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Should Everybody Go To College?

Should everybody go to college? A new report questions some basic assumptions about the best path for American kids.

Students walk through the UMass Amherst campus. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Students walk through the UMass Amherst campus. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Libya’s ablaze. The Arab world’s in revolt. Wisconsin’s in turmoil. Unemployment’s still sky-high. The world, the future, looks so up for grabs.

Meanwhile, a new, young generation of Americans is trying to figure out what to do with their lives — where to aim their careers. The big strong message to high school students has been “go to college.”

But is that really the answer? Should everybody go? A new report says no. It says we need to develop much stronger, prouder paths in vocational education.

This hour On Point: Questioning “college for all” calling for something new.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Robert Schwartz, leader of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Project, which has released a new report on American education strategy.  He’s also academic dean and professor of practice of educational policy and administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Matthew Crawford, author of “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.” He’s a research fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

Paul Harrington, labor economist and director of Drexel University’s new Center for Labor Markets and Policy.

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  • Yar

    How many careers today rely on muscle memory? A brick layer, for example, needs to spend (10,000) hours learning the trade. We have cut out the opportunity for kids to do anything practical. I want to see a modern version of the CCC where all youth spend two years learning to use their muscles and minds to build the infrastructure of the country. This is what I see as the true investment in our future, not for what they build but for what they learn. After the two years of Civil Service, these students can better decide if college is the best route, or if learning a trade will lead to happiness. We are turning our educated idiots, in that many BS and even masters and PHD graduates have little or no practical experience. A brick layer understands fluid dynamics, inertia, and much more. She may even know how to get along with the crew and build a straight wall. That’s more than you can say for many post docs.

    • Pancake Rankin

      There are horrors of bricklaying where boys as young as 6 in homeschooled right wing religious communities are forced into masonry servitude to the detriment of both body and mind. Parents with rights of ownership can be selfish and cruel, especially when ordered by imaginary Beings. This parallels the license of CEOs over our economy: Impunity and Glorification.

      • Yar

        There are horrors everywhere, that doesn’t dishonor the trade of physical activity. How many kids are sacrificed to make one NBA star? My point is, some learning must take place in the real world, not only the academic one.
        What if you are never allowed to walk unless you can prove you won’t fall?
        We should root out exploitation where we find it.

        • ThresherK

          And it also fails many of the basketball and football players too. Why do they have to pretend to be college students for what amounts to a professional education in sports? Why can’t they train to do something else in the meantime?

          Canada has major junior hockey; baseball and hockey here have real minor leagues; soccer in England, say, has junior teams and academies–but they don’t quarter them at Cambridge and Oxford and pretend they’re collegians.

          The best “voke ed” prior to the NBA and NFL is the coaching, training, structure and competition one can get in the NCAA. And it’s a big problem for many involved.

          • Philonous

            Amen. I’ve endured athlete students who were in my classes only so they could play ball. They were academically uninspired and lazy, and they used the system to get away with it.

          • ThresherK

            Did you notice the system using them back even worse?

            The colleges make tons of money off these kids, right down to the replica jerseys with numbers that don’t mean squat until some unpaid kid makes it famous. And in the eye of the hurricane, everybody is making money off them but them.

          • Philonous

            Yup–which is why we need to separate the whole business of sports (not physical education) from college.

  • C.T. Wood

    My daughter graduated in June ’10, was offered a free ride to a Division III school to play soccer and turned down the opportunity to join the Navy.

    Her moth and I, both of whom have Master’s degrees, were disconcerted with her choice until she explained to us, “I just can’t see myself sitting in a classroom for four more years. I want to do something, not just learn the theory about it.”

    She will graduate from Navy boot camp on 3/4/11, and will commence her Class-A school training in Navigation, and then on to Intelligence school to prepare her for a role on the bridge of a navy vessel.

    She has the opportunity in her 5-year stint to pick-up a college degree, but more importantly, she will acquire skills that will offer her a variety of avenues within the Navy or in civilian life..

    • Pancake Rankin

      I hope she is not raped or molested as one third of female military service members are. Death in battle or under friendly fire is also a high price for education. Even worse to have her intellectual wings clipped by brainwashing.

      • Luvscully1

        Pancake, you sounded like you thought that women shouldn’t be in the Navy at all. Or the military. Death, rape and being molested can happen anywhere. So can brainwashing. I applaud her spirit and can-do attitude.

  • Nick from Massachusetts

    YES ! I think everyone should go to college in one form or another. Even if it is a trade that is being learned, I firmly believe that every citizen should know and understand how our government works, our basic rights, our basic biology, master our language – the basic skills to good citizenship.

    I think the bricklayer can be a better brick layer if he took architectural, simple basic engineering, and even possibly art history courses. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    I use to tell my high school students that they should take three courses in life:

    Biology to understand the living world around them
    Geology to understand the physical world around them
    Art History to understand our modifications of the above.

    Before that, our world is black & white and 2-dimensional
    After those courses, it is in color and 3 – dimensional.

    I think a better knowledge and understanding of things makes our lives so much more meaningful and enjoyable.

    I also feel that everyone should take part is some form of national service whether it be the military or public service.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      “I firmly believe that every citizen should know and understand how our government works, our basic rights, our basic biology, master our language – the basic skills to good citizenship.”

      Why aren’t they getting this in public high school? I’m not sure it’s the role of college to provide this, it’s the role of public high school and pushing it off on college may be a mistake.

      Yes, everyone should be educated, it’s a matter of when and where that education happens.

      I agree on the national service and I was sorry Obama hasn’t made it mandatory. Smells too much like socialism/communism I guess.

      • Zeno

        …Not just government, but economics as well. Kids gratuate high school into a world of tax forms, check books, credit applications, etc.

        A course on social survival would be good for every student.

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          The complexity of modern life is a problem although I’m not so sure designing education to deal with it is the solution. Maybe make life a bit less complex at the same time that we work to make young people literate enough to deal.

          An example is the complexity of dealing with healthcare. If we had a single payer system, medicare for everyone, one might not need a “clerical education” to deal with it.

          Educating young people to be better world citizens and take part in American civic life, while at the same time giving them the tools to be literate (READ) so they can make up their own minds about things seems to me to be the role of public K-12 schools. The fact that they’re failing in this isn’t only the fault of the schools (must be the unions… NOT), it’s also the fault of parents who aren’t doing a good job at home.

          The other piece pulling on this is media: it’s easier for all of us to watch and listen to media than it is to read and many of us get most of our news from radio, streams, TV, etc. I know many in this forum read but the younger the person, the less they read. We need to make reading literacy a top priority of K-12 education and the fact that many colleges have to offer remedial reading courses says worlds about how we’re failing at this.

          • Pancake Rankin

            Life is simple. All values originates in labor. All sustenance originates in fertile clean soil. The maze of capitalistic business is an unnecessary illusion used for social control. They make life harder than it needs to be. In the OFFICE the truth-teller is punished as insubordinate: Insubordinate to “educated” liars.
            The slave laborer wears and totes a ball and chain. What’s up with that?

        • Yar

          It used to be called Home Economics. First it was only taught to women, then only to students on a blue collar education tract, and now not much at all. Our business friendly consumer driven society is based on people making poor decisions. Why are we such a gullible, blind and ignorant country? Because it is good for business.

          Kids decide by about 8th grade which track they are on, they may not know it but we have a tiered education system, we are not making the grade for the next generation.
          Economics is an essential understanding for all citizens, if our citizens actually understood, they would know how deceptive our current political posturing is.

    • Yar

      “I think the bricklayer can be a better brick layer if he took architectural, simple basic engineering, and even possibly art history courses. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.”
      I agree, but turn your statement around, do you think an architect, an engineer, or even a history professor, would benefit from knowing how to lay bricks?

      I think they would, and that is my vision for our next generation. I took apart electronics as a kid, built hobby kits as a teen, an that helped my understanding of electronics during a career in information technology. Todays electronics is reduced to a few chips that few understand, our entire economy is a black box that kids never get to explore, other than as consumers.

      I believe we are in a civil war based on age, the average age of members of congress is almost 60. They are cutting the investment in our next generation in the name of fiscal discipline. It is short sighted and will lead to blood shed.

      I see a modern version of the Civil Conversation Corps as a way to train the next generation in democracy.
      I believe we can’t afford not to invest in our nation’s children if we want our society to survive.
      College is essential, but so is practical experience.
      There is a model in Kentucky, it is called Berea College. They have been investing in youth profitably for over 150 years.
      I want to reproduce their model nation wide.

      • Pancake Rankin

        Excellent observation of enduring truth: multi-channel education including body-mind education is always superior. It imbues every profession with enviable intuition and empathy.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Lifelong education would be more possible today using our electronic resources if the wealthy did not have a monopoly on certification and content. Normal people are curious and eager to learn (self-educate) but the media blitz produces shopping zombies.

    • circe

      Well, hate to tell you, but college does not supply the requisite information as outlined above. I wish that it did. High School? not really, unless you have some great teachers and are willing to forgo sports and/or other extracurriculars.

  • Wm.James from Missouri

    Education is a cost of doing business in a modern economy, period. Most cEducation is a cost of doing business in a modern economy, period. Most courses should be fully funded by the business community and eagerly supported by taxpayers en-mass.
    There is no reason we could not have 1,2,3,…N , year degrees. There is a wide range of needs in society and this concept of 2 yr, 4 yr., Master, Doctorate degree is mostly arbitrary and a result of “follow the crowd thinking”. By imposing educational superstructures, we limit our access to “would be” , great minds. Can you imagine if everyone of the more than 6 billion people on this planet had a chance to fulfill their duty to mankind. Imagine each person contributing just one new and or meaningful idea, invention, discovery, etc. ! Six billion Edisons, or Newtons or Eulers ! The wealth produced would be astronomical !
    The Internet provides the substrate for a new educational platform. The problem, as I see it, is a lack of coordination between ( in our case ) the US government to impose acceptable standards, in bandwidth, teaching techniques, testing and course outlines. There are very few “book” subjects that could not be learned online. This does not mean that one size fits all. In fact the internet can allow for extreme variability in teaching methods and teaching personalities. Once a course is filmed and a course is laid out in text, the cost to democratizing knowledge is very, very minimal. Institutions, by their very nature, resist accepting knowledge that an individual learns by this method. I am continuously puzzled as to why we humans think that we must suffer to be worthy !
    We should not think that the purpose of education is to “make more money”. These kind of thoughts are shackles for our souls ( or evolution, if you prefer ) ! The purpose of education is to liberate oneself from a path of mediocrity.
    Lastly, if the “Moor’s Law” phenomena does continue as prophesized, every ten years we should see an increase in computer performance of a factor of 1000. In twenty years that compounds to a factor of 1,000,000 ( one million ) , and of course in thirty years we would have 1 billion times as much computational power for the same dollar spent. I have read tens of books and many more periodicals on this and similar subjects and am convinced that this phenomena is real and will continue in various forms and across many disciplines. Ray Kurzweil and others have prophesied a point in history, that they call the “ Singularity “, when technology, specifically intelligent machines, will exceed the ability of all naturally created human intelligence. Humans will augment their cerebral powers by non natural means. If you are educating yourself with the sole purpose of indulging your selfish personal needs, forget it ! No child born in the year 2011 will be able to compete with the uber-intelligence that is coming. No group of humans, regardless of wealth or standing can or should change this. For the first time in human history we will finally overcome our limitations. When all is said and done, isn’t this the purpose of education ?
    ourses should be fully funded by the business community and eagerly supported by taxpayers en-mass.
    There is no reason we could not have 1,2,3,…N , year degrees. There is a wide range of needs in society and this concept of 2 yr, 4 yr., Master, Doctorate degree is mostly arbitrary and a result of “follow the crowd thinking”. By imposing educational superstructures, we limit our access to “would be” , great minds. Can you imagine if everyone of the more than 6 billion people on this planet had a chance to fulfill their duty to mankind. Imagine each person contributing just one new and or meaningful idea, invention, discovery, etc. ! Six billion Edisons, or Newtons or Eulers ! The wealth produced would be astronomical !
    The Internet provides the substrate for a new educational platform. The problem, as I see it, is a lack of coordination between ( in our case ) the US government to impose acceptable standards, in bandwidth, teaching techniques, testing and course outlines. There are very few “book” subjects that could not be learned online. This does not mean that one size fits all. In fact the internet can allow for extreme variability in teaching methods and teaching personalities. Once a course is filmed and a course is laid out in text, the cost to democratizing knowledge is very, very minimal. Institutions, by their very nature, resist accepting knowledge that an individual learns by this method. I am continuously puzzled as to why we humans think that we must suffer to be worthy !
    We should not think that the purpose of education is to “make more money”. These kind of thoughts are shackles for our souls ( or evolution, if you prefer ) ! The purpose of education is to liberate oneself from a path of mediocrity.
    Lastly, if the “Moor’s Law” phenomena does continue as prophesized, every ten years we should see an increase in computer performance of a factor of 1000. In twenty years that compounds to a factor of 1,000,000 ( one million ) , and of course in thirty years we would have 1 billion times as much computational power for the same dollar spent. I have read tens of books and many more periodicals on this and similar subjects and am convinced that this phenomena is real and will continue in various forms and across many disciplines. Ray Kurzweil and others have prophesied a point in history, that they call the “ Singularity “, when technology, specifically intelligent machines, will exceed the ability of all naturally created human intelligence. Humans will augment their cerebral powers by non natural means. If you are educating yourself with the sole purpose of indulging your selfish personal needs, forget it ! No child born in the year 2011 will be able to compete with the uber-intelligence that is coming. No group of humans, regardless of wealth or standing can or should change this. For the first time in human history we will finally overcome our limitations. When all is said and done, isn’t this the purpose of education ?

    • Wm.James from Missouri

      Note to posters. If you are using bullets in your post you may find that your post will not load properly as I did.

    • Pancake Rankin

      I refuse to pay taxes for education serving the needs of the corporate empire that oppresses me. Down with vocational education!

  • Rob (in NY)

    Tom and staff,
    While I am interested in hearing your guests’ prospective, the empirical evidence based on comparing earnings power and unemployment rates of those who graduate from college vs. those who do not seems to contradict the premise of this thesis (e.g. please address with your guests) .

    These statistics do not lie. A person’s earnings power and standard of living soars and is directly correlated with education. Based the most recent DOL analysis, “……over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.”

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneymatters/a/edandearnings.htm

    While the unemployment rate for college graduates increased during the recent deep recession, it was still approximately half of that for those with only a high school degree (e.g. at Dec-10, the official unemployment rate was 5% for people with at least a bachelors degree vs. about 10% for high school graduates only and 16% for those without high school diplomas)

    P.S. At a personal level and as a future parent and someone who pays portion of college tuition for my niece god daughter, I will continue to promote the value and importance of education for those in my immediate family. At the macro/ political level, I will continue to support policies that increase access to education even though I am fairly conservative on most issues.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Networking not knowledge is the advantage one accumulates in a “good” college. Concomitantly, it is the higher incomed and better connected who attend college and especially go to the “best” colleges. Many of these privileged characters were destined to inherit or be hooked up with higher incomes anyway because of parental wealth and networking (favor trading). I suspect that COLLEGE is not the cause of higher income (entitlement of birth, not earnings) but that attendance is only a rough coincidental correlation. This truth will become evident as class privilege intensifies in admission and affordability in coming years. One thing is certain: The child of poorer parents is almost always screwed as to education in this wealth divided country. Class mobility is a lie, except downward for the dissident voice.

  • Jayco

    College is necessary I think but again, it’s the poor man who is being priced out of getting a good education these days. Like everything else!

  • Zeno

    Should Everybody Go to College? NO.

    The available schooling in trades, skills, and college should be the goal. A level and type of education for each learner as they need and desire.

    Skills, desire and ability are different in everyone. Many people cannot work in a cubicle typing away in on a keyboard (its a nightmare to them), others cannot be field researchers, many cannot be plumbers, carpenters or landscapers.

    Its all about people being individuals. The problem with market pressures is, that the market at point of sale treats everyone the same. This is why in grade school some kids are bored or fall behind…education is NOT a one size fits all product. America refuses to accept this fact wearing the blinders of discrimination.

    There are also real physical limitations. It almost a criminal act to declare that someone with a 60 IQ will not be a nuclear physicist, or that the 5 ft tall 115lb person with only one leg will not be a NFL linebacker.

    There is no doubt that education in all its forms is now a consumer product, and is unfortunately priced accordingly.

    America needs to grow up and face reality without all the bizarre childish mentality that it never leaves behind.

    “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” -Corinthians

  • Cory

    Absolutely not. I received my degree in 1994 and in retrospect it was a collosal waste of money (lots of fun though). I won’t push college on my kids unless there is something quite specific they want to do there. Nothing wrong at all with the trades… In fact they might be the most secure jobs of all now.

  • ayntidote

    The other comments here don’t see the larger picture. I have a view from the ground on this situation. I have attended three schools within the Pennsylvania public university system and the situation is similar at all.

    Most of the students at my public university should not be in college. They are not interested in what college should be about and are not willing to engage in a meaningful academic experience. As a result, many of the qualified professors I have had clearly lower their standards for the rest of the class. Not everyone is college material and moreover it’s not practical to expect every member of society to join the educated class. If you herd everyone in, changes the nature of college in a way that makes it a drag, not a boon to society and the economy.

    The employment opportunity and earning power is better for college graduates, but entitlement to a college education is counterproductive. The admission requirements at my school are nonexistent. The grants and loans to pay for it are readily available to anybody. As a result, everybody goes! The best option as a society is to provide an opportunity for the motivated and capable to take advantage of higher education, not hand it out to everybody.

    • Cory

      Just too early in the morning for a young college republican.

      • ayntidote

        Nice. Not a republican

  • Isaac (Groton, CT)

    It seems like there’s an underlying question that needs to be answered: “Is college worth the price?” Given that so many people have to go deep into debt (myself, included) to get their degrees, this seems like something that needs to be in the conversation.

    If college were free, would we be having this conversation? If the price of a college education wasn’t rising at twice the rate of inflation, would we be having this conversation?

    I opted to go to an in-state, public law school because it was a bargain for the career I have in mind.

  • John from Boston

    Should there be a two year service program (armed services, habitat for humanity, peace corp … ect.) before College, and would that service drastically subsidize the cost of college.
    This would:
    1. make undergrad more affordable
    2. students would be more mature going to college
    3. giving students a realistic break from school
    (a growing necessity, ie “race to nowhere”)

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      You’ve hit on a theme that’s running in the background here: many students graduating high school are not mature enough to enter college. They lack independent living skills, they lack literacy, and they lack work experience, all of which can help an undergraduate get more out of a college education.

      Mandatory national service is a great solution to this and there should be many flavors of this including peace corps work overseas but all sanctioned by the government and all with tuition break incentives good at any college.

      Tom had a show on a similar theme: going to college overseas and the mixed reaction to that show (I loved it) said worlds about how provincial many Americans are.

  • Pancake Rankin

    Civics (how government used to work before corporatism) and financial literacy (Yar’s home economics for credit survival) are good things but not enough. The ability to deconstruct motives in the media bombardment would be useful too, and an original creative expression for every citizen (to develop full personhood) are desirable. College has become VOCATIONAL in most instances as the humanities and some sciences are gutted and edited. The oligarchs want graduates who know just enough to do the required tasks and no more. Only a few elite universities like Harvard, Yale and West Point have an analytical intellectual track anymore where the students are legitimized as policymakers, and even these are the handpicked recruits of the Corporate-Military-Pseudogovernmental Complex: EMPIRE.
    Barely able grads means retreading with more expensive educational consumption (debtload for obedience). A working class student’s hopes of success by attending college are faint, and even self-defeating. I do not have vocational answers in an era of Imperial cascade failure.

    My vision is of folkschools where people can learn the things they want to know from experiential work with practitioners and peers. These would be anti-corporate schools for revolution and passive resistance where substantive culture, human rights values and normal aspirations would be valued, encouraged and defended. When fascists used the State governments of Georgia and Tennessee to destroy Highlander Folkschool in 1962 this did not curtail its pivotal role in the civil rights struggle. John C. Campbell Folkschool is still teaching arts and crafts culture to the upper middle class. The work of Paulo Friere continues in Latin America and Africa. If we do not hurry to establish some institutions of dissent our inverted totalitarian state will close the possibility. It is a sad animal which believes it is free while it is caged.
    Formal education helps confine minds.

  • Michael

    The lie they tell you is that everybody should go to collage. But the truth is many are just not fit/ready/ or able too. As well those same jobs many that require a degree are slowly being outsourced away to India and China for a fraction of the cost.

    Many companies of the F500 companies have come up with a plan to outsource about 33% of their total work. These jobs consist mostly of requiring at least a BA to get. And such outsourcing is being done using taxpayers money and government incentives to do so.

    • Pancake Rankin

      A wealthy child of subnormal intellect and immature action still qualifies to attend our most prestigious universities. What is that about?

      • Zeno

        You mean like GWB?

        • Pancake Rankin

          Yale is so full ‘o Shrubs I’d have to call it a nursery. General Petraeus is also such a product. One armed push-ups and cockeyed counterinsurgency in evidence.

      • Yar

        Money! Likewise few children of students of Berea College graduates will qualify to attend the school. The school has not lost a NCAA collegiate football game since 1908 and they offer no athletic scholarships,
        yet most students support the alma mater.
        What do they know that the rich schools don’t?

        • Pancake Rankin

          Berea and Warren Wilson were good models, but under pressure from certifying authorities they have backslided on work-study equity. Hands on in sustainable agriculture remains their strength.

          I want to bring back Black Mountain College as a model and rstore “imagination through laboring” to our culture.

          I don’t think a CCC or WPA model would be tolerable for the enlistees under current corporate management. A privatized model would be imposed by fascists on any furtive funding and the laborers exploited mercilessly. Straw bosses have become accustomed to abusing illegal immigrants. Our workplace culture is as forked up as Merchantilist Spain’s in the 16th Century.

          Folk education could heal our wounds.

      • Nick

        P. Rankin,

        Don’t you get it yet?

        This the land of wealthy and privileged.

      • Anonymous

        Leave George W Bush alone!

    • Pancake Rankin

      COLLAGE might be a good format for your protest poster at the 2012 Dem. Con. in Charlotte, and you could stay at my place Michael, and I’d bail you out and find you a dentist when it was over. Now that’s education!

  • Pancake Rankin

    A gifted highschooler without family support (not there to give) and working (for minimum wage) cannot secure enough financial aid to attend even a dumbed down vocationally driven community college without accumulating a mortgage sized debt. The alternative is life-risking brutalized indentured servitude in our Imperial armed forces.
    What is that about?

  • Anonymous

    The debate should be to make college affordable so that those who have the aptitude can attend and be educated. If college is affordable and I can graduate without debt, it will be easier to use that minimal education to start a life. If this is the case the choices will be up to individuals.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Fruit pies cost $1 at (Idolatry) Dollartree. Not much fruit, not much nutrition, but affordable. You don’t have to borrow to get one, unless you charge it. It is easier to start life or any morning without debt than to submit to the perception of tyrants.

  • LinP

    I believe everyone would benefit from some form of higher education. It is our only hope. Look closely at the society the GOP is attempting to construct. The GOP needs people to be uneducated, small minded, scraping by, and sick. Those conditions create an ignorant citizenry who are most likely to vote against their self-interest and harbor hatred for those who are different. It plays right into the hands of the right to have people so overwhelmed with health issues or steeped in worry about income that there is no room in their lives to care about, much less understand, that a vicious oligarchy is destroying their (our) lives.

    Education, an open mind, a degree of critical thinking for all is hugely important for our country right now. It is a weapon for the common man, maybe the only one we have left.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Everyone would also benefit from good nutrition but our foodstream is manipulated and adulterated. Education today is polluted and unsafe to consume without filtering. Objectivity died with Ed Murrow.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Lin, You can see the carrot hanging in that rabbit trap. You know that if you enter to nibble the door will fly shut. Pseudo-conservative corporate fascism as advocated by bought Republicans and an increasing number of Democrats is not our only choice. Rabbits normally consume grass and herbs, not carrots. Seek a healthy educational diet, not a rich one.
      What books are in your house? What documentaries has your family watched lately? Is produce rotting at your local farmer’s market. If so, you are partly to blame.

      • LinP

        What a race to judgment. Wow. This is just making me smile how you completely negate your point by writing what you did. How narrow-minded are YOU?! I have a PhD in comparative literature (Yale, 1986) and my husband has a PhD from MIT (chem eng, course 10, 1979). Does that tell you enough about the books in my house?

        My oldest child is several years out of college and wants to work in food safety. In order to do so, he has been working as a farmer (first livestock in VT, now a CSA veggie farm in MA) to get, literally, hands-on experience. So that tells you how many veggies I leave rotting at the farmer’s market. I also 10-years part of a meat CSA. Are you?

      • LinP

        What a race to judgment. Wow. This is just making me smile how you completely negate your point by writing what you did. How narrow-minded are YOU?! I have a PhD in comparative literature (Yale, 1986) and my husband has a PhD from MIT (chem eng, course 10, 1979). Does that tell you enough about the books in my house?

        My oldest child is several years out of college and wants to work in food safety. In order to do so, he has been working as a farmer (first livestock in VT, now a CSA veggie farm in MA) to get, literally, hands-on experience. So that tells you how many veggies I leave rotting at the farmer’s market. I also 10-years part of a meat CSA. Are you?

  • twenty-niner

    Given that primary schools are so completely dumbed down (compare high school chemistry texts from the 40s through 00s), a college degree may put you at the level of an eighth grader from a couple of generations ago, in which case it’s probably a good idea to get one.

    Further, any drop in college enrollment could adversely affect the earnings of Budweiser, Miller Brewing, and Facebook.

    Also, please ask the professor if he’s ever handed out a C or even a B. “I paid good money for this A, professor”.

  • Tuscadero

    My son is attending Minuteman Regional Tech and Career High School in Lexington, MA. He is in the medical program and will graduate qualified for employment as an EMT. I would like him to get a secondary education, but because I have a mortgage load of student loans, I am not in a position to finance it. If he were to attend a regular high school, upon graduation he would be qualified to work as a cashier at the mall or flip burgers. At least by attending a vocational school he will be employable and possibly be able to contribute to the cost of his education.
    Minuteman is a great example of where vocational schools should be going in this country. They offer many more programs beyond the expected auto, plumbing, and cosmetology programs. They have biotech, environmental engineering, and robotics. Many of the students there come from wealthy, white collar families who recognize the value of this kind of education and many of the students plan on going on to college.

  • Nick from Massachusetts

    What about just the joy of learning and education?

    I know that training a young adult for employment is necessary but has everyone just forgotten the joy of learning and excitement of studying and pursuing something other than that which pays a lot?

    I am 59 and every year take a course or two in fields that could never provide me with a living but I find great joy and excitement in this endeavor.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The young people I have known hew to the message in our bones that says you succeed once you have reproduced; then you may “move on.” On the other hand, both my grandfathers put themselves through college, which is to say, before the GI bill post World War II, one did not go to college unless one ALREADY had a skill that paid pretty well. Nowadays, with a life span about a third longer than half a century ago, one not only reproduces, one survives to finance the going of those offspring to college. Or to serve society in ways not possible without.
    If people have a high school experience that is strictly academic, preparation for SATs and so forth, then one might be a better candidate for college acceptance, but also much more in need of just the opposite, a stint in the “real world.” In the eight years age 13 to 21, some of that surely has to be nonacademic.
    I think the child would know best if paying for college is worth it at about age 17. Take time to find out what the world is like, outside of the place you were raised — IF you think you can get the education you need later. That is a big if.
    There are women who raise families and THEN know just what they want to learn, what career they want. If you live to 80, what are the chances your late teen interests match those of your most productive years?
    I keep hearing that in Egypt or Libya, there is fine higher education but no jobs to match the skills acquired. Remind you of anything?

  • Pancake Rankin

    Tom is gargling with carrot juice and vocalizing his exercises, from the diaphram. John is tapdancing for the expert panel. The big sideshow is about to unveil. Higher education begins here at NPR and WBUR (Unless the Koch’s object).

  • Ellen Dibble

    I hope internet learning is addressed. Or, to shift the letters a bit, “intern-ette” learning. My own field absolutely has the wrong education track available, but try to get a profession to crash their own institutions. Maybe I’ll describe that. Politically speaking, maybe not.

    • Philonous

      Internet learning? Oy, what an idea. I can teach skills, perhaps, on the Internet, but how can an education happen there? Education is a human process, requiring human interaction–not through electronic gadgets.

      • Pancake Rankin

        Silly Rabbit, the Internet is for E-commerce.

        A mature girl like Ellen can use random data to build education, most surfers can’t actually swim.

        The Arkansas professor has a greater point than just defending a teaching job. Education requires caring.

      • Ellen Dibble

        It takes a combination. Lots of learning does not require a classroom. Example: Abraham Lincoln teaching himself law. The learning that requires interaction might be better learned in the workplace than in the classroom. Some of it.

        • Philonous

          But you’re talking about a brilliant person. Most people need the help of human interaction to get the material in real college.

  • Philonous

    I have taught college English students for twelve years now, and my assessment is that no, not everyone belongs in college. College students are a select portion of the population anyway, and not all of them are up to the work. Too many are there just to get a piece of paper at the end. They don’t want an education. Many lack the curiosity and desire to learn.

    The difference between training and education is that the former gives one a particular skill–something that can be taught in a trade school–while the latter is aimed at making a person better able to appreciate life and participate in society. (Liberal arts were the arts of the free people.)

    This being said, let’s split schools into trade schools and colleges. Most businesses seem to want skills, rather than independence anyway.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

  • Gary Trees

    Tom,

    My wife wants t go back to college to finish her BS, but sometimes life gets in the way. We have a two year old and my wife currently waits tables when I’m not working. She already has her AS and has a good head on her shoulders, but college was not a priority to her family and, for that reason, she was on the outside looking in before she was even given a shot. The little question is how to get individuals with children who can’t afford (or just don’t really want to submit to) extensive child care back to finish degrees affordably. The BIG question is how to make college a priority in every family so that the children in these families are given a competitive opportunity in the real world.

    Thanks

  • Matt

    I know quite a few who went to 4 year colleges only to be unemployed and deeply in debt while trying to find a job. One of our friends’ kids graduated with a degree in genetic engineering and even he can’t find work. I’m glad this issue is being addressed, the push for “everyone” to go has been a mistake in my opinion.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Some kind of preparation with “currency” in the workforce. Schwartz uses the word “currency.” I’m thinking those with college degrees may do better in the workforce to some extent because employers pick college graduates, not because the college graduates are better prepared. Not all jobs link right up to a college degree. The jobs will lead to a rosy future if the employer is somewhat invested in letting the employee grow and learn on the job. I lay quite a bit at the feet of the employer. Plenty of skills are practically created from scratch as an innovative business unfolds itself.

    • Pancake Rankin

      On the job training of those with proper aptitude works best and is less expensive. College is a way of parking people to keep unemployment statistics (already misrepresented) down.

  • Philonous

    My suspicion is that employers require college degrees as a way of selecting mostly white workers without running into a discrimination suit. I’ve worked a few jobs outside of academe, and even though they demanded workers with degrees, there was nothing about the job that actually used the education that I had. A high school graduate could have done them.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

    • Pancake Rankin

      Excellent, excellent point. I would have loved having you in my college classes.

  • Scott B., Jamestown NY

    Not everyone is cut out for college. Some just can’t hack it mentally or socially (or some other words ending in “L – Y”). Others just have different ambitions that college.

    Better guidance counselors would help. Too many seem to push college or “Do you want fries with this” to students that would be far better learning a trade.

    It’s not the kids at the top or bottom, it’s all the kids in the middle.

    I didn’t even know that a vocational school existed in my district, it was never mentioned to me by anyone at my school. The place that was always referred to I had been lead to believe was a place for special needs kids, or kids with authority issues. I wonder if had gotten mouthy in class, or a fist fight or two, would they have suggested I learn a trade?

    There’s almost a social stigma being pushed about not having a college degree. A degree is great, but when the toilet backs up, or the car breaks down, or the roof caves in, an B.A. or PhD isn’t going to get them fixed.

  • Dan

    I love this show and listen every day, but this particular episode seems to be off to a really strong start. It might be the coffee talking, but this topic hits home for this lucky-to-have-a-job 27-year-old with an overpriced BA.

    -dan
    Boston, MA

  • Jpfaas

    The real issue is that there are very few institutions teaching three essential things: writing, math and critical thinking. Students should come out of high school with these skills and very few do. Colleges, for the most part, do not teach these necessary life skills, assuming that students have them already. The result is people who have degrees but cannot understand their mortgages. There are good jobs that do not require degrees. I have one of them (in spite of having a doctorate in music). Although degrees are often required to move up, it is really those with writing, math and critical thinking skills that are able to be truly successful in their jobs. Good primary and secondary schools are far more important than colleges in developing these skills.

    • Pancake Rankin

      It is a waste of time teaching broiler chickens to lay eggs.
      Corporatism requires born losers.

  • Lesswanson

    Unions have apprentice and continuing education programs

    • Pancake Rankin

      What unions? Where? Wisconsin maybe!

    • Pancake Rankin

      What unions? Where? Wisconsin maybe!

  • Scott

    Relationships, sex & good luck matter: I’ve known numerous people that make more money than me w/ my 2 college degrees: family businesses, inside information, beautiful women, rich relatives, good references, etc. I feel I’ve done everything right & have a squeaky clean background, but it’s frustrating when others w/ much less qualifications are succeeding in what appears to be a irrational, biased, & highly subjective society.

    • Pancake Rankin

      NPR advises you to network, Scott. Get on Facebook and kiss some booty. Successful people from the lower classes develop muscular lips.

      • Scott

        A society of ass-kissers? What a proud country we are!

    • Pancake Rankin

      NPR advises you to network, Scott. Get on Facebook and kiss some booty. Successful people from the lower classes develop muscular lips.

  • N2nrn2

    The fact that 76% of 17-25 year-olds cannot qualify for military service, mainly due to their inability to score 50% on the ASVAB test, is an indication of how badly we have failed our students.

    • Philonous

      Do you believe that the entire population is able to succeed in college? If the IQ distribution is correct, half the people are below 100.

      • Pancake Rankin

        IQ is a suspect measure designed for sorting by class background. In 1914 it found the majority of military inductees to be retarded. Testing is always a filter imposed by the upper class interests. Of course many children are crippled by the consequences of structural violence (poverty, discrimination, ect.) What we must ask is how much potential the typical person might possess in a good caring society and strive for that. Assuming most people are stupid without cause defeats your ambitions a priori.

        • Philonous

          All right then, why are many of my students unable or unwilling to learn? I can teach any student who wants an education, but many aren’t. I don’t buy into IQ tests thoroughly, but they do work as a general statement about the population.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    But Tom, if we don’t send all of those kids to college, how is the beer industry supposed to sell all of those kegs they produce? you don’t want to negatively impact the GDP!

    • Pancake Rankin

      Pot and exstasy dealers unite! Rave, rave against the dying of the light.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Pot and exstasy dealers unite! Rave, rave against the dying of the light.

  • Jim (retired professor)

    A major problem for colleges is the accreditation system. It is a national program although divided into regional organizations. They apply a standard that colleges provide a formula for graduation that is: one third general education, one third major, one third electives.

    General education should happen in high school – all of it. Colleges can then focus on professional and graduate school preparation.

    The system has been diluted.

  • Ellen Dibble

    A nephew who switched to engineering and switched to a public university near me last fall found employers coming to campus to scout for future employees within WEEKS. I doubt there will be a summer where he is not interning locally in his field.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Interns work for “nearly nothing” Ellen. You should hire a boatload for wide profit margins. Interning has become a corporate exploitation tactic.

      • Ellen Dibble

        You generalize. You try to employ someone without training them and see what happens. Either you do it yourself, or you think about how that training happens. One doesn’t think profit margins; one thinks how to perpetuate the skills and values, not hoard those skills to oneself.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Incidentally, I find that those with master’s degrees in related fields can be cocksure and totally untrainable. No patience for the years of struggles that are part of a skill.
        I tell my nephew to celebrate the difficulty he has with his courses. It means he is actually wiring his brain in ways that will set him apart. Maybe some are ahead of him, but the brain is malleable.
        But if you graduate thinking that is the end of that, you are now untrainable except for maybe management or something like that.

  • Kathleene1013

    This country has made it manatory to have a college degree for employment. Are loan rate are to high, we have created a stittion where when you gradute ( if you find employment) you are chained to your job, to pay back your loan. This benefits the employer.

    Their are people that have natural skills, but don’t have the funds or desire for school.

    Our education system in this doesn’t benefit the majority of are children.
    We need to look at the European system.

  • Tracie

    Mr. Schwartz is right on target. I work at a local college and see too many students who are going to college because they were told that’s what they’re supposed to do, but they have no goal and no direction. They end up dropping out with debt and still no direction. I hope that many of the suggestions from this report move forward.

  • Mark Chaffee

    As a nation, we devalue work, and value investment (i.e., larger income with less work). In the ongoing argument about unions, it is made evident the elite’s need to keep devaluing work, and to convince people to reward investment – give-backs for the working people, tax-breaks for the wealthy.

    In that world, college is an investment, and we ‘should’ pay college students more, but the training of ‘technical skills’…people just aren’t trying hard enough to lift themselves by their bootstraps to be rich and successful. Consequently, we need to reward them less, to incentivize them to try harder, lift harder.

    As long as we keep devaluing people who work hard, physically, and with their hands, dirty work instead of office work…how do we incentivize young people to see value in professions that we devalue as a larger society?

  • concerned teacher

    maybe you have to attend college to get the education you did not receive in high school

    • Philonous

      All too often true. But don’t blame the high school teachers. They have far too many students in their classes and too many stupid bureaucratic boxes to tick off.

    • Philonous

      All too often true. But don’t blame the high school teachers. They have far too many students in their classes and too many stupid bureaucratic boxes to tick off.

    • Pancake Rankin

      concerned teacher: Are you to blame. If so, how should our vindictive electorate punish you? If not, then what has caused the dumbing-down in your opinion?

      • Philonous

        We aren’t willing to spend the money needed in elementary and secondary education, for one. Class sizes are too large to work. Then we have parents who see grades as important, but not learning. I had a parent tell me that I gave her daughter an F. She cursed at me every day she came to class and never opened the textbook, but I gave her the F.

  • Jdsmith02115

    Growing up in NYC in the 50′s and 60′s,there were many vocational High Schools that tracked individuals to solid vocations like machine and metal trades and the aircraft industry. Today, a decent prototype machinist can earn in excess of 70K, not shabby.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    How about treating all kids like they have potential to be useful to the greater good, by actually creating opportunities for them to do so, rather than just putting all of your resources into kids who have figured out how to do well on standardized tests and send the rest to babysitters.

  • Philonous

    Whatever we do, please don’t give us a No College Student Left Behind approach. What college really needs to be cannot be quantified by standardized tests, but we seem to be headed toward just that kind of reductive system.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

  • Philonous

    Whatever we do, please don’t give us a No College Student Left Behind approach. What college really needs to be cannot be quantified by standardized tests, but we seem to be headed toward just that kind of reductive system.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    How about treating all kids like they have potential to be useful to the greater good, by actually creating opportunities for them to do so, rather than just putting all of your resources into kids who have figured out how to do well on standardized tests and send the rest to babysitters.

  • Brian Loynd

    Political Scientists and Sociologists have studied the training issue for decades, particularly the European models. This kind of training will not work in the US for the same reason we can’t reform our health care system. The US would have to fund programs to support firms and families during the entire economic cycle. Apprenticeships cannot be separated from the collective bargaining system. We would have to look at countries like Denmark and the Netherlands for models that might work in the US.

    • Philonous

      I wonder if we’re going to get to a system where businesses have to have apprenticeship programs, thanks to how little our students are learning at all levels of schooling.

    • Philonous

      I wonder if we’re going to get to a system where businesses have to have apprenticeship programs, thanks to how little our students are learning at all levels of schooling.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Are Denmark and Netherlands not European? I have so many questions about your post. “The US would have to fund programs to support firms and families during the entire economic cycle”??? What’s that cycle? Which firms, which families. I Collective bargaining is not only for skills. Tom is saying 7 percent are unionized, and some of them are not skills one gets a vocational degree in.

  • Brian Loynd

    Political Scientists and Sociologists have studied the training issue for decades, particularly the European models. This kind of training will not work in the US for the same reason we can’t reform our health care system. The US would have to fund programs to support firms and families during the entire economic cycle. Apprenticeships cannot be separated from the collective bargaining system. We would have to look at countries like Denmark and the Netherlands for models that might work in the US.

  • N2nrn2

    Our culture teaches children to think of themselves and their lives and not about “us”. It would be a good idea to if 2 year mandatory seervice was part of everyone’s growth.

    • Philonous

      Really? My look at our culture tells me that we teach children to think like the consumers that we want them to be.

  • N2nrn2

    Our culture teaches children to think of themselves and their lives and not about “us”. It would be a good idea to if 2 year mandatory seervice was part of everyone’s growth.

  • Paul

    I had all my education in Czech Republic. I have masters in mechanical engineering, but I started in high school specialized in mechanical engineering. So I have 9 years of education in this field. Yes you have to decide very early about you specialization (at age 14 -15) but the advantage is that anytime you leave school (after the high school or after bachelor degree) you are work ready in different levels of your specialization.

  • Paul

    I had all my education in Czech Republic. I have masters in mechanical engineering, but I started in high school specialized in mechanical engineering. So I have 9 years of education in this field. Yes you have to decide very early about you specialization (at age 14 -15) but the advantage is that anytime you leave school (after the high school or after bachelor degree) you are work ready in different levels of your specialization.

  • Joe

    College is great, but it’s not for everyone. Some people just don’t do well in school because they have a learning style other than what colleges practice. A college graduate, I have found that college did little to prepare me for the “real world” in that I didn’t have practical, applicable skills beyond writing and reading, and that my lack of experience didn’t help me in getting a decent job that I was lead to believe I’d get after graduating. The prevelance of college graduates has also watered down the value of a degree and produced a lot of people without real skills.

    I believe that vocational training needs to be furthered, not just post high-school, but starting in middle and high-school, exposing kids to these options would create more interest and hopefully more opportunity. Vocational classes have a negative connotation associated them with the “dumb kids” who can’t hack a regular classroom. This attitude must be changed. Vocation doesn’t equal stupid, simultaneously academic doesn’t equal smart.

  • Robert

    The EU education/apprentice system also applies to the Civil Service sector!
    There, they train individuals to perform professionally in the various services of local to national government; where they continue to serve with lesser regard for the shifts in political winds.
    Here, we have a hodgepodge of people involved in civil services. Often with only nominally relevant skills, AND -especially at the management level- the leadership and priorities are upset with every change in political alliances.

  • Robert

    The EU education/apprentice system also applies to the Civil Service sector!
    There, they train individuals to perform professionally in the various services of local to national government; where they continue to serve with lesser regard for the shifts in political winds.
    Here, we have a hodgepodge of people involved in civil services. Often with only nominally relevant skills, AND -especially at the management level- the leadership and priorities are upset with every change in political alliances.

  • mary

    How do we help our kids find the “spark”, the thing that really excites them about learning a trade or a more “traditional” career path? Our high schools do NOTHING in the engineering fields, and little to nothing about helping kids explore career paths. One of my sons has ADD, he’s never fit the regular academic mold although he’s super smart; and we are struggling alongside him trying to help him find his way through the end of high school and the big question is “What’s Next?”. We don’t know what the options are, it seems that success stories are few and far between and happen more often because of pure luck. We owe our kids and all future generations a better legacy.

    • Sherribeck

      I have the exact same situation! — when traditional learning didnt’ work, the high schools suggestion was to take him out of the mainstream and have him attend night school 2 hrs a day for 4 days a week (its easier to “hide” these undesirables than tarnish their record with an “f” ) I basically babysat my son through high school, and yes, you should be worried, because my son is still in the struggle to find what’s best for him two years after graduating. High schools are very good at helping the studious bookworm children, but fail the “hands-on children”
      As far as I’m concerned, they have been teaching the same way for many years and have not learn to adapt to a changing world. If you ever get a chance, watch “The Last Lecture” Randy Pausch — and look up the way he taught —

  • mary

    How do we help our kids find the “spark”, the thing that really excites them about learning a trade or a more “traditional” career path? Our high schools do NOTHING in the engineering fields, and little to nothing about helping kids explore career paths. One of my sons has ADD, he’s never fit the regular academic mold although he’s super smart; and we are struggling alongside him trying to help him find his way through the end of high school and the big question is “What’s Next?”. We don’t know what the options are, it seems that success stories are few and far between and happen more often because of pure luck. We owe our kids and all future generations a better legacy.

  • Daurinspam

    As a German American, I was born and raised in the US, but also spent over a year in school in southern Germany. In Germany (and elsewhere in Europe) students are tracked at a much younger age. By the time a child is ca. 10, different schools and curricula have been chosen by the parents and teachers. The US high school system often no longer has wood shop, mechanics, or even musical lessons. Where, in our system, is there room/funding to grow and reinforce vocational education?

    It seems to me that we would need a different approach to match – as much as possible – the infrastructure we have, increasing emphasis, funding and resources to non-liberal arts college programs. Local city, regional and state campuses seem a logical place to start.

    Dirk
    Middletown, CT

  • Quincy1982

    I am a teacher. You can see in the classroom a wide variety of talents that children posess. It is unfortunate that our current system is emphasizing upper level maths and sciences when these students talents lay in other areas. We need to develop the talents children have. Why are we teaching to tests rather than developing natural talents that can help students put food on the table successfully for the rest of their life? I wonder if we catered to children’s talents, if that would not lead to more innovative industry in a multiple of areas here in the US.

  • Anand

    European nations have stronger social safety nets that helps with supporting low incomes earned from trades. Besides the problem with the US is the young people aren’t studying the hard stuff such as Math, Science and Engineering.

  • Rex Henry, Washington, DC

    This is a great example of Trickle Up. Skilled laborers build the strong base that college level employees work with and each reciprocate. Win-Win.

    If we don’t have anyone to build the goods, what do the salespeople move? America used to manufacture, but now we buy from other countries to sell. The college educated prevail and the lower class is left behind.

  • Yinyangcr

    I am worried about the dismantling of Unions, especially now. Education funding is declining and the educational system is jettisoned the shop class. Unions have always had their apprentice programs where young people can get training and earn a living.

  • Mwilson

    Your speakers are so right. There are movements afoot right now, of which my organization has been part, to ‘map’ outside-of-school learning assets in communities. There are indeed many individuals, businesses and groups willing to collaborate with schools to engage youth in targeted, meaningful learning. Does this concept need to be developed and refined? Of course. But viewing such collaborations as essential to a complete education, and to setting them firmly within a comprhensive strategy for youth development, is essential. As usual, Europe, which doesn’t suffer from our endless, distracting ideological battles, is way ahead of us.

  • Doug

    NBC Nightly News had a segment on last night about manufacturers who are training workers to use new machines and paying them to study in community colleges to customize the type of training they need their workers to be able to handle.

  • Samuel

    I’m 62. I graduated from college in 1975, at a college and time when I was able to design my own course of studies. I developed a double major–Religion and Philosophy, and Industrial Arts–and a minor in Horticulture! I got to have a liberal arts education PLUS hands-on education, all in areas I was interested in. I LOVED college, I feel I was
    very well-prepared for a variety of career paths, and I received a liberal arts education which I continue to place very high value on. I think our American systems do too much pigeon-holing of people into a very segmented educational system. Either academic OR technical. We need schools and systems that include ALL options, with a focus on love of learning, rather than presenting students with educational choices as a fork in the road where making one choice excludes other options. I was fortunate to be able to go to a liberal arts college (Wilmington College in Ohio) that ALSO offered degrees in agriculture and industrial arts. We need to develop minds, hearts and hands–all of them together!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Where are the honored mentors with craftsmanlike skills to emulate? I think the skills of the last generation are vanishing into hobbies in a radically changing world. Not all of them but some. “Some form of expertise,” “standards of practice,” says Schwartz.
    I’m looking at a National Geographic map of populations and it shows literacy rates per level of earnings. 60 percent for those dirt poor, but the note says these reading skills are “use it or lose it” in places where there are not Wheaties boxes to be read or road signs, something like that.
    My point is the learning a random craft might be a waste.
    I think one can zero in on a skill and acquire it for oneself, but one has to support oneself while one does so.

  • Philonous

    Teaching Latin is part of what I mean by education, not training. The purpose of that language is to give educated persons an understanding of how languages work and where English came from. It’s true that Latin won’t help you in many jobs, but it does make you a better citizen (resident of the city–from its Latin roots).

  • Nick

    YES ! I think everyone should go to college in one form or another. Even if it is a trade that is being learned, I firmly believe that every citizen should know and understand how our government works, our basic rights, our basic biology, master our language – the basic skills to good citizenship.

    I think the bricklayer can be a better brick layer if he took architectural, simple basic engineering, and even possibly art history courses. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    I use to tell my high school students that they should take three courses in life:

    Biology to understand the living world around them
    Geology to understand the physical world around them
    Art History to understand our modifications of the above.

    Before that, our world is black & white and 2-dimensional
    After those courses, it is in color and 3 – dimensional.

    I think a better knowledge and understanding of things makes our lives so much more meaningful and enjoyable.

    I also feel that everyone should take part is some form of national service whether it be the military or public service.

    • Philonous

      But your bricklayer’s supervisor will be annoyed with the employee’s education, since that distracts from doing the job at hand.

  • BHA in Vermont

    Good topic. With the cost of college and the availability of jobs, how many are we sending deep into debt so they can work in retail sales because they can’t get a job in their area of study?

    A friend of mine has 2 sons, now ~28 and 30 years old. The older went to Drexel and is doing well in his profession. The younger didn’t really have an urge to go to college though he was academically capable. He found a job at a local news station as a camera operator. Instead of college he took some courses specifically in the area that supported his job. Now he lives in NYC and is an electrician and running camera on films and TV shows most everyone here would recognize.

    Would he have been better off going to college? I think not.

  • Matt

    I forgot and I should add that no matter what form of education our kids choose, it wont do much good if we keep sending jobs to China and elsewhere.

    • Philonous

      True–the more jobs we ship overseas, the less our people can afford, beyond Chinese products.

  • Kathleene1013

    In response to low high school gradution rates.
    Are education sytems teaches facts ( not nesessary real facts, but the facts that the State decided are true), memoization. We do not teach critical thinking.
    We are breeding common sense out of our youth.

  • N2nrn2

    One of Mathew Crawford’s points in his book is which jobs are going to be outsourced. The ones which will stay are those which require a hands-on problem solving approach. Mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, can’t be outsourced, the architects, bankers, lawyers can be.

  • Bbelvin00

    Thirty years ago I taught English at Dobbins Vocational-Technical High School, one of several voc-tech public high schools in Philadelphia. Kids applied for admission to any one of about 20 vocational programs, were tested and interviewed by prospective teachers before acceptance. While in the four-year program kids studied many trades–plumbing, heating, electrical shop, carpentry, woodworking, restaurant management, cooking, auto mechanics, auto body, office management, architecture, to name a few. Plus, if they chose, students could simultaneously pursue a college prep path. These were happy, motivated kids, and upon graduation, they had manual and academic skills to bring to their craft. I have been retired for a while now, but it is my understanding that this great model was decimated by financial cut. I have always thought it was a model that should be multiplied as I went on to teach college English and see far too many kids taking out student loans who are unmotivated academically and who would benefit more by pursuing a trade. After all, I like having a good plumber, auto mechanic, and electrician!

    bETSEY IN BENNINGTON, vERMONT

  • Nick

    “More Jobs than Takers…”

    Oh, Spare Me ! Please !

    That is such crap !

    I do business with some companies in Iowa and they are shifting those jobs overseas.

  • Gretel

    We live in France. Any kid that can graduate and complete the french brevet is allowed to attend university.Children who excel in math/science can attend a premirer university. The University accepts everyone because more than 75% drop out after the first year. The highschoolschool system is inhumane kids attend class from 7:30 am – 6pm and on Saturdays till 2pm. Different career training starts in 9th grade. WIth career fairs and lectures. Which kids attend in the evening and its mandatory. Students need to decide a path by 10th grade. For the french Kids that decide to go into the trades they are trained and become certified and are known as “artisans”. A plumber is considered an artisian another word for specialist. The other day when I went to buy sneakers and i got an amazing education on shoe technology. Ski instructors attend training for 11 weeks working and studying everyday from 8-8. Then have to constantly update certification. Education no matter what venue is totally affordable.

  • Anonymous

    I’m currently a sophomore at Northeastern University. I’m studying computer engineering and I’m also a licensed apprentice plumber. There are plenty of book smart people here, but practical skills are extremely lacking. By going to college and acquiring trade skills, I’m setting myself up for success wherever I want to go.

  • Dave in CT

    Awesome show!

    I sincerely hope we begin to pursue the direction being discussed. Common sense, dignity, more choice of employment, more small to mid-size business opportunities. More employment, more self-sufficiency, less government subsidy required. More liberty even. No left-right politics required! Just good old pragmatic American Progress!

    As a Neurobiology Ph.D. who left the tenure track world to become an organic land care professional, sounds great!

    Going out to assemble a cold frame after the show….

  • Brandstad

    Everyone should take two college level Econ courses, but college is not for everyone.

    • Pancake Rankin

      College economics amounts to brainwashing if no other social sciences are included. The effect is greed and cruelty in business graduates. Brandstad may be an excellent example of this One Dimensional Man (Marcuse) phenomenon.

  • Pete

    This is not a new revelation. Proponents of Vocational-Technical Education have had it right for years. Not everyone needs to go to college, and not everyone is “college material” so it is a waste of time and money.

    Public schools measure themselves on how many of the students go to college, but how many measure themselves on how many actually graduate from college with a marketable skill and get a good job?

    College in the traditional sense is not required to make a good income, although for the most part post-high school technical training is needed. Lawyers and doctors have problems getting a plumber or electrician, and pay them big bucks when they do. If you are a good skilled trademan, you basically have more job security than relying solely on working from someone else.

    Back in 1995, Hedrick Smith produced a program callede “Challenge To America” (see http://www.hedricksmith.com/pbsdoc/challengeToAmerica.shtml)Everyone should get a copy of this and watch it.

    Apparently no one in a position of authority paid any attention to it because we are farther behind now than in 1995. It is time for a change.

    I am an electronics engineer who went back and got a masters in education so I could teach Technology/Vocational-Technical courses. Waste of time. 3 years teaching I gave up. Vocational/Technical Education is not respected in this country, definitely not in New york State. A shame because there are a lot of good and smart kids who are totally turned off by pure academic high school, but they are discouraged from going to a vo-tech program because the should just go to college.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter

    I live and work in Iowa and I’d like to know where those jobs with no takers are, too!

  • Raht_Ketusingha

    Whether it be vocational education, liberal education, or professional education (which is somewhat simply “advanced level vocational education”), an equally important issue is how highschool graduates could or might afford their next level of education.
    The many possibilities include scholarships, student loans, family support, and part-time work for students. All these ways of affording higher levels of education have problems.
    Thank you for reading this.
    Raht Ketusingha

  • Brandstad

    At least 20-40% of the population should go to community college and get a 2 year degree.

  • Ricey77

    I picked up Shopclass last week as our school in the budget crisis is thinking of cutting, please let us look as our children as economic development and not prey for products and generating generational poverty. I live in Upstate NY where babies are the only products being made to pull money into the economy…relegating their single mothers to chattel…just like every other 3rd world country.

  • Hannahgirl

    Shouldn’t college be for people who want to go NOT people being forced too. I hate high school classes that have kids who don’t want to be there. It is always a horrible class that the teachers dread. College should be a choice.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    Shop Class as Soul Craft is a great read!

    Also Tom, i think that a flaw you are having in your analysis is that you are asking “what is the best option”. Different options are better for different people, since everyone is different, and it takes all kinds of jobs being done to keep the economy going. The worst thing we can do is tell kids “this is the best option” and have them all go for that, until you flood that market sector and make it the worst option by the time they graduate.

  • James Gracey

    I have my undergrad and masters from two prestigious colleges, yet every time I get my hair cut or my car repaired, I reconsider my choice. Car mechanics, hairdressers, food purveyors will always have work. I see my “vocational” friends and they have more time with their families and seem happier in general than my “university” pals.

  • rjf

    Could “Pancake” and other multi-posters please leave some space for others to comment please?

    • Philonous

      Jump on in. . .

      • Pancake Rankin

        Stream of consciousness, Baby!

    • Pancake Rankin

      Cyberspace is limitless. Corporations routinely censor by glut.
      rjf may be jealous because I type and think so fast about a subject area of intense interest for me. Some days I don’t even post. Other people post daily with a very diluted contribution. This is where I vote. I vote mostly with my imagination. If you find the style here unwelcome you have alternatives. The On Point moderators seem to limit what and how much i can say already. I’m often on the phone with friends as I write and include their casual observations.
      Right now, this is the best show on radio in the USA. That’s not saying much.

  • Minorarch

    As an architect nearing semi-retirement about 8 years ago I all of a sudden realized that we were facing a tsumnani of retiring skilled craftspeople who built and have maintained (sort of) our infrastructure and set out to try and set up construction trades training, particularly for at-risk youth in a northeastern city. In the process I heard an interview with a man from Waltham who wrote “Blue Collar and Proud of It” and set up a web site to foster stories about pride in being blue collar. He said next time you are in your car look to your left and your right and probably one of you is blue collar, and quite possibly making more money than you!

    These are jobs that made up our middle class for generations, and can’t be out-sourced.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Yep, the best minds with hands-on knowledge are rapidly being put out to pasture and not replaced.

  • Phyl

    I’m so glad to hear someone talking about this, instead of just hammering away that the answer to our problems is for more kids to go to college. Where did people get the idea that getting a degree in English or sociology or so many other majors actually translates to being able to get ANY type of job, let alone a good-paying job? I have a bachelor’s degre and a Master’s in one of the fine arts and I have struggled for many years – since before the recession. The whole idea that parents should spend tens of thousands of dollars to give their children a college education to ensure a good future is a huge farce.

  • Jmoran0228

    I have two daughters, one very academically motivated and the other not. I don’t see traditional college as a good fit for her, but I know she will need some training and see vocational as a great avenue. The amount of pressure put on the students and parents around SATs and college is unbelievable.

  • Margaret / Omaha

    Disrespect for Blue Color and Unions as opposed to college.Union Busting by Ronald Reagan ended the made in America Pride and Blue Color jobs. Is that not what the fight with Gov. Walker all about. In Milwaukee as Mayor he fired blue color guards to contract for out state employers to bring in out state guards.
    Made in and for America is only found in small stores and Art fairs.
    I support Metropolitan colleges not robber colleges who profit from govt education loans.

    • Dave in CT

      We don’t need to politicize this.

      I know many small business/craftspeople who love the independence and self-sufficiency of their trades, and who are fine working in a market of supply and demand, and want nothing more of the government than to protect their right to do business. They might be very well be republican, as sadly, that is the only big party that even superficially talks the limited government talk.

      • Margaret /Omaha

        Green and infra structure not political but fact both Rep and Dem and Tea-party green Christians.
        Native Americans personal beliefs would support taking care of Earth with in their culture and suffer from over unemployment.

      • Pancake Rankin

        To politicize by thinking critically is to Dave class warfare. When we have a society which glorifies the financial class who are collectively criminals by definition of behavior Margaret makes a vital observation. How can Dave call himself Libertarian in a world where corporations are deferred to as supermen? What does he gain by disseminating an archaic doctrine irrelevant to the current situation. The rugged self-sufficient individual is extinct (lives only in Myth like a Unicorn.) Leo Strauss wrote extensively about deceiving the public with myth.

        I continue to value Dave’s insight and intelligence despite this particular quirk. He’s proven himself here. I’m sure he would make the reciprocal observation about me.

        • Dave in CT

          Also wanted to add, I’ve been re-reading Letters from an American Farmer, and while not overtly political, and much of it still under long distance British rule, the spirit of the people to succeed by their work and wits, sobriety, and neighborly assistance, is inspiring.

          We don’t live in the colonial wilderness, but I still don’t believe those values are not transferable.

        • Dave in CT

          Oh, main point RE politicizing, was that what was being discussed today was just great common sense, pragmatic, empirical, and economically sound for both individuals and the country.

          So why do we need to drag party names onto it to ensure that once again nothing reasonable and good happens, once all the knee-jerkers figure out how to stake a claim and kill it with empty partisanship that serves nothing but the status quo.

      • Pancake Rankin

        To politicize by thinking critically is to Dave class warfare. When we have a society which glorifies the financial class who are collectively criminals by definition of behavior Margaret makes a vital observation. How can Dave call himself Libertarian in a world where corporations are deferred to as supermen? What does he gain by disseminating an archaic doctrine irrelevant to the current situation. The rugged self-sufficient individual is extinct (lives only in Myth like a Unicorn.) Leo Strauss wrote extensively about deceiving the public with myth.

        I continue to value Dave’s insight and intelligence despite this particular quirk. He’s proven himself here. I’m sure he would make the reciprocal observation about me.

      • Tina

        But Dave, that Republican talk is covering up the fact that BIG Business is getting major federal welfare and other programs that help them. Many of these perks that Big Business gets help THEM put the little business guy OUT OF BUSINESS! The Republicans talk in a certain way so that the wool will remain over people’s eyes!

        • Dave in CT

          I’ve expressed my disdain for Republicans, the modern party Neocon, paternalistic, authoritarian, war machine ones we all know and love, many times, and my disillusionment with well-meaning but ultimately corrupted and stagnant central plan/solutions/use of big government of the Dems.

          And ad nauseam, expressed a sympathy for the liberty view, empowering the people first and limiting big power.

          As such, always criticizing Corporate Welfare, which comes from both parties, for perhaps different reasons (cronyism vs well-meaning control of the market; although always ends the same). I only muttered Republican because as I said, many small business people, trades people, who share a more liberty view of the economy/society, have been herded into the Republican party by the Tea-o-con style co-option of the liberty message by statist Republicans, and/or a refusal to support the admittedly big state Dems.

          To Pancake, thanks and I respect yours and others sharp and critical and skeptical views as well. Without those qualities to our vigilance as a people, we really are sunk against the power elite.

          I just am not ready to accept the “too nostalgic” dismissal against the liberty-centric ideas.

          If we as a people can choose to give person-hood to corporations or plan our economy to great degree, and micromanage peoples personal lives, I don’t see why we couldn’t equally choose to have around us the conditions or vision of a more traditionally “liberal” society. I think its all just a mindset and expectations.

          Thus I hope despite the rough edges of the liberty movement, I hope we can all accept and understand the honest ideals and vision of the movement, anti big state, anti-military interventionism and, anti elite banker manipulation, and give a little bit more trust to our friends and neighbors and less to a hope for a centrally-planned utopia, that seems historically to end badly.

      • Ruth

        How much do they pay for health insurance?

  • Lindsay

    I am 25, female with a degree in Fine Art specifically photography and sculpture, and I am unemployed. I went to a SUNY school and I graduated in 2009 to a full on recession with very little opportunity. I live in Buffalo, NY and I have been working here and there but I have had a lot of trouble figuring out what my skills are and how I can apply them to a steady job. I want to be part of the work force and have some kind of job security but with a fine art degree it is hard to nail down what exactly I am qualified to do. I do not have any certificates or vocational training to back up my resume. I have a lot of hands on experience but does that mean I am qualified? I think it is important for those of us who are “stuck in limbo” so to say to have some options other than more school. I think it is a great idea to offer vocational training that leads to employment and it is important for females to be included in the job market. I have a strong desire to be involved with manufacturing and production jobs but I find it extremely intimidating and difficult to break through the stereotypes of being a woman.

    • Philonous

      My women students often do better than their male counterparts, since they come with a willingness to learn and to do the work. Of course, I’m teaching writing and literature, not engineering. A Fine Arts degree is great for making a good citizen and a person who appreciates the arts, but employers don’t see things that way.

    • Tina

      Lindsay, I think you were just on air! Yes, go check out the certification program that you need. But, ALSO check out the STEELYARD IN PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND (on the internet, first)! It was started by a bunch of kids with welding and sculpture skills (some college grads, some not, I think) — they’ve created a studio that TEACHES welding and sculpture & (art) construction skills, including to kids who need more guidance & stimulus than they are getting in high school. They also rent out studio space, I think, including to musicians at night for performance space. They made themselves into a legitimate non-profit organization. I’ve never been to it (& may not have said everything about the place accurately), and they may do even MORE things, but you’ll find out. I haven’t loved their solutions, but the Steelyard has also gotten the contract to do creative waste cans for parts of Providence, maybe fences for elementary schools, etc. ALSO, check out Providence’s AS220 — another arts organization that has figured out how to marry skills with needs and expression.

      Since you’re far away in Buffalo, you can take some ideas from Providence & put them in place in your area, on whatever scale! Take the CREATIVITY part of your degree and use it to research ideas and then brainstorm some possibilities, all the while simultaneously getting that certification. You might even be able to teach welding at a community college once you get the certification, at least in their continuing education division, if they have one, at first.

      More than anything, you MIGHT have to think PAST whatever false “perfectionism” your college environment may have planted about true artists versus welders. It sounds like you have good sense there, tho!

      Best wishes! You’ve had the initiative to write to and call into to this site. Keep using that energy!

      • Drew

        Lindsay, and you as well Tina need to look at the American College of the Building Arts, in Charleston SC

        http://www.buildingartscollege.us

        • Tina

          Thanks, Drew! Funny thing — I JUST glanced at something about it earlier this week, but I’d already forgotten I wanted to learn more! Thanks so much!

    • Tina

      Lindsay, Another thought: certain parts of the country may need welders more than others due to the industries or businesses that are there. Because Drew mentioned that College of the Building arts, I started thinking about all the welded gates and fences in places like Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA, etc., etc. You could figure out if there is a business you could put together for the needs of those areas.

    • Ruth

      Lindsay, don’t despair. Every manufactured object in our world had an artist/designer somewhere in its conception > production. Artists are priceless to society.

  • LaurelCanada

    The basic B.A. in this country has been debased into a form of mere credentialism. In many cases, larger corporations require an undergraduate degree for entry level jobs. Do administrative assistants, or call center workers necessarily benefit from their liberal arts degree in these environments?

  • N2nrn2

    My son solved this problem for himself when he joined the Air Force. He is learning leading edge technology and systems, in a complex, focused environment. Also he is getting college credit for every training class he is going through, even basic training. The Air Force encourages their people to go to school, and pays for it.
    I have heard that many employers are more interested in someone like my son, out of the Air Force, because they have been trained on the job in that requires discipline and teamwork in an environment which no school could reproduce. It makes a lot of sense for him, and has made me, a middle school math teacher, rethink what i am doing.

  • Philonous

    If I were a college admission officer, I’d have two tests: an essay and a trashy field. The essay test would pose a question to be answered in detail and with thought. Then I’d ask the prospective students to clean up the field. The ones with the fortitude to carry through the job would succeed in my school.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

    • Tina

      Philonous — May I? As an art college graduate? I’d like to suggest a better “test” for that trashy field: what can you design, make, create from that trash?! The admissions board could consider additional design requirements for re-use of the trash, as well. Believe me, the “fortitude” you seek to find would be tested, but so would creativity, critical thinking, and design skills! Please see my comment, below, about an Art Education. Thanks!

  • Tina

    Tom, An ART COLLEGE EDUCATION is another MAJOR SOLUTION! Critical AND creative thinking are experienced thruout the entire time! Students work with IDEAS and MATERIALS!

    Yet, K-12 schools are eliminating the arts! MUSIC EDUCATION is part of this solution as well!

    Thanks!

  • Gary Trees

    I love that this program is on the day after my local PBS affiliate aire Frontline’s, College Inc. The topic is nice and fresh in my mind. A few more topics to ponder: the for-profit universities (i.e. Univ. of Pheonix, Kaplan, etc.) and the possibility of these universities being now “to big to fail” due to Obama’s new higher education initiatives, and is the educational system starting bubble and when will this bubble burst (and with what ramifications)?

  • Susan

    In the late 80s my son turned down a university education handed to him on a silver platter. He had always been very mechanically oriented and floundered for a year helping friends with auto mechanics. I heard about a program in aircraft maintenance; he took to it, completed a less than 2-year program. Not finding a job with commercial airlines, he entered the Air Force which I thought would be a disaster, given his temperament. They recognized natural leadership, and over 7 years he was promoted to increasingly responsible positions. He returned to civilian work and now in his early 40s is Director of Maintenance with a good company. I don’t know his salary, but I know it is adequate for a good life and owning a decent home with a pool in a southern city.

  • Marion

    I was good at taking tests, so I got a scholarship into a fancy college (Barnard). But I was socially immature, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I had no business there. I started graduate school, too, just because I had no idea what else to do next – and finally dropped out, got a low-level job, and started living the life I should have started years before.

  • val

    My Dad was a tool and die maker and proud of it. The apprentice program is like like a mentoring program that so many organizations want to set up for fatherless children but instead of playing basketball they learn more profitable skill. So many boys don’t see the point in learning about Beowulf… don’t want to go to 4 more years of that. They want to DO something that they can see results from immediately.

  • Nucmedico

    It is mistaken notion to say, there no barriers to entering the job market in US. WSJ had a recent article about requiring licensing or training to shampoo dogs. Also requiring training in itself is not a barrier if the same is available without restrictions other than the ability to do the job

  • Audrey

    I disagree with this idea that state schools are simply another form of community colleges. I am a University of Kentucky grad. I was accepted into Duke for my masters program. Going to a top school might help someone get a job more quickly, however not going to a top school doesn’t get in the way of a goal oriented individual. I will say, many degrees like mine require more education, like a masters. Education isn’t irrelevant, life is simply becoming more competitive.

    I also agree with Nick, that even those choosing to do certain vocations should be given the same opportunities to have a more full understanding of the world around us. Thats what college education should be. I hate that it seems to be only viewed as a means to a career end.

  • Dustin

    Big business, in the interest of “efficiency” has created a system that only ranks people by standard check boxes. If you dont fill the boxes you dont count. Regardless of experience. Business will someday return the system we had in the 50′s and 60′s. An internship/aprentiship system for ALL OCCUPATIONs

  • John (Murfreesboro)

    Programs are effective for training workforce but i am curious of how we encourage career paths for all professions. My daughter is 6 and has always been interested in art. Applying vocational support for her ability at a young age will guarantee a better alignment of skills.
    Can we not expect a system that encourages learning in all areas? A simple example to my situation would be to implement training in skills such as geometry to understand how it relates to art, have local galleries visit the school, put some accountability into the hands of the community to shape the futures goals.

  • Margaret/ Omaha

    Carpenters, Electricians, welding, Plumbers any one who watches This Old House on PBS hears the need and demand for training programs and the need for the levels to reach Master Carpenter, Landscaping, Chefs and on and on

  • Prairiepuffer

    Interesting developing example of the kind of program under discussion:

    February 16, 2011
    IWCC Receives $65.2 Million In-Kind Software Grant from Siemens PLM Software
    Council Bluffs, Iowa and Plano, Texas – Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Industry Automation Division and a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, and Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) today announced the largest in-kind corporate contribution ever received by the college. The in-kind software grant from Siemens PLM Software, with a commercial value of $65.2 million, was presented today at a recognition ceremony held at the college in the presence of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

    “We are grateful to Siemens PLM Software for its commitment to advance educational opportunities for our students in Iowa,” said Gov. Branstad. “Today’s grant announcement is exceptionally valuable because it helps us train our students for tomorrow’s jobs on one of the best engineering design software available.”

    The in-kind software grant made through Siemens PLM Software’s GO PLM™ initiative, which includes training and specialized software certification programs, will enable IWCC to begin a design technology program to help meet the growing demand for a well trained, well qualified workforce. The design technology program will prepare graduates to enter the workforce in a high-demand career field or transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree.

    This unique, first-of-its-kind program brings together industry and academia to define program requirements that will help meet the needs of the marketplace. IWCC created an industry advisory board which, in addition to Siemens PLM Software, includes management team members from a variety of global manufacturers that call Iowa and Nebraska home, including Rockwell Collins, Inc. The input received from the industry advisory board was used by IWCC in conjunction with representatives of Iowa’s regent institutions to create a curriculum to provide advanced hands-on training that will help enable students to effectively enter the workforce following graduation. The new program will be offered at Cass County Center in Atlantic, Iowa, following renovations.

    “The design technology program being developed by Iowa Western Community College is important to industry because of the emerging importance of PLM in managing the overall design process from concept, to manufacture, to product support, to product retirement,” said Dale Wulf, Manager, Mechanical Design Support, Rockwell Collins, Inc. “This is becoming a critical skill as products increase in complexity and design cycles continue to compress. With the implementation of this program by IWCC, employers will have another resource to draw qualified employees, who are familiar with PLM to fill a potential skill gap, which is projected to be increasing with the pending retirement of the baby boom generation.”

    “Iowa Western is pleased to be able to partner with a global corporation that is on the leading edge of technology deployment and utilization,” said Iowa Western President Dr. Dan Kinney. “The college could not initiate this program of studies without the support of this state-of-the-art technology from Siemens PLM Software. This partnership will enable the college to meet the needs of employers and prepare students for these significant high-paying careers in design technology.”

    “Siemens PLM Software provides Iowa Western access to PLM technology, which otherwise would be out of reach for the academic community, giving students a distinct advantage by being able to use the same PLM technology widely-used by leading multi-national manufacturing companies around the globe,” said Dan Malliet, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Siemens PLM Software. “The experience gained in the use of these tools better prepares students for today’s highly-competitive manufacturing jobs requiring full knowledge of modern technologies and tools.”

    The new software, which will be incorporated into the curricula, will introduce students to product design and development technology used by many of the world’s leading manufacturing, architectural and construction companies. The coursework will help prepare students to develop technical drawings and plans to build everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

    The range of software includes Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter® software, the world’s most widely used digital lifecycle management solution; NX™ software, a comprehensive digital product development solution; and Solid Edge® software, the core CAD component of the Velocity Series™ portfolio, a comprehensive family of solutions addressing PLM needs of the mid-market.

    GO PLM Program
    Siemens PLM Software’s Global Opportunities in Product Lifecycle Management (GO PLM™) initiative leads the industry in the commercial value of the in-kind grants it provides and brings together four complementary community involvement programs focused on academic partnership, regional productivity, youth and displaced worker development and the PACE (Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education) program. GO PLM provides PLM technology to more than one million students yearly at nearly 10,800 global institutions, where it is used at every academic level – from grade schools to graduate engineering research programs. For more information on GO PLM and the partners and programs it supports visit http://www.siemens.com/partners/goplm.

    About Iowa Western Community College
    Iowa Western Community College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and offers two-year college transfer programs and more than 80 career programs to residents in a seven-county merged area. The college’s main campuses are located in Council Bluffs and Clarinda with other centers situated in Atlantic, Harlan, and Shenandoah. Degrees granted include the Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, and Associate of Science. A diploma or certificate is granted upon the completion of selected programs. Full-time equivalent enrollment in 2010-2011 was 6,800. Adult and continuing education enrollments exceeded 40,000 during the same period.

    About Siemens PLM Software
    Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Industry Automation Division, is a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services with 6.7 million licensed seats and more than 69,500 customers worldwide. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Siemens PLM Software works collaboratively with companies to deliver open solutions that help them turn more ideas into successful products. For more information on Siemens PLM Software products and services, visit http://www.siemens.com/plm.

    About Siemens Industry Automation Division
    Siemens Industry Automation Division (Nuremberg, Germany) is a worldwide leader in the fields of automation systems, industrial controls and industrial software. Its portfolio ranges from standard products for the manufacturing and process industries to solutions for whole industrial sectors that encompass the automation of entire automobile production facilities and chemical plants. As a leading software supplier, Industry Automation optimizes the entire value added chain of manufacturers – from product design and development to production, sales and a wide range of maintenance services. With around 33,000 employees worldwide (September 30), Siemens Industry Automation achieved sales of €6.2 billion in fiscal year 2010. http://www.siemens.de/industryautomation

    CONTACT: Salim Rahimi
    Siemens PLM Software
    972-987-3206
    salim.rahimi@siemens.com

    Don Kohler
    Iowa Western Community College
    712-325-3262
    dkohler@iwcc.edu

    • Doug

      So long as Siemens doesn’t crowd out other employers who’d like similar deals with the publicly owned community college system, this is one solution for one kind of industry in one area of the country. Good but limited. Intel does the same thing.

  • Pancake Rankin

    Sheldon Wolin in Democracy Incorporated predicted this tack in the dialectic of corporate power. The aim is to limit values education-critical thinking skill- policymaking competence to an elite few and cap the knowledge of the majority at a barely functional level. It is certification and credentials in play as much as knowledge or competence. The aim is a Walmart styled labor market of minimal wages and few benefits. Mindless embrace of vocationalized education is economic suicide for the majority.
    When an expert tells you the structure permits you no other choice, and another expert claims jobs are going begging with 25 million people unemployed you can be sure the overall message is false and misleading. I can’t believe an INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR like Tom Ashbrook can’t look at the creek and see which way the current flows. Downhill!

    • Pete

      “The aim is a Walmart styled labor market of minimal wages and few benefits. Mindless embrace of vocationalized education is economic suicide for the majority.”

      Nonsense. We are not talking about purely mechanical “shop” or old style “industrial arts” of the 50′s. We are talking about Vocational-Technical Education which requires math, scinece, language skills, critical thinking applied to solving real-world problems and actualy designing, building, and repairing things.

      In any case, the present system is not working and too many high school/college dropouts, and even graduates, are working at Walmart and fast food joints because they have no real marketable skills. Meanwhile more potentially high paying US manufacturing jobs are outsourced. Provide a skilled labor force and there will be more good-paying jobs staying here. A master tool and die maker is always in demand and will make more then all but the best lawyers. A good plumber wil never be out of work.

      Evidently you have never taught in a a public school. 50-75% of the kids are totally turned off by the pure academic “college” track. They ask “what is this good for.” They see no value in what they are being asked to learn so they do not learn. At worst they become behavoir problems and/or drop out. At best they go through the motions so they can pass the tests. Then maybe they go to college and have to take remedial courses to learn what they should have in high school. Maybe they graduate, maybe not. Then they go to work at McDonalds. Talk about mindless.

    • Terry Kruse

      pancake, although what you say may have some merit, I don’t fully embrace your line of thinking nor do I think you completely understood today’s show. I think Tom and his guests are simply saying Americans need to rethink how we view certain jobs. Rather than high schools (and parents) teach and train students to go to a four year liberal arts and sciences college they should also be incorporating opportunities for students to learn skilled jobs such as electrician, steamfitters, mechanics, etc. Those types of jobs will always be in need and can never be outsourced. Schools and parents aren’t promoting those types of jobs equally as going to school to be a doctor. I do agree that narrow focus track is not good and students need to be educated about the broader world. As an educator who works at four year college I can tell you although I agree with a liberal arts education some students would be better off with a technical degree or a combination of both.

  • Tam

    What is the likelihood that women will benefit equally from such programs?

    • Margaret / Omaha

      You see women in field for construction and electronics just not in large numbers. Wonder about also Forestry, Firefighting, Corp of enegineers labor Force. Coast Guard etc

    • Pete

      They will benefit equally if they participate.

      • Raht_Ketusingha

        Reseach studies have shown that educational programs, training programs –excepts those targeted specially for women– and the labour market in general the U.S. treat and benefit men better.

        I hope pete is right that they (women) WILL benefit equally IF they (women) participate.

  • Daniel

    Kathleene

    You have 9 errors in your comment.

    My wife is German. She earned a BA in art, painting sculpture etc.
    Nevertheless she had calculus in High school. Is there a single American senior high school student aspiring to get an art degree taking calculus? Since then she earned two Master degrees and a PhD in public policy.

    Her father became a mason in the building trades working with bricks, stones etc. Later he went back to school and became an architect.

    Her brother an EMT and a nurse. Today he a physician running his own clinic.

    Clearly, my in-laws don’t lack intelligence. However, they didn’t seem to feel the status pressure to become professionals at first. This is probably because being an artist, mason or EMT is not looked upon as a “low level or low class career.

    Likewise, the culture and the school system must be doing a good job in preparing young people for whatever they may choose to pursue in a variety of career paths at different stages of life.

    I would credit German cultural values over the German school system for a high degree of preparation of the youth for life as adult members of the society.

    Daniel

  • Margaret /Omaha

    I believe the loss of made in America has destroyed the unskilled and skilled labor forces. I love Warren Buffett and having Nebraska Furniture Mart but how many brands are made in America? I also think clothing and food daily come from other countries. Blue Nile third world support is one thing but made in China is another.

  • Dustin

    Train people ON THE JOB, not in a classroom.

  • andrew

    There is a broader issue that 17 or 18 year old high school graduates just don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at such a young age. Many proceed to “blindly” head off to college because they know they need a degree, and hope to figure out what they want to do while there. Some never do and end up with bachelor degrees that don’t adeqautely prepare them for any particular profession. I know many current graduate students for whom this was the case.

    There needs to be an increased awareness and dissemination of information at the high school level about the diverse range of careers that exist and how to achieve the required credentials.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I thought school systems would start, from square one, with an individual responsible for career development, a job description (or part of a job description) set up in whatever capacity serves the students and the community best, creating links to new industries and employers, arranging visits along the lines of, “Here is a dentist today, sixth graders, to tell you a little about the way they got to where they are and here are some of the hurdles of running that business.”
      I can imagine that plenty of families exclusively indoctrinate their children towards certain lifestyles and skills, with quite a bit of stereotype applied, however indirectly, to others. A public school could go a long way by making sure all branches of the workforce are seen and presented in some way to children as they grow up.
      I don’t think too many parents would refuse an invitation to be a presenter, but I don’t know.

      • Anna

        I agree. Children are woefully lacking in exposure to career information. How do they know what they want to be when they grow up if they don’t know the options?

      • Utahowl

        It’s a start, Ellen, but a bunch of one-shot exposures don’t add up to the kind of reality that actually working on or building something does. You’re correct about family stereotyping…doctors often “run in families.” But that’s because consistent exposure to the realities of an occupation is a good way to give kids knowledge of a career.

  • Jim

    Can companies provide enough internships?
    It depends on the attitude of the students as internships have been glamorized by some of the big high tech companies. I run a small business; I do the engineering and design. And the ordering. And the assembling. And the packing and shipping. And clean the toilet. So I and likely many other small business owners would love to have interns, but with the understanding that they share in ALL aspects of the work that needs doing. Too many spoiled kids today expect to be able to pick and choose their tasks and skip anything not “fun”.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Hey man, think of the Chedrin. Turn ‘em loose on your skill-set, but you can go home once you clean the toilet. Interns’ hourly rate is much lower than yours, so now you can take a second job and earn double. You remain the owner and property rights are EVERYTHING under our Constitution, thanks to the Funding Fathers.

      • Ellen Dibble

        One alternative to college is encapsulated by the idea that your parents have to have enough money to set up their children in their own businesses. Lots of businesses don’t require college courses, just the ownership. But who is going to loan the start-up costs to a young person? That would be the parents.

  • Margaret / Green

    Start with training strong in Green Jobs and infrastructure

    • Pancake Rankin

      Demand for jobs or the need of jobs does not cause jobs to appear.
      Education to nowhere tends to overpopulate qualified reserves and lower wages and benefits.

  • Guest

    I wish nontraditional education worked. After a research assistantship with a professor, three internships, and two years in the Peace Corps, I still unable to find a full time career in my field.

    • Pancake Rankin

      Rest awhile. It sounds like you’ve worked you ass off already.

  • Codyawalter

    I think that the thought and concept that everyone is meant to go to college, is dumbing-down our universities. I could elaborate, but I think that the radio stream is doing an efficient job of that.

    • Philonous

      Absolutely. I’ve seen that dumbing down in my twelve years of teaching. I’m able to teach less and less because the students want less and less, and the administration allows less and less.

      • Pancake Rankin

        Racing to the bottom, in tandem with the workplace.

  • Spud

    To address Tom’s comment of “don’t we need to encourage everyone to go to college….we can’t just all fix each others plumbing”…

    There will always be enough people who want to become doctors and scientists and academics and other vocations that require college such that there were always be people who want to go to college. The real issue though is the expectations for EVERYONE. It’s not reasonable that everyone become a doctor, despite the idea that becoming one (or another highly formally educated vocation) is the “only” pathway to success in our culture.

    We need to reform expectations for what constitutes “success”. Our culture has come to the flawed conclusion that the supposedly guaranteed high wages the come with a college education are the only hallmarks of success. Sadly, we’ve found that education does not necessarily equate to wage-earning success and that wage-earning success does not equate to happiness. College is a business that unfortunately has a self-serving interest in preserving these old-school (so to speak) ideas.

    • Pancake Rankin

      You’re correct. A Jackpot mentality is also causing poorer people to vote against their own interests.

      • Spud

        I totally agree about the jackpot mentality. It seems to drive so much of what we, in this nation specifically, do. We structure our lives as games that focus on “winning” some sort of elusive, relatively high stake, goal. The assumption is that if everyone is enable to play the game and have an equal shot at winning the jackpot then society is “equal”. Unfortunately, this probably has deep deep roots in our national psyche and is thus not something that is easily changed.

        Not that there’s anything wrong with competition or that everyone should have – or achieve – the same goals; but when we create narrow the range of choices … and the drumbeat that says that everyone should go to college to compete for the same pre-defined set of hollow vocations (regardless of what one’s soul tells them or natural abilities define) is an example of that narrowing of choices … we end up guaranteeing a situation where there will be winners and losers. It is that which creates a lot of long term misery that seems tragic to inflict on our children (except of course for the relatively few “winners” that the game produces).

        But to bring this back around to a less significant level ;-) this sort of mentality can be seen in the vast popularity of lotteries…which operate on the idea that everyone has a chance of turning nothing into something. As they say, the lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math. Perhaps the same should be said of our present focus on college.

    • Sherry

      Excellent reply – I am going to copy this for my son – who fled from Buffalo New York to California last week, had all his money stolen, slept with the “bums” on the beach” and is enduring a two day trip to Dallas texas by greyhound and seeing the “real world” at a bus station in Oceanside CA and El Paso TX All because he didn’t feel he fit in and felt something was wrong with him because college didn’t work for him

      I always stressed there are other paths, but society points the finger on those that don’t attend college as the lower scum of society “We need to reform expectations for what constitutes “success”. ” SO TRUE -

      I’m not putting down the idea of a college education, just the idea that everyone has to have one . . .

      Wish I could contribute more, but time is limited —

    • Doug

      The professional schools and high-school academic tracks also lock out many kids who don’t get on board early enough in their education. The gatekeeper course is often algebra. If you can’t do it in 7th grade, you never get the chance again to take the higher-level math courses leading to tech and scientific careers. Schools don’t provide enough opportunities to build math and science skills. There could be ways to teach “hands on” types of courses (e.g., environmental sampling, machinery/physics) that would spark interest in “late bloomers” (kids who might be more interested in algebra in 10th grade than they were in 7th, or those who see how electricity drives motors and can finally connect physics formulas to how machines work). Higher-level thinking skills (ability to handle abstractions) kick in at different times in different brains. Kids who miss out early on, or who feel like failures in subjects taught too soon for them to grasp, never get encouragement to try again.

  • Philonous

    A liberal arts education is what the free persons got historically. (Liber = free.) College ought to be an institution to educate good citizens, not good employees.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

    • Pancake Rankin

      Here, Here! Good citizens not good consumers.

      • Robert Hennecke

        NEWSFLASH::: It’s all about corporate elites rewarding a standardized product that is reasonably intelligent in terms of knowledge but far more importantly a graduate that has been properly ‘conditioned’. What I mean is that the system is a series of hoops that in terms of workload and financial barriers that compels the majority of those who make it through to become spineless sychophants to authority figures as there is always some kind of permission or extension being pleaded for and there is also all kinds of petty rules and rigid bureaucracies that make exceptions for those the system wants to see succeed.

  • Welsh00

    I went to a HS school (1967) where 95% of the students were expected to go to college and the rest went to vocational school, They were considered the “loosers” who had no other choice. I’m know 61, college educated and no job. I wish I had followed my heart, dismissed the pressure and went with my passion, working on foriegn sport cars. Side note. at my H.S. class reunion I couldn’t help notice that most of the college graduates had taken good jobs that could have been accessible to non college graduates. BTW

    • Anonymous

      This comment doesn’t appear to have been written by a college graduate. I’m not pointing this out to be an ass, but the quality of some college educations is rather poor.

  • Alex Pauling

    College is the best time to learn, create and mature without responsibility.

    Through hard work we gain skills in order to achieve, through college we seek a fountain of basic knowledge in order to create.

  • Brett / MI

    I think students looking to go into college should have to read at least 5 books and write reports on them. It is unbelievable how many college students have never finished a book.

  • Foxyauto

    I am a 28 year old home schooled female from Boston who for the longest time was shamed by family and friends for my parents decision to not send my sister or I to school. I watched my friends go to high school and then to collage. I was always told I would never become anything without a collage education. This put me in fear for years and also caused problems between my parents and I for there ” selfish decision to ruin my life”.

    But now, not only am I proud female auto mechanic, but I also own my own auto repair shop. And while all of my friends are neck deep in student loans and not able to find jobs in there fields, I am doing well and no longer upset with my parents outside the box education choice for me.

    Its not right for everyone, but it worked for me. And unless everyone stops driving, my job is secure.

    Sally.

  • Kmjenkins09

    As a juvenile probation officer, I would like to weigh in on this question. From my view point, I know that for a certain percentage of our youth, we are failing them with the set up of our education system today. These are the kids that come from uneducated families and from the onset; they find themselves behind their peers automatically. For example a child that has been read to by their parent every day from birth is automatically ahead of the child that may grow up in a household with an illiterate parent or parent that works three jobs to put food on the table and simply has no time and energy to read to their child. These kids that are behind from the beginning may make it through alright until the third grade, then the struggle. This is when social promotion kicks in. WRONG ANSWER! These kids need to be identified and nurtured very early on, so that no matter what we options might be available to them later (I am in favor of a European type system and the need for helping children develop a trade). The 20 percent dropout rate that is common, may be reduced simply by spending the money on reading skills and tutoring early on. Without that, they become insecure, embarrassed and become the teachers’ worst nightmare. Soon thereafter, society pays dearly as they have no choice but to drop out – they cannot read! What are their options? Well, dealing drugs, committing crimes and becoming society pariahs. I know firsthand that many of these under productive kids are highly intelligent, as evidenced by their intricate knowledge of gang rules, rap songs and calculation of drug money. Give them a chance in elementary school, stop the mindless pattern of social promotion, create trades for them later on and we will all be better off.

    • twenty-niner

      We used to have a very healthy apprenticeship pipeline in this country back when craftsmanship meant something, before everyone wanted to become a banker or reality TV star. The Europeans, especially Germany and Switzerland, still pride themselves on craftsmanship and manufacturing at the highest level, and have meaningful national policies to ensure the tradition carries on. Unlike the US.

      • Kmjenkins09

        We need to return to having more opportunities for such apprenticeships! It seems to me, that during an economic crisis, figuring a way to revert our country from primarily being a country that provides services – to a country that can manufacture goods – would be a step in the right direction.

      • Doug

        Trade unions were the ones who sponsored apprenticeships for their up and coming craftsmen. They provided a kind of quality of assurance–union members of certain crafts (sheetmetal workers, tool and die makers, electricians, etc.) could charge more for their labor because they’d been relatively well trained. When corporations busted up unions and sent jobs overseas, those training programs disappeared with union shops.

  • Doug

    The No Child Left Behind Act says kids must be taught economics throughout their K-12 education. It’s not happening because mainly only math and reading are tested on state exams required for graduation.

    Career exploration is not part of the curriculum in high schools because electives have been eliminated–few students in non-Voc-Ed schools ever get the chance to explore shop, graphics design, biotech, home ec (and its related real-life skills like understanding banking, insurance, mortgages, home maintenance, etc.). Electives have been eliminated because teaching staffs have been cut. Teaching staffs have been cut because of budget cuts, because of failure to raise taxes to support our public schools and a variety of options for kids. Can’t have it both ways. College is still the best ticket out–the other programs have been scrapped or are woefully underfunded.

  • Ralph

    I started as a blacksmith’s apprentice and retired from an executive position with a Masters Degree. Vocational training and college are not mutually exclusive. The skills I learned as a craftsman laid the foundation for my success later in life. We need to give young people more opportunities to learn practical skills in addition to teaching them how to think; one discipline reinforces the other. We also need to highlight all the economic hardship caused when greedy corporations ship American manufacturing jobs abroad….in many cases just to generate bonuses, or improve the bottom line for the short run. It is outrageous our kids should aspire to be like the very people who jeopardize our future.

  • Drew Reynolds

    I am a recent graduate of the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, SC (www.buildingartscollege.us) which is solving this problem right now! I have a bachalors degree in forged architectural iron.

    The school offers degrees in six vital building trades, stone carving, masonry, carpentry, timberframing, plaster working and iron working. The education covers the spectrum. Not only does it provide the hand skills to produce the highest quality of work based in the european tradition, but also provides classes in design, architecture, history, drafting, and drawing, language, business management, computer science, economics, english, and the list goes on. Everything to fully educate artisans including apprenticeships and helping graduates find jobs. everyone in my graduating class either already had a job or was in the process of starting their own business. I began with a job doing custom work in NYC and around the world. I am now working to start my own business. I graduated may 2010…

    Drew Reynolds

    • twenty-niner

      Hats off,

      Forging iron; much more interesting than forging power points.

  • Kim

    Thank you for today’s show. I wish my teachers for 1996 all heard it. They treated my like a outcast for openly stating that I did not think collage was for me. I happily work in a factory and own my house at 33. My collage educated friends can’t say that.

  • John

    i diagree that it is unconscience, being married for 7 years i have become more aware of cues due to that fact i am committed. i am still attracted to women but for different reasons, i am conscience of the fact and so are single men. to say we have no control or do not notice such cues is a copout for not being responsible in a choice.

  • twenty-niner

    For reference,

    Collage = work of art comprised of different forms placed proximally to create a new whole.

    College = institution for higher learning, and facebook usage.

  • David Krah

    Pick up a copy of the current TIME, which I have not yet read. It probably explains why Germany is doing so much better than the rest of the world right now, and re-claimed #1 exporter spot from China after one year absence. Top reason is the apprenticeships and not just for those who work with their hands – basically, anyone in white collar jobs is certified. That saves the company tons of money in the long run, builds some measure of loyalty, etc, whereas over here, the company is reluctant to do much training, and employees often jump around for more money or to change careers. Employees feel that in the absence of a pension, why should they spend their lives at a company? For sure, there are some cultural factors in play as well in Germany, but I think top reason is they dont waste time putting off reality – by the time kids are 12 or 13, they have been exposed to career info, and their teachers meet with parents to basically advise them one of 3 paths: handworker/craftsman, white collar, or college. If you dont have the best grades, you’re not going to college. Once this is decided, the rest of education mirrors the career … for example, an auto mechanic apprentice does not need advanced math, foreign languages, etc, whereas white collar business trainees certainly continue with English AND a 2nd language (it is a global world, right?), among other things. For the vast majority in the middle who go for jobs in the business world, a seperate competition begins. For example, the banks cherry pick the best students, with insurance, transportation, and other companies getting the next level, and so on. Sure, it may sound harsh, but in the end, kids are forced early to deal with reality and be productive. Once they are certified, they can be proud that they are a specialist in their area of work. Such a system would save middle class families here billions of dollars per year, and maybe could help avert the future crisis of older folks not being able to retire or afford medical insurance because they mortgaged their house and savings to send their kids to college which in most cases, could have been avoided. I’m a college grad and can honestly I did not need the degree to do what I have done so far in my career and my degree even had an “Area of Concentration.” I had some nice electives in things I was interested in and eventually became my career, but even those prepared me little for the actual job. Unless the economy really turns around in the next 10 years and again booms, I dont think the US can continue to avert talking about these things, much the same way the debate is starting in Wisconsin about how states cannot simply spend more than they take in, and the price of oil cannot remain artificially low forever, and we have to find cleaner energy, etc. Many challenges loom and we’re just at the start of talking about them.

    • Peter Melzer

      I grew up in Germany. Your are on point. For example, industrial and bank merchant apprentices (now called trainees) learn as much as business majors in U.S. colleges, plus they gain job experience in the corporate world and most have an offer when they graduate. AND APPRENTICES ARE PAID (though not very much)!

      • Polly Kienle

        I wonder if either of these listeners has spent time raising a family in Germany lately. The three-tiered system is fraught with problems, including incredible inflation of credentials required to embark on careers that in earlier decades were accessible through vocational education – e.g. bank teller – you now need Abitur (college-entrance exams) with tip-top grades. No system is optimal in the absolute sense.
        This said, it would do US young people a world good to have the viable option to get vocational training on the job, as one can in Germany through the apprentice/vocational school system.

        • Cory

          So what the hell are you saying?! German or American system is better? Get to the point!

          • Utahowl

            Cory – Polly is saying there are elements of the German system that would improve what we have here, but it’s not Utopia. Duh. Sometimes there is no easy answer. Live with it.

  • twenty-niner

    What’s interesting is how fascinated Americans are with manual labor on television. After a full day of writing emails and preparing power points Americans drive home, eat dinner, turn on the television, and actually sit there for hours watching other people work. Some of the most popular reality shows:

    American Chopper, Gold Rush Alaska, The Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Dirty Jobs, etc.

    • Dave in CT

      Not to mention paying for an indoor gym membership or step machine on which to watch said boob-toob.

    • Julia

      Those folks are dreaming about what it would be like to actually work with their hands for a living. It’s something humans were meant to do.

  • Paul in Vta. CA.

    We had educators here in Ventura CA. that saw the need for a vocational high school, got it approved, got it up and running and tied into the community college vocational programs only to see it eventually taken over by the students and parents of the college prep mindset because class sizes were smaller than the two regular high schools and some of the most gifted teachers had opted to teach there because of there desire to see non-college bound students succeed. Now it is just an elite high school with college preps, pushed by there parents clamoring to get in. A good thing gone bad.

    • Doug

      Nope. You just need more of these same kind of high schools. Get your legislature to fund them.

  • Anonymous

    test

  • Wendy Prigge, Ph.D.

    A lot of high school students are interested in trades occupations but have no access to the training they need. Community college vocational programs have waiting lists. We could get so many more students a head start on their careers if we could offer the pre-requisites for apprenticeships in high school. Many failing high schoolers are kinesthetic learners who have few appropriate learning opportunities in the American high school system. We need to follow a more European approach of having students at 12 or 13 tracked into appropriate educational programs based on their performance up to that point. The educational opportunities would be better liked and prepare a more realistic number of people for vocational, white collar, and professional careers.

    • Greg

      I don’t oppose tracking per se, but tracking at age 12 strikes me as far too early. Through middle school, students are still learning how to learn; skills they need whether, which is useful for vocational and college bound individuals.

      • Cyffermoon

        From what I understand, it happens nearly that early in Holland, and it is clearly gender-based, at least for vocational students.

    • http://www.futurechefs.net Toni Elka

      Hi Wendy, I recently founded a program in Boston called Future Chefs that applies a youth development model to supporting hands on learners in the transition from high school to a culinary career. Not only do we work with students on how to make a plan for training after high school, we help them avoid the predatory lending schemes of for profit tech programs,provide them with lots of career exploration and preparation in a peer environment and get them connected to adults who can support them in the transition from school to work in our field. We acknowledge the developmental needs of older teens and work over time with each student to find their way. Jobs in our field can be dead end jobs without the support and guidance of adults who turn a minimum wage job for a teen into a steppingstone job. It’s a model that can work in all the ‘trades’, and design related fields. There is a role for innovative non profits and charter school pioneers here!

    • Anna

      I don’t know where you are located, but here in CT we have technical high schools for students who want to pursue a trade….. offering automotive, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, hairdressing, culinary and more. They are quite good in my opinion.

    • Ruth

      Umm, not necessarily. I am old enough to remember the days when we did track kids when they were 12 or 13, and distinctly remember the tracking was related to one’s parents social class as perceived by those doing the tracking. I had a wonderful friend who was not allowed to go to pursue college preparatory classes and instead was sent to the “voke.” This was a guy who on his own read all the “Great Books,” was multi-talented, artistic, and should have gone to college. He may have had the last laugh; his daughter went to Harvard and is now in med school. Tracking is a little too much like playing god. Vocational-technical education is absolutely appropriate for many, but we have to be very cautious about making sweeping decisions for everyone.

      I came from the same kind of background (Irish working class) as my friend, and my mother was completely opposed to my getting an education beyond high school. We fought some heroic battles. I won. In doing so, I am convinced that I saved my own life. Ironic that for me, going to college was an act of rebellion. I have a great career and would not be where I am without my (public) college education.

      The tracking that occurs in other countries is why their students appear to out-perform ours on standardized tests. We democratically send everyone on to high school, while they have saved only their most “talented” for high school. So we are testing everyone, but they are testing a pre-selected group.

      Contracting the theme of the show today is our mania for standardized testing that many vocational-education kids have a lot of trouble with–they are hands-on kids and not paper-pencil kids, here in Mass we put their high school diploma at risk if they can’t perform the way college-bound kids do, no matter how skilled and proficient they may be in their trade classes.

      Seems to me that I have heard on one of the NPR talk shows that the recession has mostly affected blue-collar workers and that college-educated folks have been largely insulated. Again, I am grateful every day for my job and that I stood up for myself all those decades ago, and I am not convinced a trade is always the surest route to security. But it could very well be that nothing is anymore.

      The comparison between us, Germany and the other European countries mentioned left out one fact: that of health care. They have it, we don’t, and I suspect that this is one fear that drives many parents to want a college education for their children–the perception that one is more likely to have health insurance in a job requiring a college education. I think about that every day as I have two teenagers and wonder just what kind of a mess they are going to inherit.

      • Cyffermoon

        Ruth – when I was in school (80s), I found a similar situation. Clearly counselors based their tracking on the economic status of students, and not their abilities and potential. Not that there’s anything wrong with vocational school, but going there meant the counselors assumed you weren’t “smart” enough for college. Everyone knew that. When I got a relatively respectable 27 on my ACT, despite not being tracked into many advanced classes, my counselor literally dragged me out of class to inform me that, golly, I could go to college! I had already applied to and been accepted by the college of my choice on my own, without his help, because counselors were useless to people like me.

      • Lilac1354

        Ruth
        Thanks for this comment. You are the first I’ve heard to mention how we are testing everyone and the European countries only test the college track students. They also track their kids at a very young age before a student matures enough to become a studier. I believe in vocational education, college is not for all, but let’s not track kids based on standardized tests. I work in a vocational school and we are 35% special needs students and 30% English Language Learners. Of course, Charter Schools are taking a big chunk of our more advanced students leaving vocational education that of the ‘have nots.”

  • Rick

    It’s sad that a listener thinks we needs to go college to learn how to be a citizen. I knew how our government worked and how to be a citizen by the time I was out of middle school. And, I was a pretty mediocre social studies student.

  • Lon in Appleton, WI

    Scanning many of the comments here I’ve seen nothing of the “chiefs and Indians” mentality so evident in in what purports to be higher learning.

    Revaluing trade would mean devaluing the glutted field of PhD’s and the new snake oil known as private colleges which dot the easy on, easy off ramp of highways.

    And the lottery notion is well taken if and only if you drop off the part class plays in advancing past the campus.

    Revaluing skills means devaluing and quite frankly de-funding those who claim to be earning a living by for and through higher education.

    Building the smart grids, quality furniture and all the needs of everyday life are not in the purview of the college bound. They view themselves as the overseers.

    • Whitney

      Fantastic show and good comment, but I would like to take it a bit further.

      This problem, however, is a part of a plan and the design of the rich and powerful, elite, the CEOs of multinational corporations, etc., which is executed through the public relations and marketing industries. The strategy is to convince us (the working class) to place value in things much higher than their value is in reality. For example facebook and the housing market. Colleges are no exception. The high costs of colleges and universities along with the stigma attached to the alternatives is part of the plan to concentrate wealth.

      Focusing on the things that do not matter and not the things that are of actual value and important (if not necessary) to the lives of people is entirely the goal. As long as we (the working class) believe that college is the answer and allow the continuing degradation of things that matter to us like grade schools, thus making college the new high schools, we will contine to have a problem.

    • Whitney

      Fantastic show and good comment, but I would like to take it a bit further.

      This problem, however, is a part of a plan and the design of the rich and powerful, elite, the CEOs of multinational corporations, etc., which is executed through the public relations and marketing industries. The strategy is to convince us (the working class) to place value in things much higher than their value is in reality. For example facebook and the housing market. Colleges are no exception. The high costs of colleges and universities along with the stigma attached to the alternatives is part of the plan to concentrate wealth.

      Focusing on the things that do not matter and not the things that are of actual value and important (if not necessary) to the lives of people is entirely the goal. As long as we (the working class) believe that college is the answer and allow the continuing degradation of things that matter to us like grade schools, thus making college the new high schools, we will contine to have a problem.

      • Dave in CT

        Even if someone could prove that this was not a conscious conspiracy or plan, it is exactly what is happening IMO, and even if it is just an unconscious drift in our vigilance and values, we need to address it.

      • Lon in Appleton, WI

        On Facebook,

        Christian Lander in his first book equates the migration of people who used MySpace to Facebook as the internet equivalent of white flight. By this he meant that a slicker interface and a more limited access due to the electronic toys needed to participate made Facebook the equivalent of a gated community.

        My prediction is that there will be a new piece of wireless hardware introduced by the electronics industry 4 times the cost of an Ipad and the bandwidth will be restricted to it’s use. The same sort of social networking that caused the migration to Facebook (something I have never done) will happen again and the high end quality of social networking will be more restricted and the elite thus maintained.

  • Lon in Appleton, WI

    I turned this off after about 45 seconds of listening to the opening remarks by Robert Schwartz. Anyone who uses the verbal tic “basically” should, as Phillip Wylie observed in “Generation of Vipers,” be warming the metal seat of a tractor.

    • Dan Cooper

      It’s astonishing to me that anyone as pompous and close-minded as one would have to be to make this comment would have bothered to attempt to learn anything from a show like On Point in the first place. The President says “look” too often, yet he has the audacity to offer opinions and seems to be getting far. Lon you should keep your radio off, it has nothing to offer you.

      • Lon in Appleton, WI

        This is pretty feeble reasoning for keeping the radio on or off.

        But while I have a chance to expound on Phillip Wylie a bit more here is my favorite Wylie quote:

        “Universities were created by monks in the Dark Ages to preserve the dark forever.”

        Generation of Vipers was sold as a mainstream book release and then as a 50 cent paperback and went to a large number of printings. It is available yet today. Wylie wrote into the 1970′s and “Generation of Vipers” was written in the late 1940′s as I recall. These things I quote from memory after having the read the stuff and been influenced by it.

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  • Leslie

    Mr. Amir Abo-Sheer, a newly inducted Mac Arthur fellow operating a robotics program at Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara is dedicated to students’ learning aspirations. He created this 3 year academy. A newly published book authored by Neil Bascomb, titled, “The New cool” describes the passion and success of this significant human being.

  • daivd

    Here is one for all you concerned folks on education. In our schools across the land a little bit of socialism is being taught to our kids.
    An educational program called Building Fluency Through Practice and Performance. Go to the section called ‘The Promise of America’ and it breaks down the fifty-two word single sentence that is the Preamble.
    We all know what the Preamble states “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    The Preamble has been turned into a five page choral project with commentary planted inside this very simple sentence. The commentary goes kinda like this. It is chanted by the students.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare,
    Make note of what the children (R5 & R7) are being asked to read after the words ‘promote the general welfare’:
    R7: People’s basic needs must be met in a country.
    R5: Needs for housing, education, transportation and health care are overseen by our government system.
    Reminiscent of Soviet-style indoctrination and some others!
    Does this bother anyone?????

    • Doug

      No. A little bit of socialism can be a good thing to rein in a rampant system of capitalism that would otherwise become a Ponzi scheme. But we digress.

      • david

        Doug
        The use of the word socialism should never be used unless you agree with all those countries past and present that have socialistic systems. I agree capitalism is liken to a thoroughbred race horse, you need to know when to hold back and when to let loose. But! it is far better system than socialism, which has been proven a failure and made puppets out of it’s people.
        Remember the Russia socialist revolution. They started class warfare, killed thousands and still ended up a mess. Which country would you rather live in today?? Russia or America????

        • Ellen Dibble

          The Russians called their government what they wanted to, but basically (sorry, wordsmiths) they created a monstrosity, a dictatorship in which the people could be starved by the millions (Ukraine) or persecuted capriciously in great quantities, directed around and ordered around as if they were cattle. Never mind me if I’m misinformed, but I’ve paid some attention as time has gone by, and that is nothing like communism, as envisioned by the idealists who dreamed of getting rid of the tsars and the system of serfhood that had existed for centuries. And communism is not socialism either. I wouldn’t say either ism is what America is flirting with when it comes to teachers’ benefits and what not, but definitely not totalitarian dictatorship.

          • david

            Ellen
            There is a growing element of both communist and socialist groups in America who want our way of living gone. Believe it or not. Van Jones, a communist or was, but still teaches the principles, held a rally in Washington last Saturday. Quess who got his rally permit????? The ISO or International Socialist Oganization.
            Check out the protest signs at these rallies. The red signs with the fist is from the ISO. There is an old saying, “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump.” Freedom is hard to gain and easy to loose.

          • Ellen Dibble

            We’ve lost our freedom to vote the facts by virtue of Citizens United, in my humble opinion. In order to get the actual doings and interests and interfaces of our elected officials sufficiently “on the table” to be able to vote responsibly, without being effectively shouted down by the role of money in the media, I am not sure what exactly we can do. In the meantime, “public opinion” really means what we’ve been brainwashed to believe and to want.
            Sorry, but plenty of crucial freedoms have already been lost. If you have a program for retrieving it, let me know. For my part, I’m watching what the young people are doing in northern Africa. I would say don’t copy us; please don’t copy us.

          • david

            Ellen
            The fact is, the young people in northern Africa want the system we have. A place where you can reach for the stars and grab them and soar as high as your aspirations will carry you. I am an example of that, a college education I never used, worked very hard and it paid off. I own a home, land, have money saved up and was out of debt completely at age 40. Only in America could I have been able to do this, that is why I am so afraid this great nation will go away and be traded for some sort of “social justice concept” and be ruined.

        • Cory

          How about anywher in Scandinavia or the Low Countries, Jive Turkey?

  • Kirtland

    John Gardner said it best in his book Quality
    EXCELLENCE
    We must expect students to strive for excellence in terms of the kind of excellence that is within their reach. Here we must recognize that there may be excellence or shoddiness in every line of human endeavor. We must learn to honor excellence in every socially accepted human activity, however humble the activity, and to scorn shoddiness, however exalted the activity. An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. John W. Gardner in “Excellence” Secretary of Health Education And Welfare 1965 to 1968. Founder of Common Cause.

  • Diick in Darlington

    Change for this in education come in 3′s
    1. Place a piece of machinery from the shop in each classroom.
    2. All classes are Community Project based and Pass / Fail
    3. Run and schedule all classes just like they do sports.
    From 31 years of instruction high school shop classes and starting the “Bridges To The Future” program I know the problems we face today. Google – Timber Framed Covered Bridges to see part of the story and pictures of the bridges constructed at Darlington High School in Darlington, WI 53530

  • Dick in Darlington

    Learn about the newest “Bridges To The Future” project a 32′ Town Lattice covered bridge for the Village of South Wayne, WI. Follow along as we post the progress on our blog at http://bridges2thefuture.blogspot.com/

    Remember, crossing a bridge in your future will be a bit easier after you have build one or two.

  • Airvin2180

    great topic, this is old news to many of us

  • Anna

    As a high school teacher in the Bronx, NY, I wholeheartedly believe that we should have vocational options for students that are both respected and rigorous. However, given the academic disparities that exist in our country, I worry that less privileged groups of students would end up being tracked into vocational program. Our elementary educational system would need to be seriously improved for all students first, so that when it came time for making the choice to pursue a college or vocational route, students would on equal footing.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I thought it has been common knowledge for at least 35 years that the thing to do, if your family doesn’t have money to forward your higher education, is to attend community college for as long as possible, and then transfer those credits to a four-year institution. The community colleges seem to me to offer more of a vocational track than four-year colleges, but it depends. But with a compelling record at a two-year school, one can get a good start. If one has a marketable skill, then one can start to finance one’s own way through something that is less hands-on. I’m thinking of a police officer who turned her success in that field into a successful career as a lawyer, building one success into another.

  • Work2book

    Unfortunately, I’m listening to this at 8:30 at night, on delay, in NYC, so this may have been said in one of the couple of hundred responses above. But I have to say this: I’m amazed that neither expert has yet noticed that up until ~30 years ago, we had a full-fledged vocational program for high school students. The powers that be, for baffling reasons, phased them out. We had training for plumbers, carpenters, electricians–and at the least plumbers, electricians, and car repair workers need certifications to work in the building on most major construction (unionized) sites. And yes, we are stuck without such training programs. The one caveat I’d suggest is that there should be some humanities studies for *every* student, and at least some vocational training for humanities students. It would be beneficial for everyone to have some understanding of the wider world of what’s needed to make the world work.

  • Parrish Ryan

    I don’t think everyone should go to college. Everyone talks about jobs like plumbers and fixing toilets. They do not consider sophisticated vocational jobs. Such as HVACR where this requires some engineering and physics knowledge of mathematical skills. No ones going to export a HVACR technician, and this job is going to only get larger not smaller people need AC and refrigeration.

  • Anonymous

    Tens of millions of illegal immigrant workers have saturated the manual labor sector (Trades) so completely that few citizen blue collar workers today can compete for these jobs. I am an American carpenter, and have watched the construction industry turn from a path to a decent living to a hopeless situation of being overwhelmed by illegal alien workers. And no, a “path to citizenship” does nothing to relieve the competition we Citizens face. It simply makes an illegal bad situation,..a legal bad situation.

    • david

      boulcut
      I was a carpenter from 1976-1985, made a good living at it. Built my on house and saved thousands. A friend of my is a building contractor, he is out of work now, burning up his savings, can not compete with cheap illegal labor that under bid his prices. I know how you feel, it is a shame that Americans are being replaced by illegals in OUR own country! Hope your situation gets better!

  • Pm Jones

    Higher education has a more important function than merely job placement. An uneducated population is a vulnerable population. The less educated we are the more easily we can be misled, controlled and exploited by an increasingly aggressive elite.
    What I believe should be done is incorporate those occupations, such as carpenters and plumbers, which are as essential as managers. money-handlers, and medicine men, into our colleges and universities as legitimate majors.

    • Utahowl

      I went to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Cornell is part NY state University, a real maverick among the Ivy League, with half of its schools & colleges being NY Uni programs – like Agriculture and Human Ecology ( Home Ec when I was there!). When I went there, it had a 2-year program in the School of Agriculture for young people who weren’t academically gifted but wanted to be good farmers, vintners, etc. Now there’s an example of what Pm Jones is talking about, and it was very successful.

  • Abbield

    I watch many vocationally trained artists struggling for work in the Bay Area. They have an incredible skill that the public cant afford or is not willing to pay for. Most customers buy from China because its cheaper. This undermines the idea of minimum wage. Artisans must under quote jobs to get hired. Working too hard for too little pay. =(

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    I’m in higher education now not so much for “job training” but to get that fuller enrichment of my mind and spirit. That’s what life is about … not making money. Others may differ, but I wouldn’t trade my attitude for all the money in the world.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed. We have massive amounts of jobs being exported to foreign nations, while we endure tens of millions of illegal workers flooding into the U.S. to do the domestic manual labor that remains. It’s a one, two punch that is destroying the working class Citizen populations ability to find a job.

  • AT

    I have 2 degrees and am working on my third. As much as you would like to believe that it’s important to be educated…it’s very disheartening to have all of these qualification and then unemployable. I know so much, I owe so much and I need to get a law degree to MAYBE get a job that would use the reading/comprehension/communication skills to the point where I could make any kind of money. I feel hoodwinked and bamboozled by education and firmly want to put really practical options in my kids’ sights so th athey don’t feel like they have to automatically attend college to be successful. Frankly, it’s a myth!

  • Louiricc

    I attended college because my father, an auto mechanic, came home from work one day explaining to my family how his co-workers were griping about their paychecks. The next day, the general manager came in and smacked down a handful of McDonald’s applications telling the employees, “If you have a problem working here work somewhere else.” Of course the general manager knew the workers had very little education and no profession. I knew I never wanted to be at the mercy of an employer. I have a M.S. in Conflict Resolution and work as a barista in a cafe in Manhattan. My situation occurred not due to bad life choices but because the greater problems of this country have not been taken care of. Our society is looking for several scapegoats but must remember who is to blame for the economic situation: Wall Street, corrupt government officials on all levels, and wasteful spending.

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  • Sam Wilson

    Tax Cuts For The Rich will SOLVE all this problems. Please ensure that there are more and more Tax Cuts to the rich (who makes more than 500k/year) and we MUST make sure that “spending” is CUT ACROSS all the government bodies.

    • Utahowl

      @ Sam – I hope you’re joking. The Rich take their tax cut money & invest it in Chinese factories. The profits from these factories are booked to the Singapore subsidiary of the global company – because Singapore charges no corporate taxes. So then the tax cut money never comes back here…except some little bit to the shareholders of the global company. Global corporations pay nearly zero taxes here in the US – while our small businesses, which generate most new jobs, are paying 35% tax rates. There is absolutely zero data showing that tax cuts for upper 0.1% will create jobs here in the US.

  • Skip

    While the apprenticeship model in Germany may have many benefits, you must understand that their positive employment posture relies largely on very strong unions and Work Councils that prevent corporations from making indiscriminate decisions to lay off workers and ship the work to low cost countries. Their social commitment is to their people and not to corporate profits.

    • Tim

      Great point. And in Germany, if you hire, for example, a house-painter, you know they have the skills and training to do a good job. Unlike in the US of Amnesia, where anybody can call themselves a professional painter and put their sign up for business.

  • warren katz

    I am presently a teacher in nyc. I used to teach carpentry. I tried to get on your show but there was not enough time. I taught the building construction trade which inclided drafting, plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. This was in conjuction with the science and math classes. I have hundreds of students who went on to the trade or are ion their own business making more money than I am. I even got a grant for 200,000 dollars in my 13th year fo teaching to renovate my shops. Unfortunately, a new principal came in after 2 years of the new shop and he closed it down because the goal was to send all the students to college. I was excessed and there is a push to close down all the shops and get rid of these teachers who are high priced. Also there are schools that have tools locked up or are stolen and even thrown out by the discretion of the principal. A lot of the students came to school to come to my classes to learn but the big shots did not see this. I can go on and on and show you letters I have of students that thank me for their eduction. The city does not want to spend the money on vocations.If you want more information you can contact me.War4224@aol.com

  • John

    I am a Pharmacy Technician Instructor in at a public shool in Orange County Florida. Our program is a blended program including high school and adult students. Our program’s succes can be attributed to providing opportunities for high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy and are developing the hard skills necessary to be successful in their career development.

    Our adult student population is seeking the skills necessary to re-invent themselves to meet the demands of today’s healthcare environment. In addition to our didactic curriculum we offer our students the opportunity to experience clinical internships in retail and hospital pharmacy practice settings.

    Our students are in high demand because of the level of skills they possess.

    We are preparing tomorrow’s healthcare professionals today. This is our prescription for success!

    John

  • Namnid

    Blah

  • Sharoncampione31

    I am a 20 year special education teacher with experience at all levels of public education. Many of the students I encounter will not be able to manage a 4 year university. My biggest concern is the message being sent to our students and parents today that to be a success, you must go to college. What happen to dignity in a honest day’s work? Can’t we honor workers for excellence in whatever they choose to do? Don’t we have the right in the US to respect for being the best we can be at whatever level we acheieve?

    • Ellen Dibble

      Sometimes I think college teaches people this disrespect for non-college-educated people, and I suppose it’s partly because students and their parents don’t want to think their outlay of money (and time and energy) is not worth it. And I also think that the institutions want to make sure everybody is bound by the kind of alumni/alumnae bonds of memories of happy days of youth, the better to keep the endowment properly funded.
      Thus, from such a perspective, it is a good idea to create something like prejudice towards those with the same education, and against those with different. (And do we ignore the amount of development – or degeneration – that goes on in the years after graduation.)
      It seems to me part of an American education should be exposure to all sorts and classes – and with that, as great a variety of ways of making a living – as possible. When everyone worked on the farm in the summer, everyone had that breadth of exposure. Now there are more diversified jobs; do we see them?
      It is somehow antidemocratic to educate people to value people according to their education without reference to other qualities. I don’t suppose it would matter so much except for children who are actually taught in insulated, segregated settings. Children can see for themselves. Or can they?

      • Utahowl

        @ Ellen – Since more and more Americans ARE existing in “insulated, segregated settings” (as shown in the book The Big Sort), then I’m afraid, no, a lot of children can’t see for themselves.

  • Mike Yancho

    What young person has a clue about blue collar jobs? The primary learning environment today is television. Where are the blue collar jobs on television? Where are the mechanics? Where are the farmers? Agriculture is the last manufacturing job left in the US. There is NO ONE involved in agriculture on television.
    Please address this on the air. Mike

  • Sherrie

    My recently HS graduate daughter is bright but not at all interested in school. she was fortunate enough to be accepted by Americorps CCC the conservation end of the program. She has worked on habitat for humanity houses in WY and is now working with forest service doing trail upkeep. In hs she took as many ap classes as I could convince her to try but also took welding, shop, auto tech, and horticulture. For the time being she is independent gaining experience working as a team, and working at projects that benefit the greater good. At the same time she is having fun and living independently. She thinks we adults work too hard and don’t have enough fun. She is working and having fun and doing physical labor while her body is young and fit. What does the future hold who knows but she is gaining valuable experience for life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bageler Josh Goldberg

    I quit college…twice. My fiance has a 4 year degree. I make over twice as much as she does, not to mention she was out of work for 12 months before getting that job. The only guaranteed thing you’ll get from a university is long term debt.

    • Anonymous

      But your a man…it is a given that you will make almost twice what she does so your point is moot

  • alice

    As long as high schools are rated for accreditation on the number of students they get admitted to 4-year colleges, it will be difficult to persuade schools, parents, and students to make the change.

  • Keith

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a curriculum that starts in Jr. High preparing kids for careers. Careers being the operative word – a career as an Electrical Engineer. Start with basic theory transition into apprentice electrician then to a journeyman electrician, then master, then Electrical Engineer. This would be a CAREER path that could be opt’ed out at any point but you could see a goal and end if you wanted to go the full path.

    • Ellen Dibble

      A couple of points about this proposition: apprenticeships beginning in junior high. One, I think a lucky youngster with parents who happen to have strategic connections would be able to channel a child already self-targeted into situations with age-appropriate kinds of participation, whether by “lessons,” in the way that pre-debutante girls might be channeled into French and ballroom dance classes (with a very different intent, but anyway). Piano lessons are sort of midway. Perhaps the child will find herself/himself at Carnegie Hall; perhaps not. If 40 of a town’s 80 junior high students wanted to be electrical engineers, rather than having 40 unaffordable mentors/tutors on hand, the town might arrange an after-school and/or Saturday morning program. Clearly the main school program would feed into that. There would be mutual applicability.
      Point two. Someone posted the idea that 4-year colleges should train for vocations right along with vocational schools. Right off, I thought, oh, no, now it becomes unaffordable to acquire any skill whatsoever. Every nurse’s aide starts out with $100,000 in debt and four years of sitting through World Literature or what have you.
      It seems to me smart college students do acquire vocational skills, sometimes after graduation, sometimes in summers, and get the training where the workshops are best equipped. There is plenty of overlap in what might be considered “vocational,” i.e., targeted to specific jobs, and what is considered 4-year. Huge overlap. The difference might be that “liberal arts” students have to find the more practical training elsewhere, whereas the vocational students have to find the broader grounding elsewhere.
      I doubt anyone takes a course in culinary arts, for instance, thinking: “I hereby forgo my rights to take on board Science, History, Art, Languages,” what have you. What an odd idea that you have to choose one or the other.

  • Jeff Maxwell

    We have a huge problem in trying to implement Vocational programs now in the U.S. We have not trained instructors or upgraded our existing industrial arts shops during the last 30 years. Every time an instructor retires or dies, the shops get gutted and closed. I plan to retire from my Industrial Arts positiion of 34 years this June, and there is no one trained to take over my program. The second largest industry here in California after agriculture is electronics and we are training no one.

  • limeremark

    Your self-confident repy shows that you indeed do not know how to be a citizen – that involves having doubts about any number of issues facing the public at large.

  • limeremark

    Matthew Crawford said “They had me teaching Latin”. That staement by itself should raise a very red flag. Did Crawford mean that “they” might have had him teaching physics instead of Latin? I don’t think so. Crawford was clrealy a “failed” teacher — he lacked either the inclination, or the competency, or the talent, or the skill to teach. Latin is probably the very most useful thing one could study — Crawford’s failer to motivate his students to learn is his problem, not Latin’s. Latin is one of the keys to solving our crisis of ignorence: through no fault of their own, today’s students generally speaking know nothing of Englsih grammar, and have a very limited vocabulary; Latin is not the cure for those ailments, but it is very good medicine.

    • UtahOwl

      I had Latin in high school, and I completely agree that it’s a great background to have…if a kid is like me, and just fascinated by words. It’s not nearly “good medicine” for a wide range of kids who, because of the way their brains are wired, find written language a hard slog. This is not to say, don’t help them to become more fluent in written language. But I remember too well my friends I went to elementary & high school with ( back in the day, when we had wonderful reading teachers, BTW) who were convinced they were stupid because they were in the “low” reading group. They included the football quarterback who had been held back a year and still remembered – 25 years later!- that he got an A on a test (spatial relations) that I got a C in. ( I was the class “brain”, and I knew that I wasn’t working half as hard as a lot of my classmates.) Project-oriented learning of all kinds (Check out the Diane Rehms show today on the FIRST program) provides great alternatives that can benefit our kids.

  • Mmwertzler1

    Absolutely fascinating! And on target. Am newly retired teacher, experienced & passionate, worked with students in Lexington, KY (MLK Academy for Excellence Alternative) with population of high minority students with behavior/learning issues that prevented them from attending “regular” public school classes. These kids were often very gifted, I observed – but in “intelligences” not recognized nor cultivated in the regular “No Child Left Behind” environment of academic expectations predominate in the “regular” public school setting. I am quite disillusioned with public school and understand the reasons why students drop out. We are not serving all of them with what they consider a “useful” education. I have observed in awe very bright, extraordinarily “gifted” students who are mechanically gifted and act out in a structured “normalized” school setting out of boredom. I am passionate about Vocational Education and learning/education/experiential alternatives that truly fit the needs of each individual. I would love to join with others to offer students authentic learning expereinces that bridge them into produc tive, fullfilling adulthood. Thank you for your research, all! And, a hearty thanks to NPR for another wonderful program.

  • Hmasbruch

    This was an excellent and timely show. There are many alternatives to the traditional four-year college path. Good for On Point for exploring this subject! Hopefully many high school counselors listened and will keep this in mind when advising students.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=162100635 George Lewis Scharoun

    A very nice video report from Monocle about Vienna Apprenticeships shows the opportunities outside of higher education in a wonderful light:
    http://www.monocle.com/sections/design/Web-Articles/Vienna-Apprenticeships/

  • Leah Larson

    As Mark Twain said, “Never let school get in the way of your education.” I started my own magazine business at age 13, and today, at age 20, I am a busy publisher and entrepreneur. I consider myself a life-long learner who seeks out mentors and takes responsibility for my own education. Consequently, I’ve become passionate about inspiring kids to take charge of their education and actively pursue their interests. Our educational system tends to train students to become dependent upon teachers and to think of learning as absorbing information, rather than learning how to find the answers. I learned early on not to wait for a teacher or to grow up in order to gain life and work skills. Parents, take your kids to work, help them find mentors, and support and encourage their interests! It’s time to add another R to the curriculum–Real Life.

  • Leah Larson

    As Mark Twain said, “Never let school get in the way of your education.” I started my own magazine business at age 13, and today, at age 20, I am a busy publisher and entrepreneur. I consider myself a life-long learner who seeks out mentors and takes responsibility for my own education. Consequently, I’ve become passionate about inspiring kids to take charge of their education and actively pursue their interests. Our educational system tends to train students to become dependent upon teachers and to think of learning as absorbing information, rather than learning how to find the answers. I learned early on not to wait for a teacher or to grow up in order to gain life and work skills. Parents, take your kids to work, help them find mentors, and support and encourage their interests! It’s time to add another R to the curriculum–Real Life.
    http://www.yaldahmagazine.com

  • Christine G Barrera

    Thank you so much for taking up this topic. I just graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelors degree in anthropology and American culture, and now I am $15,000 in debt without any real skills that can get me a job. I wish I had not gone to college, but got a trade skill instead. That was not something I thought of before I went to college, and everyone pushed me to get a degree, but I don’t think it was necessary. This is an important topic and something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I’m glad you’ve brought it to the attention of the general public.

  • Drew Reynolds

    to add to my post yesterday here is a link to the American College of the Building Arts facebook page as well as the website.

    http://www.buildingartscollege.us
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/SupportACBA

  • Pepper

    I listened to last night’s program with keene interest. I have 3 sons in various stages of their college careers. Let me begin with a brief background: My husband nor I went to college – we both graduated high school in the 70′s & back then it wasn’t a big deal whether you went to college or not. There were still plenty of decent paying jobs & most places expected to train you once you got hired. Very few places expected you to know everything at the time of hire. The brief portion is over & here goes the rest of the story:
    Fast forward about 20-25 years to when our kids are graduating high school & the mindset has changed drastically! Now you can’t get hired for hardly anything without at least an Associates degree in SOMETHING – doesn’t really matter what; unless you’re specialized of course & then you had better have at least a Master’s & preferably a PhD with no less than 5 years experience.
    Also, in the past 10 years you hear all about how the sciences are hurting & they need workers. So, our 2 oldest sons go to college & get their BS in biochemistry.
    Son #1: finds out soon after graduation that no one wants to hire you in the science field (he was headed into Research & Development) unless you’ve got AT LEAST a PhD & preferably 10 years post doc work as well (He searched for 1 & 1/2 years while he worked as a Barista at Starbucks before he finally gave up in frustration & applied to grad school). Now he’s in his 3rd year of grad school now, has his Master’s work completed..BUT…C’mon people – the poor kid will be at least 35 before he has finished the PhD & post doc work combined. He will have spent his ENTIRE young adult years studying in higher education & for what?!? He may not even be able to get a “real job” that actually pays a wage even then. In the meantime he has lived as cheaply as possible, drives a car that runs on a “wing & a prayer” – thank heaven for a small stipend from grad school that at least keeps a roof over his head (can’t commute from home – his grad school is 1500 miles from home – schools he applied to nearer to home ignored his grad school apps & didn’t even bother to respond.)
    Son #2: Just graduated in Nov 2010 with his BS in Biochemistry – he’s been putting in job applications everywhere he can think of & has yet to even get a job interview or phone call! Meanwhile he’s working in construction to get a little money coming in. He also joined the Marines right out of high school & is still fulfilling his 6 year reservist contract with them. He’s done a tour in Iraq so he qualifies for help with school expenses from the G.I. bill, while it doesn’t even come close to covering his entire expenses for school it most certainly HAS HELPED; if not for that he’d be in much worse shape financially & deeper in debt that what he is. He’s pretty sure that he’ll most likely have to go the grad school route too & get at least a PhD to get a job in his chosen field (pharmacology) in the science field. So again…he’ll have spent his entire young adult life in higher education (all except his time in boot camp & Iraq.)
    Son #3: 3rd year undergrad student – he’s working on a double major so that he has a choice whether to go into something non-profit related such as a minister or education as a teacher. He already knows that if he wants to teach at college level he will most likely also need at the very least a Masters & most likely a PhD. He has had to finance at least 50-60% of his education costs with student loans. Knowing full-well, that he may not even be able to get a job in his chosen field after graduation.
    The inflated cost of higher education keeps these kids poor & it will be YEARS before they will be able to completely pay off the debt they’ve incurred to get their education that at THIS point in time has been absolutely useless to them other than the side benefits of a college education. We’ve done what we can to help our kids but with both my husband & I working we gross less than $40,000.00 most years – some years a little more, most years considerably less. He’s an independent construction contractor & I’m an office worker. For either of us to ever advance in our occupations – we will need at least an Associates degree. We already know we will never be able to “retire” – between the expense to just live & work, we have school debt from the kids, we can’t afford college for ourselves & even if we could by the time we get done with it no one would hire us because they’d think we were too old to be productive.
    My last few parting shots are: Higher Education is way too expensive for average young people – if you must, go the Community College route.
    Employers have become “educational snobs” & have unrealistic expectations in their current hiring practices.
    My personal belief is that most of the problem (disconnect between education & viable jobs &/or workers) is rooted in greed – both corporate & of the educational institutions. In fact you could take almost every financial problem this country faces & trace it back to GREED.

    • mrfreeze

      Thanks for your story. What I find so disturbing is that your sons seem to represent THE ideal representatives graduating from college: technical/scientific degrees, motivated, etc….Yet, there are fewer opportunities for them because they are competing with a lot of other technical grads from around the world. What the colleges and corporations don’t want people to know is that there’s a HUGE amount of money to be made pumping out grads who are deeply in debt. As you said…it’s all about greed.

  • Brennan511

    If you don’t have a high IQ or are gifted in other ways, you are a bump on the log/part of the problem, an insurgent of distraction and greed, looking for a “good/love of $” job not “the RITE job”.
    LOCATION!!!&geography is the biggest conspiracy we as Americans in particularl-[y] will ever face. SOLVING the geographic “normative outcomes” with respect to the most respectable, loyalty to the INTELLECTUALLY powerful, and POWER to humanity… that is a TEST “i” will DIVE!!! at, then you’ll see me daydreaming as the PEACE$ all float into place. …and the “blubbering scabs” can go back to their mutating domestic poverty/violence/stupidity. There are lot’s of TEACHERS/ PROFESSORS who really do not! belong nor deserve to be selling what they are “selling” as well, and they can be TRAINWRECKS of ignorance and enable the very worst…
    My own mature high IQ is ready to preach, lecture, expand and quantify, if I can only secure my [ESTEEMED audit] position and responsibility [youtube it's you and me]
    I grew up 1st gen west of the rockies on California’s Monterey Bay, which is a grand labratory itself and has Universities and language oppertunities all around, however despite having a family history of intellectual fortitude and intermittent excellence, the GEO-POLITICAL location of greater West America is a “Left Behind NCLB” Feminist Sweet Conspiracy COP OUT! that expects INNOCENT YOUTH of ALIEN normative varriation to “””personally decide””” / automatically Jump! from the end of the world [West America] to the beginning of the world [NATO...] where!!! they will have the fair-play they specifically deserve.
    Until we solve these specific statistics, the Rat will remain in the kitcken. and drug-abuse will remain the disco-tech of approval/”beauty”.
    Voluntary but Comprehencive/conclusive IQ testing, NEEDS to be the QUALIFYING road-map that PRO-ACTIVELY seeks gifted teens [like "left on left" Kurt Cobain or the LOVELESS-v-tech shooter on "the east"coast]
    for ["qualification"] for COMMUNAL HOUSING oppertunities/studies… That “seeks” to liberate our living-gems from the omni-present manure-pile of unintelligent entitlement and intellectual CORRUPTION! TYN
    T.Y.N. Normative Youth Transplant [now "WE" can cheat and TRUELY SMILE...]

  • Ruthiewong

    My friend from Germany said that the downside of their educational system is that it puts people on a career track and makes it difficult for them to change careers.

  • Ruthiewong

    Also, in Germany, they give students tests when they are in the 4th grade (around there) that determine if they go on the vocational track, college track, etc. They have different types of schools depending on what track you are placed on. She said that this is hotly debated because these tests determine the future of a child.

  • thecosmickid

    I graduated college in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree, the only job I could find was as a bookkeeper for a local dealership and I was the only person there with a college degree….and also the lowest paid of all 20 employees, the mechanics, parts and sales department employees all made almost twice what I did. Oh and I also had about $15,000 dollars debt from school too. Much too much is made of higher education being a direct line to a great job.

  • Andre
  • Lwkite

    This is not new. The space race put an emphasis on college education and the trades were almost vilified in the US. In my home town we have 12 high schools attempting to prep their students for college and one consolidated facility that does a minimal job of orienting students towards the trades. We need students coming out of high school with real skills that can be improved upon in apprenticeship programs or community colleges.

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  • Maya9

    As someone who has gone to college, I can say that higher education has really been DEVALUED. Yes, we push everyone to go to college, and this has resulted in a whole lot of schools having to lower their standards to admit less talented students. Public high schools have also been pressured into lowering their own standards for graduation, resulting in high school graduates who are hard-pressed to write properly constructed sentences in English. As a result of that, college degrees have become required for decent jobs because employers figure that if you can’t get a college degree in this environment, you must be stupid. Higher education has become about getting a job, NOT about the love of learning and the development of intellectual character.

    At the end of the day, some people are just better suited to learn a trade or the military. The blame for this fiasco lies with the dual forces of social egalitarianism on the left and anti-intellectualism on the right. The former insists on treating everyone the same (and thereby insisting that if some people are suited for college, all must be), and the latter resents the original purpose of higher education and is the first to tear it down.

  • Rosie

    I’m w/Pepper…a BA MA or PhD doesnt guarantee employment. I let my Paramedic License expire thinking my BA would afford me greater ops not the case, I am currently seeking employment as a phlebotomist and working on developing a business that has nothing to do with my $40,000. waste of money pursuing a degree from the University of Michigan.

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  • Bmcfeezy

    I live in Westchester County, NY. This is a very high expectations county where the majority of families believe that going to college is a necessity/right of passage. Vocational education programs are centralized in BOCES (Bureau of Cooperative Educational Services) programs because it is more efficient that having local school districts host their own vocational programs. These programs offer tremendous opportunities for learning trades, culinary skills, TV/Video production, hair styling, etc. Unfortunately, I believe that the local high schools (and parents who think that you have to go to ‘college’ to be a success) don’t do enough to steer students towards these wonderful programs. Not everyone likes academic learning and I’m not suggesting that dislike for academics means someone is a poor student. If a young adult has a true passion for a skill, then I believe it is the parents’ and schools’ responsibility to provide the correct guidance to help the young adult become a student of whatever their passion is. These young adults who have the opportunity to follow their dreams through vocational education, regardless of whether or not it is what their parents want, will become contributing members of the work force a lot sooner than the ones who felt they had no choice in their own future.

  • Star2272

    College is a personal choice. For some people college is just a waste of money if you don’t plan on using your degree. I personally believe in education, but there are alternatives to college. Some people really value having time away from school to start developing their life. I’m writing a blog about this exact topic! check it out

    http://amandatse.wordpress.com/

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  • Htoder

    I didn’t get to hear this show, but I’m familiar with the debate. Sure, not everyone needs college. My cousin was good working with his hands, but he was not a “book” person. But, I think the average person comes out ahead with a college degree. Average earnings are one indicator, and I would think quality of work would be another.

    The problem, I think, is that many college graduates do not know how to market themselves when they get out of school. They have unrealistic expectations. I constantly preach to my students to consider relocating upon graduation, in order to get a job. Many do not want to hear this.

    A college graduate might not get a job commensurate with his/her education right off the bat, but if he/she parlays little opportunities into larger ones, he or she can have a nice career, not to speak of the prospects for advanced higher education.

    One thing I strongly recommend is that students take a battery of vocational tests, and then work with someone(an expert) to look for a range of jobs suiting their abilities. Then, once employed, they should not become complacent, because one can lose a job in an instant.

    A career is a work in progress, something that demands constant attention.

    Harry Toder

  • Bobsacamano82

    Yes, everyone should go to college. We need an even bigger surplus of college graduates waiting tables or sitting in mommies basement because blue collar work is “below” them.

    A bachelor’s degree is now the new high school diploma. How long until a master’s degree takes its place? Then a doctorate?

    People, we can’t have everyone at the top. We need a middle class. We need manufacturing!

  • Kiarra Hutchinson

    I don’t think everyone should go to college because some people don’t have the mentality to go to college. Plus now days it’s to much for students to make a high score on the ACT tests to get accepted to a good college. Maybe some people just wanna get out and work for a living. I know i wanna go to college because I want a degree in something but I don’t have all the criteria to go to college I’m barely making it in high school, and I’m a single mother. I have to find a good way to provide for my family weekly not every month or so. People these days don’t actually go to college like they planned to.

    • Guest

      There are other ways you can benefit. Look into fields like Dental Hygiene, which has a good work environment and pays a decent salary. There are other medical positions that don’t require a “college” degree because they have special programs that train exactly to their standards.
      You have options, I think.

  • Reednl

    I see a large amount of this debate occurring at my current university (a large, Big Ten university).  There are several issues that I have problems with:
    1.  There seem to be a large number of students attending college as a way of putting off joining the real world.  While I do believe that a college education can be invaluable, I do not believe that viewing it as a four-year party is a proper use of your or my time.  I know many people who are earning degrees in fields like criminal justice or political science (degrees that my university is not particularly known for … which means not known at all) and plan to become career soldiers or firefighters or police officers (all three do not require bachelor’s degrees to obtain jobs).  
    2.  There is this vast belief that every person is created equal in terms of their ability.  People need to get into their head that some people will never be chemists, engineers, or mathematicians just like others will never be firefighters, soldiers, and police officers.  There are extraordinary number of students who simply do not have the desire or previous education to weather the rigors of a college education.  Not everyone deserves a trophy, not everyone is a winner, and the sooner people get that through their heads the better off we will be.  People used to know that college wasn’t for them and they would get respectable and honorable jobs as manufacturers, electricians, plumbers, etc. and they would make a good living doing it.  Now, people don’t want to take that kind of work because it is beneath them.  
    3.  Don’t expect to go from a rural area, get a degree in (Major X, Y, or Z) and then go home and find a job in that major if you know full well there were no businesses hiring those types of employees.  I went into my degree (chemistry) knowing full well that I would have to relocate to a bigger city after graduation or go on to graduate school (which I am doing because I love my science).  If you came from a town of 10,000 that is primarily farmers and manufacturers, your degree in East Asian religion probably isn’t going to get you a job as a museum curator.  
    4. If you’re having a hard time finding a job (and have a science or math type degree), teaching at a high school is a viable option.  It’s extremely rewarding and gives you a way to use at least some of what you learned.  

    • Deflep1986

      Good Points, I would point out thought that even though an individual got through the “riggers” of college that does not even mean that they are employable. I work in HR and see so many new graduates with brand new degrees and no work history… I mean NO work history.  It is important to stress that education and experience are valuable, but based on experience, an employer will take experience over education every time.  Also, I would point out that personality plays a big role in your success too, the resume gets you the interview, and the personality gets you the job.

  • PK

    I don’t think college was ever meant for everyone. America’s hubris tells us that we are all exceptional. Wrong. We are all unique but not exceptional. Sure a science degree you need more education, but is that true for everything?

    Because the standard is skewed toward mediocrity (at best), our college grads are below the level of HS grads I’ve met in other countries. And let’s face it 12 years should be enough time to learn and develop a lot.

    Since far too many people are walking around with bachelors, people have to go for masters to get ahead at all. And don’t get me started on the idiots I have met with masters degrees. It’s created a system of self-delusion, enormous debt and no on the job training. We are a joke.

    Another huge problem is that there are fewer jobs opening in fields that don’t require a high level of math and science (except in medical support and service). Just being adequate won’t be enough. But colleges like Cooper Union and NYU have been scamming for years, excepting under-par students
    who won’t ever be dentists, engineers etc… in the real world. This is well known within “the loop”. Fake college has been a disaster all around.

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