It’s A Dirty Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It

As an instructor, I’m going to go ahead and admit something that a lot of folks in the education system don’t have the courage to come out and say:

Not everyone needs to go to college.

There. I said it.

For some reason we, the American society, have venerated collegiate life and devalued more traditional vocations to such an extent that all high school students think they are a failure unless they get accepted into a prestigious college. Consequently, there are far too many students enrolled in college that have no business being there. Trust me–I see these people everyday.

They don’t want to be here. They perform poorly and then they feel guilty about their poor performance. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being unfit for collegiate life. That simply means that the student is probably fit for something else. Like what?

How about an apprenticeship with a tradesman? How about a vocational school? How about an honest-to-goodness job and not a damn “career.”

Let me say this about “careers:” They totally suck. Career is a euphemism for “job that defines your life.” You have to buy special clothes for a career. You have to have a special degree for a career. You have to act a certain way all the time for a career.

But a job? Well, jobs are different.

If you have a job you have a quitting time. You go home and you leave job-things at the job. You can be yourself. You might not like your job, but that’s okay, because you know it’s just a job to make money, which in turn lets you do what you really want to do. Pay your bills and live like a civilized person. Visit your family. Play with your kids. Spend time with your buddies. Play Xbox (maybe that’s just me).

And to be quite honest, there are far too many 18-year old high school graduates that simply aren’t mature enough for college. They should get a McJob, find their path in this world, and then decide what to do. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until 21 or 22 years old to start undergrad work.

I’m sick of students who treat classes as if I am forcing them to be there. I’m not. In fact, if they don’t like my class, or they don’t want to be in college in general, then I’m completely in favor of them dropping out. Maybe they’ll discover something they’re actually good at and find their place in this culture of ours.

Also, there isn’t a damn thing wrong with being a plumber. Or a carpenter. Or an electrician. Or any other job that requires physical exertion or manual labor. We need more manual laborers out there. The fucking country is literally falling apart, and yet we discourage our children from learning a trade that might actually produce something.

A nation of consumers that disdains work is a nation on the precipice of the fail-cliff. We need to start producing things again or we’re in for a tumble.

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Comments

  1. Tank says:

    While I tend to agree with your assessment, the acrimonious tone is unlikely to draw any converts. I think a better way to frame this argument is listing off all the people I’ve know that have procured college degrees that still find themselves working in bookstores or hotels. College won’t guarantee you a successful life, but it will cost you time and money. I suggest you gauge how well you’re doing in school. If it’s easy and occasionally enjoyable, stick with it. But otherwise, get out while you can.

    Also, it’s worth noting that colleges don’t prepare you for industry. They’re two different things, radically. Bragging about your masters degree as if it alone qualified you for anything is a quick way to shorten the length of your interview. Industry and academia are two different worlds that require two different skill sets. The overlap is minimal.

  2. Hypermark says:

    You’re being nice with “acrimonious.” I’d probably go with “overly pissy.”

    But in my defense, I wrote this the first week of the semester when I was still dealing with the first-week-of-the-semester nonsense. It’s been sitting in the Google Docs since then. My Docs is filled with partially written, poorly thought-out blog posts.

    And yeah, the private sector does seem to expect results. Personally, I prefer the University.

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