25 October 2010

The scholar-flight attendant, and other contemporary creatures

I mentioned in my Waiting for Superman post that you can't just assume more people going to college is better, like director Davis Guggenheim does.

Well...
Ben Casnocha | What 17 Million Americans Got from a College Degree
Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.
That's from this piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, via Jon Bischke on Twitter. [...]

For hundreds of thousands of Americans, spending four years and untold amounts of money (and debt?) gets you a job as a waiter, parking lot attendant, or janitor. Yet everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Gates keep pushing a college education as the way to secure one's economic future. That is a view that should be heavily qualified.
If you want to be one of the one in six hotel desk clerks, or telemarketers, or mail carriers, or parking lot attendants with a bachelor's degree because you value knowledge for knowledge's sake (and you think college is an efficient way of gaining knowledge) that's fine by me. But remember the education-as-consumption vs. education-as-investment distinction. If you want to consume education, then bully for you. But that's not my responsibility to pay for, and we can't justify that consumption the way Bill Gates does, nattering on about preparing for a 21st century, high-tech workforce.

2 comments:

  1. .... we can't justify that consumption the way Bill Gates does, nattering on about preparing for a 21st century, high-tech workforce.

    He's wrong about that, as well.

    Most hi-tech jobs and skills can be learned in, at most, a few months of really intensive training. On the job training, intensive work-related courses can pick up whatever the student lacks.

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