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A College Degree Is No Guarantee of a Good Life

daftandbarmy

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As opposed to, say, joining the Marines of course 😊

A College Degree Is No Guarantee of a Good Life

Higher education is often described as an investment. But it’s still unclear if it pays off in happiness.

Imagine a young man, a senior in high school. His academic performance has never been over the top, but he’s done well enough. Among his classmates, the assumption is that all of them will go to college. However, just as his parents are about to send the deposit check to a college where he has been accepted, the young man admits to himself and his parents that he doesn’t want to go—not now, maybe never. To him, college sounds like drudgery. He wants to work, to earn a living, to be out on his own.

What should he do? What should his parents do?

At this point, word about our son started getting around among people we knew who had children his age. Some of their sons and daughters were starting to struggle in college with grades, drinking, and loneliness. At gatherings, other fathers would sometimes sidle up to me and ask, “Just out of curiosity, how did your boy find that job out in Idaho?”

After his second harvest, with money in the bank, our son joined the Marine Corps, a dream he had had for several years. He finished boot camp and is now at infantry school in North Carolina. He wakes up at 4 a.m., is tired all the time—and is happy. He is, as a translation of the second-century Saint Irenaeus puts it, “a man fully alive.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/07/will-going-college-make-you-happier/613729/

 

SeaKingTacco

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I want my kids to be happy with their life decisions. To that end, we have encouraged them all (girl and boy, both) to consider skilled trades on an equal footing with university. In fact, I would prefer it if they all take a gap year after high school to decide what they want to do.
 

mariomike

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Like it or not, these days you need a degree just to apply   for some jobs,

Students in Paramedicine earn an Honours Bachelor of Science degree and an Ontario College Diploma while learning from leading academics and professionals.
https://utsc.utoronto.ca/biosci/paramedicine

"The paramedicine program is a joint program with Centennial College. Over the course of four years of study, students receive an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto and a Paramedic Diploma from Centennial College.

daftandbarmy said:
But it’s still unclear if it pays off in happiness.

Someone once said: "Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember."  :)

As far as taking time off "to find oneself", that sounds like a great idea.

But, also worth considering: If you decide to apply for a union job, that time off will put you further down the seniority list than others your own age.

 

CBH99

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As someone in his mid 30's, I can't tell you how many of my friends and colleagues (myself included) have a diploma or degree that we do absolutely nothing with.  Nothing at all.

It's odd how some employers will take you more seriously as an applicant if you have a university degree, even if that degree is in no way relevant to the position or field.


Trades is always a way to go.  And despite the 'gritty, blue collar' image I think a lot of people have of folks who work in the trades, I know quite a few friends who own small businesses who dress in collared shirts & slacks, who make an absolute killing financially. 


My dad was a career biologist, and a 'science' guy.  I remember he told me once "Just remember, half the folks with degrees graduated in the bottom half of their class."  I chuckle as I remember that now. 



A degree doesn't guarantee success.
 

observor 69

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The one thing that stands out to me from going to university is reasoning. Writing papers, studying a topic in-depth to truly understand what factors influenced the outcome.
Hopefully graduating and for the rest of your life being able to rationally, "scientifically" think through a situation/problem. Can't guarantee happiness but you should be able to make better decisions.
 

lenaitch

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Baden Guy said:
The one thing that stands out to me from going to university is reasoning. Writing papers, studying a topic in-depth to truly understand what factors influenced the outcome.
Hopefully graduating and for the rest of your life being able to rationally, "scientifically" think through a situation/problem. Can't guarantee happiness but you should be able to make better decisions.

Our daughter, who has a typical 'arts' degree, would wholeheartedly agree with you.  Compared the high school, the ability to independently conduct research, organize thoughts and meaningful communicate them - written or oral - have served her well in her career, regardless of what the subject of the various assignments were.  She is government, so she has had to learn how to communicate in the government way, but the foundations were there.

I also agree with the general positive views on the trades.  I, admittedly, have a pretty small circle of friends, but one of the wealthiest I know is an electrician.  He worked long and hard to get there, no doubt, but the rewards were there.
 

Remius

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The thing is, if high school taught you properly, depending on your academic stream, you learned how to think rationally and scientifically.  They prepared you for that once you got to university.  University didn’t teach any of that in the arts.  You were on your own and had to figure it out.

The problem, I think is that undergraduate arts degrees have just become money making programs for universities.  I’ve had so many come through where I work that don’t know how to write or organise anything coherent.

One developmental program I was involved in had university educated candidates asking for writing courses.  Their bachelor degree requirement, was supposed to be the benchmark that indicated to us that they could write but very few could do so effectively.

 

tomahawk6

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If you want to better yourself learn a trade and its cheaper. The profession of arms requires a college degree and even for NCO's its getting that way. The USAF discontinued their Warrant officer program unlike the other services.
 

Lumber

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A university/college degree is as useful as the courses you choose to take.

I can say that I use both my university degree (writing skills) and my high school education (advanced math and physics) in the conduct of my job.

If I hadnt taken advanced maths in highschool, then the math required as an NWO would be much harder. Likewise, had I not taken business administration in university, my writing and critical analysis skills wouldn't be what they are today.

I think blanket statements in either direction are wrong. A university degree or college diploma in and of itself does does not provide happiness or success. That being said, they can and do contribute to your success and hapiness.

I've been in the military for 14 years now and on reflection I do not see my degree as a waste of time. Or effort. I truly feel I am a better adult and officer for it.
 

Weinie

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Yeah perhaps. I am one of the very few officers of my rank in the CAF without a Bachelor Degree. It hurt every year at merit boards, but I got past that by being very competent and motivated at my job. It paid off.

I have peers and colleagues with Masters/Multiple Masters degrees. Some are very good at what they do, some are useless. In that vein, I have known multiple NCM's, who whilst lacking a Bachelor Degree, were absolute scholars when it came to getting the job done.

Sheepskin on the wall may count, but the stuff between your ears matters more.
 

dapaterson

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1997 Report to the Prime Minister on the Leadership and Management of the Canadian Forces.  Recommendation ten.

Any CAF discussion has to start there (and in the subordinate, supporting reports drafted by a set of outside reviewers).
 

OldSolduer

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Weinie said:
Yeah perhaps. I am one of the very few officers of my rank in the CAF without a Bachelor Degree. It hurt every year at merit boards, but I got past that by being very competent and motivated at my job. It paid off.

I have peers and colleagues with Masters/Multiple Masters degrees. Some are very good at what they do, some are useless. In that vein, I have known multiple NCM's, who whilst lacking a Bachelor Degree, were absolute scholars when it came to getting the job done.

Sheepskin on the wall may count, but the stuff between your ears matters more.

Well said.

What guarantees a good life - whatever that is to you - generally is hard work and perseverance. Luck can play a part but generally you make your own luck.
 

Weinie

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dapaterson said:
1997 Report to the Prime Minister on the Leadership and Management of the Canadian Forces.  Recommendation ten.

Any CAF discussion has to start there (and in the subordinate, supporting reports drafted by a set of outside reviewers).

Read it. There were holes big enough in the logic in some of the findings to drive a truck through.
 

dapaterson

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Weinie said:
Read it. There were holes big enough in the logic in some of the findings to drive a truck through.

I may or may not have a copy of Jack G's rebuttal of his own work...
 

Weinie

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LGen (ret'd) Mike Jeffery, boy soldier, non-degree holder, and one of the smartest men I have ever known.
 

mariomike

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For reference to the discussion,

The Military Still Requires Officers To Have College Degrees. Why?
https://navy.ca/forums/threads/126758.0;nowap
5 pages.
 

dapaterson

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Weinie said:
LGen (ret'd) Mike Jeffery, boy soldier, non-degree holder, and one of the smartest men I have ever known.

And a strong supporter of an educated officer corps.

Our problem (larger society's, as well) is that we are confusing a degree with the stated desire of a broad-based liberal arts education.  Indeed, we are instead using them as trade proxies - so for a while, the CAF's senior serving logistician, LGen Lamarre, was deemed unsuitable to be a logistics officer because his undergrad wasn't in business or supply chain management...
 

ballz

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The bigger issue isn't the utility of a degree or trades or other useful / alternative forms of education that are seldom thought of (martial arts... anyone know how much a legit BJJ blackbelt can make in a weekend seminar?).

What has caused an issue for my generation was the idea that a university degree was what everyone should strive for, and everything else such as a trade was a consolation prize for those who just weren't cut out for university.

This poster was actually hanging in Mike Rowe's guidance counselor's office in 1977. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NwEFVUb-u0

So many people I went to high school with went straight into university without any real thought, and came out saddled with debt and no degree because they realized that wasn't what they wanted half-way through. Or they spent additional years as a professional student before finally finding a program, and so it took 6-7 years to get their degree. I'd have likely been caught in the same trap, I hated my BBA but I finished it because the CAF had me by the ballz.

SeaKingTacco said:
I want my kids to be happy with their life decisions. To that end, we have encouraged them all (girl and boy, both) to consider skilled trades on an equal footing with university. In fact, I would prefer it if they all take a gap year after high school to decide what they want to do.

I can't say how much I agree. A gap year is viewed in a negative light in Canada, as though it's just a year of "wasting time." Maybe it is, but it's a cheaper waste of time than wasting a year in university doing stuff your not interested in. Or, you go backpacking for a year which I think is probably the biggest regret  of my life that I didn't do that... because once you really go after adulthood, it's rare to get that opportunity until you are retirement age.

When I was backpacking in SE Asia, I met tons of Germans who are notoriously known for being "everywhere" by backpackers... because it seems almost everyone in Germany takes a gap year and many many many use it to travel.
 

lenaitch

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Weinie said:
Yeah perhaps. I am one of the very few officers of my rank in the CAF without a Bachelor Degree. It hurt every year at merit boards, but I got past that by being very competent and motivated at my job. It paid off.

I have peers and colleagues with Masters/Multiple Masters degrees. Some are very good at what they do, some are useless. In that vein, I have known multiple NCM's, who whilst lacking a Bachelor Degree, were absolute scholars when it came to getting the job done.

Sheepskin on the wall may count, but the stuff between your ears matters more.

I agree.  Most of the best senior staff that I worked under in policing did not have any post-secondary education, and many that did were terrible.  Counting nieces and nephews, I have more doctors, lawyers and assorted PhDs in my family than I can count (don't know what happened to me).  No doubt they are very knowledgeable in their field of study, but I'm convinced some of them are challenged to change a light bulb.  A friend since childhood retired as the last middle manager in a very large, multi-national tech firm to not have any post-secondary education.  He actually had to go back to night school to get his high school diploma.  He is probably the most naturally or generally smart person I know.
 

daftandbarmy

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mariomike said:
For reference to the discussion,

The Military Still Requires Officers To Have College Degrees. Why?
https://navy.ca/forums/threads/126758.0;nowap
5 pages.

Degrees are not required for Officers in the British Army: just good leadership....

British Army Campaign Targets Non-Graduates For Officer Training

The British Army has launched a campaign to attract non-university graduates to a career as an army officer.

General Paul Nanson, Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, joined the British Army as a non-graduate and has risen through the ranks to his current position.

He said:“The Army offers equal opportunity to all. It’s about who you are as much as it is what you know."

https://www.forces.net/news/british-army-campaign-targets-non-graduates-officer-training
 
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