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  1. #1

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    "Secondary" education?

    Quote Originally Posted by jenlynn
    We need honesty within our education system. We need to be able to say not everyone will or wants to attend college and that is okay. We need to provide strong tech and training programs. It is sad that we no longer value the trades. Many people, regardless of intelligence, may not choose college. Maybe later in life they will attend a J.C. and then transfer on, but for those who don't we need to consider making them skilled workers. We need mechanics, computer techs, etc. instead of giving kids credit for working at McD's let's train them in a profession that will allow them to become productive and proud citizens.
    This was brought up in another thread, and I thought it was a topic worthy of separate discussion.

    My thoughts have often run along these same lines. Today's college education is the high school education of 30 years ago. The problem lies in the fact that too many people go to college these days. A college grad today is neither unique nor exemplary. Once upon a time, to have a college degree was to be worthy of respect as an educated individual, but today... it's a piece of paper giving you permission to get a job.

    I also feel that not everyone is cut out for college, but they are forced by necessity to go, because, again, everyone has a college degree these days, and competing even for low-level jobs that should not require a degree becomes difficult without one because those college grads need jobs too. There are more college grads than there are jobs that actually need that level of education to perform.

    We're not giving enough credit to technical programs. What's wrong with becoming a plumber, or aircraft mechanic?

    More importantly, how do we solve this problem without being guilty of "channelling" students in one direction or another?

    I do think it's important to stop treating college as the be-all or end-all of professional achievement. Not that post-secondary education isn't important, but certain other forms of post-secondary education need to be given higher status. Professional designations should be given their due.

    I've often thought that some variation on the British system would work well. In England, students attend school through age 16. After that, they choose between entering the work force, or continuing on with what used to be called O-levels or A-levels (I forget which, and I'm not sure they carry the same title today). Those familiar with Harry Potter will have some idea of this structure, as it obviously influenced J.K.Rowling's portrayal of the upper schooling level.

    Those classes (and I know this because I've taken them), rather than playing down at an American high school level (which is meant for everyone, not just those planning to continue on to college), instead aim a bit higher. I would equate them to a junior college level of difficulty. For students planning on hitting college, this stepping up is very appropriate both in preparing them for college, and for weeding out those who will not take the work seriously.

    Now how can we make this work for us here in the US? I still agree with the idea of having students in school through 18. However, today's high school grads simply aren't prepared for real life by their educations. I think the ideal situation would be to change the academic program for 17-18. Have all students on the "academic" track up through age 16, but then have them choose between the academic or trade tracks. The students who choose the trade tracks would drop their schedule to about 50% academic classes, many of which will be specific to real-life needs (such as some kind of "home accounting", or trade-specific courses, or "business writing", etc.) The other half of their schedule should be working on acquiring a professional designation, whether it's a contractor's license, auto mechanic designations, plumbing, electrical, etc. In other words, finishing school not as a menial laborer, but as a skilled laborer, one who has the qualifications to possibly go into business for themselves, if they should choose it (hence the specialized academic courses). True, not everyone will be cut out for or choose to start their own business, but if we set them up with the tools to do so, they will be better equipped for life in general.

    I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this later in the day, but for now, feel free to pick this apart or make your own suggestions as you will.

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  2. #2

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I have more thoughts, but I have to run.

    Here in Portland, having an advanced college degree is nothing. Everyone and their dog has a Masters or is working on two Masters programs and it seems like every 30-something I know is working on a dissertation....applying to some program, something.

    All for no additional pay. We collect degrees like we collect Subarus, funky silver bracelets, tattoos and toe rings. People in other cities collect Hummers and art. We collect educational opportunities. It's nuts!

    And yes, I have my Masters in Ed. No big whoop here. I used to feel proud.

    Portland's tops of a list of the most educated cities in America. Very cool.....but where's the money??

    We're all sitting around waiting for all these college-educated people to start their own businesses....and they are.....they're just not getting paid yet.

    Portland is blossoming, I'm glad I'm here for it. But if everyone already has all these advanced degrees (and many many have uber-specialized programs under their belts), it's going to be dog-eat-dog here.

    Can't wait for it to unfold......

  3. #3

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    This is so frustrating for me. My husband attended an excellent University, but instead of finishing all four years, he chose to follow love and create a family and never finished his degree. He is the smartest person I have ever known and does get great jobs and makes a decent living. But there is still this "ceiling" that seems to make it impossible for him to advance after a certain point without that piece of paper, no matter how qualified he may be.

    Now he really wants to return to school to get that paper, but we are trying to raise a family with me as a stay-at-home mom and finding the time and money is extremely difficult. I wish it weren't necessary, especially as intelligent and educated as he already is, but it seems to be to reach the level of sucess he desires.
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  4. #4

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    There are a lot of high schools that have those sort of tech programs already. In my school distrcit it was called BOCES - the students who most likely wouldn't go on to college took a half day of classes and spent the other half learning a trade - automotive, cosmotology, etc. We also had not only specialized levels of classes (ie. 12th grade English had AP for the honors kids (and maybe even an honors as well?), CP (college prep) for the college kids, regular English then the lower English)... We also had different tracts. Since I didn't continue a foreign language after 9th grade and didn't take advanced math, I took a career track where I took classes like Business Ownership, Marketing, Intro to Occupations... stuff that the tech kids took, yet I was also in CP English, which none of them were.

    Delaying college for a year or two would have done me a world of good. Unfortunately, my parents, counselor and teachers thought differently. Such was the pressure of society on them. Yet I'm the one in huge debt for stumbling around for years before finally graduating with the most general degree you can get and still no concrete idea of what to do with my life.

    ETA: Tink, you posted when I did and I want to agree with you - my job requires a college degree and that's such BS. What I do, any trained monkey can do. Having a degree doesn't mean you're smarter than the guy who didn't get one. College is an important thing, and it does take a lot to get through it and it's a good way to grow and change and learn how to organize time and blah blah... but it's not the be all and end all. College degrees are so overrated.
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  5. #5

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I agree Morrigoon, and I think you have really good ideas and insight. I think one of the problems is that our society has become driven by one thing: money. And the common perception is that a college degree ensures that a person will make more money (even though we all know that's not true).

    Young people are often motivated in their choice of profession by how much money they can make, not by whether or not they will be doing what they love or are good at. So is it any wonder that so many people are unhappy with their chosen professions?

    I used to work part-time at a staffing agency. One young woman came in and, when asked what her career goals were, she replied, "Middle management." That's it. No specific field of interest, just a mid-level manager. I thought, this woman is setting herself up for a lifetime of unhappiness because she isn't going to be doing anything she loves.

    I've been a teacher now for 16 years. It isn't something I intended to do, but now I can't imagine doing anything else. I love it. I don't get paid a lot, but I (usually) look forward to going to school everyday.

    However, I have a new principal. She got into education not because of her love for working with children, but because she wanted to be a principal. In her mind (and in my opinion) that's where the money is. She isn't doing a very good job as principal and nearly half of our teaching staff left at the end of last school year because of her. Just another example of following your bank account instead of your heart.

    As you said, I think we need to encourage young people to explore different professions. Not everyone needs to go to college. For some, it's just not neccessary. But those who don't go need to know that they're not "settling" for a lesser profession.
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  6. #6

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I forgot to get to my most important point: we college grads of today are in the same position as high school grads of 30 years ago job-wise, only now we have massive debt.

    THAT is a problem.

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  7. #7

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morrigoon
    I forgot to get to my most important point: we college grads of today are in the same position as high school grads of 30 years ago job-wise, only now we have massive debt.

    THAT is a problem.
    I'll be paying on my B.S. while my youngest is still in college, so I fully agree. My M.S. was paid in full with scholarships and grants, thank goodness. Can't imagine how much more I'd be owing on that.

    Most jobs here pay $8/hr and required a college degree. It's depressing! I know people who keep their jobs as restaurant servers or at Starbucks, because the pay and benefits are WAY better than a "real" job.

  8. #8

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    This is actually a problem that I've been struggling with personally... so it's a very interesting topic to me

    My two sisters are educated (they're older than me by quite a bit) - one has her Masters in Education and is now working on her PhD, the other, has her Bachelor's in Education and is now working on an MBA. My brother-in-law? PhD in Psychology. Other brother-in-law? A mechanical plumber who can't go any further, so he's working on an MBA. (Freaking smartest guy I know) So, high expecations from my parents (although they would have been happy if I achieved highly in a trade as well).

    Me? Yeah, I can't figure out what I want to do, so I started out getting my Bachelor's in Business and three years later, I hate the program (might have been the school) and I'm $26k in debit, but still no degree. I end up taking a year off and working - and then I realize I need to get my act together because I sure as hell don't want to be working in retail for the rest of my life. So for those of us who are having a really hard time deciding what we want to do for a living, it's really hard. Even with the career tests - my brother in law is a Doctor of Psychology - trust me, I've taken MANY career tests. Meanwhile, time is ticking away... if you want to get to the top rung of the ladder anymore, it seems like you have to start earlier and earlier...

    My husband has his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and he's now realizing that he may have to go for his MBA or a Masters of Science to get much further. So, we'll be even more in debt... Even if you do know what you want, the Masters is the new Bachelor's... you have to get it to get further in your career.

    Trust me, you see it as being frustrating if you're older... at least you have experience! If you don't have either, then you're really screwed!
    Last edited by MegarooFifi; 07-22-2005 at 09:10 PM. Reason: Fixing my poor English!

  9. #9

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    My husband was recruited by an art school in Arizona while he lived in Iowa. He payed tens of thousands of dollars for an Associate's degree that has proved useless. He has been laid off from countless jobs as a graphic designer in smaller shops because they couldn't afford yo stay open. The larger firm's wanted more expereince than his degree (he later found out that the school is kind of a joke and no one in the area hired graduates from there, how was he suppossed to know that?)

    Now that we have moved, no one wantes to pay him more than 8 bucks an hour, and he has a lot of expereince. So he takes freelance jobs at 15 bucks an hour and manages a pizza restauraunt while trying to finish a bachelor's degree that might be just as useless as the associate's. We don't know what else to do.

    I had two years in towards a bachelor's in poli sci before I decided I didn't want any part of it. So I dropped out. Now I am back working towards my R.N. which, thankfully will assure me solid employment.

    I definitely agree that college is not for everyone, unfortunately, there are trade and tech schools popping up that offer these short, 8 month programs and don't teach anything. The certificates are useless, but the graduates don't find this out until later. I found this out after interviewing hundreds of medical receptionists, assistants, and claims billers. All had come from technical colleges and all were totally unprepared for the workforce. We very rarely got good employees from those types of programs.

    This leaves high school graduates with lots of confusion. But I think it is still true that we succeed when we make opportunities for ourselves. But now I take the opinions of others very seriously when it comes to secondary education. Unfortunately, there are a lot of mistakes you can make, it helps to listen to someone who has been there.
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  10. #10

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I'm currently starting in a community college.. (same as Jr. College..)

    and have no idea what I will be doing. my first semester i am taking many electives to figure out what i likle and dont like raging from percussion to broadcasting..

    I was never pushed into a job... but now thats happened i have no idea what i like as in Hiogh school i was mostly in band and no one pushed to get interested in something.. unlike back in the day before my time when they did..

  11. #11

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I was a professional college student for 5 years. I went to a JC and had a blast. I found creative ways to take what I was interested in and at the same time take the units required to transfer to a 4 year school. Once I got to that 4 year school I found that I liked working more than school and ended up dropping out in my Junior year. I worked retail for a long time, and loved it, but there is no $$ - even for managers - and the hours sucked. Once I had The Boy retail was no longer an option.

    When I started my current job I was in the middle of the pay scale because of my schooling. The people who started at top pay were ones who had worked as telemarketers and in high pressure sales jobs. It took me less than 3 years to hit top pay. Now I am having to face some decisions. I know I won't be here that much longer, so what will I do when this job is over? I can handle a $10/hr pay cut, but that will still mean making less than my retail and customer service skills will pay.

    *sigh*

    I know I won't be going back to college, but I will be taking some office type vocational classes to get more office experience.

  12. #12

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    Only a couple of my friends who just graduated college managed to get good jobs immediately, a combination of luck and the connections that an expensive private school provides. Most of the rest opted for grad school or the Peace Corps. Those that hadn't secured a job before graduation still don't have decent ones. My very good friend took a job at DCA as a ride operator because she couldn't get hired anywhere else, and it meant taking a paycut from her work-study job.

    I think the problem is that today's middle-class is more educated than it has ever been at any time in America's history, partly because of the emphasis on attending college. Combined with the lagging job market and every employer's desire for applicants with experience, it's nearly impossible for fresh graduates to get jobs. It's like the Avenue Q song: "What do you do with a B.A. in English? What is my life going to be? Four years of college and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useless degree..."

    I've still got three years to go, so I'm going to be spending that time padding my resume and working every contact I've got, because it's the only way I'm going to end up with a decent job.

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  13. #13

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I don't think that there is anything wrong with tech schools, or classes. Some people have no interest in going to college. Some people even make more money without even going to college. My brother-in-law being one of them. He went to college for a year, or so. Then he got married, had kids. He was working for a video game company, and now he's working with a cell phone company on the video game side of things. I know that he makes way more money than I do (been a teacher for 11yrs). Just goes to show that a degree doesn't guarantee your salary.

    One of my fellow teachers and I are always talking about this subject. It's too bad that many of the schools have taken tech type classes out of the schools - ie: wood shop, automotives, metal shop, cooking, sewing, etc. There's nothing wrong with any of those professions.

  14. #14

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    I don't want to graduate from High School this year.

  15. #15

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    Re: "Secondary" education?

    Even before I could spell interior designer, I wanted to be one. Ever since elementary school I knew that after high school I was going to college. I even remember talking to one of my friends on the playground about it. I wasn't like something that my parents had brainwashed me into doing either. Neither of them went to college, but they are very proud of me for doing something that they were never able to do. I'm one of the lucky ones that has always know what they wanted to do and I'm not just floating through college with no idea why I'm even there. Though I still think that general ed is being wasted on me. I could care less about most of the stuff and have forgotten a great deal of it from last semester alone. It feels just like a big review of high school. I really just try to be through it all so I can do my interior design classes which I believe are all that are going to matter. I'm entering into this profession because that's what I love. I still have no idea what your average designer makes and I don't care because this is what I'm going to do.


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