I have a recommendation for young people everything: Skip college and learn a trade. Think of the advantages! You’ll get real-world experience! You won’t begin your adult life with crippling debt! You’ll learn a highly desirable skill!
The old narrative of “everyone MUST go to college” is so passé. Far too many students are encouraged to obtain a degree for which there is no market. This has resulted in the tragic stereotype of the Starbucks barista with a master’s degree in philosophy or art history, and crushing student loan debt that afflicts them for life. If the events of the past two years have done nothing else, it’s shown young people how and why college isn’t always necessary as a financial step toward adulthood.
In fact, by some accounts, corporations are now beginning to reject “woke” college graduates. Why? Because they don’t add value to the workplace. Instead, they are a detriment because social justice warriors want nothing more than to politicize and “woke-ify” every sphere they inhabit, to the financial detriment of their workplaces.
Notes this article, “Tech firms like Basecamp and Coinbase instituted policies that restricted political conversations. Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, wrote in a company memo that Coinbase would not engage in ‘social activism’ and that ‘building an open financial system’ is the company’s core mission. He said that activism had hurt productivity at Google and Facebook. Armstrong offered severance packages to employees who disagreed with the company’s ‘new direction,’ giving them a week to comply or get out. Sixty employees left, and Coinbase is more productive as a result. Similarly, Basecamp issued new guidelines against activism in the workplace, and they too have enjoyed the absence of nuisance employees who forgot to leave their wokeism on the college campus.” [Emphasis added.]
Besides, there is significant research that most young people exiting college have learned nothing or have actually lost intellectual ground. That’s another high price to pay besides the cost of attending these expensive indoctrination centers.
Instead of getting a useless degree in wokeism, please – I beg you – consider going into the trades instead. (The exception, as always, is STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics – as well as Law.)
This has been the long-term message of Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame. “Rowe made a reality show out of unglamorous yet essential jobs that make everyone’s lives safer and more comfortable,” notes political journalist Salena Zito. “He brought to the forefront not just their existence but also the value these jobs have for the people who do them.”
Rowe famously said about student loans, “We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts.”
“For generations, high schools have geared young people to apply to universities and colleges,” notes Zito. “They have largely ignored and dismissed trades as either beneath them or not part of achieving the American dream. As a result, many young people obtained expensive degrees that have few job prospects, and their debt lasts them well into their 40s. This has also created a culture that has lost its connection with the value and appreciation of skilled labor and the joy of getting your hands dirty.”
Zito relates how Rowe was interviewed by a financial reporter during the financial crash of 2008, and how such a skills gap could exist during times of high unemployment. Rowe discussed the stigmas and stereotypes about trade labor, along with the myths and misperceptions that keep young people from exploring these options. “The reporter printed Rowe’s thoughts, word for word, and the next day, his phone started ringing off the hook,” concluded Zito.
The experience persuaded Rowe to launch the Work Ethic Scholarship Program from the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation. (Incidentally, the Work Ethic Scholarship application closes on April 14. I’d hurry if I were you.)
Arguably the trades have suffered the least from the economic chaos of the last two years, and those who practice the trades have the hottest employment opportunities. Often the skilled trades lack enough people not because of a lack of jobs, but a lack of skills. That’s why trade schools are becoming the most bang-for-your-buck options for young people.
Currently, contractors in our area are booked out three months or more. Every contractor has more work than he can handle. Denver alone needs approximately 40,000 more construction workers. As one contractor put it, “The guys I know (myself included) who took the trouble to become masters of a skill, or knowledgeable about construction, are making as much or more than most doctors – without the debt load.”
Some argue that young people should go to college to get a classical liberal arts education. These arguments are no longer valid since a classical liberal arts education is now considered racist, sexist, misogynistic and every other -ist the woke mind can think up. With the exceptions of STEM subjects (I don’t want my doctor learning her surgical skills from YouTube tutorials), an entire liberal arts education can be obtained for free. Simply reading the Harvard Classics is half the challenge.
What about earning potential? The numbers show a college degree is worth $500,000 in income over a 30-year working career. But this average includes STEM graduates (engineers, IT professionals, doctors, etc.) and lawyers. “If these high-earning workers are removed from the average,” relates a MoneyWise article, “there may not be much of an earning gap between college graduates and everyone else.” By some studies, 30% of colleges aren’t worth the cost.
Besides, here’s the thing: College will always be there. If you truly do have a burning desire to get a degree in Art History or Anthropology – or 18th Century French Feminist Literature or Social Justice – it’s best to make that decision when your brain has finished maturing and you’re not being prompted by high school guidance counselors to take out the equivalent of a home mortgage when you’re barely 18 years old.
Besides, with the world so uncertain and the strong possibility of a recession looming ahead, do you really think it’s financially wise to saddle yourself with student loan debt? So that’s my advice to young people. Hopefully, some will listen.
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