The unemployment rate among college graduates is 4.1% (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). We might choose to believe that this provides a case for getting a college degree. However, this overlooks some very important truths. Some people are not good at or happy in the types of jobs that a college degree affords. College is not necessarily the best format for preparing people for all occupations. Society needs the services of many occupations that are not well served by college education.
The thought being that if we give everyone a college education, they will rise to the socio-economic advantage that people with a college education normally have. However, what if it is not the college education that is the key to success? Is it not more likely that success comes out of pursuing that which you are good at, that which you find fulfilling? Is the only difference between an auto mechanic and an economist, the college education of the latter? Is it reasonable to suppose that had the auto mechanic instead gone to college, majored in economics, she would be happy working in economics? The most rudimentary survey of high school students shows that this is clearly not the case. Some people are made to more academic pursuits. Some people are wired to be outside. Some people are only happy when their hands are covered in grease and oil and they are up to their waist in a motor.
As a society we have made it second rate to pursue a career that does not involve going to college. Kitchen tables all across America are the battle ground of kids who are being told that they must go to college even though their passion is to build homes, fix cars, or be a cowboy. Where would today’s unemployment rate be if being blue collar were not equated with being second class? If students who sought to pursue vocational careers paths were given equal time and resources as their college bound peers?
Mike Rowe hits the nail on the head his testimony before the Senate.