When I was in high school, I truly believed that a college education was my future. Not because I didn’t understand there were other options, but because that’s what was ingrained in me. My Grandpa graduated from high school, took a job in the mailroom at Pontiac Motor Division, and worked his way up until he retired there at the age of 53 (yes yes, different times). I knew this. It didn’t matter.
“In this day in age, good luck having a career without a bachelors” they said. Once I got to college it was “You want to work? Go get your masters.” I fell for the first one, but not the second. I had learned by then that college is, in a lot of ways, a sham. Expanding your knowledge is one of the greatest things we can do. To stop learning is to stop growing. But just as Jason Bourne, errrr Matt Damon said in Goodwill Hunting – “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.” He was talking to a group of Harvard students. They’re smart, right? Right?
Mike Rowe, known for his show “Dirty Jobs”, in which he travels across America finding the dirtiest and most labor intensive work, agrees. Rowe’s new campaign, “Work Smart AND Hard,” counteracts one he was presented in high school, when he was given two options for the near future by his guidance counselor – James Madison or the University of Maryland. “Today, there are 3 million jobs out there that companies are having a hard time filling,” Rowe goes on to say. Only 8-12% of these require a college education.
Like Rowe, I’m not against higher education. I’m against debt. I’m against a kid with $80,000 in school loans and an art history degree. I’m against over $1 trillion in current student loans (/drops giant mug of hot chocolate on self). Yea, that’s a real number. “We’re lending money we don’t have, to kids who will never be able to pay it back, for jobs that no longer exist.” As a college student, you’re not buying an education, you’re buying a diploma.
Not everyone should be a plumber. Or electrician. Or heavy equipment repairman. But everyone should be given the realistic information that these jobs exist and are very viable and sustaining career options. After all, Jason Bourne didn’t learn how to kill a man 200 different ways by sitting in a classroom. That’s more of a skilled labor, you see.
Check out mikeroweWORKS.com for more information and to purchase a poster for your school or workplace promoting this topic.