During recessions, people who can’t find jobs often head back to school.
That makes sense.
If you can’t find a job, you make yourself more marketable. That certainly holds true for my clients. That has held true for me personally (I began college in 1990 and graduated in 2001).
I admit, I used to be a college snob. Anything short of a university education was beneath me. The real world has cured me of that notion. In my job I see, everyday, what people do and I know what they make. Not just statistics, I actually see their pay stubs.
Because of articles I’ve recently read, I’ve been thinking about the the oft quoted “college degree is most beneficial” mantra;
True or false
“a college degree will earn a person $1,000,000 more, over their lifetime, than a person with a high school education?”
The answer is …….drum roll….Sometimes
The problem with statistics are that they can be manipulated in a way that makes the data say just about anything (listen to any “expert” or politician to see what I mean).
So the missing piece is that it depends on your particular degree.
A person who has a degree in comparative literature may start out making $28,000 a year, where a person who spent 2 years in a trade school, learning to repair diesel engines, may earn $40,000 their first year.
A doctor who went to school for 8 years, took out $150,000 in student loans, who now earns $200,000, may just scrape by paying their student loan and malpractice insurance, while a truck driver, who spent 2 years in trade school, took out $20,000 in student loans and who will make $42,000, may be better off.
Each has its pros and cons. I was required to take a lot of crappy classes that had nothing to do with my future employment in order to get my degree. But I also know that some of those classes have been beneficial to my life, even if they don’t earn me any more money (thank you, culinary arts, not crappy, just expensive and time consuming).
My trade school counterparts paid almost twice what I did in many cases, but they were out and working in two years instead of the six years I spent in the hallowed halls of my university.
I had to commit to my University education. I moved my family on campus, lived in student housing (aka..insert politically incorrect nick name here), and worked my tail off for 6 years. I was at the mercy of the instructors schedules. If I didn’t get the class when it was offered in the fall, I had to wait til the next fall. I wasn’t always very organized and my counselor didn’t seem to know much more than I did. Which is why it took 6 years.
There are a lot of predators in the trade school system. I get a lot of complaints about trade schools coming up with more classes and fees to be paid when a student thought they should be graduating. And employers who would not accept the certificate or associates degree. While at the university I remember paying $150+ in several different classes that went to pay for things I never used again. Not to mention the fortune I paid for books, (written by the very professor teaching the class sometimes, What a racket!!) every semester.
I admire the tenacity of someone who seems to have a bunch of strikes against them, who succeeds in spite of, and sometimes because of, those challenges.
I don’t think that the deciding factor is whether a person goes to college vs. trade school, or gets any schooling at all. I think it has more to do with the individual. We have more to do with our own success than we give ourselves credit for. Education is always beneficial; schooling isn’t always beneficial.
Tenacity and hard work can’t be taught at the college level. It has to be learned, over time, hopefully taught by a loving caring parent from a young age. The older you get, the harder it is to learn. So “props” to those non traditional learners who succeed in life by street smarts and grit.