Interesting article on college

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Wed, 11-06-2013 - 12:32pm
I didn't mean harder in every way, but physically yes. It would part of the demands of the job. So there is hope for my kids lol! Work ethic is hard to teach but we sure are trying! Thanks for your posts, very insightful as always.
Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 11-06-2013 - 9:21am

Most of the kids I know didn't start working hard until they were in late high school.  I despaired of my 21yo ever getting his act together in high school.  He is a genius by all tests - perfect SAT score, etc. - but his grades were consistently Bs.  When he was 17 he finally got his act together and has made us very proud.  He is always conscious of what we are paying for him to go to school and feels it's essential to work hard to make it worth our sacrifice.  My 18yo was always good at studying, but it was more out of a desire to please; it wasn't until she was 16 that she really started busting her butt because she realized she could actually achieve something.

My 13yo OTOH would play video games til his eyes fell out of his head.  He's the one I worry about, but since he's the only one at home DH & I can keep on him.  He has problems with executive functioning, so I am not sure he will ever get it together like his older siblings.  Still, his level of motivation and the amount he works is age appropriate.  It's a rare 13yo that works hard just because.

When you say, "I don't see any of them headed in the trades direction," do you mean that people in the trades work harder than others?  My nieces/nephews/kids/young friends all work hard but only a couple are in hands-on trades.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Wed, 11-06-2013 - 8:59am

I'm sorry you view it as sad. I just see it as reality. Of course, my kids are younger than yours and their friends and kids I know. I hope they prove me wrong, really, I do. They have not started working yet. I guess we will see. I just don't see any of them headed in the trades direction. Perhaps when they get their own goals and figure out what they really want of life and realize what it costs things will change. I try to help with educating them but I don't think it will really stick until the time comes when it becomes applicable to them. Time will tell. 

I hope everyone is as lucky as you to be surrounded by hard working teen agers.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 11-04-2013 - 3:20pm

Wow, that is such a sad statement.  I know lots of hard-working young people, including my two older kids (ages 18 & 21) and several of my nieces and nephews. 

My 29yo nephew started working jobs in sports when he was in college and finished his MBA while also working full time.  He's also helped care for his dying stepmother after his father died, and for his orphaned half-sister after his stepmother passed  His 27yo brother was going to grad school for his MA in Education when a major sports network spotted the college basketball blog he started on his own time a few years earlier and hired him for his dream job covering college basketball recruitment.

My 31yo nephew works as a landscaper for most months of the year, does woodworking on his own in the off-season and builds houses for Habitat for Humanity.  His 25yo girlfriend is a third-year law student.

DH's 21yo nephew went to college for a year, found it didn't suit him, and works full-time as an electrician.  In all kinds of weather.

My 21yo niece graduated high school a year early, got a 50% scholarship at a top university for accounting, and received a job offer from a mid-tier accounting firm before her senior year.  She is now finishing her degree while working for them.

My 21yo son spent the first four weeks of last summer doing a research project which resulted in his abstract being accepted to an academic symposium.  He then spent six weeks in Peru on an archeological dig which involved both 8 credits of classes and intense physical labor.  He is finishing his senior year with a double major and a minor.

My 18yo daughter is amusic education freshman at a top university where she takes 18 credits per semester (required) plus a non-credit course plus a performing ensemble which rehearses for 5 hours a week for no credit.  She is always either studying or practicing.  Both my kids know what I have sacrificed to send them to top colleges from which they will graduate with no debt.

I'm an entrepreneur too, though of a different type.  I have hired over a dozen new college grads and mentored them through the first few years of their careers.  I don't believe for a second that there is no work ethic in this country.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Mon, 11-04-2013 - 10:47am


I think this touches on something important. Work Ethic. Not a lot of kids have it anymore, and if they do, it isn't very good. We are living in a society where most do the absolute minimum to get the maximum and no more. They have to advance someone so would that be the least minimalist?? I can't even imagine my sons or thier friends going into a trade. They wouldn't be able to handle the hard work, be interested in it and I honestly I think they would think it is beneath them. 

Of course kids should reseach the job they want and what it pays. The rule of thumb is to not take on more debt in total than you would make the first year as a starting salary. I'm not sure I agree with this but it is the rule of thumb. If they take on $40,000 worth of debt how long do they live in our basements to pay that off and how hard do they work to pay it off at all in our nice comfy basements.?

Sure, some kids have lots of motivation and drive. I wonder what that percent is? And honestly, in Canada, there are not a whole lot of incentives to be an entreprenure if that is what you want to do. When I bought my store in Oct 2005 the minimum wage was $8.45 an hour. Now in my province it is $10.45. Thanks NDP. Now, in that 8 years I owned the business, took all the work and risk, was I ever able to give myself  a raise. No. 

I think one right point was made, and it has been made before. Art history is not going to get you anywhere and the debt that could go with it. Lets get our kids out of high school first. You can't do anything without that anymore, and you could years ago. Lots of drop outs out there now these days. 

My children know they are expected to do something after high school and setting some expectations as parents is important. But lets look at some numbers:

Here in Canada you can take a business admin college program for probably $6000 for 2 years, so that would be a total cost of 12,000 if you lived at home, 20-22 thousand if you didn't. YOu could come out of that course and go into mid management making 30-40 thousand starting, with a possibility to end your career with lots of experince making 60 to 70 thousand.

If you go to University for teaching which takes 5 years here at a minimum of $13,000 or $23,000 a year if you don't live at home you are looking at a much higher cost coming out of school with much higher debt levels. You would probably start at $50,000 in the teaching field here and go to $80,000 by the end.

It really makes you wonder what to do when you are a kid. It would take 3 more years to be a teacher, you would have way more debt and be 3 more years  behind on buying a house, getting married, saving for retirement and be not that much different at the end. 

I guess it does depend on the child. I just don't know any budding plumbers, carpenters or electricians. My kids can't get their eyes off their computer screens long enough to even know what those trades are about. And even if they did....I can't see them working in the cold or with human waste or getting zapped lol.

Do I love my kids, of course. Are the whole lot of them lazy and self centered?? YUP. I hope they both do something computer related because they both fix my computer and show me how to do things all the time.

Just my two cents!

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 11-01-2013 - 2:28pm

I don't think he's saying anything new.  College has never been one size fits all.  The education you receive for a Bachelors in Nursing is nothing like that for a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering or a Bachelors in Math or a Bachelors in English. 

Not everyone is suited for college but not everyone is suited for the trades either.  You have to look at the whole person - abilities and interests and personality - to help start an 18yo on an appropriate career path.

Besides, his logic is flawed, though it makes for nice sound bites.  "What he’s against, Rowe added, is that we started promoting college “at the expense” of the vocational training that, in many cases, is what’s actually needed for the career."  Well, back in the old days - let's call it the era that began with the GI bill, which is how my dad went to college after serving in WWII, right through the 1980s - no one needed to be told to train for the trades, because a trade job *was* the default.  The problem by 1960 was that industrialization meant that trade jobs had a limited income opportunity and, eventually, a limited shelf life.  Getting a college education in an era where office jobs had become an accessible source of better income with just a BA made lots of sense.  And it was affordable.  So saying that "we" have been promoting college at the expense of vocational training is incorrect.  Up until 10-15 years ago, a well-rounded education *in any discipline* WAS the way to have a career.

I'm afraid that in his message, he's ignoring many things that have emerged in the last 20 years:  the effects of globalization and technology, a different definition of competition (now it's you vs every other individual, rather than USA vs every other country), the rise of finance (rather than manufacturing) as a driver of the economy, etc.  What is "needed for the career" now means something different from a standard liberal arts degree, but that doesn't mean that a liberal arts degree isn't needed for SOME careers.  In my entire career in consulting and sales, I've hired nothing *but* liberal arts majors. 

I also don't think he's saying anything new about not going into $80,000 of debt to be an art history major.  I'm surprised that more people aren't more proactive about college; it's the biggest investment of time and money that most people will make before buying a house or having a child.  It's a lousy investment to go $80,000 into debt to major in philosophy; it's a decent investment if you can get it for free.  It's a lousy investment to go $200,000 into debt for law school; it's a decent investment if you're only going $50,000 into debt.  And so on.  You have to look at education from a number of different angles:  one of them is what kind of person you are (interests, abilities, and personality), and another is what it produces for you.

Education is not equivalent to vocational training.  Votech might be great for some, and college education for others.  The decision is more complex than he makes it sound and than most people think.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Fri, 11-01-2013 - 1:01pm
I completely agree with the article, but I also know that its a PITA that if you look at a lot of want ads out there for jobs, people are asking for a 4 year degree for basic secretary jobs, things that you don't need a 4 year job for to make $9-10 an hour, you just need some skill, or someone to take the time to help train you a bit. That doesn't need to be a 4 year bachelors degree worth of training and once you've invested that much money into a degree, regardless of it you have student loans or not, it seems ridiculous to then go and have to get a $9 an hour job. but that's just my opinion.