Monday, September 26, 2011

Higher Education Reform?

Your MatchGirl is worried, gentle readers. If the economy doesn't improve, unemployeds will have to take jobs that are well below their education levels, well below what they were making in the past. And those just graduating from university will have no chance of getting a foot in the door. We need more training. We need more education. We need to reform education.

We need to let people know that it's OK - maybe even awesome - to go to technical schools and community colleges and get themselves on the right path for the future. We need to let people know that university is not only for expanding ones mind, but it's a place to learn to cooperate, to get along with other people (maybe some not so similar to you)... but that it doesn't guarantee a job right out of college.

This is the hardest the job market has been in a long time and we need to be realistic in what we tell kids entering the higher education system. Your MatchGirl went to a fancy university and got good grades. She partied hard and worked harder. She did the extra-curricular activities. She graduated with awards and honors. But none of this helped her focus on what she would do with it in the future - for her future. I could do "anything" and because of this, it took me a long time to figure out what that was. And I lived hand-to-mouth in the process.

A college education is necessary. It's the only way to get ahead. To get promotions. To get in front of the crowd. But there are a lot of options today - many that were not there when I was in school - that can help put today's young people on the right path. Maybe it's time we let them see all the options available, and give them the tools to decide the direction that will be the best fit for them.

After all, the days of going to school, playing it up a lá Animal House and starting a great job the day after commencement are long over...


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with all of this, but I have some questions, and I need some further advice. My brother and I both went to very expensive and "prestigious" institutions of higher learning, and both had a LOT of trouble getting jobs out of college. On top of that we have crushing student loan debt on us. Right now he has a job that pays sort of well but isn't quite what e wanted to do and he had to take a part-time bartending job to pay his student loan bills. After looking for and applying for a full-time job since my graduation in May, I've resigned myself to another *shudder* unpaid internship and have a part time bartending job to support myself.

    Now, my sister graduated from high school in the spring and even though she got into some very good colleges, she looked at where my brother and I were and decided to wait for college until she knew she was ready to study what would ultimately benefit her the most and delay the debt pile. She got a job that pays $10/hr as an assistant and trust me, she does the jobs for four people and isn't getting paid nearly enough. Now her friends are all starting college and she knows she doesn't want to stay at this job... what does she do? I don't know how to advise her. My mother feels like trade school will limit her options and she might not have continued interest in whichever trade she learns. I know this is a lot, but I just wanted to get it out there.

  2. This is a great question and I really wish I had the definitive answer for you. I think a college education, in the long run, is valuable - and like you and your brother, I worked several jobs that were not befitting my education after graduating from university.

    Your sister is smart to want to know the direction she's going before she starts the journey, but I'm sure she feels a pang as her friends head out. Perhaps taking this first semester off, and living in the "adult" world, will give her some perspective on what she wants to do and she can begin Spring semester. Without a college education it's not probably she'll end up making much more than $10/hour.

    I wish I could give you better advice. Perhaps another reader will have something to add.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  3. Though it is an ideal path to get a college education or degree, going to technical schools and community college can also help an individual reach the peak of success. This is true with proper implementation of the education learned and the determination to do so.

  4. I agree, there are many paths to choose from to get ahead in the professional race. It wouldn't hurt to pay attention to your math tutor, too.