College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by jaymz »

mikefromcraig wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 9:06 pm The only sense I can make out of that is that Philosophy majors are more likely to go on to grad school than an IT major.
Philosophy (and a whole host of other humanities fields) is sort of an 'all or nothing' category. If you're smart enough to get into a PhD program and get that diploma, you'll have a good chance of carving out a fine career in academia. Masters degrees are fairly useless as far as that goes. Few places other than small schools or community colleges would even think about hiring someone to teach without anything less than a PhD. I've got a masters in philosophy, but couldn't get into any PhD programs because I'm not that good at it. So there's literally nothing I can do with that degree other than, as cottonmountaineering suggests, put it on a resume to show that my brain is at least capable of functioning somewhat logically. I have had a few regular jobs where I've fairly easily been able to work my way up and separate myself from co-workers, because I can more readily demonstrate the ability to solve problems on my own and maturely handle conflicting ideas while logically weighing the pros and cons. That's the residue from my philosophical training, and it's probably why that chart shows what it shows - people with philosophy degrees tend to be able to navigate issues so that, even if they don't end up in that line of work, they can 'figure it out' and find their way into other career opportunities, and they at least have some sort of intellectual maturity to be able to work their way up once they get their foot in the door somewhere.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by mikefromcraig »

jaymz wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 10:21 pm
mikefromcraig wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 9:06 pm The only sense I can make out of that is that Philosophy majors are more likely to go on to grad school than an IT major.
Philosophy (and a whole host of other humanities fields) is sort of an 'all or nothing' category. If you're smart enough to get into a PhD program and get that diploma, you'll have a good chance of carving out a fine career in academia. Masters degrees are fairly useless as far as that goes. Few places other than small schools or community colleges would even think about hiring someone to teach without anything less than a PhD. I've got a masters in philosophy, but couldn't get into any PhD programs because I'm not that good at it. So there's literally nothing I can do with that degree other than, as cottonmountaineering suggests, put it on a resume to show that my brain is at least capable of functioning somewhat logically. I have had a few regular jobs where I've fairly easily been able to work my way up and separate myself from co-workers, because I can more readily demonstrate the ability to solve problems on my own and maturely handle conflicting ideas while logically weighing the pros and cons. That's the residue from my philosophical training, and it's probably why that chart shows what it shows - people with philosophy degrees tend to be able to navigate issues so that, even if they don't end up in that line of work, they can 'figure it out' and find their way into other career opportunities, and they at least have some sort of intellectual maturity to be able to work their way up once they get their foot in the door somewhere.
I agree with what you said. I was referring more to the phenomenon where someone with a philosophy degree graduates and realizes the lack of job opportunities so decides to go to grad school for a more in-demand program such as MBA or law school.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by montanahiker »

mikefromcraig wrote: Tue May 11, 2021 9:08 pm One thing to consider, you are probably going to have a lot more fun in college than in, say, welding school.

Plus, in college you will be exposed to a lot of different options, in welding school you will not.
That gets into the whole discussion of the purpose of postsecondary education. Is it a " life experience" or is it career preparation/training?
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by hellmanm »

montanahiker wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 9:06 am That gets into the whole discussion of the purpose of postsecondary education. Is it a " life experience" or is it career preparation/training?
This is something that has changed over time. As society's values change, so too do the values of its educational system (which also changes as a result). The overall purpose of Higher Ed is something rarely agreed upon, and arguable from many perspectives. I know this because nearly everyone in my grad school class on the History of higher Ed had a different take/thesis about how the purpose of Higher Ed has changed through the years :lol: .

My current bias is towards the collegiate model, but I am also someone who benefited from that way of doing things. I also think that the push towards career prep is mainly responsive, rather than aspirational -- if our current model (efficiently) produced better outcomes, there wouldn't be as strong of a push towards CTE and other alternative options.

Side note/PS: STEM fields may have a much higher starting salary, but that pattern does not persist over time. Arts/humanities grads tend to even out on the wage scale by the time they're in their 40s/50s (idk if I still have access to my course materials to cite this, but I'll try and find the study).
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by ker0uac »

The issue with looking at the salaries by profession is that it fails to take into consideration those who failed to get a job in that area but who nonetheless invested and pursued that profession. Such survivorship bias ends up making certain professions more attractive than others. For instance, the average salary of a NFL player is a lot by most standards but only bc the salaries of players who tried but didn't make it to the NFL are excluded from the calculation. It's like calculating the average earnings of a poker player by excluding the players who lost money.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by AnnaG22 »

I think other countries do it better than we do here. Both UK and Germany generally allow students to start specializing toward their interests and talents around the age of 16, so technically still secondary school age. Can be focused on a couple academic subjects or on apprenticeships in trades. After that, trades can continue to study their trade or go into the workforce fulltime, academics can do short or long degree studies. There's way less fetishization of "everyone should go to university" AND the cost of university is wayyyy less predatory.
The thing is, society will always need some of: specialized tradespeople, specialized academics, teachers, jack-of-all-trades. It's a heck of a lot easier for society to function when all of those categories are accorded respect and recognition.
I'd also advocate paying primary and secondary school teachers a hell of a lot more, and figuring out a way for every school to give kids experiential education opportunities starting in elementary school.

I might be making the subject too broad with this rant lol
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by SchralpTheGnar »

I did manual labor and trade type work, painting, cooking, carpentry, etc while in school, got my degree in Math/CS, I taught high school math for a year, then went into software, and have worked in various software roles for 20+ years now. So I can fix some things and have a job now that pays well, that manual outdoor labor was great while young but it does take a toll and would be much harder for me as I age.

Oh and the purpose of a college education is to make one as least like ones parents as possible.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by nunns »

Dave B wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 3:38 pm We need far more tradesman and far fewer college degrees for the sake of college degrees. The country needs to get back to making s**t, and spend less time moving money from one place to another while skimming a profit off the top.

You can make good money in trade, the best will make money with some business savvy, whether from education and intuition.
+1. Dave B and I don't agree on much, but we agree on this.
Honestly it just depends on the person. I do fine working as a teacher, but I was always halfway successful academically.
For someone who struggles academically, but may do well in other areas, becoming a tradesman is probably a better deal.
We do a disservice to kids who are 10th-11th graders reading at a 5th grade level to push them to try to get a 4 year college degree. It will be an unsuccessful exercise in frustration of 99/100 of them. We need them to make things and fix things, like Dave B is saying. Sure most of them won't make 6 figures, but a lot of college graduates don't either.

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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by nunns »

AnnaG22 wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 12:57 am I think other countries do it better than we do here. Both UK and Germany generally allow students to start specializing toward their interests and talents around the age of 16, so technically still secondary school age. Can be focused on a couple academic subjects or on apprenticeships in trades. After that, trades can continue to study their trade or go into the workforce fulltime, academics can do short or long degree studies. There's way less fetishization of "everyone should go to university" AND the cost of university is wayyyy less predatory.
The thing is, society will always need some of: specialized tradespeople, specialized academics, teachers, jack-of-all-trades. It's a heck of a lot easier for society to function when all of those categories are accorded respect and recognition.
I'd also advocate paying primary and secondary school teachers a hell of a lot more, and figuring out a way for every school to give kids experiential education opportunities starting in elementary school.

I might be making the subject too broad with this rant lol
+1 on most of what you are saying. The problem with teacher salaries is that they are pretty good in big cities and their suburbs, and (from what I hear) pretty terrible everywhere else. And a lot of people live "everywhere else".

It is too bad that we look down on plumbers, electricians, welders, etc. in our society. Personally I admire those people. They certainly have skills I don't have.


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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by hellmanm »

ker0uac wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 3:42 pm The issue with looking at the salaries by profession is that it fails to take into consideration those who failed to get a job in that area but who nonetheless invested and pursued that profession. Such survivorship bias ends up making certain professions more attractive than others. For instance, the average salary of a NFL player is a lot by most standards but only bc the salaries of players who tried but didn't make it to the NFL are excluded from the calculation. It's like calculating the average earnings of a poker player by excluding the players who lost money.
This is a great point, and one that gets overlooked too often. Survivorship bias is real, and it's easy to mask systemic failures with statistics of those who complete their credential.

I think, though, that there's a certain romanticizing of both trade-based education and of other educational models. CTE has obvious downsides that would come to the forefront if CTE became the focus of how we educate our citizens. It's also a little unrealistic to expect that a model that succeeds in another country (e.g. the Hauptschule/Realschule/Gymnasium in Germany) would work similarly well here -- it may, but we really have no clue. How would we even measure this? Measuring learning outcomes is already an enormous (and contentious) problem in American Higher Ed -- hell, we can't even agree which outcomes are worth measuring. I don't see that going away, even with different models.
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by SchralpTheGnar »

Once the day occurs when a guy at a bar can say I’m studying to become a plumber and another guy can say I’m studying to become a doctor and they both have an equal probability of picking up the girl with all other factors being equal we will be finally be free
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Re: College vs skilled trades. What's your take?

Post by mtn_hound »

I don't know which path is better, but what I can say is that nothing seems to make a skilled tradesman chuckle quite the same as when my college educated ass attempts a home repair, screws it up royally, and then calls them in to bail me out.
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