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    • Career choice is a big deal for young students, especially when parents think a college degree is the goal.

      But is a college degree always the best choice?

      I know a lot of people who love working with their hands, building, repairing, creating, etc. And they provide a valuable service. Isn't it time to recognize their worth?

    • I had (what appeared to be) a very young plumber here doing some work. We talked a bit, and it turned out that he had only been working for about a year. He knew what he wanted to do, and he made the decision to go to trade school. I told him that I thought he made a great decision.

      It depends on the person and their goals; in many instances I think trade school can be the right decision.

    • If I was 17 and deciding if a four year college was right for me today i'm not sure if I'd attend if i'd have to take loans to make it happen given when I was 17 I had no idea what my career path would be.

      There's no question college can be a great and useful experience.... but i'm not so sure given the cost structure today if it's as worthwhile. Maybe for 30% - 50% of students it's absolutely worth it. As far as I can tell universities have no responsibility or outcome tracking for what happens after students graduate and leave for the real world.

      MBA schools report this.... so applicants and gauge the potential ROI on attending.

      I wonder how many young people in this country go into college and come out with handcuffs in the form of debt with limited opportunities to pay the debt and rent, and all the other expenses life throws at us.

      Trade schools make a lot of sense to me and probably much more practical. I always enjoyed watching Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs talk about this.

      I'd love to see schools add real world focused curriculum around how credit cards and mortgages work, how taxes work (IE understanding your net take home pay), how to negotiate your salary, ask for a raise.

    • Yes, I agree. And I am finding it difficult to find good and competent workers: plumbers, electricians, etc. We need more of them. When I find a good one I am happy. I also note that I am paying them quite a bit of money. So they are doing just fine, without college loans probably. As @gorudy mentioned, those loans can be a major problem.

    • Well sometimes what you have got planned for you like career wise could get a stumbling block and then you got to change things in your life like your plans and even career because of the challenges life brings in

    • I recently listened to fascinating podcast interview with the founder of www.alternativestocollege.com and this article on their site really speaks to the problem of our culture's obsession with going to college at all costs.

      I'm interested in this topic, as I help young adults learn the work ethic/character traits that are timeless, and that they don't teach in school, and that employers/businesses will always need and want. Because if you can be useful to me/our organization, and you can help me win at my job in a way that makes me comfortable - that is what matters. Can you help me produce results? That is what matters.

      And if you can - then what college you went to, or what experience you have, or how impressive you look on your resume - none of that stuff matters because it is all a means to an end.

      This part of her article really spoke to me: All of her questions below lead to one thing - Can you be useful? Are you the person who can help our company win at what we do?

      What do employers care about when hiring entry-level candidates?

      * Work ethic. Do they have one? Are they self-motivated and willing to grind their way up from the bottom? Or do they have an air of entitlement? Are they eager to learn, or do they think they already know everything?

      * People skills. Can they interact effectively with live human beings rather than an electronic device? Are they comfortable picking up a phone instead of sending a text? Can they hold intelligent conversations, ask good questions and represent a company respectably?* Internships. Did they take the initiative to secure legitimate internships during their college years? Did they make real connections and leave a positive impression? Will their references vouch for them?

      * Leadership. Did they captain a sports team? Lead a student organization? Organize mission trips? Do they have passions and interests outside of the classroom? Do others respect them and follow their lead?

      * Self-awareness. Do they know who they are? Even a little? Do they have a plan, or are they obviously drifting? Can they articulate why a job opportunity is a good fit for them, and vice versa?

      Parents: For the sake of your sanity and your children’s, please, stop fixating on the wrong stuff. To set your child up for success, instill good values and help them define their own. Encourage them to get involved in their community. Ask them what they want out of college (and life) and actually listen. Help them identify their unique talents and interests, and select a major that aligns. Impart social and leadership skills. Teach them the importance of networking and relationship building.

      Above all, keep the college-admissions process in perspective. Because when all is said and done, what your child makes of their college experience will mean a lot more than whichever school emblem appears on their diploma.