Matthew Crawford, the author of the book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, argues that it's time to reevaluate the idea that college is for everyone. According to Amazon.com’s review of Shop Class as Soulcraft:
“On both economic and psychological grounds, Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a "knowledge worker," based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide.”
Crawford, who earned a PhD in political philosophy, now runs a motorcycle repair shop. He wants to get people thinking about what kind of work we value and why. On KQED this morning, he said that many jobs that people don't consider or even look down on, do more for the soul and for society than other professional jobs that people consider "good jobs". Crawford's words made me question my decision to go back to school.
I’m 24 years old. I’ve been working since I was 12 years old, so for 12 years straight. When I graduated from high school, college was my next move in life. Six years later, I have yet to get my degree and have worked at the same job for the past eight years. A few of my friends have just recently graduated from college. While I wake up every morning to go to work, they wake up every morning and go to a computer and look at job listings on craigslist.org.
I’m going back to school in August, part-time of course. I know that there's a slim possibility of getting my degree and getting a job right away. I am a mass communications major. Finding a job in my field is no easy task. It makes me feel like I need a back-up job plan developed well before I graduate.
I asked some people on twitter how they felt about the issue working vs. getting a higher education, and @coo1hand1uke couldn’t have posed a more perfect question for others:
“whats the point of graduating from college only to work somewhere u could have while you were IN high school?”
That was my question exactly. Too many people are graduating and still working at coffee shops, the same kinds of jobs that their friends had in high school.
With the way the fabulous world of social networking connects us nowadays, I posed a series of questions via twitter and Facebook asking people what advantages they thought there were to working as opposed to going to college, and vice versa. A friend of mine, Pendarvis Harshaw, said, “You get what they call OJT, or on-the-job training, which is first-hand experience and cannot be simulated”. On the flip side, my fellow twittee responded to the advantages college students may have, that working adults may not have.
@deannashene wrote: “Some students budget their financial aid better than most ppl do their paychecks.”
Speaking from my own experience and encounters with “fresh outta college students,” I can say my sense of professionalism is far beyond many who are just stepping out into the working world. However, I don't have much experience with people of many different backgrounds, something you do often get while in college.
Despite what Crawford says, I think that going to college and getting a degree gives you more of an advantage in the work world than not having one. I’ve experienced it myself, applying for a position at a job that I was more than qualified for, only to see it be given to someone who had a degree and a better vocabulary for terminology than I had. I know college is the way to go, not only are you going for an opportunity for a higher paying job, but you’re often getting a broader sense of the world and a wider knowledge base.
A friend of mine, Teresa Jackson said it perfectly, “Knowledge is something that can't be taken away. Jobs come and go. Don't get me wrong, it can be very discouraging if your money is funny but, college and real life experience can never be a bad thing.”
In the end, the short-term problems don’t seem too bad compared to the long term advantages you can get from attending college. While most people I’ve conversed with on the subject spoke about how we all need college, my other twitter “homie” added another good point.
@gift_fromgod said this: “true, but school should be about following your passion, and finding something that makes you happy, some need that some don't.”