24th February 2013
Class mobility is not what it used to be in our country, but there are few notions less constructive than that the only way to a middle class life is college. Vocational training should be thought of as the American Dream just as much as four years in a dorm.
For one thing, plenty of people without B.A.s have nice homes and raise nice kids. Besides, too many people in college are there only to get “that piece of paper” for things college has nothing to do with. In a better America, we’d let them realize themselves years earlier.
I like a report by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce . First, mandatory schooling should end after 10th grade. That 10-year education would be fully packed, based on schooling techniques proven to work.
This is how it works in Britain. People who finish what we would call 10th grade get their GCSE; only those headed to college take the two-year program called Sixth Form.
But factory jobs are not the only ones that don’t require college. Did the guy who installed your cable-TV service have a college degree? How many sound technicians, mechanics or building inspectors spent four years on a college campus? How about the person who did your ultrasound? They are perfectly skilled — without having gone to college.
Most jobs in Information Technology are the same way. Nothing that I do in my daily job, for which I get paid six figures, is built on any one of my three degree programs. What matters in native intelligence — as notorious college dropouts Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg demonstrate quite handily.
You will hear that some employers are requiring college degrees for low-level jobs, but this is static amid a larger reality. Commonly, those employers are grooming these people for higher-level jobs that have always required college.
Horseshit. They require a college degree to have some confidence that their applicants know at least what high school graduates of our parents’ generation knew — our educational system sucks that bad. Modern American high school graduates are lucky if they graduate with the literacy and numeracy skills that elementary school graduates had back before WWII.