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Stossel: Workers Pay for Privileged Students

trekrok

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I'm really struggling with the college education vs trade for the kids. My wife and I are both degreed (business). And the assumption in our house has always been that our sons will go to college. They are certainly capable of doing whatever they want from an academic standpoint. But, I have to admit, I don't know if I believe a college degree is worth it if they decide to go the 'general' route - ie business, management, marketing types. I haven't ever actually said that to my kids but silently I wonder. I wish that they didn't have to start making those choices in high school with either college or vo-tech type selections, where one track kind of eliminates the other. What are your thoughts??
 

Revolvers4Life

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I'm really struggling with the college education vs trade for the kids. My wife and I are both degreed (business). And the assumption in our house has always been that our sons will go to college. They are certainly capable of doing whatever they want from an academic standpoint. But, I have to admit, I don't know if I believe a college degree is worth it if they decide to go the 'general' route - ie business, management, marketing types. I haven't ever actually said that to my kids but silently I wonder. I wish that they didn't have to start making those choices in high school with either college or vo-tech type selections, where one track kind of eliminates the other. What are your thoughts??


I agree, I have a brother in law about to have to make the decision and there are benefits to each. With the number of people decreasing going into the trades long term it seems to be the better route. There is already a shortage of those skills in some areas now and that is with people who started in the 60s, 70s, 80s... once they retire it will be really bad.
 

TWSS

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I never went to college. I started working warehouse jobs. I used every job as a stepping stone. Sometimes a new job brought more money, sometimes less but with an interesting new skill. A 9 month machining program at Tulsa Tech is all the formal schooling I have. I currently work on pumps, compressors, turbines, etc. I average about $125,000 / year. If your kid has a strong work ethic and the willingness to learn, anything is possible. I know plenty of college graduates who went into business and make 60-80K a year. Those can be good jobs but that much in today’s market is lower middle class. Throw in a few kids and you’re living paycheck to paycheck like most of America. Whatever your kid does, if he has the work ethic and intelligence he will go far. The work ethic is the most important in that equation, from my experience.
 

rawhide

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I'm really struggling with the college education vs trade for the kids. My wife and I are both degreed (business). And the assumption in our house has always been that our sons will go to college. They are certainly capable of doing whatever they want from an academic standpoint. But, I have to admit, I don't know if I believe a college degree is worth it if they decide to go the 'general' route - ie business, management, marketing types. I haven't ever actually said that to my kids but silently I wonder. I wish that they didn't have to start making those choices in high school with either college or vo-tech type selections, where one track kind of eliminates the other. What are your thoughts??
OSU IT in Okmulgee offer vocational training and a bachelor's degree. I think it's a great option for many. Get a liberal arts education and earn 6 figures in A/C installation and repair.
 

wawazat

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It has been a big discussion in our house. My wife and I both have business degrees and she is a hard sell that trade schools are a viable option. My degree is effectively an HR degree before UCO had a dedicated program for it, and I haven't used it for anything more than checking a box on job applications and knowing when to cringe when I hear or say something at work. Luckily I was a good bullshitter on my scholarship applications with good grades and a decent ACT score so I had no debt when I graduated.

My son hates math and seems to have a tendency to grind on the line of our requirements for grades even though it takes twice the effort. We have discussed that depending on high school goes, the military might be the right option for him to get some more time to mature and to help further instill the sense of drive and responsibility that we are trying to coach him into now. He is physically competitive enough that I really think he could thrive in that environment as well.

My opinion is that if a person isn't pursuing a technical degree in STEM or law, odds are good that they will have a tough time paying off the debt. Business degrees is pretty much a second high school diploma for new graduates unless that person has a drive to be an entrepreneur and is actively pursuing the knowledge for a plan already in place.

I have a good friend that has been a mechanic since about the time I started college. By the time I graduated college, he had enough certifications stacked up to where I have still yet to catch him in gross income. Granted my body has weigh less wear and tear on it than his does, but from a purely financial perspective his path has been more lucrative. His tool setup probably costs close to what a business degree for an OK resident at UCO, so there's that part too.
 

trekrok

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OSU IT in Okmulgee offer vocational training and a bachelor's degree. I think it's a great option for many. Get a liberal arts education and earn 6 figures in A/C installation and repair.

That kind of program makes some sense to me. Especially if they have thoughts of owning the company some day.
 

trekrok

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It has been a big discussion in our house. My wife and I both have business degrees and she is a hard sell that trade schools are a viable option. My degree is effectively an HR degree before UCO had a dedicated program for it, and I haven't used it for anything more than checking a box on job applications and knowing when to cringe when I hear or say something at work. Luckily I was a good bullshitter on my scholarship applications with good grades and a decent ACT score so I had no debt when I graduated.

My son hates math and seems to have a tendency to grind on the line of our requirements for grades even though it takes twice the effort. We have discussed that depending on high school goes, the military might be the right option for him to get some more time to mature and to help further instill the sense of drive and responsibility that we are trying to coach him into now. He is physically competitive enough that I really think he could thrive in that environment as well.

My opinion is that if a person isn't pursuing a technical degree in STEM or law, odds are good that they will have a tough time paying off the debt. Business degrees is pretty much a second high school diploma for new graduates unless that person has a drive to be an entrepreneur and is actively pursuing the knowledge for a plan already in place.

I have a good friend that has been a mechanic since about the time I started college. By the time I graduated college, he had enough certifications stacked up to where I have still yet to catch him in gross income. Granted my body has weigh less wear and tear on it than his does, but from a purely financial perspective his path has been more lucrative. His tool setup probably costs close to what a business degree for an OK resident at UCO, so there's that part too.

I'm of the same mind on a lot of this. My oldest is capable of whatever he'd want to do in school, but seems to dislike it, at least so far. I didn't love school either, but for whatever reason, I was pretty much locked into getting a degree. Like it was some kind of Holy Grail. But it's not. It's a door opener for some jobs that almost arbitrarily require a degree of some sort, but otherwise, the value proposition is tough for me to see. If I had do overs, I'd opt for engineering of some sort.

Unfortunately I think there's a perception that people go the trade route because of a lack of capability or by necessity. I think it can be a pretty smart move for some.
 

HoLeChit

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I'm really struggling with the college education vs trade for the kids. My wife and I are both degreed (business). And the assumption in our house has always been that our sons will go to college. They are certainly capable of doing whatever they want from an academic standpoint. But, I have to admit, I don't know if I believe a college degree is worth it if they decide to go the 'general' route - ie business, management, marketing types. I haven't ever actually said that to my kids but silently I wonder. I wish that they didn't have to start making those choices in high school with either college or vo-tech type selections, where one track kind of eliminates the other. What are your thoughts??

my girlfriend works as a mental health therapist, with a large part of her clients being teenagers. One of the most common complaints she gets is that kids are pressured to figure out what they are supposed to do with their lives before they even know what life’s about. Her personally, she was forced to go to college and ended up loving it. But even she agrees it isnt for everyone. I personally think that making such a big decision and taking on that debt/payments/responsibility is best reserved for a few more years down the road. I’ll roughly quote my dad and one of my childhood mentors: “before you make a decision you can’t take back, learn a trade. You can make some good money while deciding if college/dream job is right for you, and you’ll always have that trade to fall back on.” My childhood mentor is more or less a lifelong cop, but is also a rancher and welder. When he wasn’t making enough cash, was on admin leave, wot whatever, he was still able to put food on the table and advance through life. For me personally, I became a heavy equipment mechanic. Never went to school, never went to votech. Whether employed by a company or not, I made good money. My best year so far I cleared $130k, not bad for a guy who almost didn’t graduate high school. But with trades the biggest part of succeeding is having a strong work ethic and a desire to get on top. I’ll be 33 this year, and after losing my job at the start of COVID, I’m changing careers. Over time I have accumulated the skills and connections to make that possible, and not only will I always be able to fall back on turning wrenches to keep my family fed, but I also learned a lot about myself in the process. None of that time was lost.
Also, in terms of learning a trade, specifically my trade: votech is ok, most places just want experience. A good route for a kid getting out of school is to get on somewhere washing equipment, working the parts dept, working the warehouse, etc. go to school in the meantime and learn. After a year or two with a little luck you’re in the running to start turning wrenches, running wire, welding, or whatever. Another way to jumpstart things is learning a trade in the military. Trade employers love that stuff, and it not only sets you apart, but you can have you school paid for and benefits after you get out. That’s what I did, and even with a career change, my experiences and benefits from the military are helping me immensely.
 
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