18 votes

Colleges lost 465,000 students this fall. The continued erosion of enrollment is raising alarm.

10 comments

  1. [10]
    vord
    Link
    Full disclosure: My job depends on colleges keeping up enrollment. To people who are contemplating going to college: Unless you are positive you want to do something intense like medicine, deep...

    Full disclosure: My job depends on colleges keeping up enrollment.

    To people who are contemplating going to college:

    Unless you are positive you want to do something intense like medicine, deep science, or engineering...don't go to college. Or at the very least, don't go in debt to go to college. Or take a few gap years... 18 year olds don't know squat about what they want to do with their lives (on aggregate).

    College has a lot of value. It'll help you think in a way that many (most?) lower levels of education won't. If you travel out of your home state, it'll broaden your horizens more than you ever have before.

    But don't get crippled by the debt. If you want a job and make real money, go for a trade. The Millennials mostly missed that boat, and there's a big void coming when all the 55+ folks start dropping off. The plumbers and HVAC folks are the real heros.

    I kinda regret not going into a trade myself, and if free post-secondary ever becomes a thing I may well try to save up enough to cover the wage gap while jumping into it.

    21 votes
    1. [5]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      Since student loan debt isn't a universal problem, how do you think free (or at least affordable) college changes the equation here?

      Or at the very least, don't go in debt to go to college.

      Since student loan debt isn't a universal problem, how do you think free (or at least affordable) college changes the equation here?

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        vord
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Go undecided, take some philosophy, art, history, and math. Probably still go to a trade school after a year or two. I partially jest at that last sentence. But find yourself first, and realize...

        Go undecided, take some philosophy, art, history, and math. Probably still go to a trade school after a year or two.

        I partially jest at that last sentence. But find yourself first, and realize that college is not the automatic path to success that Gen X and Millenials were sold on.

        Attend some protests and maybe throw a moltov or five. I won't tell you how to live your life, but do the radical stuff while you're young. Save the pencil pushing for when you're old. :)

        9 votes
        1. vektor
          Link Parent
          I wonder... Germany's high school equivalent (Abitur) is quite different from the US. It's not for everyone, in fact only about 1/3 or 1/2 kids finish it; and there's no shame in not having gone...

          Go undecided, take some philosophy, art, history, and math. Probably still go to a trade school after a year or two.

          I wonder... Germany's high school equivalent (Abitur) is quite different from the US. It's not for everyone, in fact only about 1/3 or 1/2 kids finish it; and there's no shame in not having gone there. The alternative are vocational schools, which offer training for lots of skilled jobs like plumbing, but also nursing and accounting. Things that are generally considered college-level degrees in the US if I'm not mistaken. What Abitur offers is what I think the US college intro does: Give you a broad overview over what's out there, get a well-rounded general education: Arts, science, politics, little bit of a peek into most academic specialization.

          With that in mind, I wonder if your advice would hold for germany. I feel most people get into uni with a decent idea of what they want, and little fear of getting it (what with attendance being free).

          It also makes me wonder what degree of the benefits you attribute to college in terms of finding yourself are to do with moving out vs. taking classes, and to what degree it's about personal growth vs academic growth.

          10 votes
        2. [2]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          As a geologist, my philosophy courses were the most important classes I ever took. You were half in jest but I would seriously suggest philosophy to every university student regardless of major.

          take some philosophy

          As a geologist, my philosophy courses were the most important classes I ever took.

          You were half in jest but I would seriously suggest philosophy to every university student regardless of major.

          8 votes
          1. vord
            Link Parent
            Oh no the first sentence was 100% serious. I learned more in philosophy 101 than I did all of middle school. Everything else was at least somewhat cheeky.

            Oh no the first sentence was 100% serious. I learned more in philosophy 101 than I did all of middle school.

            Everything else was at least somewhat cheeky.

            7 votes
    2. [2]
      EgoEimi
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I went to a top public flagship university. It has many selective, top-5 programs (most in engineering)— but also many less-than-selective programs. It has a mission of broad public education, so...

      I went to a top public flagship university. It has many selective, top-5 programs (most in engineering)— but also many less-than-selective programs. It has a mission of broad public education, so it admits many students of a wide range of ability levels.

      Unless you are positive you want to do something intense like medicine, deep science, or engineering...don't go to college. Or at the very least, don't go in debt to go to college. Or take a few gap years... 18 year olds don't know squat about what they want to do with their lives (on aggregate).

      This is very true. I met a lot of people who didn't have a clear vision of what to do in life, so they plodded through university as a period of deferred adulthood, only to graduate with no practical skills. It all seemed like a gross misallocation of resources to put those uninterested/undecided young people through educational programs that are designed for people with intense interest and initiative. The handholding stops at university, yet that's what a lot of these people really needed.

      We'd be better off equipping young people with the practical and industrial skills to produce and earn a good living so they can afford to live independently, pursue their personal interests and self-cultivation on their own, and develop a clearer sense of self-purpose so that they might more fully take advantage of the scarce and expensive resource that is university.

      7 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        I propose that instead of military draft, we have blue-collar trade/industry draft. From 18 till 23, you must perform some degree of manual labor. After a few years of that you'll be better...

        We'd be better off equipping young people with the practical and industrial skills to produce and earn a good living so they can afford to live independently

        I propose that instead of military draft, we have blue-collar trade/industry draft. From 18 till 23, you must perform some degree of manual labor. After a few years of that you'll be better equipped to figure out how to live the rest of your life.

        Working a factory floor and a delivery truck was just as valuable for my life as going to college.

        7 votes
    3. [2]
      sublime_aenima
      Link Parent
      As an engineering leader, I can assure you that this narrow mindednessed type of thinking is part of the reason we are in such a tumultuous climate worldwide. I employ engineers that would have...

      Unless you are positive you want to do something intense like medicine, deep science, or engineering...don't go to college

      As an engineering leader, I can assure you that this narrow mindednessed type of thinking is part of the reason we are in such a tumultuous climate worldwide.

      I employ engineers that would have been much happier doing hands on trades, even though their “passion” is science/engineering. I convinced one to pursue his furniture passion and he’s now booked out 9 months and making more than double what he made as an engineer.

      I know many people that used their college education to find their path and move on to do great things. My wife started as a liberal arts major, wanting to be an artist. She now runs a department of a large corp and still has zero interest in science, eng, med, etc

      4 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        I think we're generally in agreement (speaking as an engineer dropout myself). A lot of advisors conflate that a love of tinkering and invention means engineer.

        I think we're generally in agreement (speaking as an engineer dropout myself).

        A lot of advisors conflate that a love of tinkering and invention means engineer.

        5 votes