said...

Synova-no offense to people who work at McDonalds, but you have to show up and do your job to succeed att McDonald's, that's it. That is structure and it teaches you to be reliable, but it does not give you the tools to start your own business--you need to be able to read, write and do math in order to write a business plan, keep the books, price your products, do market research, market your products, etc. And I think that you need to actually know people who don't have a high school education in order to say that a high school education has no value.

Kirk Parker said...

For starters, how about overturning Griggs v. Duke Power Co.? The whole bloody thing...

Balfegor said...

Re: carrie:

Belfegor-- My high school did not even offer calculus. However, you learn how to be a good citizen in high school without even realizing it. The military only accepts high school grads-- a GED is not good enough-- and I assume that there is a reason for that. You do a lot of growing up between the ages of 14 and 18 and need a structure that develops you as a person and teaches you about the world--you don't get that working at McDonald's.

Two points --

First, you're incorrect that the military will not accept GED's; GED slots are just limited, and more competitive.

Second, you're still confusing the educational and civic content of high school -- which is negligible -- with the extremely negative signal that being unable to surmount even the piddly hurdle that American high school represents sends. Dropouts don't perform worse than high school grads because high school actually teaches you anything, but because the personality defects that render one unable to complete even the trivial requirements of high school, in an environment where everyone is expected to attend high school, also tend to render one unfit for much of anything else. At minimum, failure to complete high school signals an antisocial temperament unwilling to live up to outside expectations, and that makes people difficult to work with. At maximum, it signals a halfwit, which is also generally undesirable in a co-worker or employee.

Those points aside, I find it awfully difficult to see how the Lord of the Flies atmosphere in many high schools is even remotely conducive to learning good citizenship, other than, perhaps, by showing young minds the horror, the horror, of the Hobbesian war of all against all. My impression is that high school tends to reinforce all the most vicious traits in adolescents, that college tends to make them worse by indulging their fatuous sense of entitlement, and that entry into the working world is the inflection point where they at long last learn to become human again. Or get fired.

In that sense, the high youth unemployment rate is a horrific problem for us all, delaying, as it does the necessary re-socialisation of our feral young graduates into civilised human society.

Balfegor said...

Re: carrie:

Synova-no offense to people who work at McDonalds, but you have to show up and do your job to succeed att McDonald's, that's it.

My impression of high school was that you just needed to show up. Doing your "job" (schoolwork) was generally optional. But then, I attended a high school in one of the backwards satrapies of darkest California -- things may be better in less barbarous states.

carrie said...

Balfegor--I can only guess that you come from an affluent area where high school is just viewed as college prep. High schools do a lot more than that. A description of Middleton High School's (wisconsin)apprenticeship program appear below. Also, most large Wisconsin school district have "alternative high schools" for student who don't thrive in a structured system. Slackers will always exist, but they should not be considered to be representative of high school students as or whole or as determining the value of high school to others.

YOUTH APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES
The Youth Apprenticeship Program is a unique opportunity for juniors and seniors to begin preparing for a career while still in high school. The one or two year program provides the opportunity to “learn on the job.” As a youth apprentice, students will earn an hourly wage, train with professionals
in the field, and earn credits for high school. In addition, advanced standing credits can be earned upon entering a technical college in the State of Wisconsin.
Apprenticeship students are supported by CTE Co-op teachers. Apprenticeships are open to juniors and seniors; they include specialized training, typically provided through Madison College but not offered at MHS. Apprenticeship students are required to provide their own transportation and to find a job.
Apprenticeship applications can be found online at www.dcsc.org. Consult with the School-to-Career Coordinator in the Administrative Office regarding applications, acceptance to the program, or for general information. Apprenticeship programs exist in the following areas (see department flow charts for more information).
Business/Marketing
• Finance: Students learn the principles, marketing, and operations associated with depository institutions. They also study business law for depository institutions.
• Information/Computer Technology: Students are exposed to a wide variety of technical experiences in computer fundamentals and program management. They also learn about computer hardware, troubleshooting, and networking and programming fundamentals.

Technology Education
• Agricultural Production: Core studies include farm machinery safety and maintenance, mechanics and facilities, and grain and forage production. They also learn crop scouting weeds, insects and disease of agronomic crop, herd management and milking techniques, farm business and computer applications.
• Architecture and Engineering: Students develop drafting and design skills.
• Automotive Technician: Students learn automotive servicing orientation including electrical, brakes, engine, suspension, and steering systems.
• Manufacturing/Plastics: Students explore materials and processes such as testing, recycling, molding, forming, coating, and casting. Manufacturing organizations and quality initiatives are also addressed.

Family and Consumer Sciences
• Biotechnology: Students develop skills and techniques essential to laboratory and technical competencies.
• Health Services: Students learn health facility operations and the fundamentals of client care. They provide “hands on care,” such as therapeutic or diagnostic services, and can also specialize in an area such as Pharmacy Technician, Protective Services, or Fire Safety.
• Tourism/Hospitality: Students learn foundational skills and develop competencies in the areas of customer service, marketing, sales, public relations, human resources, management operations, and fiscal resources. They also receive training in special events, and banquet and conventions services.

carrie said...
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carrie said...

Balfegor, I can only assume that you come from an affluent area where high school is viewed as college prep. The high school in my school district in Wisconsin has a great college prep program but it also offers an apprenticeship program to non-college bound Junior and Seniors which allows them to begin preparing for a career, and learn on the job, while still in high school. Youth apprentices earn an hourly wage, train with professionals in the field, and earn credits for high school. Apprenticeship programs exist in the following areas (see department flow charts for more information). Apprenticeship program exist in Business/Marketing
(i..e, working in a bank),
Information/Computer Technology (i.e., learning how to be an IT tech), Agricultural Production (i.e., farm machinery safety and maintenance, mechanics and facilities, grain and forage production, crop scouting weeds, insects and disease of agronomic crop, herd management and milking techniques, farm business and computer applications), Architecture and Engineering (i.e., drafting and CAD), Automotive Technician, Manufacturing/Plastics, Biotechnology (i.e. how to be a lab tech), Health Services (i.e., they can earn their CNA, learn to be a Pharmacy Technician, Protective Services, or Fire Safety) and Turism/Hospitality.

In addition, most large Wisconsin school districts have alternative high schools for kids who don't thrive within the contraints of a traditional school. There will always be slackers, but the slackers should not set the standards for everyone else. Kids from affluent families will acquire the skills and opportunties that they need to succeed through their families. Less affluent kids don't have the same level of family support or resources and need high school.

carrie said...
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carrie said...
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carrie said...
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