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lockmat

It's a mindset - College

College  

25 members have voted

  1. 1. Did you attend college?

    • Yes
      20
    • No
      2
    • Yes, but did not finish.
      2
    • Yes, currently attending
      1
    • In high school and plan on attending.
      0


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I just wrote and sent this email to the HISD superintendent.

Why did y'all go to college? Was it the next logical step for you or did you have others encouraging you?

Hello Mr. Grier,

I wanted to humbly solicit a simple suggestion for helping our students in their quest to go to college.

My parents never went to college but for some reason when I was in high school, going to college was always the next logical step. Maybe it's because my sister went a few years before me. Regardless, it was not even in question if I was going or not. It was a mindset. I went and graduated in four years while playing baseball.

My point is, as you are fully aware, many of our kids don't even consider it an option for one reason or another. However, we need to ingrain it in them that yes, not only is it an option, but they can and will go to college. I couldn't go unless I thought it first and they must start thinking it and believing it. From pre-k and kindergarten, our teachers must be subtly talking to the children in way which assumes they will go to college, not just suggesting and encouraging them to. It's as simple as telling them on a regular basis that what they're learning now will help them when they get to college, to prepare them for their future career. Not only what they're learning but also letting them know that their conduct, attitudes, work ethic etc. will affect their success in college.

I am not suggesting micro managing teachers to make sure they are doing this, but instead, regularly informing them of why this is important and encouraging them to do this on a very regular basis.

I know you understand that Houston has so much potential with our ethnic and language diversities to reach out to the rest of the world because of our enormous population. And if Houston can become an education mecca, I think we all know it starts with HISD.

I commend you and thank you for your on going efforts to improve HISD.

Thanks for your time and have a great new years.

Regards,

Edited by lockmat

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I just wrote and sent this email to the HISD superintendent.

Why did y'all go to college? Was it the next logical step for you or did you have others encouraging you?

Allow me to preface this discussion by pointing out that I had gone to high school in one of the poorest parts of the country with among the lowest levels of educational attainment. The primary source of monetary in-flow to the area was from federal and state government for K-12 education, healthcare, and law enforcement. For lack of a tradition of education or even viable role models, most people lacked ambition or relegated themselves to generational poverty. The Rio Grande Valley is depressing like that. I had spent my early childhood growing up in central Texas, so I knew better and mostly just wanted to divorce myself from such places and such people.

Like yourself, going to college was something of a foregone conclusion. The logic was, "go to college, make money, invest, buy nice things (at some point)," or "don't go to college, make less money, never have nice things, and be relegated to interact with people that are typical of my high school peer group (whom I disliked)."

My logic was flawed in lots of different ways:

* It turns out that I dislike the majority of people in different ways but to about the same extent, regardless of class, education, intellect, or background.

* It turns out that nice things aren't as important to me as being financially secure. I can be thrifty and like it. (Frustratingly, however, nice things apparently are important to height-weight-proportionate women.)

* It turns out that I've got an innate enjoyment of the manipulation of things, theoretical or physical, and that I like getting out of an office setting on a regular basis. There are several career paths (some vocational) that I would've gotten more job satisfaction from.

* I wouldn't trade my economics degree for anything; it validated my doubt of everything and everyone. ...but if I hadn't gotten it, then I wouldn't have known what I was missing and would probably be just as content.

I'm not clear that college ascension should be as high a priority as you ascribe to it. I think that middle and high schools should strive to teach kids from a more multi-disciplinary perspective, that there should be more exposure to different kinds of realistic and attainable job skills and occupations, and an emphasis on how different occupations interact. Students should not be pressured by schools to do anything in particular; students should be empowered to decide for themselves, to make their own mistakes, and to be accountable for them.

In societies that have encouraged higher education as a means of economic development, this is what happens. Many college graduates (even very bright ones) find themselves unemployable on the other side, awash in a sea of mediocrity, stuck with the same credentials as too many other people, and perhaps trained to do a job that the State thinks will make it wealthy...but without regard to whether said wealth will make the people happy. From the State's perspective, such programs are also frequently disappointing. A balanced and sustainable society needs a diversity of occupationally-qualified people.

I would also argue that it is unwise to encourage less intelligent and only marginally ambitious people to pursue higher education. Rather than pulling themselves up, they may just end up pulling everyone else down.

Edited by TheNiche
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Dang, you're so right. I think when I wrote this I was thinking of growing Houston into "Boston," "NYC" or some other city with highly educated people that supposedly make the city great and wealthy. But I do want Houston to improve. I do not think educated people are better than those who aren't. I don't think education is necessarily the means to greatness, either. I think greatness is over rated but I admit that it's appealing. However, I do think education can allow people to get something they wouldn't normally be able to. At the same time, I look back at all the people in history who didn't have a sliver of formal education and they were our greatest inventors and leaders. However, in this world, it's usually harder to get a good job without the paper.

I'm not clear that college ascension should be as high a priority as you ascribe to it. I think that middle and high schools should strive to teach kids from a more multi-disciplinary perspective, that there should be more exposure to different kinds of realistic and attainable job skills and occupations, and an emphasis on how different occupations interact. Students should not be pressured by schools to do anything in particular; students should be empowered to decide for themselves, to make their own mistakes, and to be accountable for them.

I agree with this 100%!!! My dad is in police enforcement and while he's very smart I was never exposed to all the different kinds of opportunities that are out there. I guess I was never smart of enough to realize that all the things in this world, it took a job to do it. It's amazing how many different kinds of jobs there are out there. It's a shame that kids only think of being astronauts, teachers, lawyers and doctors. I love meeting people and finding out what they do. There are some very interesting jobs out there. I remember all those aptitude tests that were supposed to tell me what I should do and they'd ask if I'd like doing a certain job, but how was I supposed to know if I've never done it?!

In societies that have encouraged higher education as a means of economic development, this is what happens. Many college graduates (even very bright ones) find themselves unemployable on the other side, awash in a sea of mediocrity, stuck with the same credentials as too many other people, and perhaps trained to do a job that the State thinks will make it wealthy...but without regard to whether said wealth will make the people happy. From the State's perspective, such programs are also frequently disappointing. A balanced and sustainable society needs a diversity of occupationally-qualified people.

I have believed ever since my college years that the only reason the government wants us to be more educated is to make them/the USA/govt, more powerful. People/we ignorantly believe they have our best interests at heart, so we can live some "better" life, but a lot of times we just entrap ourselves into trying to buy happiness, a farce.

Also, I remember people always telling me to do "what I love." I don't believe in this either. What is the janitor, garbage man, secretaries and other jobs people view as "undesirable" to do? Yes, I know some of those people do what we should do and instead, "choose to love what you do," or simply just, "work hard" as we should. The CEO can't do his job without these people, and you're right, there is a need for every type of job.

I would also argue that it is unwise to encourage less intelligent and only marginally ambitious people to pursue higher education. Rather than pulling themselves up, they may just end up pulling everyone else down.

What do you mean by this?

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I just wrote and sent this email to the HISD superintendent.

Why did y'all go to college? Was it the next logical step for you or did you have others encouraging you?

My story: I've wanted to be an architect since I was eight years old. I got waylaid into a BA by my parents (college professors), and then went to grad school for my M-Arch. I'm still iffy on the value of my BA / M-Arch versus a B-Arch. I've come to appreciate the added knowledge. But there are times when I wish I'd gotten a B-Arch instead. Less time. Less money. Same architecture courses.

That said, let's ask ourselves: what is college? Whenever someone talks about how more kids need to go to college, they mean "more kids need to get four year degrees." But four year degrees aren't right for everyone; and a four year degree won't prepare you for all professions. For some kids, there's as much value to a four week truck driving course, or a nurse's aide certification program. For others, a four year degree is a stepping-stone to grad school. School districts would do well to acknowledge this; not just try to get as many kids as possible into four-year degrees.

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I don't want everyone to go to college. There is still a great need for skilled labor jobs, there has to be some direction in middle and high school to promote such things. Also, like Niche said everyone isn't smart enough to go to college, not even close. We still need people to do those crappy jobs the rest of us don't want to do. There aren't enough high school kids working to do them all, and they can't work the odd hours that some jobs require. I'm talking about unskilled labor here.

I think the promotion and encouragement of skilled labor careers is more important than worrying about education for the masses. It should be a more prominent thing that someone is an expert carpenter, mason, electrician, etc., instead of everything non-degree being lumped into "blue collar". Maybe the (average) pay rates will never be equal to white collar work, but you can easily argue that those skilled workers are contributing much more to the world. They probably also make up the vast majority of small business owners in this country. Not every success comes from a college education, tons of people without degrees make way more than I ever will, and I think I'm doing pretty well.

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I don't want everyone to go to college. There is still a great need for skilled labor jobs, there has to be some direction in middle and high school to promote such things. Also, like Niche said everyone isn't smart enough to go to college, not even close. We still need people to do those crappy jobs the rest of us don't want to do. There aren't enough high school kids working to do them all, and they can't work the odd hours that some jobs require. I'm talking about unskilled labor here.

I think the promotion and encouragement of skilled labor careers is more important than worrying about education for the masses. It should be a more prominent thing that someone is an expert carpenter, mason, electrician, etc., instead of everything non-degree being lumped into "blue collar".

I agree with this 100%.

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I don't want everyone to go to college. There is still a great need for skilled labor jobs, there has to be some direction in middle and high school to promote such things. Also, like Niche said everyone isn't smart enough to go to college, not even close. We still need people to do those crappy jobs the rest of us don't want to do. There aren't enough high school kids working to do them all, and they can't work the odd hours that some jobs require. I'm talking about unskilled labor here.

I think the promotion and encouragement of skilled labor careers is more important than worrying about education for the masses. It should be a more prominent thing that someone is an expert carpenter, mason, electrician, etc., instead of everything non-degree being lumped into "blue collar". Maybe the (average) pay rates will never be equal to white collar work, but you can easily argue that those skilled workers are contributing much more to the world. They probably also make up the vast majority of small business owners in this country. Not every success comes from a college education, tons of people without degrees make way more than I ever will, and I think I'm doing pretty well.

Only to a point. The problem is that the manufacturing industries that historically provided decent income jobs for those without college degrees have to a large extent gone away. There will always be some demand for skilled labor, but proportionately that share has been shrinking, along with the traditional "middle class". It is a far safer bet to get a degree and risk being over-educated for a job than to not get one and risk being stuck doing menial jobs.

Frustratingly, however, nice things apparently are important to height-weight-proportionate women.

Imagine that! :lol: Now there's a life lesson for you!

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Only to a point. The problem is that the manufacturing industries that historically provided decent income jobs for those without college degrees have to a large extent gone away. There will always be some demand for skilled labor, but proportionately that share has been shrinking, along with the traditional "middle class". It is a far safer bet to get a degree and risk being over-educated for a job than to not get one and risk being stuck doing menial jobs.

If you can swing it, yes definitely get the degree. But so many people couldn't pass college, so why set them up for failure? Promote the jobs they can excel in rather than making them feel like they are failing by not going to college. It's just a more realistic alternative for a large group.

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Not everyone is really smart, but I think the majority of people who do not go to college are underachieving. People perceive them as not being smart because they get bad grades. But they get bad grades b/c they're not taught discipline, held accountable etc etc, not because they're not smart.

Even if teachers would encourage kids to assume they will go to college, not all will go. But I agree with Subdude, it's better to be overeducated. Shoot, people can go to UH or SFA for a relatively cheap amount and get a good education. And I don't think anyone should be determining who should and shouldn't go to school because we perceive them as not being smart enough. If they're not smart enough (or are just not willing to put the work in, most likely) then they just won't make it. Last I heard, the majority of freshman don't make it to their second year anyway.

But if I was one of those kids that Niche grew up with in the valley or a kid with bad parents in a bad neighborhood in Houston, I'd want someone to encourage the best for me, not just assume I'm not smart enough and pigeon hole me for a minimum wage job for the rest of my life. I think we've discussed this before but not everyone who goes and finishes college is necessarily "smart." There are plenty of people who didn't go to college that are more intelligent than those who did.

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It is a far safer bet to get a degree and risk being over-educated for a job than to not get one and risk being stuck doing menial jobs.

It is far safer to insure one's life, health, and possessions for the maximum amounts and at the lowest deductible possible, however doing so comes at a significant price. Most people won't do this because it doesn't make sense for their particular circumstances.

The difference between an insurance policy and a degree isn't even that great. Neither is guaranteed to pay off when you need it most, whether you're convinced that they should or not. I've got multiple degrees but spent 20 months unemployed because all of my professional experience was in a niche labor market that no longer existed, however I had too much experience to fall back on entry level jobs where an employer would have any confidence in my tenure or motivation. It sucked!

Higher education offers a multitude of benefits (some of them tangible, others not), however the costs are also significant. Whether a particular education program is right for someone ought to be carefully weighed based on their circumstances. There are no effective bright-line rules. Public schools should do more to equip their students to make their decisions good ones.

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Even if teachers would encourage kids to assume they will go to college, not all will go. But I agree with Subdude, it's better to be overeducated. Shoot, people can go to UH or SFA for a relatively cheap amount and get a good education.

Relative to what?

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Shoot, people can go to UH or SFA for a relatively cheap amount and get a good education. And I don't think anyone should be determining who should and shouldn't go to school because we perceive them as not being smart enough. If they're not smart enough (or are just not willing to put the work in, most likely) then they just won't make it. Last I heard, the majority of freshman don't make it to their second year anyway.

You just defeated your own argument. Those flunking freshmen have now wasted a year's tuition plus several years of prime learning and training years, and are no better off for it.

There are plenty of articles and studies questioning the wisdom of expensive college degrees. Here is just one.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2006/0327/039.html

While he is merely lambasting private schools, public schools aren't cheap, either. And, what good is that degree from SFA, anyway? It may satisfy a job requirement for an otherwise determined applicant, but for the majority of people, it will sit in they're closet while they go to work in sales.

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You just defeated your own argument. Those flunking freshmen have now wasted a year's tuition plus several years of prime learning and training years, and are no better off for it.

There are plenty of articles and studies questioning the wisdom of expensive college degrees. Here is just one.

http://www.forbes.co...6/0327/039.html

While he is merely lambasting private schools, public schools aren't cheap, either. And, what good is that degree from SFA, anyway? It may satisfy a job requirement for an otherwise determined applicant, but for the majority of people, it will sit in they're closet while they go to work in sales.

I don't really see how that's defeating my own argument. In my proposal, we're encouraging kids to attend college who never thought it was possible. Just like the kids who already go to college and might flunk out, the same will be for this group, of course. But this way, the good kids who will stay in are ones we've gained because otherwise they never would have gone had they not been encouraged.

I would say more HISD kids don't even think about going to college compared to a suburban kid. Suburban kids are not any smarter than urban ones. They might be better educated and groomed, but not necessarily smarter. All I'm saying is we're giving them a chance.

That degree from SFA might not bring as much prestige as a UT or A&M, but it brings opportunity. There's so many jobs out there that people can't even get an interview for b/c they don't have the paper. They might have the experience, but it doesn't matter. The paper opens doors that otherwise would not be possible.

I have a friend looking for a higher paying job. Yet, he can't even get a sniff at the jobs that I'm able to because he doesn't have a degree. I'm not saying there aren't jobs out there that pay well that don't require one, but there are much less. Now he wants to go back to school, like a lot of people, but he can't because he doesn't have the time or money.

If kids realise in elementary, middle school and high school that their grades can affect their future, it can be a difference maker in our society.

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I would echo Niche's thoughts, and I'd even say my outlook is even more dim. The need for a college education, or at least the 4 year general degree, keeps diminishing because we simply don't have enough work to go around. Most of us without specialized or applied degrees work for some middleman in an economic culture based on extracting a percentage on moving someone else's money or property around. That's a big risk to take on job security on a $50,000 investment (on the low end). If I were giving advice to my 10-year old niece on her future, I would tell her that if she really wanted a college degree with meaningful ROI, to stick to applied math and sciences, become fluent in at least one other language, and be willing to move out of the country more or less permanently.

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I would echo Niche's thoughts, and I'd even say my outlook is even more dim. The need for a college education, or at least the 4 year general degree, keeps diminishing because we simply don't have enough work to go around. Most of us without specialized or applied degrees work for some middleman in an economic culture based on extracting a percentage on moving someone else's money or property around. That's a big risk to take on job security on a $50,000 investment (on the low end). If I were giving advice to my 10-year old niece on her future, I would tell her that if she really wanted a college degree with meaningful ROI, to stick to applied math and sciences, become fluent in at least one other language, and be willing to move out of the country more or less permanently.

The college degree won't buy you job security, but it leaves you open to more opportunities. Your advice about studying math or sciences and becoming fluent in another language is sound, although I wouldn't think there's a need to move out of the country. The US job market may be dire but a lot of places are just as bad.

My parent's mantra was always "Study accounting - you'll always be able to find a job in it" and I still tend to believe they were onto something there.

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You just defeated your own argument. Those flunking freshmen have now wasted a year's tuition plus several years of prime learning and training years, and are no better off for it.

There are plenty of articles and studies questioning the wisdom of expensive college degrees. Here is just one.

http://www.forbes.co...6/0327/039.html

While he is merely lambasting private schools, public schools aren't cheap, either. And, what good is that degree from SFA, anyway? It may satisfy a job requirement for an otherwise determined applicant, but for the majority of people, it will sit in they're closet while they go to work in sales.

I don't really see how that's defeating my own argument. In my proposal, we're encouraging kids to attend college who never thought it was possible. Just like the kids who already go to college and might flunk out, the same will be for this group, of course. But this way, the good kids who will stay in are ones we've gained because otherwise they never would have gone had they not been encouraged.

I would say more HISD kids don't even think about going to college compared to a suburban kid. Suburban kids are not any smarter than urban ones. They might be better educated and groomed, but not necessarily smarter. All I'm saying is we're giving them a chance.

That degree from SFA might not bring as much prestige as a UT or A&M, but it brings opportunity. There's so many jobs out there that people can't even get an interview for b/c they don't have the paper. They might have the experience, but it doesn't matter. The paper opens doors that otherwise would not be possible.

I have a friend looking for a higher paying job. Yet, he can't even get a sniff at the jobs that I'm able to because he doesn't have a degree. I'm not saying there aren't jobs out there that pay well that don't require one, but there are much less. Now he wants to go back to school, like a lot of people, but he can't because he doesn't have the time or money.

If kids realise in elementary, middle school and high school that their grades can affect their future, it can be a difference maker in our society.

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I don't really see how that's defeating my own argument. In my proposal, we're encouraging kids to attend college who never thought it was possible. Just like the kids who already go to college and might flunk out, the same will be for this group, of course. But this way, the good kids who will stay in are ones we've gained because otherwise they never would have gone had they not been encouraged.

I would say more HISD kids don't even think about going to college compared to a suburban kid. Suburban kids are not any smarter than urban ones. They might be better educated and groomed, but not necessarily smarter. All I'm saying is we're giving them a chance.

That degree from SFA might not bring as much prestige as a UT or A&M, but it brings opportunity. There's so many jobs out there that people can't even get an interview for b/c they don't have the paper. They might have the experience, but it doesn't matter. The paper opens doors that otherwise would not be possible.

I have a friend looking for a higher paying job. Yet, he can't even get a sniff at the jobs that I'm able to because he doesn't have a degree. I'm not saying there aren't jobs out there that pay well that don't require one, but there are much less. Now he wants to go back to school, like a lot of people, but he can't because he doesn't have the time or money.

What you're primarily concerned about (I think) is personal finance, and I agree that personal finance is a topic that high school upperclassmen need to be taught. A subset of personal finance is college finance. People need to understand that there are opportunities out there for them to pay for college...if they really want it. For some, the only available opportunities entail them working their asses off and making some sacrifices. But it can be done.

Show me a physically and mentally able person that is convinced that they can't pull it off. That person doesn't need (or perhaps doesn't really want) to go to college.

If kids realise in elementary, middle school and high school that their grades can affect their future, it can be a difference maker in our society.

Yes and no.

Here's the story of how I decided on coming to Houston. I was a sophomore in High School taking the first semester of French II. I didn't do any of the homework or projects because it was mostly just busy work (BW), and I had a low tolerance for BW. The teacher was exasperated with me. She'd throw little fits in class and attempt to shame me publicly and privately. It wasn't working. In fact, I kind of enjoyed passing her exams, just to rub her nose in her own BW. I still failed that semester and never made up for it, not realizing until a couple months into my senior year that UT and A&M required at least two years of foreign language for admissions. Oops. Too late. Houston, here I come.

And the rest is history. It turns out that Houston was the better place for me. It seems unlikely that I'd have gotten professional work experience as a college student in Austin or College Station. I wouldn't have graduated with an investment portfolio and without non-business debt. The last couple of years have witnessed those circumstances reversed, oddly enough, but that was a random circumstance mostly related to a profession that I got into during the last down-cycle.

Oddly enough, I've only ever been seriously asked for my still-crappy grades by two prospective employers. And both were last year. Once, on the Census application. And once, applying for Army Officer Candidate School (because I was below the GPA cutoff for Air Force or Navy).

What does that tell you? To me, it indicates that--of those who haven't outright failed and dropped out--the difference between grade scores has a little bit to do with intelligence but mostly has to do with one's aptitude for brown-nosing. Good grades allow bureaucrats and administrators to rank-order a population of students by their ability to reliably and competently follow orders. That reveals very little of one's capacity for critical thinking or creative output, and provides limited insight as to one's ultimate economic productivity. (At its worst, the class ranking process indicates whose parents know how to game the system, and oh yes, it can be gamed.)

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You just defeated your own argument. Those flunking freshmen have now wasted a year's tuition plus several years of prime learning and training years, and are no better off for it.

There are plenty of articles and studies questioning the wisdom of expensive college degrees. Here is just one.

http://www.forbes.co...6/0327/039.html

While he is merely lambasting private schools, public schools aren't cheap, either. And, what good is that degree from SFA, anyway? It may satisfy a job requirement for an otherwise determined applicant, but for the majority of people, it will sit in they're closet while they go to work in sales.

I don't really see how that's defeating my own argument. In my proposal, we're encouraging kids to attend college who never thought it was possible. Just like the kids who already go to college and might flunk out, the same will be for this group, of course. But this way, the good kids who will stay in are ones we've gained because otherwise they never would have gone had they not been encouraged.

I would say more HISD kids don't even think about going to college compared to a suburban kid. Suburban kids are not any smarter than urban ones. They might be better educated and groomed, but not necessarily smarter. All I'm saying is we're giving them a chance.

That degree from SFA might not bring as much prestige as a UT or A&M, but it brings opportunity. There's so many jobs out there that people can't even get an interview for b/c they don't have the paper. They might have the experience, but it doesn't matter. The paper opens doors that otherwise would not be possible.

I have a friend looking for a higher paying job. Yet, he can't even get a sniff at the jobs that I'm able to because he doesn't have a degree. I'm not saying there aren't jobs out there that pay well that don't require one, but there are much less. Now he wants to go back to school, like a lot of people, but he can't because he doesn't have the time or money.

If kids realise in elementary, middle school and high school that their grades can affect their future, it can be a difference maker in our society.

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If kids realise in elementary, middle school and high school that their grades can affect their future, it can be a difference maker in our society.

True, although kids aren't necessarily receptive to the message.

To me, it indicates that--of those who haven't outright failed and dropped out--the difference between grade scores has a little bit to do with intelligence but mostly has to do with one's aptitude for brown-nosing. Good grades allow bureaucrats and administrators to rank-order a population of students by their ability to reliably and competently follow orders. That reveals very little of one's capacity for critical thinking or creative output, and provides limited insight as to one's ultimate economic productivity.

I don't think anyone in their right mind would ever claim that grades were an indicator of "ultimate economic productivity", but for a prospective employer of a kid out of school they are about the only indicator available. The fact that grades aren't perfect doesn't mean one can conclude they aren't important, especially based on anecdotal evidence.

Furthermore, rather than characterize it as "aptitude for brown-nosing" I would say that prospective employers probably assume, granted with some degree of error, that good grades are indicative of an applicant that has been well-socialized, and that plays well with others. If you are an employer at the end of the day this is as much if not more important than native intelligence.

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Furthermore, rather than characterize it as "aptitude for brown-nosing" I would say that prospective employers probably assume, granted with some degree of error, that good grades are indicative of an applicant that has been well-socialized, and that plays well with others.

You say potato, I say potatoe.

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From a book review in the Economist:

A university degree has never been more essential for securing good employment. Graduates earn 54% more on average than those who never graduated, yet only a quarter of Americans between 25 and 34 have a bachelor’s degree. Nearly half of the 3m people who enroll in university in America drop out within six years (among wealthy countries, only Italy has a worse rate. Part of the trouble, Mr Settersten and Ms Ray point out, is that in the absence of reliable public schools, parents must play a big role in the academic careers of their children. Good quality, low-cost options for higher education abound (despite the rising price of private tuition), yet the children of poorly educated adults are less likely to make the necessary investment in education. The debt that young people carry today is often not from college, the MacArthur research finds, but from the cost of not investing in college.).

Link

Personally I was gobsmacked to read the statistic about only a quarter of Americans having bachelor's degrees.

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From a book review in the Economist:

Link

Personally I was gobsmacked to read the statistic about only a quarter of Americans having bachelor's degrees.

Yeah, it's easy for people to characterize their peer group as being the norm and to develop distorted worldviews. That tendency is reinforced when social networking and niche media sites (including HAIF) tend to bring large numbers of like-minded people together.

Among people between about 25 and 35, the percent that have college degrees is higher...and so is unemployment. Let's be honest about it. College degrees do not create very many jobs. For a given population, there need be only so many housing units, and for so many housing units there need be only so many Realtors or apartment managers, so many title officers, so many repairmen of various skill sets, so many mortgage brokers, so many investment bankers and securities traders, and so many analysts working for institutional investors, etc. Adding college degrees does not disturb that equilibrium. And most industries are pretty much like that.

That people with college degrees make more money is a good reason for someone to raise their kid with college ambitions. (And hopefully their kid will take care of them when they're old and decrepit.) The issue should not be one that is tackled at the governmental level, however.

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College degrees do not create very many jobs.

You are correct. College degrees do not create jobs. But what they do create is choice and opportunity.

Someone with a college degree can choose to go after a wider range of white and blue collar jobs than someone with only a high school degree.

That doesn't mean a particular person with a high school degree doesn't have certain smarts or experience or whatever that makes him better qualified for a job than another particular person with a college degree. But when someone in an HR office is going through hundreds of resumes for a handful of jobs, in 99% of the cases, the high school-only grad is going in the trash. It's not always right, but it is a fact of life. And there's no point in limiting your own career path.

For some, a college degree defines who they are. For others, it's just another bullet in the arsenal that is their resume and life experience. Either way, it's better to have more bullets than fewer.

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College degrees do not create very many jobs.

They don’t make better roads either, or write grander symphonies or any number of other worthy things. That still doesn’t mean that a college education isn’t worthwhile. A college degree is hardly a guarantee, but it offers the best shot at better opportunity for most people.

It’s more subjective, but I would also think that not only individuals, but society as a whole benefits from a better-educated populace. It's not just about learning a specific skill set, it's about becoming a more well-rounded person overall. Plus a better-educated society is more likely to produce an economy to provide better jobs.

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On a micro level, it is easy to make the argument that a college degree can help an individual get a better job, better pay, and better chance for advancement. The problem is on the macro level. If EVERYONE got a college degree, but there are only jobs for HALF of them, then one half of those individuals may have wasted their money, and worse, may be saddled with paying college loans on a non-college salary. THOSE individuals would have been far better off getting an education in a trade, earning a respectable wage without the burden of student loans.

The arguments that I see on this thread and in every other pro-dgeree argument only approach it from the micro level. They make the argument that the degree places the individual at an advantage over all of those who did not pursue a degree. And, this largely true. However, lockmat wrote his letter to the superintendent of HISD, not a kid at Fonde Recreation Center. And many of those kids in HISD simply cannot get to college, or will not graduate. Is the HISD super doing those kids any favors by ignoring the elephant in the room and blindly pushing college for all, when we know good and well that many will not make it and be saddled with crushing debt and no degree?

As is usually the case, the devil is in the details. The initial statement, "kids should strive for a college degree" sounds fantastic in theory. The reality is far different. HISD should devote as much effort to helping the non-college kids succeed as does in encouraging the college bound kids to succeed. One size simply does not fit all, and the sooner we recognize it, the better.

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On a micro level, it is easy to make the argument that a college degree can help an individual get a better job, better pay, and better chance for advancement. The problem is on the macro level. If EVERYONE got a college degree, but there are only jobs for HALF of them, then one half of those individuals may have wasted their money, and worse, may be saddled with paying college loans on a non-college salary.

Thank you for articulating this more effectively. The macro-level "pro-degree" position is a logical fallacy of composition.

What people need to understand is that the United States and other developed first-world nations have going for it is not that we are no smarter, no more talented, and no more ambitious than any other population from any other part of the world. What makes us more wealthy (than a place like Tunisia) is a tradition of political stability and property rights.

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It appears most people who have responded to this thread have had similar experiences. Allow me to offer my experience to the thread..

When I was in high school, I loved cars, and I chose to take a vocational class. I think because the teacher was so engaging, I decided to go to a vocational school to 'learn' how to work on cars. What I learned is that I already knew everything they 'taught' me and that when I got the associates degree at the end of 9 months, that was all I had paid for, was the piece of paper.

I worked as an automotive technician for 2 years. During that time I learned a lot. I saw some of the techs who applied themselves and were dedicated to their job, and continued to learn about new technologies. They succeeded. Some of them could have applied that drive and initiative anywhere and been successful. They liked working on cars, so they kept at it. I saw guys dropping 120 hour weeks (techs get paid based on flagged hours, not actual hours, so if replacing a water pump 'paid' a tech 3 hours, but it only took him 1 to complete the job, he got paid for 3 hours of labor), they took home easily over 100k a year back in the mid 90s.

After 2 years I learned that working in that field required a person to be aggressive, you had to put up with crappy conditions, standing for 8+ hours a day, baking in the heat of the summer, and freezing in the middle of winter, if it was raining you had to go find a car in the lot regardless. It wasn't for me.

Back then the internet was just kicking off, HTML was the web designers choice, and I taught myself how to build websites, got a job through a friend building sites and have been involved in computers and technology ever since.

I think success is what you make of it, not what fancy papers you have hanging on your wall. What a person learns when they are educated may or may not have any relevancy on what they do for a living. A persons success comes from being able to learn new things, have the initiative to show they are capable every day, and are willing to network.

I'm happy with the choices I've made. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Has it taken me longer to get where I am today? I don't know.

Would I be making more money right now if I had gone to college? Maybe, maybe not.

The point is, college isn't for everybody. Each person has to find the way that works for them.

I manage a technical group at this point in my life and I've hired people both with and without college educations, I'm most interested in whether a person has the technical aptitude to do the job, and desire to push themselves, not just do the bare minimum it takes. Whether a person learned these things in college, or on their own, I don't really care.

Yes there are careers that require a certain level of education, and as I don't have a degree, I can't get those jobs, but I don't want them. A person has to realize what they want to do in life, and they have to be willing to do what it takes to get there.

You might say, well, regardless of the careers that require it, there are still companies that won't hire for a position without that degree, well, sometimes it isn't what you know, but who you know. If you know someone that works in a company like that, and they know your capabilities and want you on the team, if they can't fit you in at the position that requires a degree, they will justify a new position being made in the company that requires the exact skills you poses, and not a degree.

Anyway, college may grease the wheels and make things easier initially to get where a person wants to be, but through hard work and perseverance, anyone can do anything, it just takes initiative.

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You might say, well, regardless of the careers that require it, there are still companies that won't hire for a position without that degree, well, sometimes it isn't what you know, but who you know.

This got me to thinking. After graduating college, I interviewed with over 40 oil and gas companies with no luck during the 1982 slump. My mom knew a guy in construction and suggested that I talk to him. Got the job. Then came law school. After graduating, my brother in law offered me a position with his firm. When I decided that I liked criminal law better, a law school friend greased the skids to get on with the DA. When I left the law business for a few years, another friend got me on with his firm. When I got back into law, another friend got me on with his firm. When I went out on my own, my friends sent me clients.

Every single job I have had in my adult life has come from who I know.

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I would echo Niche's thoughts, and I'd even say my outlook is even more dim. The need for a college education, or at least the 4 year general degree, keeps diminishing because we simply don't have enough work to go around. Most of us without specialized or applied degrees work for some middleman in an economic culture based on extracting a percentage on moving someone else's money or property around. That's a big risk to take on job security on a $50,000 investment (on the low end). If I were giving advice to my 10-year old niece on her future, I would tell her that if she really wanted a college degree with meaningful ROI, to stick to applied math and sciences, become fluent in at least one other language, and be willing to move out of the country more or less permanently.

I agree that there are gaps between current degrees and needs. Likewise, I would add that in many technical fields we can't even fill some jobs during the worst times. I guess supply and demand is an important consideration along with being flexible and global.

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What does that tell you? To me, it indicates that--of those who haven't outright failed and dropped out--the difference between grade scores has a little bit to do with intelligence but mostly has to do with one's aptitude for brown-nosing. Good grades allow bureaucrats and administrators to rank-order a population of students by their ability to reliably and competently follow orders. That reveals very little of one's capacity for critical thinking or creative output, and provides limited insight as to one's ultimate economic productivity. (At its worst, the class ranking process indicates whose parents know how to game the system, and oh yes, it can be gamed.)

Completely agree with the last part, either with their parent's help or otherwise. Many people that were ranked ahead of me in high school failed out of college (I just finished outside the top 10% by 5 or 6 people). They gamed the system and eventually lost.

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From NY Times:

The pay gap between people who attended college and people who didn’t continued to grow — and is now wider than it has ever been. The typical college graduates makes about 75 percent more every week than the typical non-graduate.

So the overall story lines remain the same. College provides a far better economic return than in past decades despite the skepticism you sometimes hear. And one of the more unusual aspects of this downturn is that pay remains higher today for most workers than when the downturn began. But 2010 helped make the trends less severe. Rather than unemployment soaring while pay rose — as happened in 2009 — unemployment and pay both fell somewhat last year.

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I think success is what you make of it, not what fancy papers you have hanging on your wall. What a person learns when they are educated may or may not have any relevancy on what they do for a living. A persons success comes from being able to learn new things, have the initiative to show they are capable every day, and are willing to network.

Yes, yes, yes! This is so very true. And this is what we need to be focusing on when we prepare kids for the future. It seems to me education right now is so "results" oriented (and don't even get me going on the standardized tests!) that we just create these educated rote-learners that can parrot a lot of info, but have no idea about how to synthesize it or what to make of it. Not everyone is cut out for college, true. But everyone should have enough basic knowledge to understand where the employment opportunities are, and how to use what they know to make a living.

We live in the age of Wikipedia, it's not a question of being able to get info. We need to teach kids to think, and think critically.

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We need to teach kids to think, and think critically.

A million "Amens." My organic chemistry professor came in at the start of class one day and slammed down a stack of papers on his desk. It turns out these were the most recent exams the class took (he was known to do this at least once in each semester). He launched into a diatribe about how poor the grades were, yadda, yadda, yadda but concluded his rant in the usual way (remember most college freshmen weren't yet familiar with his usual way) by saying, "Most of you, even those who go on to become physicians and pharmacists, will not use most of this stuff in your jobs. The point of this class is not to teach you to balance chemical equations - it is to teach you to think!"

In my parents' and grandparents' day learning to think was done at home and in elementary and high school. I guess my generation (baby boomer) was the first that needed to go to college to do that. What's left for future generations if they are not learning to think even in college? I don't mean to sound arrogant but I am, as are most people, too intelligent to allow myself to be trained although I am most willing to be educated.

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On a micro level, it is easy to make the argument that a college degree can help an individual get a better job, better pay, and better chance for advancement. The problem is on the macro level. If EVERYONE got a college degree, but there are only jobs for HALF of them, then one half of those individuals may have wasted their money, and worse, may be saddled with paying college loans on a non-college salary. THOSE individuals would have been far better off getting an education in a trade, earning a respectable wage without the burden of student loans.

An argument as to why it is better on a macro level to have a better educated society (from NYT). It's not just about a matter of plugging grad/non-grads into jobs. A higher level of education in a country contributes to higher aggregate productivity.

Even More Productive Than Americans

By DAVID LEONHARDT

...

But the best measure of productivity is probably output per hour, not output per person. By that measure, our own Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the United States trails at least two other countries, Norway and Ireland.

Norway and Ireland have something else in common. A decade and a half ago, they both trailed the United States in education attainment. In the United States, 33 percent of young adults in 1995 received a four-year college degree in the mid-1990s, compared with 26 percent in Norway and 30 percent or less in Ireland. (The earliest data point for Ireland from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development comes from the year 2000.)

Since the mid-1990s, though, Norway and Ireland have passed us. By 2008, the United States had increased its college graduation rate to merely 37 percent, while Norway was at 41 percent and Ireland at 46 percent.

There’s a relationship between these two patterns. More educated, skilled workers tend to be more productive. And more productive societies tend to grow faster and become richer.

Economix link

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And what do we do with that 54 to 63% that do not have a college education? Your own link states that more than half the adults in the most productive countries have not completed a college education. And, do we need, or even want, college educated construction workers, waiters and landscapers? Is that a wise use of education resources? Or do you believe a country of degreed professionals would no longer need their lawn mowed or their oil changed?

Edited by RedScare

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And what do we do with that 54 to 63% that do not have a college education? Your own link states that more than half the adults in the most productive countries have not completed a college education. And, do we need, or even want, college educated construction workers, waiters and landscapers? Is that a wise use of education resources? Or do you believe a country of degreed professionals would no longer need their lawn mowed or their oil changed?

Again I'll ask what is a college education? I went to four years of undergrad. By most arguments, I have a college education. But what about the lady who did a 2 year associate's degree? Do we say she has a college education? How about the guy who did a four week certification course? Is he college educated?

There's a tendency to oversimplify the argument "everyone needs to go to college," by assuming it means "everyone needs to get a four year college degree."

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The posts suggesting that everyone should get a college degree seem to be intimating the 4 year bachelor's variety. My suggestion is that education in this country should be upgraded in the non-traditional areas. The 63% who are not getting usable skills, but will never attain a bachelor's degree, are the ones we need to worry about. It should be noted that the problem is not just in the schools. When manufacturing jobs and other skilled trades are disappearing here, no amount of trade school education will secure employment. However, the initial post suggest that 100% college enrollment for HISD students should be a goal. That posts suggests a goal for the sake of goals, as opposed to doing what is best for individual students. Links to articles lauding 46% of adults with college degrees as world leaders only proves my point.

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An argument as to why it is better on a macro level to have a better educated society (from NYT). It's not just about a matter of plugging grad/non-grads into jobs. A higher level of education in a country contributes to higher aggregate productivity.

Economix link

The study identified a correlation between an increase in education and an increase in productivity, and of course productivity translates directly into earnings.

That begs the question, however, as to whether an increase in earnings correlates with an increase in the demand for education. I think the answer is an emphatic yes. I'd posit that earnings also affect the kind of education that is attempted, for instance whether someone is going after a professional, technical, or scientific degree or a soft degree that is mostly just a place-filler for someone whose angst-filled life has no better direction or pressing unfulfilled needs.

EDIT: Oh, and I'd also like to mention how all this recent unrest in North Africa and the Middle East was pretty directly linked to a macro-level attempt at educating a population for the sake of an economic development program that didn't work.

Edited by TheNiche

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Again I'll ask what is a college education? I went to four years of undergrad. By most arguments, I have a college education. But what about the lady who did a 2 year associate's degree? Do we say she has a college education? How about the guy who did a four week certification course? Is he college educated?

There's a tendency to oversimplify the argument "everyone needs to go to college," by assuming it means "everyone needs to get a four year college degree."

I certainly don't consider myself having a college education, although I do have an associates degree. hell, I don't even know where the parchment is anymore.

Anyway, everyone does not need a college education.

Everyone does need to understand the following:

without self motivation you won't go anywhere

in order to stay ahead you have to continue to learn every day of your life

network every day, the guy you are rude to on the phone with today, may be looking to hire someone with your skills tomorrow

Whether you're cutting grass, cultivating illegal narcotics, managing a bank, or a CEO of some random company, you won't get ahead and stay ahead if you don't understand.

As far as that article that correlates productivity with education, I don't buy it, there are way too many variables to even consider that a 15 year study is enough to draw any conclusion at all.

edit: think of it this way (to further the point someone made about lawn care)...

are you willing to pay someone extra to cut your lawn if they have a college education?

probably not.

How is anything else any different? If someone has the experience and the references to back that experience up (lets say in the role of a design consultant with dirigibles), who cares if they have a piece of paper that says they majored in anthropology?

Edited by samagon

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edit: think of it this way (to further the point someone made about lawn care)...

are you willing to pay someone extra to cut your lawn if they have a college education?

probably not.

How is anything else any different? If someone has the experience and the references to back that experience up (lets say in the role of a design consultant with dirigibles), who cares if they have a piece of paper that says they majored in anthropology?

In reality, experience only means something if you have the degree, in most cases. Like I said before, there are plenty of jobs people without a degree can't even get a sniff at b/c they don't have one, regardless of experience. Almost always if two people with the same amount of experience go in for an interview, the one with the degree will get the job.

I agree, experience should weigh more than a degree in a lot of cases, but it's just not the way it is.

Plus, a lot of people see someone who has a degree as more responsible. Yeah, it's not necessarily that hard to get one, but look at how many people actually do. Ones who don't get one either made bad/immature decisions right out of high school, or went and were not disciplined enough to get through it. There are other legitimate reasons why people don't get one, but very few people don't go because they had some better or smarter plan.

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In reality, experience only means something if you have the degree, in most cases.

very few people don't go because they had some better or smarter plan.

This is probably true for most corporate positions. For small businesses or entrepreneurs the ability to actually get things done is paramount.

As you mentioned in your letter, the mindset is what counts. Does anyone know (or care) what level of education Mattress Mac has achieved? There have been plenty of immigrants in Houston who have had little formal education (or degrees which are not recognized here) who have built successful businesses - contractors, convenience store owners, real estate investors, and yes, lawn care.

The education is the icing, but the work ethic is the cake.

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