Thoughts on telling kids to go to College nowadays – the ‘College myth’

It seems to me that, nowadays, they are spending too much time telling kids to go to College.  Everywhere you turn you hear of when their kids are going to go College, setting up a college fund, when they move off to College, etc.  I get the impression that many kids think they have to go to College.  It seems like this ‘College thing’ has gone to ridiculous proportions.  The problem is that there are too many people going to College and not enough jobs for them.   As I said once:

“We don’t need people going to College.  We need people to stock the shelfs, drive the delivery trucks, deal with customers, and so on.”

I get a kick how everyone in this country thinks every job out there is a ‘College job’ and how there is such a demand for it, and there’s so much money in it.  But, when I look around, that’s not what I’m seeing.  It seems that most ‘College jobs’ are a small proportion of whats out there.  Most of the jobs seem like the low paying unglamorous jobs that no one thinks about.  From my observation that’s where most people go . . . out of necessity. 

I think it is wrong for society to tell these kids that College is ‘where its at’.  It’s a lie, basically.  To me, College should be looked at as “you can try, but don’t expect much.”  As I told a relative some years ago:  “College is a gamble.  It doesn’t guarantee anything but it can increase the odds”.  Really, in many cases, that’s all it is . . . increased odds.  I know many people who went to College . . . very few are in their field.  Most are in unglamorous everyday jobs.   It doesn’t seem to me that the oppurtunity is all that great.

When I was looking at going to the University I did something no one else does (at least as far as I know):  I looked at the job opportunity.  When I was considering going into Naval Architecture I wrote about 30 shipyards, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and the Universities about job opportunities.  I even bought a copy of a study they did that looked at where the Naval Architect graduates were years after graduating.  The job outlook was horrible.  The same with many other fields I looked into (structural engineering, mechanical engineering, etc.).  Psychology, as a profession, looked good but getting into a Masters program was horrible.  And so on and so on.  I’ve talked with many other people who have supported that situation and made similar observations down to today.  The lesson I learned is that going to College does not guarantee you a job.  In fact, in many fields, good luck!

This ‘College thing’ has been going on so long it  has created, I think, a ‘College myth’.  Basically this says that kids NEED to go to College.  If they don’t, then they are going to live miserable lives.   The fact of the matter is that this is not true.  Look around you:  most people do not have high paying job.  The new kids coming up . . . guess what? . . . that’s where most of them are going to be too . . . even if they went to College. 

This ‘College myth’ seems propagated for a number of reasons:

  • The myth of success.  Americans worship success and they think College will give it to them.  As a result, the general population, and especially parents, prey on this myth.  It’s their ‘hope for the future’. 
  • Colleges want the money the ‘College myth’ gives them.  Colleges and Universities no doubt encourage this myth for this reason.  Even when I was going to the University, in the early 90’s, I was told by one of my professors (who was involved with school administration) that this is what the Administrators wanted people to believe, even though it wasn’t true (they even admitted it!).  It guarantees an income and that money will keep coming in.  In this sense, the ‘College myth’ is nothing but “business”.

But going to school is so expensive now that many people are suffering having to pay back their student loans.  Since many people don’t find the high paying job they thought they were going to get they end up getting ‘stipped’ with the bill of going to school.  In many ways, it would of been better for many of these kids to not of gone to College and invested this money elsewhere.  This is why I would suggest anybody considering going to College to seriously consider a number of things:

  • The expense of College must be considered and looked at closely.  How do they intend to pay for it?  If going to College works, great, but what if it doesn’t?  Do they have a ‘backup plan’?
  • They need to understand the fact that College is a gamble.  Like any gamble they need to consider what will happen if they ‘lose’ and be prepared for it.
  • The situation of the field they want to get into.  Job opportunities, if you have to move, long-term outlooks, etc.
  • How much do they want to go into that field?  Are they really committed to the work and gamble of College?

My personal feelings is that it would of been better for many people to not of gone to College and use their money wisely (that they would of used at College), get a job, and ‘work their way up’.   Most of the people I know who make ‘good money’ did not go to College but ‘worked their way up’ a company.   Frankly, that’s how a lot of things are in the ‘real world of the common people’.  There are no ‘easy answers’ here.  And the thing is that this is the situation of most of the people, and most of the people going to College will find themselves part of this group anyways!

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One Response to Thoughts on telling kids to go to College nowadays – the ‘College myth’

  1. rawfulnews says:

    As far as the ‘College Myth’ goes, I do think there’s too much adherence on having to go to college. But why would any college ever say “nope not that important to come here.” Yeah they perpetuate the myth but think about the alternative. It’d be like McDonald’s saying “nah food’s not that good here. Hit up Subway.” I think the problem is the students. In college the phrase “C’s get degrees” ran rampant. People don’t go to college to expand their mind. And not in the LSD kind of way. The critical thinking, become a better person kind of way. I wrote a joke story kind of playing on this whole idea of everyone going to college. Check it out: http://bit.ly/pCnFxf

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