With the cost of a college education going through the roof, what would you tell my grandson to study so he can be sure of getting a good job when he graduates?
If your grandson’s main goal is to get a job, I would suggest he rethink the whole idea of going to college. There is, it seems, a major cause of confusion in our society because people don’t understand the difference between education and training. Education is akin to research and development in that one never knows where – if anywhere – it will eventually lead. It’s certainly a nice luxury if one can afford it and if one has the capacity to grow intellectually but it’s no guarantee of a steady income. Training, on the other hand, addresses the skills and knowledge necessary to do a job. Traditionally, advanced education was reserved for just a tiny portion of the population while all others learned a trade and that was often through the apprentice system.
The idea of four extra years of schooling got started in the late 40’s when a great many first generation college students enrolled in institutions of higher learning. This wave was mostly the result of WW2 veterans returning home and finding themselves eligible for free tuition…which, in turn, was simply the government’s way of keeping all those able bodies from overwhelming the rapidly swelling labor force. After that, a newly prosperous middle class and the notion of keeping up with the Joneses fostered a second wave of towns going off to join gowns. With the value of a free, public high school diploma in tatters, additional waves brought the elephant in the room into sharp focus. Intellect is not democratically distributed. It became obvious that not all who are exposed to higher education have the wherewithal to profit as college students attempted to burn down college campuses. But the idea that earning was somehow tied to learning had by then become firmly entrenched despite the fact that college professors often made less than plumbers.