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Why College is Killing America

Nice photobomb by the she-man in the back.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in Siberia, you’re aware that the economy isn’t very good.  In fact, some would even say it sucks (not me of course.  I have this blog to support my family).  Unemployment continues to hover at 9-point-somethin’ percent, and unemployed college students with their “cool” uncles who still drive VW vans, have been “occupying” corners of America with their tents, witty chants, and hemp clothing.  At the same time, our government is being asked to tax some people more, while giving additional tax benefits to other people, while continuing to prop up factories that manufacture electric car batteries that spontaneously combust.  To all of this I have only one thing to say: Michigan beat Ohio State.  Woo-hoo!  Suck on that Buckeyes (which are nuts by the way.  Get it?  Nuts.).  Hahahahahaha…but I digress.

No, I’m not downplaying the plights of thousands.  There are, obviously, a group of people in their 40’s and 50’s who would have a difficult time starting over in a career.  This post is not about them.  Instead, it’s about an increasingly large number of worthless people.  These people consist of those who are either currently attending college or have just graduated.  These people belong to a group I have labeled The OverEducated.  We’ve all met them.  Young adults saddled with debt and only a non-specific degree in one of the many Humanities or Business programs that litter our colleges and universities to show for it.   Some argue that these poor souls were “sold a dream” and now sadly possess only a large piece of paper and a corner of mom’s basement.  On the other hand, I believe they received exactly what they sought: five years worth of malted hops and bong resin (+1 for Tommy Boy reference).

Here’s the point: most of those persons who attended college to receive degrees in beer pong (and who are angrily sitting in a park in New York, with only their Starbucks mocha to keep them warm) should never have gone to college in the first place.  Instead, they should have gone off to a technical school to learn skills that are actually in demand.

What’s that?  There are companies…hiring?  That’s right.  There are jobs out there.  Good jobs.  With benefits.  What jobs, you ask?  Skilled jobs.  Jobs that, while requiring training, don’t require a college degree.  And this has been true since the beginning of the collapse.

[from a June 2009 article] Six million jobs have disappeared across the country since Mr. McGrary began his quest. The unemployment rate has risen precipitously to 9.4 percent, the highest level in nearly 30 years, and most of the jobs that do come open are quickly filled from the legions of seekers. But unnoticed in the government’s standard employment data, employers are begging for qualified applicants for certain occupations, even in hard times. Most of the jobs involve skills that take years to attain.

And the problem of not being able to find skilled laborers for quality jobs continues to this day.

John McGlade, president and CEO of Air Products, says 4,000 of his 7,500 U.S. employees are skilled workers. His global company designs and builds high-tech hydrogen equipment and devices.

McGlade is “worried” he won’t be able to find skilled workers in the future. He hires about 550 U.S. workers a year. Three-hundred-and-sixty are technically skilled positions that require two years of college or advanced certification. These positions can often go unfilled for 12 months.

To a very real extent, we have sold a lot of kids a bill of goods.  Everyone is pushing college as the answer to life’s problems.  For crying out loud, our current commander in chief talks about the value of college almost as much as he orders the shooting of unarmed men in the face (ZING).  Here’s the reality though: we need more welders and mechanics than we need history professors.  Why aren’t we sending more kids to technical schools?  What happened to shop class in high school?  Simply put: college is killing America.

I'm happy to report that I am not part of the 99%. Although Crystal Pepsi was pretty rad.


So chipper up butter cup.  All you need to get a good job is fold up your tents, go home, and get some practical education.  Oh, and take a shower.

  1. Meepsch
    November 30, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    It is a little hard to sympathize with the latte swilling, unwashed crowd. What did they think they were going to do with their really expensive degrees in enigmatology, puppetry, womyn studies, surfing, queer musicology, shipwreck archeology and the like? Did our best and brightest not take a moment during their grueling college pursuits to wonder if such fields of academia would lead to something income generating (student loans people, is that your signature on the paperwork)? And to those who achieved more prosaic degrees: I’m sorry but if a teaching position generates $35,000 a year, maybe the local community college would have been a better option than Duke.
    China has proposed eliminating all degrees and departments which cannot prove their viability outside the hallowed ivory tower. This was met with horror and derision from the intelligentsia in this country. What ever would become of intellectual pursuits; intellectual expansion; intellectual research (with its accompanying taxpayer funded grants).
    I’m not sure which side of this argument the “occupiers” would take…….but I can guess.
    Nuts. Giggle.

  2. Trevor Reece
    December 1, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    As a recent college grad from a small 4 year (8000 students in Northern California), I am having a hard time with the condescending tone of your piece, especially after years of trying to fight against the administrative corruption in higher education. I have seen a lot of good people lose out on good opportunities as a result it. Like everything else in this country, its the mid-level people who are being hurt the most by everything, the people just looking for a decent life. But I do agree with your views on the importance of trade schools and skilled laborers and this prevailing view that these kinda jobs are beneath people my age (something that I can admit that I struggle with as well). Its a failing on both sides, with our parents and leaders selling the cure-all that is college and the students refusing to accept the current reality.

    All that to say that I made a little cartoon about something similar to this from a college aged perspective that I felt you might appreciate.

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