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Old 10-18-2010, 10:35 AM   #81
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You should probably cut back a bit on your MSNBC viewing.
I don't watch MSNBC.
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:53 AM   #82
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I think there are social and religious pressures against the study of science in the US. Science is sometimes seen as nerdy if not down right evil here. This POV is certainly not shared by the people of Europe, China or India where science is considered a prestigious field of study.
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You should probably cut back a bit on your MSNBC viewing.
Dex, I don't know if your response is very effective at rebutting FD's assertion.

I am an engineer working in an engineering firm with a lot of other engineers who have kids. I have never heard them talk about how awesome their kids are doing in science or math, or how they encourage them to join extracurricular science or math teams, or the latest and greatest on what their kids engineered, built or studied. All I ever hear is how little Johnny just pitched a no hitter, or little Suzy may get a spot on an invitational whatever team.

I don't mean to belittle their childrens' accomplishments, but these are all smart parents who have a decent background in math and science (through the undergraduate level engineering curriculum). And yet their focus and their metric of accomplishment is not academic or science/math focused. Socially, it is very acceptable to excel at sports, or even music/arts. Being very talented in math or science can be seen as nerdy and not as relevant to development of a child into a well adjusted adult.

On to the religious aspect. In the US, a large minority approaching 50% believe earth was created less than 10,000 years ago and life was created essentially as-is within this timeframe (ie Creationists). Science really goes against most of this teaching. It is hard to reconcile the world view presented by Science with that presented by Religion. Not that it can't be done. Don't get me wrong - plenty of religious folks also have a basic understanding of science and have rejected parts of the religious mythology that clearly are controverted by science or better, more elegantly explained by science. Notwithstanding that fact, there are a lot of strongly religious folks in the US who view science as anathema to proper religious upbringing (ie it creates too many questions and doubts that challenges faith too much).
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:21 AM   #83
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Of the college age children of my brothers and sisters (and us), totaling 6, all went to college. 3 studied science or engineering, two graphic arts, and one social science (sigh).

In most schools the program requirements for engineering and science are more rigorous and demanding, and graphic design / art is close behind. By comparison, the social sciences are much less strenuous. Ive believed this since back in the day when I went to college.

IOW, what motivates many of the choices away from science and engineering is not intelligence but motivation and commitment. Attitude more than aptitude.

The job market reflects this, not in starting pay but job availability, which I feel is a better indicator. Job offers and ease of finding a job has been much better for engineering, followed by science and graphic design (about the same), and social science trailed - badly.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:30 AM   #84
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I don't mean to belittle their childrens' accomplishments, but these are all smart parents who have a decent background in math and science (through the undergraduate level engineering curriculum). And yet their focus and their metric of accomplishment is not academic or science/math focused. Socially, it is very acceptable to excel at sports, or even music/arts. Being very talented in math or science can be seen as nerdy and not as relevant to development of a child into a well adjusted adult.
I'd like to take that one.

I'd agree that the focus/metric of conversation is not academic or science/math focused. Every parent brags on their kid's sports achievements because not every kid has to be involved in that sport, and every kid can find their own niche in which to excel. Parents learn not to brag on their kid's academic math/science achievements because every kid has to participate in those activities, and just due to the sheer numbers (let alone their performance) not every kid is going to pitch a physics no-hitter or get invited to the math all-star team. It becomes impolite to always point out how strong your kid is in math & science.

Just about every kid is on a sports team because they volunteered (WTE of Blackhawk parents). Not so for the students in the school system.

But I think responsible/motivated parents are still nudging their kids toward the hard-core subjects, if for no other reason than "Don't turn out like me!!" The difficulty is mentoring your kid (especially if you lack the science/math chops) or finding a good mentor. I'd say our high-school's mentors were running at about one out of every four teachers. Maybe one in six when you add in the admin/exec staffs.

Another issue: I don't know how it is on the Mainland anymore, but Hawaii has a very strong subculture of people who value working to live, not living to work. (Hey, maybe that's the main culture and the career types are really the subculture.) Many locals may appear to be lacking ambition in their low-wage clerical jobs yet are actually renowned in Hawaiian cultures of hula or music or watersports. Many local musicians have the chops to succeed in LA or Nashville but... they'd have to live in LA or Nashville. So people take a job to pay the bills but they mainly want a steady source of income that doesn't interfere with their other 128 hours in the week while they live (not "work on") their hula or their music or their other skills.

A neighbor and surfing buddy was recently unemployed for four months. Did he ramp up his career search, networking and spewing out resumes and pursuing interviews? Well, he did politely take one interview that I lined up for him, probably to maintain eligibility for unemployment compensation. But he spent most of his time surfing with his kid to get him ready for the local grom tournament. In a couple years they might explore homeschooling so that the kid can spend more time in the water and pursue those corporate surfing sponsorships. His kid's good in math & reading-- he's a student at the Kumon center where my kid was working-- but right now he's more interested in snapping off a layback cutback than in nailing the Siemens science fair. He won't get a better opportunity for the surf tour by waiting until he's finished his college engineering degree.

Oh, and Dad landed a good sales job at a local company. Frankly it's a step up in both salary & quality of life. His reputation (and the coconut wireless) eventually attracted a phone call and a handshake.

To some extent our local balanced-life attitude bleeds over into science & business. We're always trying to boost those fields here but we're always reading press stories of those efforts being stymied by Mainland professionals who shy away from raising their kids in the local school systems. (Luckily those Case & Obama kids seemed to do OK at Punahou. Maybe the stigma will change.) Hard-charging career-oriented enthusiasts are greeted with some skepticism if not alarm-- "Hey, brah, try wait, eh?" Heck, there's even the term "Hawaii Navy" to describe the difference between us MidPac laid-back steely-eyed killers of the deep and those East-Coast career-o-phobics with broomsticks stuck up their assets. Or so I've been told.

I may not have appreciated this in my 20s, but today I kinda like the local subculture's emphasis on work-life balance. I think it leads to more well-adjusted adults. Sure, encourage a kid to get better at math & science so that they can improve their chosen fields. But maybe it's not such a bad idea for them to follow their interests and spend a little more time surfing. Eventually one of them can synthesize a better surfboard composite or a code a better computer-aided shaping algorithm.

I'm glad I encouraged our kid's science interests (even if she doesn't like chemistry as much as she loves concrete) but these days I miss my surfing & taekwondo buddy.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:39 AM   #85
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IOW, what motivates many of the choices away from science and engineering is not intelligence but motivation and commitment. Attitude more than aptitude.

The job market reflects this, not in starting pay but job availability, which I feel is a better indicator. Job offers and ease of finding a job has been much better for engineering, followed by science and graphic design (about the same), and social science trailed - badly.
And, I think the prosperity of their families has insulated many HS and college students against the very real ramifications of their choices regarding areas of study. English majors have heard repeatedly that they'll have trouble finding work and that they won't make much money, and they'll say they are okay with this. In many cases, unless they come from a family that has struggled financially, they don't really understand in their gut what they are signing up for. Growing up in a comfortable suburban neighborhood with a car of your own and plenty of food in the fridge provides a poor foundation for understanding the reality of life in a dingy, unsafe apartment and a daily wait at the bus stop. And when you've got a toothache or a mysterious pain, no health care.
The here-and-now quality of life for a sociology major is quite a bit better than that of a chemistry major, and adolescents of any age are not too good at delaying gratification.

Hopefully, the pendulum will swing back toward tech degrees and an appreciation of the worth of these careers.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:48 AM   #86
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Dex, I don't know if your response is very effective at rebutting FD's assertion.
Correlation does not imply causation.

Here is some info that might question the basic premise about the number of engineering students.

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10300/pdf/tab31.pdf

nsf.gov - SRS Science and Engineering Degrees, by Race/Ethnicity: 1997–2006 - US National Science Foundation (NSF)

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I am an engineer working in an engineering firm with a lot of other engineers who have kids. I have never heard them talk about how awesome their kids are doing in science or math, or how they encourage them to join extracurricular science or math teams, or the latest and greatest on what their kids engineered, built or studied. All I ever hear is how little Johnny just pitched a no hitter, or little Suzy may get a spot on an invitational whatever team.

I don't mean to belittle their childrens' accomplishments, but these are all smart parents who have a decent background in math and science (through the undergraduate level engineering curriculum). And yet their focus and their metric of accomplishment is not academic or science/math focused. Socially, it is very acceptable to excel at sports, or even music/arts. Being very talented in math or science can be seen as nerdy and not as relevant to development of a child into a well adjusted adult.
The guys I grew up with never talked about wanting children but somehow the population continues to grow.

That they talk about sports, or even music/arts does not mean "their focus and their metric of accomplishment is not academic or science/math focused."

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On to the religious aspect. In the US, a large minority approaching 50% believe earth was created less than 10,000 years ago and life was created essentially as-is within this timeframe (ie Creationists). Science really goes against most of this teaching. It is hard to reconcile the world view presented by Science with that presented by Religion. Not that it can't be done. Don't get me wrong - plenty of religious folks also have a basic understanding of science and have rejected parts of the religious mythology that clearly are controverted by science or better, more elegantly explained by science. Notwithstanding that fact, there are a lot of strongly religious folks in the US who view science as anathema to proper religious upbringing (ie it creates too many questions and doubts that challenges faith too much).
If you were to make a correlation/causation looking at where children spend their time might be better - television, internet etc.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:58 AM   #87
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The here-and-now quality of life for a sociology major is quite a bit better than that of a chemistry major, and adolescents of any age are not too good at delaying gratification.
To tie this subject into my student loan thread, there also seems to be little concern towards borrowing large sums of money to finance education of whatever subject floats your boat this semester (regardless of the long term earning potential). I mean, why NOT borrow to the hilt to be a sociology major for 10+ years, live it up a bit, party, get drunk a lot, and do a couple stints studying abroad (or a broad). All you have to do is work in an unskilled position with the government for 10 years and all that student loan debt goes away. Like Nords said in the previous post, work to live, not live to work - I'm extending this concept to education as well. Why not live it up and have a good time for as long as you can?

This topic is what got me thinking the other day about how to ensure my children have the best life possible. Clearly, getting them to excel academically will probably best prepare them to be good income earners one day. But maybe they should just chill, have fun, and be happy go lucky. Seems like there are enough safety nets in place that they will be ok with whatever choices they make, and as long as they are maximizing their happiness, then everything will be ok.

Without thinking, I started telling my oldest kid (who is five) that the best course of action is to study hard, learn as much as you can and that will set you up nicely later in life (this was in response to "I don't want to do my homework right now, watching a movie is more interesting"). In today's world of lower expectations and accepting and forgiving failure to think and failure to plan, I'm not sure if my advice is optimal any more. Pardon the defeatist attitude!
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:16 PM   #88
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Correlation does not imply causation.

Here is some info that might question the basic premise about the number of engineering students.

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10300/pdf/tab31.pdf

nsf.gov - SRS Science and Engineering Degrees, by Race/Ethnicity: 19972006 - US National Science Foundation (NSF)
Dex, I took a quick look at some of those stats. At the PhD level, US Citizens and Permanent Residents dropped from 67.5% of degree earners to 56% over the ten year period 1997-2006.

Looking distinctly at Engineering PhD's for a moment and you see an even stronger story of the US lagging behind. In 1997, 3,332 Engineering PhDs were awarded to US Citizens and 2,555 were awarded to temporary immigrants. 10 years later in 2006, US students received only 2,485 PhDs, whereas foreign students received 4,272 PhDs. In other words, the last 10-15 years have shown us a continuing trend of foreign students increasing their enrollment in PhD programs at the expense of American students. In absolute terms and in proportions.
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:20 PM   #89
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This topic is what got me thinking the other day about how to ensure my children have the best life possible. Clearly, getting them to excel academically will probably best prepare them to be good income earners one day. But maybe they should just chill, have fun, and be happy go lucky. Seems like there are enough safety nets in place that they will be ok with whatever choices they make, and as long as they are maximizing their happiness, then everything will be ok.

Without thinking, I started telling my oldest kid (who is five) that the best course of action is to study hard, learn as much as you can and that will set you up nicely later in life (this was in response to "I don't want to do my homework right now, watching a movie is more interesting"). In today's world of lower expectations and accepting and forgiving failure to think and failure to plan, I'm not sure if my advice is optimal any more. Pardon the defeatist attitude!
Work hard, do your best, but have a life are not mutually exclusive.
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:20 PM   #90
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If we worry about producing enough math, science, technology and engineering grads, maybe it shouldn't be so easy to offshore those jobs to India and elsewhere. Particularly in a weak economy with high unemployment, students flock to the majors where they think the jobs will be. A generation ago it was all about computers; that's where the job growth and new opportunities were. Now that so many of those jobs have been exported it's a much tougher sell compared to other industries where it's tougher to offshore the work.

How easy is it to sell a 17-year-old on a career in a field where we say we need more grads to be competitive, even as we sit around letting many of those jobs go elsewhere? What kind of a mixed message does that send?
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Old 10-18-2010, 12:50 PM   #91
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I'd like to take that one.


Another issue: I don't know how it is on the Mainland anymore, but Hawaii has a very strong subculture of people who value working to live, not living to work. ...
Thanks Nords for the thought provoking insights into the local culture in HI. I'm not a sociologist, but I find it really interesting that many of the indigenous cultures of the world place much more emphasis on balance, both within the community and with nature rather than individual achievement (especially when at the expense of society or nature). Arguably such societal values have been a contributor to these cultures surviving for 10s of thousands of years! In comparison, "modern" society is only a few hundred yrs into an "experiment" of basing society around individual achievement and consumerism, where often private gains come at the expense of public resources. Something to think about...
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:21 PM   #92
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Without thinking, I started telling my oldest kid (who is five) that the best course of action is to study hard, learn as much as you can and that will set you up nicely later in life (this was in response to "I don't want to do my homework right now, watching a movie is more interesting"). In today's world of lower expectations and accepting and forgiving failure to think and failure to plan, I'm not sure if my advice is optimal any more. Pardon the defeatist attitude!
If you want to do the math, try this.
Not going to college
+Project net income for a position without a college education starting at 18 to ?
+Total cost of 4 year college = tuition, books, board. interest exp etc
+Project Investment income from above
+A risk factor of loosing career/failure to outsourcing, new technology

VS

Going to college
+Project net income for a position without a college education starting at 22 to ?
-Total cost of 4 year college = tuition, books, board. interest exp etc
-Project Investment income lost for above
+A risk factor of loosing career/failure to outsourcing, new technology
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:27 PM   #93
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Dex, I took a quick look at some of those stats. At the PhD level, US Citizens and Permanent Residents dropped from 67.5% of degree earners to 56% over the ten year period 1997-2006.
http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10300/pdf/tab31.pdf

I looked at the above, didn't do %, it looked pretty constant to me - am I looking at it incorrectly?
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:42 PM   #94
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I think there are social and religious pressures against the study of science in the US. Science is sometimes seen as nerdy if not down right evil here. This POV is certainly not shared by the people of Europe, China or India where science is considered a prestigious field of study.

I often tell my wife that I may not have survived high school in the US. I would probably have been taunted as a "nerd", "geek" or other socially crippling term by some of the cooler cliques. In Europe, I never had to deal with that. "Smart kids" were envied, not bullied.
One of the things that struck me when I moved back to the states at age 15, was how intellectual scholarship seemed to be looked down upon, disrespected - even despised to some extent. There was definitely peer pressure NOT to perform well academically, and keep quiet about it if you did. I remember being teased about my "big words", even though my vocabulary was typical of someone my age schooled in British Commonwealth school systems.

My impression at the time (1970s) was that a big part of the depreciation of scholastic achievement was a kind of reverse social snobbery - "I don't want no one who thinks he's smarter than me telling me what to do". The distrust of scholastically qualified "intellectuals" still runs very, very strong in this country - maybe even more so today. All opinions are equal on TV today - no one cares about someone's credentials or past credibility.

I also thought it was because education was "free" in the US - guaranteed to every child, and thus taken for granted/devalued. In the country where I grew up, education was a clear privilege, and highly sought after and valued.

But it was probably also that in the US in the 70s, you could still manage to get a good enough job with just graduating from high school. In developing countries, scholastic achievement more clearly means economic advancement. The weird thing is, it really does in the US too - you can make a LOT more money if you have the right educational background, but somehow that doesn't get through to kids at grade school level.

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Old 10-18-2010, 01:55 PM   #95
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http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10300/pdf/tab31.pdf

I looked at the above, didn't do %, it looked pretty constant to me - am I looking at it incorrectly?
Those are the bachelor stats. I was discussing the PhD stats. Basically, when I look at the data I see more foreign enrollment and less US enrollment the higher up the education ladder you go. I was looking specifically at engineering, the field I am most familiar with.

Although as it pertains to this thread, a bachelors in engineering still seems to almost guarantee you a solid middle class lifestyle. But you may hit a road bump at times (see 2008-2009 grads for example).
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:15 PM   #96
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One of the things that struct me when I moved back to the states at age 15, was how intellectual scholarship seemed to be looked down upon, disrespected - even despised to some extent. There was definitely peer pressure NOT to perform well academically, and keep quiet about it if you did. I remember being teased about my "big words", even though my vocabulary was typical of someone my age schooled in British Commonwealth school systems.
Many of today's schools are Lord of the Flies incubators of social pathology, with ghetto mores being projected up the social ladder rather than middle class mores being projected downward. Look at all the male high school students who live in the suburbs and drive their own newer cars but wear their pants down around their thighs.

I was extremely fortunate in that all my schools -parochial grade school and two public high schools, university and graduate school were extremely academically focused, and standout students enjoyed considerable social prestige.

Ha
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:20 PM   #97
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I had no idea until recently that the US High School graduation rate is around 70%.
My district has an 81% rate and I live in a pretty nice area. If you search around the web you realize the US is behind so many countries in high school graduation rate. How in the world can you expect to make a middle class wage without even a high school education? I am not saying everyone can be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon but a basic high school diploma?

I was blown away when I realized this fact- MIL mentioned her nearby city was trying to raise it's grad rate to 50% so I started looking it up. It is true that some people get GED, some enter the military or end up getting some type of training, but yikes.
I am sure some military person will comment.... but from what I understand if you do not have a high school diploma you are not even considered to join the military...
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:25 PM   #98
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One of the things that struct me when I moved back to the states at age 15, was how intellectual scholarship seemed to be looked down upon, disrespected - even despised to some extent. There was definitely peer pressure NOT to perform well academically, and keep quiet about it if you did. I remember being teased about my "big words", even though my vocabulary was typical of someone my age schooled in British Commonwealth school systems.
Certainly my case. Very little college focus from the school or faculty, peer pressure was mostly sports but uniformly anti-intellectual. (Chicago south suburbs). OTOH, our youngest went to high school in Westchester county NY and they started college prep in freshman year. The pressure to excel academically was intense. But, again, this is a reflection of the parents (and massively high property taxes).

My two oldest studied HS in Caracas at the American school. They were quite clear – their program was geared to US College admission, top tier if possible. If that wasn’t in your plan as a parent, other schools were recommended and encouraged.
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:20 PM   #99
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Growing up in a comfortable suburban neighborhood with a car of your own and plenty of food in the fridge provides a poor foundation for understanding the reality of life in a dingy, unsafe apartment and a daily wait at the bus stop. And when you've got a toothache or a mysterious pain, no health care.
Hopefully, the pendulum will swing back toward tech degrees and an appreciation of the worth of these careers.[/QUOTE]
I've noticed that a four-year military enlistment works wonders at motivating young adults to obtain a life-skills degree, not just a liberal-arts degree.

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Like Nords said in the previous post, work to live, not live to work - I'm extending this concept to education as well. Why not live it up and have a good time for as long as you can?
In today's world of lower expectations and accepting and forgiving failure to think and failure to plan, I'm not sure if my advice is optimal any more. Pardon the defeatist attitude!
We'd wait for our kid to get the gimmes for a surfboard or a boosted Mustang or some other consumer goodie, then we'd start with the "Better get a really good job!"

She knows it's all about choices, and choices are a lot better when you have money to pay for them. But she also seems to equate ROTC with having a guaranteed job after graduation instead of having to do those icky interviews. Maybe she'll feel a bit differently after sea duty.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I am sure some military person will comment.... but from what I understand if you do not have a high school diploma you are not even considered to join the military...
Well, homeschooled kids are hot prospects for the military because they generally "think different" and possess more maturity/independence than the vast majority of public-school grads. (Folks, don't nitpick me on this one, I'm speaking in broad demographic terms from military enlisted ASVAB & performance scores.) The military, particularly the Marines, are also willing to lower the standards when the recruiting ranks are thin.

"Lowering the standards" means they'll take up to 10% of their enlistees with waivers for lacking a high-school diploma or GED. But they prefer to enlist them on a delayed-entry program and use that time to coach them into the GED exam.

The Marines are particularly good at this. My tenant's kid was DEP for six months. During that time he was "invited" to 3x/week workouts at the local gyms (monthly making the drive to the Marine base gym). Once a month they learned drill skills and got to ask questions of a friendly sergeant major (I can almost see Leonidas smirking from here). Others were sent back to the recruiting station to arrange to re-take the ASVAB or to practice for the GED, and then take it.

Those recruiters went overboard to make sure their recruit-training counterparts had candidates who'd make it all the way through. They knew they wouldn't get credit for signing 'em up if they didn't survive the training.
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Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2010, 11:34 PM   #100
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For the science perspective, consider this

Don't become a scientist!


I can say for sure that although this one is from 1999 there wasn't a lot of this going around 10 years ago. Today it's a lot more prevalent. Since it existed back then it suggests that the sentiment at least existed to some degree to a sufficient degree that a professor (with an unusual degree of backbone and integrity) sought to publicly warn off incoming students.
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