Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mazenko Makes Sense!

Long time RotLC reader/commenter Michael Mazenko has yet another piece published in the Denver Post, and I don't find much to argue with in it:

For as long as I've been teaching, I've been frustrated by poor career advice handed out to young people. A non-academic student who wants to become a mechanic is hounded by counselors asking, "Wouldn't you rather own your own garage?" How many business owners do we need? If everyone owns his own shop, who is going to work there? Schools should let the market decide who becomes a manager.

There's nothing wrong or dishonorable about not going to college. There's plenty that's dishonorable about making a child think he's a failure unless he goes to college.


John Sanzone said...

In my high school (upstate NY) we had a somewhat opposite problem. Everybody was encouraged to undershoot and a lot of effort went into guiding students to two and four year state schools (not nec. anything wrong with them) and an overwhelming emphasis on technical rather than academic routes.

Mr. W said...

wow! Mazenko nicely put. I get weird looks from colleagues all the time when I mention a two year college or even worse going to work right away without any college.

I worked at UPS for 5 years and I saw plenty of people who were very successful and didn't go to college at all. I do explain that non-college jobs will probably be labor intensive at the beginning until you climb the ladder.

MikeAT said...


I have to say you’re steel on target on this. If I may add a bit of tangent onto your point. One thing I find wrong is pushing kids just out of high school who may want a college degree/higher education program but they are just not ready at that young age for the university,

A beautiful case in point is a buddy from my first misguided college days. He told his parents he was not ready for school at 18 and he flunked out. The parents pushed him back in a year later and he again flunked out. Well, time went on and he worked as a mechanic, running the gas station, working for a cable company and as a draftsman. Then he started going back to college part time and in about six years he had his engineering degree and works now with the shuttle program.

Let’s show kids you can start with one track but you’re not glued to it.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right on. I attended a high school that assumed that everyone would go on to college. I was a good, but not great, student and didn't go on to college, because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life at 18. I became a computer programmer and took my Computer Science degree part time, graduating at the age of 45. I completed my MBA online as well. One thing that has become common in my home country of Great Britain is what is known as a "gap year." This is a year off between high school and college. It gives students time to find their feet. I think it's a great idea.

Erica said...

I'd be happy to have my children go to a vocational college, take an apprenticeship, join the military, or do something other than college, as long as they're doing *something.*

I got a 4 year degree, couldn't find a blasted thing to do with it, and did manual labor on a horse ranch for my first year out of college. Best thing I ever did. Got me out of my ivory tower real fast, and taught me how to learn from people rather than professors.

DADvocate said...

The truth is we need people who are front line workers whether it be in factories, auto repair shops, or stores. There are other places and ways to find meaning in your life than work.

But even without college, you can become successful. Two guys I know are high up in a company that has barges going up and down the Ohio River. Their incomes are in the six figures, quite good for Kentucky - roughly equal to some doctors and lawyers. No college. Both started out as a deck hands on the tow boats and barges and worked their way up becoming captains, etc.

I've mentioned to my oldest son that he could take a path other than college, which he's plenty smart enough for but is moving very slowly through. I've suggested the auto mechanic route. He loves cars and has two sitting in my garage in different states of being restored.

Plus, given the cost and time of college and the decreasing payback, it's becoming less and less of a good deal.