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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Education, what's the value?



First some personal background. When I was released from High School I attended a technical college for one semester. I paid for that one semester with savings and working part time after school. My courses were pretty challenging so I had to quit work to have time to study. I made honors but did not feel that school was for me. Dropping out was made easier by the fact that at that point I had yet to acquire any debt.

At the age of 37 I went back to college thanks to Vocational Rehabilitation. After 4 years I received a double major in Journalism and Literature.

So . . . is college worth it? At age 18 I could easily say no, and it was the right answer at the time. I was lucky enough to get into the fire service with a high school education. That's much harder to do these days.

Was college at 37 worth it? Indeed it was, but the state of New Hampshire footed the bill. It was worth it for me, but probably not worth it for the state. There are different ways of measuring value, but if they thought I'd earn a lot more money and pay higher taxes . . . that didn't happen.

Generally speaking, college might be worth it if you need the technical training and the degree to work in your chosen field. There are no self taught doctors working legally out there and who would want to go to one? Even then, it's easy to get in over one's head debt wise. Doctors may make a lot of money, but if that comes with 300,000 in debt, it'll take a long time to pay that off. What if you discover that you really don't want to be a doctor and have a passion for the arts instead? Too bad, that doctor debt is still yours.

Personally, I think there's a huge amount of value in a Liberal Arts education. Even though I was well read before, college filled in some gaps and help organize my thinking in a more systematic fashion. It also introduced me to areas of thought and study that had never been of interest to me before, yet provided fascinating insights never imagined. The college course and environment were a huge boost to my creativity and confidence. If money were no object, I'd recommend it for just about anyone.

However, money is a huge consideration. While a Liberal Arts education can pay, for most people it won't pay in dollars. A select few may find financial success, but it's almost as likely as becoming a pro athlete. If you can get an education without going into debt, jump at the chance, but otherwise be cautious.

Here's one thing they never talk about going to college. While my friends were in school, I was working. During those 4 – 6 years I bought and paid for a car, rural land, and took out a mortgage on a house in town. It was a good time to buy a house as prices were very low. I also got married and had a couple of kids. For me, it was a lot more satisfying than spending my late teens and early twenties in a classroom.

Sixbears

9 comments:

  1. As a manager, Husband always said the best use of a degree was to show him that the graduate had the stick-to-it-tiveness to finish. That meant he was not likely to walk off when the going got rough.
    As for yours - sounds like it came along at the right time and place. Good for you.

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    1. Having a degree is not what it used to be.

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  2. Couldn't afford to go to college, but my bother paid for me to go business school instead. Took a couple accounting courses that one job paid for. Always in an office, always indoors. Hated it, but it paid the bills. Would I have done it all differently knowing what I know now? You betcha!

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    1. Oops! "brother" not "bother"... darn keyboard....

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    2. I probably would have disappeared on a boat at 17.

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  3. I went to junior college right after high school,worked like hell and up to 1 am on classes then on to college, my grammie died just before I graduated, gried overcame me, I moved and moved so much in those years because of the grief, but I always was hired since few actually graduated from college..I have never regretted it my hubs had to work nearly 40 hours a week a child of no father and no father to be found, many siblings to support and a Mom who continually had kids due to no birth control..He was the main wage provider until his brothers went to war and worked but many just sat around and drank and marijuana and my hubs told them to scram...We married at 26 both of us now over 40 years, I have always been able to get a job because of my education and my hubs stayed in a retail grocery but his BS degree helped with promotions to a point union job, now they don't have any union & many have masters degrees working like hell, our country has changed so much, most men can no longer get decent jobs, no unions with a college degree or not, many at the top don't give a rat's ass about anyone making money but themselves, shameful...I read your blog daily, enjoy it immensely, we would live on a boat if my hubs would love sailing and boating, but alas he doesn't - he loves fishing from a pier or the shore etc. we spend time near the sea it soothes our soul..I think most kids should take a break from school then go back when they have slaved in crap jobs for a year or so and get a technical degree & not a full four year degree which in our area spells usually no damn job..I think most kids should work one job in high school to know the value of work and money and how it affects a person while living at home...I truly do..and I say bring back technical high schools and technical college, no one can afford 40,000 at the very least for 2 years at a state college in our state and that is no bachelors degree to boot..ciao

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    1. The big problem is the lack of decent jobs for most people, no matter their education. I see people with Masters degrees being offered jobs that pay burger flipper wages. That can't last.

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  4. A former co-worker had a friend who was head of personnel at a local factory. His theory was that a college degree meant that you'd stuck with something for four years so you PROBABLY were trainable.

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  5. As a teacher of GED, I told my students that the very fact they actually filled out the papers to get accepted to college and even finished one course showed they had enough sense to follow directions, that the more classes they completed showed some gumption. One guy earned his GED, took the one free junior college course that he was entitled to attend, went on to graduate from ALABAMA and go to graduate school. He was in his late 50s when he earned the GED. I suspect he will go for the PhD when he finishes the MA. It's never too late.

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