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The point of college? - Page 3

post #41 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

I am really wondering how others feel about this. What is the point of college? I always thought it was to help in a future career. But if you are going to major in something that will not lead to employment, that it might be a waste of money. I used to think it would be nice to go to college and just major in what a person is really interested in, even if it is social history of the American Colonial period. But in reality, if you spend a lot of money on college, it should probably be a major that you can move toward a job in. But I also heard on a financial show the other day, that any major is better than no college or delaying college. That many careers are not major specific so in many cases, it does not really matter what you major in, you just need that degree.

 

I am asking because my two older children say they want to major in computer science (my son) and music (my daughter). I worry because my daughter says she does not want to teach, but loves music so she wants to major in it. If she says she does not want to teach or work with children in any way (she said that too) what can she possibly do with a degree and music? I am picturing us spending a bunch of money on college and/or her having a bunch of student loans, only to have her move back home and work a minimum wage job to try to pay back those loans. 

 

So, I am really interested in opinions and ideas and personal experiences. Thanks!


It is possible to make money in music. My brother and I both make a living in music, although he works more and makes a lot more than I do. I have complete confidence that if I didn't have a daughter I could make a living singing. I've been hired many times over and have won thousands of dollars in competitions. The only reason I'm not singing a lot is because I made a choice to be home with my DD. I usually get at least $200 a gig. If i were still singing opera , i would earn between $4,000 -11,000 a show. My brother makes over $1000,000 a year as a violin soloist and section leader in a major orchestra.
post #42 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post



laohaire, you are extremely fortunate to have your cushy job. my awesome ph d proff is busting his ass to support himself. he is still an adjunct running between campuses, getting some classes cut and taking on a 2nd and 3rd job. he wouldnt have it any different but there is a huge possibility that your neighbour could be a college graduate who didnt get lucky. 

 

so the flip side - a college education cannot guarantee you a job. or even a cushy life. most college grads are busting their ass to live the kind of life they would like to live.

 

but yeah i agree with you society is skewed about lack of commitment. 


Is he a full professor or an instructor?  Academia is a whole other animal than any other career path.  Just as medicine is.  When did you become ABD?  Congrats on passing your exams!

 

post #43 of 133


I'm not done with the thread, but I want to respond to these bits now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post


 

 

School, even post-secondary, and the workplace require different things, and the assumption that performance/commitment/perserverance in one place will necessarily translate into the same things in the other isn't founded in reality. It's based on assumptions that have been culturally accepted as facts, even though they aren't.


 



What she said.

 

velochic: The people that tend to think that college is worthless are those who didn't go.  It's a defense mechanism, I guess....  Some who do go, don't understand it because they didn't take advantage of it.  But the very culture of a university is completely unique and cannot be experienced anywhere else... for better or worse.

 

HAHAHAHAHA.  No.  I went to college.  I have a Bachelors in English Lit, a teaching credential, and I completed a Masters program with a 3.6 GPA but left without a degree.  I was told I "didn't write fast enough" during the three hour timed writing exam at the end.  It was "obvious I knew the material" but there just "wasn't enough length".  I wanted to be a teacher, so I needed a degree.  I do not think there was any intrinsic worth to what I did.  I do not share your attitude towards college in the slightest.

 

More after I read the third page.

 

 

That didn't take long. :)  Ok, so I gave my blurb about my college educational experience up there.  My husband has two BAs from CMU.  Obviously we are fairly interested in education.  We probably qualify as snooty liberal elitists.  We are far richer than I ever dreamed I would be when I was living in the car with my family as a kid.  College opened a lot of doors for me.  Not in the ways velochic means.  I treated getting my BA like getting a job.  I went to a junior college then transferred to a state school.  I went to my classes and then I went back to my life.  I did not do the "college experience".  I would like to laugh hysterically at the idea that I was seriously missing out because what I did instead gave me wings.  I have accomplished a lot.  I needed a formal education to do the career I felt passionately about.  So I did it.  It was a set of hoops.  I have no delusions about it helping me grow as a person.  It did increase my *knowledge* and that was useful, of course, because I wanted to turn around and teach the exact same stuff.  I needed *my specific degree*.  

 

Ok, so here are my views on college for my kids.  We are prepared to spend $100,000 per kid on education/life/something post-18.  That's both a lot of money and not a lot of money.  There are a few big catches here.  I want to feel like my money is well spent and I'm *freakin* judgmental.  I don't have a problem with feeling judgmental about my money.  I'm a capitalist.  I think that if I have a kid with serious talent who wants to go do the starving artist thing while they figure out what they have to say to the world, I'm ok with being Bank of Mom and Dad for enough money to keep from actually starving or being homeless.  They will still have to do at least part time work.  I'm not supporting adult children entirely. :P  I will pay for them to go to any college they want to go to.  I will at least partially fund travel for a few years.  I want to negotiate with the kids how the money comes to them and when.  

 

I received $1,200/month every month starting when I was 18 and ending this coming September when I turn 30.  That's an accident settlement from when I was mauled by a dog when I was 5.  That money allowed me to get set up in life.  I am profoundly grateful I had it.  I have the means to pass a similar kind of safety net on to my kids and I want to do it.  

 

But if I think they are F-ing around and I think I'm wasting my money, I'm not paying for it.  If they want to go to college, they need to freakin well pass their classes.  If they want to travel, I'm not going to be paying for hookers and blow in Bangkok, you know?  If they do not use the money on education I would really like to save 50% of it for a future house downpayment for each of them.  

 

So I don't think college is the only road to a happy life.  I think it has value *if* you want a career that requires it.  Otherwise I think you should just go be you.

 


Edited by rightkindofme - 5/5/11 at 2:54pm
post #44 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post





ETA: I didn't answer your initial question. I was talking about entry-level, and somewhat above, positions. They were the kind of jobs that could, and did, lead to careers, but could also be dead-end. They weren't high level (say $35,000-$40,000/year, 10-15 years ago). But, one of the things that keeps coming up in this thread is that a degree is a basic requirement even for entry level jobs, because it shows this, that and the other thing about the applicant. I'm just pointing out that it doesn't always show those things, and is definitely not necessary, except for mistaken cultural assumptions, for an entry-level position.



My post you commented on doesn't necessarily apply to you.  It applies to my family.  There is no comment that could be "offensive" because I was talking about MY daughter, not anyone else's in regards to the expectation to go to college.

 

The fact is that not just I, but much of the world, considers a college education (of any sort) to be valuable.  Trying to argue that the fact doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.  I also don't discount apprenticeships and trade schools.  It doesn't necessarily have to be university.  I think education beyond high school is invaluable even if it doesn't earn you money.

post #45 of 133

yup, my dh is a chef self taught and this is the best way in his opinion. it was a running joke at his old job that when they would get a newbie from the culinary school- they'd give them 2 weeks before they quit. it is a lot of hard work you don't just skip to being a food network star. the food biz is something you need to really enjoy- its tough.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post



LotM - i completely second cristeen's point here. 

 

CA is actually thinking of taking away any funding from culinary school.

 

culinary school IS a joke. most chefs tell me that. its much better to intern  or even volunteer as a sous chef. low paying slave labour is better training than culinary school. 

 



 

post #46 of 133

I have a "useless" BA (in women's studies) and I think it's pretty valuable. For one thing, it's a class marker. My family is currently low income but people treat us with more respect because we are educated. It sucks and it is unfair and wrong but that is the world we live in and I want my kids to have at least as many opportunities as I do.

I just started back for a nursing degree. Since I already have a BA, I can get a BSN in under 2 years. I'm also having a much easier time in my classes than people without prior college experience. Literally half the class had to drop anatomy and physiology because it was too hard for them. So college definitely prepared me for my current career path even though I have to go back for a little bit.

My husband gets paid to read and write (he's a PhD candidate) which is his passion. I think it's a pretty cushy job; he gets to work from home and we have great healthcare. You can't do that without a bachelor's to start. 

Plus, college is just an important life period! I don't want my 17-18 yr. old kid to have a full time job. I want them to go to school, be exposed to new things, learn a lot, and party on the weekend. I want them to read books and figure out what they believe. What part of that doesn't seem important for a 17-21 year old?

post #47 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ldavis24 View Post
My generation grew up being told the only way you will succeed at all in this world is with a degree. Most of the kids I know who have their degrees now are pretty pissed off that they have a piece of paper, no awesome job to show for it and are now having to pay back student loans that will take them possibly decades to pay off. College is really not the be all end all of your life. 

 

Agreed. A college degree isn't a guarantee of anything. Some people get into MASSIVE debt with no real plan. Getting a degree just so you can say you have a degree in hopes that someone will pay you a little more and give you dental insurance is a HUGE financial gamble.

 

I think it's a false sense of security for many parents and teens. Go to college (at any cost), behave and finish, and then everything will be easy.

 

But it's not true. It may be a little easier, it may open some doors, but it's not like when you finish they hand you the keys to the city.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

I ended up skipping my senior year of high school & going to a state university. I'm not sure that was the best place for me but that was the only place that would accept me without a HS diploma. The intent was to transfer after my freshman year but that never happened. It's just as well, because somehow I got through college in one piece, and I'm glad at least that I don't have HUGE school loans like I would have if I'd gone elsewhere... OK I'm totally going off on a tangent here...


Yeah, part of the reason that my DD goes to a small private alternative school is because she is successful there. I don't know that she ever would have graduated from a traditional school. It makes planning more complicated -- she's successful in some situations, but not at all in others.

 

And I don't think the student loans issue is a tangent. If the reason we are all supposed to hope our kids go to college is even partly so they have more money, considering how much of that salary and for how many years will be going to payments is important.

 

I'm in my 40's, and back in the day, getting out with $10,000 in debt was considered a huge amount. Now, that's nothing.

 

DH and I really want our kids to get out of college without debt. It's a goal.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post

LotM - i recommend doing some reading on culinary programs. Most are not worth the money, and the experience can be gained w an apprenticeship. I know one of the local culinary (2yr) schools, which is a national name has become a laughing stock. Nobody local will touch a recent graduate anymore. This blog http://eggbeater.typepad.com/ has some good info on learning on the job.


Thanks for the link! I've been reading up, but am always happy to find more information. This isn't an area we didn't know anything about -- we are more the university types. She's already started her own cake decorating business, and when she is a little older we plan to arrange for her to work as an intern in a nice bakery or resort. We want to seek out guidance from people who know the field. It does seem like some culinary schools are more about a hobby program for housewives then really being a trade school.

 

But since she doesn't desire college, at least at this point, we would love for her to have the experience of picking a great school and going away to it. To have it as a coming of age experience.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post

Regarding only Julliard; I'd advise her to apply to at least two other schools, as a backup plan. She can always go to the backup plan and apply again to Julliard the following year. Or in reverse: go to Julliard, decide to switch majors and switch schools. That year will NOT be a waste of education, or of life experience. She will not know if it is possible unless she tries. And if she doesn't try, she will ALWAYS wonder. ALWAYS. And sometimes we have to let them try, even if we are afraid they will get horribly hurt. Better to be hurt, then always be wondering something like that. And sometimes they surprise us, and reach farther than we could imagine. I have a family friend who went there and is now a conductor in switzerland. Just saying, you never know.

 


I totally agree. I think that she should go for it. So much better to find out now than to always wonder. And if she doesn't get in, that's between her and school. If she does get in, it may mean that she really is good enough to make a living with music. It's such a selective program, if they believe in her, then I think that you can too.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

The fact is that not just I, but much of the world, considers a college education of any sort to be valuable.  Trying to argue that the fact doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.


Agreed -- this is just a true statement -- many people see a value in any degree.

 

I don't think that all college/university experiences are the same. Just reading through the post here and the different experiences people have had -- for some it is a defining point in their life, for some a total bust. For some it leads to meaningful work, for others it dead ends at Starbucks.

 

I want my kids to have the power to make REAL choices about their lives. I want them to have dreams and live with passion. College can be part of that, or not. It's their life, not mine.

post #48 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

My post you commented on doesn't necessarily apply to you.  It applies to my family.  There is no comment that could be "offensive" because I was talking about MY daughter, not anyone else's in regards to the expectation to go to college.


When I have more time, I'll go back and figure out which part you're talking about, as the quote didn't get my responses (because they were included in your text, not mine - that gets so frustrating). I do know that a lot of what I responded to were generalizations about college/university, not about anything you posted specifically with respect to your family.

 

The fact is that not just I, but much of the world, considers a college education (of any sort) to be valuable.  Trying to argue that the fact doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.  I also don't discount apprenticeships and trade schools.  It doesn't necessarily have to be university.

 

I agree that much of the world considers a college education to be valuable. If you can point me to anywhere that I argued that point, I'd appreciate it, so that I can fix my post. I'm well aware that of the value placed on a college education. I don't happen to agree with the rest of the world. (I agree that a college education can be valuable. I don't agree that it is valuable...except in monetary terms, because other people believe all these nonsenical things about what a degree says about a person.) If you thought I was arguing that the world at large doesn't value a college education, I think you need to re-read everything I've posted.

 

I think education beyond high school is invaluable even if it doesn't earn you money.

 

I agree. However, I don't feel that education beyond high school has to happen in any kind of formal setting, and one of the very few things my kids could do that would actually disappoint me is to fail to gain education throughout their lives. That doesn't mean it has to be a degree, or a trade school, or even a formal apprenticeship. Learning and education happen everywhere.



 

post #49 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post
In this job market, where even those with advanced degrees are having trouble finding jobs, a degree is not a waste.


Eh...I don't know.  Is it worse to be unemployed and debt-free, or unemployed with tons of student loan debt?

 

My first degree (psych) was an expensive waste and has done nothing for me.  I really regret getting it.

post #50 of 133


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post





Eh...I don't know.  Is it worse to be unemployed and debt-free, or unemployed with tons of student loan debt?

 

My first degree (psych) was an expensive waste and has done nothing for me.  I really regret getting it.



Unemployment doesn't last forever, and neither do student loans.  I paid off my student loans years ago.  Then again, because of my degree and my husband's, our household income was over 6 figures by age 25.

post #51 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post


Plus, college is just an important life period! I don't want my 17-18 yr. old kid to have a full time job. I want them to go to school, be exposed to new things, learn a lot, and party on the weekend. I want them to read books and figure out what they believe. What part of that doesn't seem important for a 17-21 year old?


When I was 18, 19, etc., I had a full-time job. I also read books, figured out what I believe, was exposed to new things, and learned a lot, and partied on the weekend. What does any of that have to do with whether or not a person goes through university and/or gets a degree? (FWIW, at almost 43, I'm still doing most of those things, but not the partying on the weekend part.) Where do people get the idea that reading, being exposed to new things and learning - let alone partying! - only happen at school?

post #52 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post




Is he a full professor or an instructor?  Academia is a whole other animal than any other career path.  Just as medicine is.  When did you become ABD?  Congrats on passing your exams!

 


he is just an instructor who lives in a cool house. yup he just wants to be a community college proff at our college. doesnt want to work at the local univ due to politics, though he has been trying for jobs all over the country. he is an authority in his field .... he is pretty amazing for being the usual quiet shy man he is. hope he finds a pleasing position that will allow him to continue with his research. 

 

velochic i have always had a Bachelors in English from Asia. Its now just trying to get a copy of my transcript so that i can directly get into the Ph D program - as a non traditional student i hope i can. Local univs due to budget cuts wont let me get into a bachelors anymore. so basically i am taking classes like stats and spanish while i wait for my transcript. my education here has been just a huge 'f***up' because of wrong guidance from cousillors and my lack of knowledge of the edu system here. 

 

see here's my thing about a job. probably my own thing. i dont want dd to just get a career. i want her to have a vocation. its the reason i myself am back at school. 

 

i dont like the value that's put on education. my ex who didnt even graduate from hs is far more well read than my previous coworkers who got masters. yet in society ex is seen as less valuable because he doesnt have degrees to show that his own knowledge is at a masters level. thankfully he self taught himself his work so he is his own master. most are looking at education as a ticket to get someplace that they dont really care about. 

 

i could go find a soul sucking job with my degree. actually i did have it. but i could not deal with it anymore. 

 

i hope at 17 dd gets a job, joins the peace corps or travels the world. IF she doesnt know what she wants to do. i want her to start her own business at 17, fail and then figure out. i want her to work at fixing houses or cars so she knows the basics (knowledge i dont have). 

post #53 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post




When I was 18, 19, etc., I had a full-time job. I also read books, figured out what I believe, was exposed to new things, and learned a lot, and partied on the weekend. What does any of that have to do with whether or not a person goes through university and/or gets a degree? (FWIW, at almost 43, I'm still doing most of those things, but not the partying on the weekend part.) Where do people get the idea that reading, being exposed to new things and learning - let alone partying! - only happen at school?

 

Because many high school graduates with that kind of time and freedom aren't necessarily spending their free time reading Sartre and exploring intellectual pursuits.  Having people one's own age to share that experience with and having guidance from academia isn't worthless.

 

 

post #54 of 133

We have already told our children that we will pay only for tuition at a public college, and not for room and board-- they can live at home.  We have a number of good public campuses within commuting distance of our house.  I'll encourage them to major in something useful and explain to them about the expense and the need to have realistic job/ earning goals, but I know there is no forcing it.  We won't refuse to pay for a frivolous major as long as they keep up a good gpa but we will refuse to pay for private tuition or room/ board.  Private tuition is the real waste IMO-- I have attended both private and public colleges, other than a prettier campus there was not much difference.

post #55 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i hope at 17 dd gets a job, joins the peace corps or travels the world. IF she doesnt know what she wants to do. i want her to start her own business at 17, fail and then figure out. i want her to work at fixing houses or cars so she knows the basics (knowledge i dont have). 

Hate to say it, but the Peace Corps is just another example of the employer who only values you if you have a degree.
post #56 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i hope at 17 dd gets a job, joins the peace corps or travels the world. IF she doesnt know what she wants to do. i want her to start her own business at 17, fail and then figure out. i want her to work at fixing houses or cars so she knows the basics (knowledge i dont have). 

 




Hate to say it, but the Peace Corps is just another example of the employer who only values you if you have a degree.


Exactly - the Peace Corp really stresses at least a bachelor's degree.

post #57 of 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post
Unemployment doesn't last forever, and neither do student loans.  I paid off my student loans years ago.  Then again, because of my degree and my husband's, our household income was over 6 figures by age 25.


Well, that's close to my point.  Because my degree and my husband's, our debt is well over 6 figures and our income is...er.....not.   Based on what I can expect to make with my degree and the joy of accruing interest, my student loans *might* actually last forever.  Or, rather, the would if I wasn't going back to school to get a degree that will actually be useful and (ideally) allow me to pay off the loans from my first degree.

 

None of which is meant to imply that college is bad, or a waste- just that if you're going to spend a massive amount of money on it, you should have some general plan on how exactly you're going to pay it back, and in this day and age the idea that any degree is a ticket to sufficient income to allow you to pay for it is not accurate.  I went into college with the vague idea that student loans were "good debt" and "an investment"; the reality is that the debt involved in going to college limited my life options far more than the degree I got expanded them.

post #58 of 133

Objectively, how good is your daughter, and how many hours a day is she practicing and performing?  What she's looking at requires a lot of hours in a practice room and she will only make it if she is a phenomenal player.  Not just good or outstanding, she had better be able to blow them away IF she gets an audition. 

 

I recall a recent post in which you didn't want to take her to perform a couple hours away.  That doesn't fly with a kid who wants to go to Juilliard. She needs to be performing pretty much all the time, and practicing the rest. If she's not prepared to be in a windowless room practicing for 5-6 hours a day, she will want to rethink this.  Well over half the students who started looking at a music performance degree when I did washed out the first year. Some of them transfered to a school to chase down a music education degree. Most of us ran screaming from the practice room at the end of the term- quite literally.  You have to know what you are getting into when you head down that path.   Ultimately, I loved it, but I also had the sense to double major and graduated with a degree in music performance and a degree in public health education.  It meant taking over 20 credits a semester and getting special permission to do so, but I came out with the ability to work when some of my peers couldn't get a gig. 

 

My performing career took a back seat to parenting. I only play a few gigs now, but when I was playing regularly, I was doing just fine financially. When my kids are  older I will head back that way and try to return to what I love to do.  

 

My husband has a degree in computer science, and never really used it.  He does have a career, but it is unrelated to his degree and after over 10 years in that field, he earns a very good living.  He would have the job he does with or without the degree. 

 

Many major universities are looking favorably on kids who choose a gap year (or more) because they find them to be more focused on their degree. 

post #59 of 133
I keep reading about debt being a factor in choosing to skip college - a degree does not necessarily equate to large amounts of debt. I work at a top 50 university (read expensive) and our average student indebtedness at graduation is 16,000.00. When I graduated, I was debt free. Scholarships, grants and other programs are available. For my kids, should they choose college (and i hope they do), I hope to help them find ways to graduate low debt/debt free. Too many students unnecessarily maximize their loan amounts, IMO.
post #60 of 133

When I saw OP's thread initially, I knew it would become a multi-page thread of personal, subjective experiences for and against the idea of a college education.  I think the real question should not be "what is the point of college" but "what is the goal/what is the focus?"

 

I think that it doesn't do anyone any good to either say that college is a waste or that it is a ticket to future income, because neither one is absolutely true for everyone.  Reasons that people go to college:

 

1.  to obtain a certain degree in a specialized field (think science, medicine, law, accounting, business, etc.) (most of these are professional degrees that can't be learned through self-study - many are licensed positions that require a certain educational foundation);

2.  to pursue one's passion (any of the above plus the creative fields and other specialized areas of interest (like history, psychology) (many of these fields offer extensive post graduate programs, which not only offer additional time to study one's pursuit, but to also qualify one for better employment afterward in teaching, museums, scientific studies; etc.);

3.  to get a job, any job that pays better than Walmart (this is the riskiest because it assumes that a college degree will somehow land you in management; these are the kind of positions in corporate America - the positions where, in my opinion, often provide the least flexibility in life and require complete dedication to the "man").  That subject is a whole other thread but it is how I feel about general education in this country (can't speak for other countries like Canada and whatnot, but corporations are the end-all here and it is a sort of slavery that people are primed for from cradle to college).  Forgive me for interjecting my intense political position on the matter!

5.  some people just like to learn, and while this may fall to the extreme privileged in this society, it is not a new one.  

6.  some people go to college to catch the ultimate mate (not a new idea either, since many young women went to college in the old days to better prepare themselves in the lovely skills of dancing, language, etc.).  Not dissing it, just a reality in the past and not a stretch now.

7.  parental expectation/societal expectation:  this works in the long term if one has a passion/focus.  If not, it can be a prison, especially post-college and later in life.  Prime example:  my grandparents expected my dad to go into a medical field.  He became a dentist.  He was a miserable human being for 40 years.  Me and my siblings were at the butt end of his misery.  

8.  other stuff I can't think of.

 

A degree in music can be as satisfying and rewarding (both intellectually and financially) as a degree in medicine or no degree at all.   What is the kid's passion/focus?  How can it be realized?  How can you best prepare them for the difficulties that may encounter as a result of their decisions?

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