“Don’t let education interfere with your learning.” – Mark Twain 
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#1 Comment By JBH On August 28, 2019 @ 4:31 pm
I can appreciate Mark Twain’s comment and some of the current (justified) disgust with our college system, however…
From personal experience the right college degree is a money maker. I was a high school dropout eventually getting a GED. I did fast food, an industrial laundry, landscaping, dairy work (my favorite), iron work (my close second favorite) and enlisted in the Navy. I eventually went to night school and got a Bachelors in Computer Science. I now split my time between many disciplines. On any given day, I may repair a hydraulic line, fusion splice a fiber optic line or fix a computer problem.
The degree has enabled me to negotiate wages from a considerably stronger position and in my estimation increased my earnings by hundreds of thousands of dollars over my career.
There is a current anti-college mantra resonating through conservative circles. The stereotype is the brain washed, over educated millennial who hides in some “safe space” and cannot change car tire. Some of those exist however what I see more of is the person unwilling to spend off time hours struggling with difficult course work into the late hours of the night or early morning. Calculus, organic chemistry, physics are some that seem to weed many out. That same person will often then criticize the person who slogged through all that and now makes more money than they do and perhaps ends up being their boss. That person will point to the person with the “Woman’s Studies” degree and laugh at their college debt while working retail. But they will avoid talking about the engineer/nurse/doctor/tech worker making very good money who may have even had their college debt paid off by their first employer as a recruiting bonus.
Specifically what has my degree made me in cash? Ironically, hourly, I make almost exactly the same amount inflation adjusted as I did as an iron worker in 1981. If I was still an iron worker I would make 25% less inflation adjusted than I did in 1981. Now I loved iron work, but I work for money not entertainment. The last 38 years has not been good to the American Blue Collar Worker.
My children, who are both mechanical engineers (pretty much at my insistence and mostly with my tuition money) make close to what I do now. Just decades earlier in their careers. And they can change a tire and oil and brakes and pound a nail and… Young people should know that and consider that when making career decisions.
On a side note, I suspect that the engineers, doctors, nurses, computer geeks, etc are also making less inflation adjusted than they would have in 1981 but I have never done the math. I think the last 38 years have been bad for almost all Americans but the “Professionals” just started out from a better position. I think if current trends continue the day is coming when many “Professionals” will make what Blue Collar Workers formerly made and Blue Collar Workers will be reduced to subsistence level. I think the current influx of legal immigrants is intended to destroy the “Professional’s” bargaining power and the influx of illegal immigrants is intended to destroy the Blue Collar Worker’s bargaining power. But that is just my own theory and not worth much.