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Not every kid is an engineer. What do we do about the others?
Old 04-23-2019, 05:20 AM   #1
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Not every kid is an engineer. What do we do about the others?

So the other college thread got me thinking. It seems the prevailing mantra here is, we'll pay as long as you pick a major that is "profitable".

Maybe it's because neither one of my kids are engineer material that I ask a very simple question and I admit I take it personal when someone says "Im not wasting money on a kid that has a psychology degree"

What happens to the millions of kids that are not computer geeks or engineers?

Do we simply say, tough tookies kiddo, should have picked a better major? and exactly how does one force their kid to be good at say computer science? If we pay one kids tuition but don't like the other kids major, again do we without financial support?


lol my youngest son graduated with a communications degree and is working for the Univ of Penn. my oldest lol is a plumber/pipefitter with the city of philly and will probably make more money then all his friends.
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Old 04-23-2019, 05:32 AM   #2
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join the military, go to A/C school, and then either mature and go to college or get out and work in aerospace industry / Cyber etc etc ..... I'm a perfect example !!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-23-2019, 05:42 AM   #3
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While this may be difficult for some to accept, not all of us are engineers (or STEMs / geeks) but we still manage to find our way through life, be productive, and make it here.
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Old 04-23-2019, 05:54 AM   #4
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There is a growing trend - tech or bust. The phrase "Learn2Code" is used so disparagingly it's banned on twitter.

I was an IT director at the end of my career, having come through the business, then project management - never a programmer/engineer. But I was damn good at managing dev teams, working with them to drive a concept or vision, setting strategy and gaining funding, all that other stuff. I used to say I can't cook but I can run an excellent kitchen.

But in the last year or so of working, it because clear that wasn't enough. Not enough for people who would not reasonably never need to code, who had done well without coding for 10+ years. The job requirement changes went all the way up through IT. The number of roles that didn't require coding skills dropped precipitously.

My hunch is the pendulum will swing (again and again). The kids entering school today who get tech degrees will be a dime a dozen in a few years. Not everyone wants to code, or has the aptitude for it. While I think a teenager should learn some basics, I would not say "you need that degree or it's a waste of money". No one has a crystal ball, and the past is not always a predictor.
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Old 04-23-2019, 05:56 AM   #5
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There's nothing wrong with getting a Bachelor's in something other than Engineering or similar ilk. And there's nothing wrong with going to an expensive school to get a degree in some Liberal Arts major, for example -- but only if one can afford it. What befuddles me, though, is how parents will let their kids take on student loans to go to a school they can't afford when the kid has no idea what his/her major will be, or knows going in they want to major in ""social justice." It's hard to sympathize someone saddled with loans while they work as a Barista with such a major.
Many years ago a friend of mine asked for advice. His son thought he wanted to be a business major and asked if he should send him to American University.
We both live in NJ. Neither Dad or the son had any money. He went against my advice and sent his son there. 2 years later, he dropped out. Oh, yeah, he still had the loans to repay.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:07 AM   #6
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Around here, you can't get a job in fast food (or be a member of a landscape crew) unless you can speak Spanish. So that eliminates those college grads that can't do that.

Granddaughter just graduated (2 years ago) with a degree in Health Services, whatever that is, and had a hard time finding any job. She is working for a non-profit at just over minimum wage, doing phone soliciting for donations. Cool, I was pushing her into nursing where one can start around her at $50 -$70K, but she "didn't like the sight of blood". Good thing she wasn't my daughter.

We have four, yes four, major hospitals and health centers within a 2 mile radius of this place and they are screaming for qualified nurses.

If one doesn't want to be an engineer or a STEM grad, why not get a degree in business and have more flexibility and possibly start your own business someday?
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:11 AM   #7
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I can’t say this is 100%, but I think it’s more important to love what you’re doing (at least have a legitimate interest in it) than to just be an engineer to make money. It seems that practically any field has the potential to make good money and the people who make that money are those that really enjoy it. DD is an artsy person. Going to college would have been a waste of time and money. I keep trying to encourage her to acknowledge that her skill is something that not everyone has and that there is money to be made - interior design, photography for example. Even engineers probably don’t do well if they don’t have that innate curiosity that it takes to enjoy the field.

I’m a strong believer in following your dream. I’m an example of someone who could and did make a good living by grinding away at something I could tolerate, but the ones who get to discover and do what they love are blessed. And, they usually do well financially.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:14 AM   #8
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Though I was a techie myself, I cringe at all the posts where people advise to send a kid who has other interests down the engineering and coding path. IMO that's an even bigger waste of money because most won't even get through the classes. If they do make it, many will hate their jobs. I'd rather enjoy my job and work till 65 than hate work for 30 years and retire early.

One thought is to stop pushing kids from childhood down the college path. It should be an option, but not a given. The world needs trade workers and other professions that don't need a college degree.

I don't know what that says for the jobs that pretty much require a degree but don't pay well. Maybe the market will adjust and the pay will increase, or an associate degree will be sufficient.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:23 AM   #9
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There's a big push in our area for skilled trades - plumbers, electricians, appliance repair, home building, carpentry, HVAC etc.

The pay has jumped considerably, because there's such a lack of qualified employees. It's a perfect storm for folks to jump in and learn a trade.

Our high schools are bringing back training for chefs, auto repair and other hands on skills. People are realizing not everyone is college material.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:24 AM   #10
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I've seen this trend go through ups and downs. I've worked with people who clearly should not have been in engineering. They don't last. My nephew got directed this way initially and ended up changing to business. Smart move on his part, thank goodness.

So, having awareness and basic understanding of coding is important, but clearly everyone should not try for a career in it. And, despite what you hear about the rock star companies and all the money, most jobs are not paying like that anyway. Coding can be done by anyone in the world these days, and this has actually depressed wages.

Find a passion, then be REALISTIC about your wage. Think about creative ways to use that skill. My niece got an arts degree, which led to a very good job at Costco (decorating cakes, of course!), which led to an even better marketing job at Costco.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
There's a big push in our area for skilled trades - plumbers, electricians, appliance repair, home building, carpentry, HVAC etc.

The pay has jumped considerably, because there's such a lack of qualified employees. It's a perfect storm for folks to jump in and learn a trade.

Our high schools are bringing back training for chefs, auto repair and other hands on skills. People are realizing not everyone is college material.
Many are college material for years and years, never really turning their education into a rewarding job experience.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:42 AM   #12
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Learn a trade. Some of the highest paying jobs in the US are from trades.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:48 AM   #13
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+1 for the trades. We are hollering for carpenters, masons, pilebucks, ironworkers... and federal dollars come with strings, requiring female and minority hands.

The skills are just as transportable as nurse or lawyer. Which is good because construction sites might linger for years, but the landscaping or electrical scope may be just for a few weeks or months. So be prepared to travel.
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Old 04-23-2019, 06:48 AM   #14
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Nothing wrong with not going to college at all, if one does not have the aptitude nor desire to do so. I have two cousins who fell into this category, one became a flight attendant and the other a baggage handler. The FA is now FIRE, with what I would consider a low pension and too young for SS, but he's the master of LBYM and is quite happy with his modest life. His brother rose to become the boss of the baggage handlers and is doing quite well.

I had college friends who definitely never belonged there. We've all drifted apart, but last I heard one was doing well owning his own small retail business, but the other messed up his life and spent time in the slammer. I always thought being in college but majoring in "party hardy" contributed to that.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:00 AM   #15
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Granddaughter just graduated (2 years ago) with a degree in Health Services, whatever that is, and had a hard time finding any job. She is working for a non-profit at just over minimum wage, doing phone soliciting for donations. Cool, I was pushing her into nursing where one can start around her at $50 -$70K, but she "didn't like the sight of blood". Good thing she wasn't my daughter.

We have four, yes four, major hospitals and health centers within a 2 mile radius of this place and they are screaming for qualified nurses.
Those large health systems within close proximity that you have mentioned need not only qualified nurses, but other healthcare related professionals in ancillary services. I am one of those ancillary professionals that retired at 59 after a 35 year career with a large healthcare system. Like your granddaughter, the thought of dealing with body fluids was not a good fit for me. But there are gobs of other excellent paying healthcare jobs/careers in IT, Finance, Plant Engineering and Org. Leadership (my bailiwick) to name just a few. Typically, the benefit packages within large healthcare systems tend to be pretty good ones, to boot. And healthcare it is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the U.S. with an ever increasingly aging Baby Boomer population.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:01 AM   #16
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+1 for the trades. We are hollering for carpenters, masons, pilebucks, ironworkers... and federal dollars come with strings, requiring female and minority hands.

The skills are just as transportable as nurse or lawyer. Which is good because construction sites might linger for years, but the landscaping or electrical scope may be just for a few weeks or months. So be prepared to travel.
Or... be willing to do repair. Construction is fun and wide open.

Repair is challenging and may require tight spaces. But, it is in huge demand. Electric, HVAC, plumbing, brick masonry all need repair and it is hard to find someone to do it. If you are good at it, you can also demand a pretty good wage if you go on your own. Find a vibrant area and travel (except locally) won't be required.
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Not every kid is an engineer. What do we do about the others?
Old 04-23-2019, 07:04 AM   #17
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Not every kid is an engineer. What do we do about the others?

Nothing is wrong with getting a degree in psychology (me) or history or whatever. Just don’t expect to get a well paying job right after graduation. Nowadays in Ontario, Canada, evidently, we are very short of tradesmen, so going to a trade school is becoming a sure bet.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:07 AM   #18
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Around here, you can't get a job in fast food (or be a member of a landscape crew) unless you can speak Spanish. So that eliminates those college grads that can't do that.

Granddaughter just graduated (2 years ago) with a degree in Health Services, whatever that is, and had a hard time finding any job. She is working for a non-profit at just over minimum wage, doing phone soliciting for donations. Cool, I was pushing her into nursing where one can start around her at $50 -$70K, but she "didn't like the sight of blood". Good thing she wasn't my daughter.

We have four, yes four, major hospitals and health centers within a 2 mile radius of this place and they are screaming for qualified nurses.

If one doesn't want to be an engineer or a STEM grad, why not get a degree in business and have more flexibility and possibly start your own business someday?
I gotta chime in here. At my core I don't want someone taking care of me or my loved ones just for a paycheck. Nursing is Da%m hard work. You not only need medical training but should have a compassionate heart. My DH almost died during surgery last year and had an extended hospital stay. He was in a nationally rated heart program, I could tell without a doubt that every person caring for him gave a crap about him and our family. Not one person was just going through the motions of providing care.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:07 AM   #19
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Spouse and myself are both engineers. Looking back, I wish I'd have gone into the trades while I was still in HS and not even bothered with college. I came for a middle class family that didn't really have money for me to go to school, but it was also sort of ingrained into my head that being a plumber for instance, was "beneath" me. College paid off for me and I have a stable good paying career, but it was a TON of work to get it and I still work for the Man, having to schedule time off to see a doc, call in if I'm feeling ill, nonsense performance reviews, corporate politics, endless useless meetings, etc...... It's not all it's cracked up to be IMO.

I imagine if I'd have gone into the trades I would've opened my own shop and been the Man early on in my career.
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:08 AM   #20
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Learn a trade. Some of the highest paying jobs in the US are from trades.
+1

My next-door neighbor is a retired steam fitter and currently teaches union apprentices how to weld at the local union hall. After a couple of years those apprentices will be pulling down some serious bank as journeymen welders/steam fitters. Not only did they get a free education in the trade, but were paid apprentice wages during that time as well.
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