The college scam in USA
This is the name a new book that someone recommended to me and I haven't read it yet. To be honest with you I probably wont read it because generally I am really busy with my job and when I do finally get off I am prone to go and have a few beers with the boys and then go home. Reading probably should be a bigger part of my life but it isn't and I don't really see that changing anytime soon.
So this is not a book review, but rather just some musings on how I believe that most college programs are a scam and I thought so even when I was going through it.
I'm a redneck or a country boy. I always have been and that was how I was raised. A lot of people unfamiliar with anything other than the stereotypes of the redneck community have this impression that we don't care about education and this is simply not true. I will say this though: While a lot of us do go on to college, we probably have a greater drop out rate than most other demographics. I know that I contemplated leaving on multiple occasions but it wasn't because the course material was too difficult for my country brain. It was because I was forced to study things that I didn't want to learn nor did it have any real bearing on what I was in college for in the first place.
My decision to go to college was a pride one more than anything else. While in high school I would work on construction and landscaping projects and got to know the owners pretty well. They were impressed with my work-ethic and how I seemed to be asking for as many hours as I could get and how I seemed to want to learn how to do my job better in the hopes of getting even more hours. I was too young to be put in charge of anyone or anything at that point in my life because honestly, who is going to listen to a 15-17 year old if they are the "boss?"
I also noticed that the owners of these construction management or contracting companies tended to not hate their jobs and they also made a very good living while being more than capable of paying qualified staff members money that they were happy with, so when it came time to go to college choosing Construction Management was an easy decision to make.
What was going to happen later, especially in the first couple of years of college nearly chased me out of the system as well.
For starters, college is EXPENSIVE. Even at a state-funded school the likes of which I attended, we were looking at $4,000 - $8,000 a year or so before we factor in housing or books. There were more than 35,000 students at my university so this is a huge amount of money for them.
The first year I was in school I was required to take a bunch of classes that everyone had to take including a basic computing class where almost everyone in the class knew more than the professor about the various programs we were being taught. Other classes included an English class, a literature class, and some sort of science that you could choose between. I opted out of the obviously really difficult ones like biology and chemistry, and headed straight over to geology where the bearded hippie-looking teacher just showed us slide shows (on actual printed slides) all day and at the end of that class I learned absolutely nothing.
In later years we were forced to take a certain number of electives and other classes I took that have nothing at all to do with construction management were anthropology because I hoped it would be something like Indiana Jones, archery because for some damn reason we are required to do Phy Ed classes in college, and sociology which is something I consider a bunch of bullcrap but took it because apparently most sociology majors are women.
All of these classes were extremely boring and the people in the classroom didn't even try to hide the fact that this was how they felt about it. In one particularly gruesome slide show in my one and only geology class I didn't even try to hide my disdain when I walked out halfway through the class. I was falling asleep at my desk and had to get out of there.
There were some essential classes that I genuinely learned something that has helped me in my professional life but these classes normally weren't even something you encounter until your last year in the 4-year program. I truly believe that 3/4 of the classes that were required in order for me to get a degree could have been skipped altogether and I would have been no more or less qualified for the position that I hold today. In fact, I think I could have not gone to college at all since most of my professors even at the higher level either had never actually worked in the construction industry, or they had left it so long ago that the ideas they were discussing were no longer relevant in the real world.
I wonder where the "4-year" concept came from. Doesn't it seem a little strange to you that it doesn't matter if you are studying Criminal Justice, Biology, Construction Management, or Computer Science and ALL OF THEM take exactly 4 years worth of classroom time to be "qualified?"
I now have a successful construction company and we do pretty well. I have great employee retention and everyone makes pretty great wages. I could cut their wages and keep more of the pie for myself but I don't do that because I am doing just fine and keeping the same staff is worth so much. Training a new person that may or may not simply up and leave after a couple of weeks is something that is very time-consuming and frustrating.
I honestly believe that my 4 years in college did damn near nothing for me professionally. I learned more by working on the job in high school for 2 years than I did in 4 years of university education. I mean I learned a LOT more because I was actually on the job doing the things that were the coursework. It was also an education in the way the industry is right now rather than the history of it or how some professor remembers how it was 20 years ago.
The only thing that I can really say where my college degree definitely helped me was when I was applying for loans to start up my company and even then, I could have just said "yes, I have a degree in Construction Management from such and such university" and the banks would have accepted that. It's not like they are going to check.
This was just my personal experience but I also know from the friends that I made while in college that virtually everyone else that I met that was in college felt exactly the same way. They didn't feel as though they were gaining a breadth of knowledge that was going to benefit them in their prospective careers, they were just going through the motions to get a good enough grade on the next test. As soon as that was accomplished the information they studied went straight out of their brains because it had no practical application in the real world.
I feel as though I could have been just as successful in the construction industry as I am now without having ever attended college. Other than MS Excel, which you can learn in a few days and how to use leveling and surveying equipment - which is also something you can learn in a day or two, I don't think that anything I learned in college has any bearing on the success of my business in any capacity.
But at least I got approved for those business loans right? It only cost me around $30,000 to make that happen. Sadly, my $30,000 of student loan debt pales in comparison to what many other college graduates face after the finish school.
This is already too long so I am going to make this a muti-part series. I have a big axe to grind with the higher education system in the United States.