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Is the Emperor naked?

believersmombelieversmom 1014 replies95 threads Senior Member
edited April 2011 in Parents Forum
I'd like to know from other parents if - given the economy, the current cost of a college education, and the fact that so many well-educated AND experienced people are unemployed, are any of you re-thinking the wisdom of your kids going to college right now?
Especially if they don't know what they want to do or if what they want to do doesn't require a college degree?

edited April 2011
37 replies
Post edited by believersmom on
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Replies to: Is the Emperor naked?

  • midwstmommidwstmom 194 replies12 threads Junior Member
    My better half believes that college is the only path for his children.
    So, for him, the emperor is resplendent!
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  • NJSueNJSue 2854 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Most people on this forum are going to favor college for their own children regardless of the factors you've mentioned. However, if I had a child who lacked interest in academics for its own sake and who had no specific career plans that required a bachelor's, I would not recommend or pay for college at this point in his life. Too many people have bought the idea that college, any college, is some kind of golden ticket to the middle class; that you can go to college and buy a secure future. I think what is happening is that people are waking up to reality. If a student does not value learning for its own sake or does not have an ambition to enter a credentialed profession, college is inappropriate.
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  • collegealum314collegealum314 6683 replies85 threads Senior Member
    College was only the ticket to a secure future when a minority of people went to college. These days, the bachelor's credential is not as unusual so it doesn't hold the same cache' that it did before.
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  • JRZMomJRZMom 806 replies6 threads Member
    Well, if what they want to do does not require a college degree, what about training for the thing that they do want to do? I'd be pointing them there.

    If, on the other hand, advancement in that field did require some kind of education, maybe business courses to handle own's own small business, or computer graphics courses for some kind of designing---they will need it one day. It's easier to do it when young & not burdened by kids, etc.

    To another side of the OPs question --- when the hiring starts again, who will be hired---the people who have college degrees in addition to some years of experience? I guess it depends on the field in question.
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  • NovelistoNovelisto 2937 replies18 threads Senior Member
    According to recent figures, while overall unemployment remains above 9%, unemployment for college grads is at 5%. Will this change over the next 4 - 6 years? Doubtful.

    Even if your boy or girl goes to CC for two years for some kind of a certificate, it will give them an edge over somebody just walking in off the street who'd like to be a mechanic or a forklift driver (I'm not knocking either profession; my dh has done both in the last decade). Almost every worker will be helped by having a piece of paper in hand...esp. if someone has dreams of running their own place some day.

    Employers like to see that a person has some kind of formal training. And it is easier and more economical to get that training of whatever kind while you are young...rather than going back when they have a job, a wife, children and their brains are not as elastic as when they were in their early 20's. Ask people who have gone back in their 40's...in some ways it is easier and in other ways it is much, much harder.

    Personally, I think going to college is the perfect place for someone who 'doesn't know what they want to do'. If they haven't figured it out where they are, send them somewhere that they will be exposed to more ideas and more people, esp. in an environment dedicated to helping young people figure that out! Many a child has gone off to college without a clear plan -- that's why you don't declare a major most places until junior year -- and many with a plan have changed it. At college, you meet (ideally) people excited about their futures and that is contagious. High school is a drag for most people and a lot of very bright kids get turned off to school during it. College is a different world, a better world in my view.

    I guess the Emperor looks pretty good to me.
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  • believersmombelieversmom 1014 replies95 threads Senior Member
    This recent article says that the Pew Research Center, as of 2009, had unemployment of 18-29 year olds at 37%. That's more than a little frightening given the cost of financing a college education.

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  • HImomHImom 34557 replies393 threads Senior Member
    CC is a great place for people to be exposed to different fields, many of which only require a two-year certificate BUT can often also be parlayed into a 4-year degree as well. It is less expensive for both the family & kid and has slightly less pressure to finish quickly since many students are attending part-time while working. It is a good compromise, keeping the door open while gaining experience working.

    Many jobs don't REQUIRE a job but IMHO, when several candidates apply for the same job, many employers would give the edge to the person with an AA and/or BA/BS over a HS grad.
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  • cartera45cartera45 12380 replies86 threads Senior Member
    It depends on whether you think things will improve over the next 30-40 years time in which your kids will be employed. If you think it won't matter through that entire period whether there is a college degree or not, then no problems. I think you have to project whether your D/S cares or will ever care when the "where did you go to college" question comes up. If they invent another Microsoft or Facebook, it probably won't matter, but otherwise?
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    It depends on goal. One cannot become an MD without going to college.
    On the other note, my much older son, who wanted to quit after 2 years in UG and start working in his field because he has discovered that he could while in co-op program (quarter at school/quarter at work), thanked me many times for not letting him to drop out of college. Apparently many of his clients valued his UG college diploma.
    Still, as a 3rd example, my own manager is not allowed to interview anybody without UG college diploma. I really love my job, did not like my first proffessional pursuits. I would be very limited looking for a job in my field if I did not have BS (but I have better - MBA). No college education is needed at all for me to perform my job as an IT proffessional. I am on my job #9, you need to learn all over at every new place, at least in my experience.
    I want to be able to pursue my own goals and give the same chances to my kids. From our family experience, whole family would be locked out of thier dreams if we did not obtain our college degrees. In regard to cost, my S's was cheap at state school couple decades ago in one of the top design programs in the country. D. is graduating, has been on full Merit scholarships in UG, but, yes, Medical School is very expensive, but we do not know other way to become an MD, so there is no choice. My BS and MBA both were paid by various employers, my H's MBA was also paid by his emploer. Our family college education so far did not cost us much, no debt. Actually, thinking about it, we do not have any debt at all, but this is our philosophy.
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  • Classof2015Classof2015 4190 replies189 threads Senior Member
    I think all the hype (which this site does feed off of) is off putting, and the whole (now that I've gone through it with D) is really ugly and unfair, and yes, it does make me question the value of this system. People act like "OMG my child got into Harvard" as if that means he/she is now set for life. I really don't view it that way, and I have thought carefully if D, who is a little unfocused now, really needs college. But then I think if she doesn't go, her choices will be limited.

    But one thing this process has done is open her eyes up to questioning the brand. No longer will she think someone is necessarily smarter than her because they got into Georgetown, or Tufts. I keep telling her about 2 of my employees -- one from Middlebury, one from Trinity. The one from Midd was so dumb he couldn't get out of his own way. The one from Trinity is the smartest, most hard working entrepreneurial person I've ever met. Guess which one still works for me?
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  • jnm123jnm123 735 replies8 threads Member
    I've been through it already (2+ more years for D2) but if it were 7-8 years ago AND the present economic situation was then, and D's were just starting out on this 'adventure', I would definitely re-think things.

    Despite both D's being in the top 3% of their classes with good to great EC's and test scores, I would first off cap our net out-of-pocket costs per D at $15K per year. That would mean no thought of Ivies or top 50 privates. Forget it, don't even visit. State schools and Tier 2 privates that give merit $$ would have been in our sights. And...I'd have both kids working during school to help out (they both did anyway).

    These are scary times, and that amount of debt--$60K apiece before accrued interest--would be plenty, whether it's pay as we go, loans held by us or by the D's.

    I really think it's going to take a good 5 years anyway for some endowments at non-Tier 1 privates to open up to provide some real value for the education at those institutions. They either have to do that or lower tuition, which ain't gonna happen.

    But right now appears to be the darkest of times as far as value in education. I can only hope this is a cyclical thing, where the job market eventually improves at the same time that certain schools start courting excellent students again.

    But, to answer the OP...they need that UG degree, period, even if it's only looked on by prospective employers as a litmus test.
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  • ordinarylivesordinarylives 3184 replies43 threads Senior Member
    D1 could get training at a cc or a hosptal and sit for the same national exam she'll sit for at the end of her BA. However, these programs, even at a cc, are highly competative and most kids have to do a year or two of college just to be considered for acceptance. In her case, why not get the BA? She'd almost be there anyway.

    My brother never liked school. He went to cc to become a machinist. He now works in the maintenance dept. at a factory, where he beat a number of "college boys" for his position. He certainly outearns me.

    I don't think i'd insist on college for my kids, no matter what the economy was like. I would, however, always insist on some kind of education or training.
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  • jkiwmomjkiwmom 1332 replies36 threads Senior Member
    It depends on whether the end goal is to be educated, or whether the intention to go to college is to get "the right job". In my family, education is the goal. My mom used to say, "college isn't trade school". When I found myself to be a single mom, raising two very young children, my education enabled me to move back into the work force quickly and still be able to be with my kids the majority of the time (worked only 25 hours week, but made "ends meet"). It saved my hide as well as my children. So although I am grateful just to have my education (and furthered it by earning my MS once kids went into elementary school), and believe that just earning it was the goal, it certainly is a good safety net to give our kids. It is worth the cost imo, because the future is uncertain.
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    Interesting attitude about Harvard - "OMG my child got into Harvard". D. has never considered any Ivy, she does not understand about paying too much for UG anyway. In this respect paying for her private expensive HS made more sense, has opened many doors. Her state UG gave her everything that she ever desired and much more that she did not imagine before college. It was great experience that will last lifetime. She only hopes that her experience at Grad. school will be just as good. It will be expensive though, no matter which one she choose.
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  • HImomHImom 34557 replies393 threads Senior Member
    My degrees--BA/JD give me more flexibility & credibility to do what I believe is needed than I could easily do otherwise. It has allowed me to dabble in part-time work I love and made it much easier to ease back into the workforce when I wanted to. It has also given me more even footing in working with MDs & others in the health field. There are still not that many JDs in public health.

    My S's degree in EE has allowed him to be interviewed & receive 3 very lucrative job offers in the challenging economy. He's happy! All of the offers were based on his having his BEE.

    H's job required him to have a bachelor's degree. Everything else he has learned on the job but he would not even have been interviewed if he didn't have that bachelor's degree.

    MANY jobs require degrees to even be considered for them--in the medical field, in the legal field, business and many other fields. The "brand" may help somewhat with connections in SOME fields, depending on the school & it may help the candidate get a closer look but ultimately, it will be the individual who gets & keeps the job.

    Case in point, we know a guy who has held his job for 40+ years. Most of the people he works with & supervises are engineers tho he only has his bachelor's degree. He has learned so much on the job, the lack of engineering degree is no longer important, tho it might have helped him with a better pay scale earlier in his career. He has enjoyed his career and will retire with a very comfortable pension.

    My former mechanics all had various degrees--two had MBAs and were running a garage, one had an engineering degree from UW. I don't know the educational background of my two current mechanics, but suspect both may have bachelor's degrees. I know that their prices are decent and that they stand behind their work & keep our cars running pretty well.
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  • Classof2015Classof2015 4190 replies189 threads Senior Member
    ^re: H -- I think it's the holy grail for a lot of people. My brothers both went there, and they both said there were some wierd people there. Are they making millions of dollars? no. Did they cure cancer? no. Are they enjoying their lives and their families and giving back to their community and raising interesting, vibrant children? Yes. That's success in my book.
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  • HImomHImom 34557 replies393 threads Senior Member
    Our neighbors met at H, both pursuing their MBAs. They were struggling for quite a while, with the H taking many different jobs while he tried to get his big break. One job had him literally commuting to different countries on a regular basis. Another job was based out of Colorado Springs while he lived in HI. Around age 40, he FINALLY got his big break and has a great & very rewarding job (tho it requires a LOT of time & energy from him). I think his many years of sweat equity & probably the H MBA helped him get his current position.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9042 replies79 threads Senior Member
    You can make an argument that this is the best time to be in college... if you are (like me) hoping for economic rebound in a few years.

    Having said that, it is not such a good time for a family to stretch much beyond financial comfort zone to make the college dreams happen.
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  • gluckiegluckie 190 replies16 threads Junior Member
    The Emporer is not naked...he's just shopping at Wal-Mart now (and probably works there as a greeter too.) ;)
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  • rhumbobrhumbob 431 replies41 threads Member
    In one respect it is a great time to go to college. The wages forgone by attending college for 4 years are at a minimum. The liklihood of a decent paying job is low.

    The phrase "a job you don't need a degree for" is misleading. There are many jobs where the intrinsic nature of the work doesn't require a degree. The problem is the employer has to cull candidates in some manner. Requiring a degree means that the applicant started something and finished something and was able to follow rules and work within a system for their time at school. Requiring a degree is a reasonable method narrowing the choices.

    The real rub, IMO, is the value of an expensive degree. I don't know that the value is there except for certain career fields.
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