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College Education Revisited
Old 07-24-2012, 01:58 PM   #1
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College Education Revisited

A question about your philosophy, re: education.

A grandson is nearing college age, is quite bright, and probably will be successful in whatever he chooses as a profession. Now, the question arises... What college? What profession? How to merge future prospects with personal happiness.

I have my own feelings, but am really interested in what others may feel. So here's the question.

If you had it to do over again... what educational changes would you have made in your own life? Would that fit in with today's reality?

Consider happiness as well as security.

What kind of school (if indeed any). Large University, Small Liberal Arts,
Professional, single goal school... ie. Financial, Medical, Business??... or "other"?

Just wondering....

Takers?
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Old 07-24-2012, 03:36 PM   #2
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I received a BS in a liberal arts field, then took a low-paying job for a year while figuring out what to do. I entered a masters program in an engineering area which set me up well for my eventual career.

I wouldn't swap the liberal arts background for anything, as it taught me how to speak and write (although some here may dispute that last point )
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:01 PM   #3
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I got a liberal arts BS and did fine. I wouldn't do anything differently if I had to do it over. If I had a different personality and could deal with details better I would probably choose to be an engineer. But, if I had gone that route I would likely have failed.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:08 PM   #4
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In hindsight, I would have been far better off had I majored in new clear fizzicks.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
I wouldn't swap the liberal arts background for anything, as it taught me how to speak and write
You made my day!!!!!

Can't believe there's a kindred spirit here so soon.
(tho. . too, a question about proppa gramma etc. I do what feels good to me. )

Just remembering:
World Religions- read the entire 13 volume interpreters' bible...sheesh
Music Appreciation (4 lab hrs./wk, parsing symphonies)
Astronomy... 12 degrees below... top of science building 1AM... to chart a variable star. January and February in Maine. all math ... not a "gut course"
Biology... I thought that origins and insertions were 3rd yr. med.
German... was is dass? war sehr geheimisvolle.
Creative writing... my only B-
.....
and a degree in abnormal psych... go figger!

What great years... Long time ago... Freshman hazing and a Sputnik Watch at 2AM in the back yard of the fraternity. Yeah.. THAT old. Two Dogs in a Gold Space Capsule.

ahem... back to the subject.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:52 PM   #6
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I also have a Liberal Arts degree, but if I had it to do all over again, I would have gotten a Business degree.

What worked for many of us - wont work for the kids today. When I graduated from college - a college degree was special.....a lot fewer people had them. Every job I had only required a degree - they didnt care what it was in. Today, college degrees are more common place and companies look for graduates with specific degrees. The jobs I got in the past would not touch someone with my degree today. If you are going to pursue a Liberal Arts degree, you had best plan on some form of graduate school.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:56 PM   #7
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Well, I'm one who really questions all these people lamenting being debt laden with a degree that is not really related to a career field, and wondering why they can't find a job. OK, I'm an (was an) engineer, third generation with two kids who are too. Somehow in this country we've adopted the philosophy that if you have earned a college degree, no matter what your major, it should be a gateway to a a good job. That's a pretty big risk IMO. If I'm going to invest in a college degree I want to be looking at job openings along the way to be sure that something awaits me that interests me.

I attended a state university and private. IMO education equal, if not prestige. Also, daughter did chem e at private, son at state, and they comparatively concluded the state education was better. Go figure. She went on to get a PhD (currently full time Mom) and he is managing a major project in Africa. They did all this without loans but did have academic scholarships. I was the beneficiary of that, in that what I'd saved for college went to retirement funds.

Last observation. What happened first, college loan availability (that enabled bigger tuitions) or bigger tuitions that required loans? Maybe I'm losing my memory but when I attended college in late 60's early 70's loans were not that big a burden to most who I knew. People worked to attend college, or Mom and Dad helped out. But I sure don't recall people racking up loans equal to 2-3 years starting salary. Ever divide a semester's tuition by the classroom hours to get a cost per hour? For a grad student to teach you at that. Oh well.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:10 PM   #8
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What worked for many of us - wont work for the kids today.
+1

The factories I toiled in for 30+ years don't even exist today. Every one has been shuttered or converted to another use.

There are very few corporate-based apprenticeships or trade-related training programs left in the USA. The mini-resurgence in manufacturing we're currently having is being hindered by a severe lack of skilled tradespeople (machinists, tool and die makers, millwrights, electricians, etc.). Maybe trade school in one of these areas might pay off assuming it will be a long, long time (if ever) before American business assumes responsibility for this training again.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:47 PM   #9
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I work in the trades. I dropped out of university (the "smart" kids went to university in my town...the dumber kids went to trades school). I wish I went straight to trades school after highschool....and I would have started my trades career earlier. I would have been retired now dammit!!! Still I have a great job with great benefits...I love being a blue-collar worker!
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by youbet View Post
+1

The factories I toiled in for 30+ years don't even exist today. Every one has been shuttered or converted to another use.

There are very few corporate-based apprenticeships or trade-related training programs left in the USA. The mini-resurgence in manufacturing we're currently having is being hindered by a severe lack of skilled tradespeople (machinists, tool and die makers, millwrights, electricians, etc.). Maybe trade school in one of these areas might pay off assuming it will be a long, long time (if ever) before American business assumes responsibility for this training again.
Point taken... I agree. My thinking is that instead of plowing all the money into universities, and leaving the students to pay, that the government could establish a subsidized apprentice program for the major industries, to encourage a return to the skills that would pay off for the country.

Match the people to the skills... encourage industries to rebuild, and put people to work where they're needed. Fewer young people at loose ends, where the education doesn't match the needs.

IMHO, we are spending too much money (Government and Private Sector)
educating generalists, in an era of specialists.

As as liberal arts person, this sounds like anethema... No!... I believe in Liberal Arts as the salvation for a better world, but that doesn't extend to believing that everyone should be involved in that study.

As I look at government, my fear is that humanism has been forgotten in a world being driven by greed...
.... but that's another subject.... for another day.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:00 PM   #11
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I work in the trades......... .I love being a blue-collar worker!
Good for you Frugal...... I enjoyed my career too! Until we moved the factory to China.......

BTW, the author of the quote I have in my signature line, John Wort Hannam, is a Canadian singer - song writer.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
What kind of school (if indeed any). Large University, Small Liberal Arts,
Professional, single goal school... ie. Financial, Medical, Business??... or "other"?

Just wondering....

Takers?
How much influence will your opinions, or the opinions of this board filtered through you, have on your grandson?

I am so glad that my sons paid no attention to my suggestions, their own fact finding and networking was far more appropriate than anything that I might have come up with.

By the time my grandaughter is planning a career she will have all kinds of knowledge and experiences that will make her ideas better than mine. Thank the Lord for that, as I am no Solomon.

Ha
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:18 PM   #13
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The degree sought needs to coincide with a person's interest - not just what is hot on the market at the moment. What good is getting a degree in Accounting if you hate Accounting (same with any degree). Also, success with any degree also relies to some degree getting the right job at the right time and in the right place. There are several individuals that I know that have the same degrees as I do - some did better and more did worse in their professions as far as moving up the ladder goes...
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:46 PM   #14
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I dropped out of college at 18 because I was advised (along with the rest of my class) that, demographically speaking, there would be no jobs in my chosen field four years hence. Since I was paying for school myself, I figured: "Why waste my money?" So I took a job with a large company, and, thirty-two years later, found myself in the lucky position of being able to retire at 50. Then, after a month, bored with retirement, I decided to try school again and discovered I loved it. I went to a local community college and received an AA in Liberal Arts, transferred to a four year school and received a BA in Psychology, went to grad school and took a 23 credit hour program to satisfy my current state's licensing requirements in a "parallel" field, and am currently applying for further graduate schooling. So, as to your questions:

I would make no changes for myself because I'm really thrilled at how things are working out.

The best thing I did was to go to a local community college and get an AA in Liberal Arts because 1.) It was cheaper for the first two years than a four year school. 2.) The AA in Liberal Arts allowed me to explore many different subjects before I committed to one specific field of study. This also let me find a subject I really enjoyed, which made spending the tens of thousands of dollars the degrees eventually cost me worth every penny. Additionally, I believe if you can find a field of study you are passionate about, the happiness and security will take care of themselves.

Having gone to both small schools and large universities, I would consider the large university due to the broader diversity of the teaching staff and student population, as well as the more numerous resources and campus activities the larger universities offer their students.

And finally, for what it's worth, I would only go to a "brick and mortar" college or university because my experience is 1.) You can't beat the learning opportunities presented by spontaneous "face-to-face" personal interactions. 2.) They are less expensive. 3.) They have better "credibility."
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:55 PM   #15
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I went to a good college and got a fine education, but I had no idea what I wanted to do and so no idea what I wanted to major in or what to study. I just stumbled along. In retrospect, I would have greatly benefited from a year or two off before college to figure out what I wanted.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:03 PM   #16
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Point taken... I agree. My thinking is that instead of plowing all the money into universities, and leaving the students to pay, that the government could establish a subsidized apprentice program for the major industries, to encourage a return to the skills that would pay off for the country.

Match the people to the skills... encourage industries to rebuild, and put people to work where they're needed. Fewer young people at loose ends, where the education doesn't match the needs.

IMHO, we are spending too much money (Government and Private Sector)
educating generalists, in an era of specialists.
Amazon.com may be thinking of the same thing. Following is a quote from their homepage.

Quote:
It can be difficult in this economy to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills. So, for people who've been with us as little as three years, we're offering to pre-pay 95% of the cost of courses such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing, and many other fields.
The program is unusual. Unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, we exclusively fund education only in areas that are well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:17 PM   #17
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haha said:

Quote:
How much influence will your opinions, or the opinions of this board filtered through you, have on your grandson?

none

He's on his way here to stay for 5 days... We'll exchange philosophies, as we always do... and he'll tell me about his summer readings... and there'll be a battle of the wits... and I'll lose. Three years ago, he wanted to be governor, last year, a neurosurgeon, this year, probably a sociologist, and by this time next year, an organizer in OWS.

Life is good... if you don't weaken.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:05 AM   #18
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I went to a good college and got a fine education, but I had no idea what I wanted to do and so no idea what I wanted to major in or what to study. I just stumbled along. In retrospect, I would have greatly benefited from a year or two off before college to figure out what I wanted.
+1
A very good friend of mine was in this situation too, but he probably played it smarter than I did. After scraping through high school with a mediocre average, he went in the Army for a few years. When he got out, he went to college for an engineering degree, where he did extremely well due to his greater maturity and experience. That landed him an excellent job and a great career.

Although I did well enough to retire early (so did he), I've often wished I had done it the same way he did. I would have had the maturity I lacked in college, something I sorely needed at the time.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:22 AM   #19
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I have a BSEE, but never really utilized it, as I ended up in more of a business role.

Unfortunately, what works best today cannot be compared with yesteryear and probably is even different than just 5 years ago, except for a few disciplines. I do not see a problem with liberal arts degrees, and if you can get into to one of the state schools' honor programs, that may be a pretty good value. As far as small schools vs large universities, I think the biggest difference is the smaller ones are probably better at ensuring success in their programs vs at a larger school, you may have to rely more on yourself to get through.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:47 AM   #20
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We need our universities, of course. Not all people can be in the trades just as not all people can be doctors/nurses etc. The trades route went well for me, this is just my personal experience. When I dropped out of university I had NO support, everyone thought I was making a huge mistake. Fast forward 25 years and my DH and I have mortgage free homes (one a vacation home) and good pensions with early retirement options.
I think highschools should do a better job educating potential post-secondary students which careers are in demand. Otherwise a young person can possibly graduate with onerous student debt and be very discouraged with poor job prospects.
I was shocked to read this article. Some people over 50 still have student debt! Over 50, with student debt - (1) - CNNMoney
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