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WHEN DID COLLEGE BECOME THE ONLY OPTION? BACK TO BASICS
“I think our culture made a pretty big mistake when we began telling kids the only way for them to get by in life was with a college degree.”
This has been a very exciting summer at the office. My oldest daughter, Dalya, has started as an intern. She’s had other jobs before, like camp counseling over the summer, but this is her first full-time office job. While she may be the boss’s kid, she hasn’t had it easy. Dalya’s been working her butt off with grunt work, and she’s also been helping me make videos for the office. She’s always been very artsy, but I think she has a great mind for law, and I’m excited to see if working at the office will spark that interest in her. If it turns out law is not her thing, that’s okay. What’s most important is for her to find a career she’s suited for. I think our culture made a pretty big mistake when we began telling kids the only way for them to get by in life was with a college degree. Recently, I read an article about the push to get shop class back on the high school curriculum, and it got me thinking about all the guys I knew who never went to college but were able to support themselves and their future families because they learned a skill. Kids who chose not to pursue college, either because their family didn’t have the means, or because college didn’t suit their interests, could still pursue a successful career path thanks to shop class. They’d learn a valuable skill set working with specific tools, and when they got out of high school, they got jobs on a
shipyard as welders or they found carpentry work and started getting paid.
In the last decade or so, we’ve seen a culture shift that insisted the only way to make a living was through college education. We started pushing all these kids toward college, whether they wanted to go or not. Today, we have people with degrees they can’t use, $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and no one available to take on the fine craftsman jobs. There’s an idea that robots will one day replace the whole hard labor force, and maybe they will, but not yet. We still need people who can weld and do fine carpentry work and build those big machines. I’m a big believer that college isn’t the only path to making a living. If you’re cut out for it and want a professional degree, then by all means, go for it! I loved my college years, and I learned a lot beyond my law degree
that I might not have had I not pursued higher education. But instead of telling kids what they need to do, we should be asking them where they want to end up. What are they best suited for? College is great, but it’s not the only path to success. I know so many smart people who never went to college. Today they’re making good money through honest labor, and I call that success. I would love it if my daughter decided she wanted to be an attorney, but if she finds another path she’s passionate about and decides college isn’t right for her, then I’ll love that too.
If you belong to a union or other labor-related group and want to schedule my presentation at your group’s speaking arrangement, you can do so by calling 888-694-7994 . The presentation is free of charge, offers important information for taking appropriate action in Virginia workers’ compensation cases, and everyone in attendance gets a free copy of my book, “10 Traps and Lies That Can Ruin Your Virginia Workers Compensation Case.” Education is the best way to protect yourself from making a mistake. So call now, before it’s too late. –Joseph Miller
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