Back To School

Is it Still Worth Your While?

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By Jerry Lambert

Hi!  Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club!  If you are a regular reader of this blog I hope you enjoyed last week’s article: Have You Ever Thought About Becoming an Entrepreneur?  As usual, I always learn a lot when I write one of these articles.  If you read it, I hope it sparked some ideas.

Smiling Caucasian profession in formal robe

This week I thought I would discuss a subject just about everyone thinks of after they are laid off from their job.  Should I go back to school?  It’s a very important question, and one you should give a lot of thought to.

Since summer vacation has begun, I immediately think about all of those noisy kids going back to school in September.  My thoughts also drift to cooler temperatures and FOOTBALL!

When I was a kid, I always loved going back to school.  Seeing all my friends, new school supplies, and textbooks that have never been cracked open!  This feeling would usually go away by October, but those first few weeks were always magical for me.  Then reality would set in, and I would start counting down the days until Christmas Vacation!!

I’m lucky enough to live near the community college I attended back in the late 70s and early 80s.  Recently, I have gone back there to use the library from time to time.  I go there to write some of these articles and work on other projects as well.  Even though I’m not currently a student, I really like the feeling of being on campus.  It puts me in the correct mindset to learn new things, such as WordPress.  I learned a lot about building this website at that library!

IS09AJ7SCThis brings me back to the subject of this article.  Should you consider going back to school?  For some people the answer is definitely YES.  If you were working on your degree and got sidetracked by life, and are only a few credit hours short of your degree, you should definitely consider finishing up.  A degree is an excellent addition to your résumé, and shows prospective employers you know how to finish what you started.  Even if it took 20 years!

Many Brown Parachuters see going back to school as a great way to “Reinvent” themselves.  If you had a Minor you were working on in college, and it still interests you, now might be the time to go for it!  After all, it might reboot your career and land you a job that will help get to your retirement years.  You never know.

However, if you read my article College vs Vocational Education, I don’t have to tell you that college costs have risen at twice the rate of healthcare!  Given that information, how in the heck are you going to finish up your degree?  That is an excellent question!

is09ao1ykThere is a terrific article on the website Love To Know.  It tells you all about grant money that is available for senior citizens.  Bad news, though.  I hate to be the one to break it to you.  If you are over 55, you are a senior citizen!  Anyway, it this case, being an old fart works in your favor.  There are 11 states that waive tuition costs for seniors altogether!  Wow!

I remember when I was in school, there was one older lady who was in one of my classes.  She was ancient!  She must have been at least 35!!!  We all thought she was ready for the Old Folks Home.  Ah, to be young and stupid again.  Nowadays, there are people of all ages attending your local community college and universities.  Although the student body is still primarily young farts.

In addition to finishing up your degree, there are many people who attend class for the sheer joy of learning.  I call them Hermione Grangers.  In the article on Love To Know, they mention that some colleges will allow seniors to audit a class for free, or at a heavily discounted rate.  So, if you’ve always wanted to take that class in Advanced Basket Weaving, here’s your chance!

Artist standing by artwork in studio portrait

If heading back to campus isn’t for you, you may still be in luck.  There is a relatively new website called The Great Courses.  This website offers dirt cheap online classes that are being taught by experts in their fields.  Math, Science, History, Fine Arts, Literature, etc.  These are not courses for casual learners.  They are aimed at serious people who want to learn more about a given subject and are willing to work hard.

For those of you who are looking to brush up on your skills without going back to college, or signing up for one of The Great Courses, there is always GCF Learn Free.  I did an article on this tremendous website a while ago.  While it is not on par with “Great Courses”, it does a great job of covering the material it does offer.  Some of it in great detail.  Definitely worth checking out, if you just want to brush up on your Microsoft Excel, or anything of the other courses that are listed.

Well, that’s it.  Hopefully, if you chose to head back to school, this article has brought you up to speed on some of the options that are available to you.  Just don’t get offended if the kids don’t want to talk to you.  They don’t talk to each other either, unless it’s by texting, Facebook, or Twitter!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

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College vs Vocational Education

Does College Really Rule?

By Jerry Lambert

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  This week I wanted to share an article I wrote for a blogging service.  The article wasn’t picked up, so it’s their loss.  The article talks about the College versus Vocational forms of higher learning.  While the focus of this article is more for our children and grandchildren, it’s something you may want to share with them.  Especially if they are feeling like a square peg being crammed into a round hole.

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Photo Credit: MikeRowe.com

Mike Rowe, from the famous show, “Dirty Jobs” was recently on Fox News.  He was talking with Tucker Carlson about a letter he had written to President Obama.  A letter that he has now also forwarded to President Trump.

In this letter, he stated that the lack of Vocational Education in high schools has created a huge skills gap. The gap is between College-Educated students and the students who SHOULD be in Vocational / Technical Education.  There are over 5.6 Million Jobs that need to be filled, 75% of which do not require a 4 year degree.

Vocational / Technical Education is a field of study that prepares a student directly for the career he or she wants.  Think about cooking school, beautician school, truck driving school, heating and cooling school, etc.  Not to mention all of the plumbing, electrician, and carpenter apprenticeships.  You get the idea.  These training programs prepare the student for their new career immediately, and generally cost thousands of dollars less than heading to college.  Vocational Education has been removed from many high schools, resulting in this huge skills gap.

Boy dressed as repair manDo many of these jobs require a 4 year degree?  No.  Do you have to rack up over $100,000 in student loans in order to get these jobs?  No.  Are these glamorous jobs the average college kid would dream of having?  No.  However, are these jobs that need to be done in order for America to remain a vital, growing nation?  Absolutely, Yes!

Have many students have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to getting a college education?  It would certainly appear so.  It doesn’t take an Einstein to realize the soaring cost of a college education is not keeping pace with reality.  Drive by any college campus and you’ll see at least one new building under construction.  While many times, the dormitory conditions for students are outdated, cramped, and deplorable.

New Football Stadiums and Basketball Arenas that cost millions of dollars are being built to attract the nations’ top prospects.  This brings in thousands of dollars in TV revenue.  However, outside of a boost in school spirit, these facilities do very little for the average student.

is09an5qdThe amount of money pouring into our Universities borders on the insane.  An article that appeared in The Huffington Post reported that since they started keeping track in 1978, the costs for Tuition and Fees have risen 1,120%.  Ironically, the costs for Medical Expenses have risen only about half as much during the same time period, 601%!  Forget about Obamacare or Trumpcare, how about Collegecare?

What does the average student get for all those thousands of dollars spent on his or her education?  A piece of parchment? With no hope of paying off the mountain of debt piled up in pursuit of that elusive degree?

Over the years, manual labor or skilled trades’ jobs have been looked down upon by the college-elite and business professionals.  Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters, Carpet Cleaners, Janitorial Staff, and other jobs are looked down upon by most business professionals.  “Hey, we’re doing the real work!”  That is the attitude pervasive in business today.

Industrial worker in plantAll of this belittling of good, honest work has caused many of today’s youth to shy away from these decent paying jobs.  Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters, and Construction workers can earn a very good living!  These jobs might not be very sexy, but they need to be done, just the same.  Many of these jobs don’t have a corporate ladder to climb, but they can provide a comfortable living, for someone who is willing to do the work.

Mike Rowe’s show on The Discovery Channel is called “Dirty Jobs”.  It is an extreme example of some jobs that are on the far edge of the ick scale.  These jobs need to be filled, but employers are having a hard time hiring people to do them.

Somewhere along the line, hard work has only become acceptable only if it is taking place in an office building, a hospital, or a court house.  Rowe has a great quote about President Obama’s “Shovel Ready” jobs.  “I pointed out that President Obama’s promise of 3 million shovel ready jobs sounded great, but I worried that filling those jobs would be challenging – especially in a country where fewer and fewer people aspired to pick up a shovel.”  Rowe’s recent five minute testimony to Congress (before he was cut off) can be read by following this link.

DictionaryWhat this all comes down to is that High School Counselors and Parents need to realize that not every kid with decent grades is cut out for college.  Somewhere along the line, college has become the only “acceptable path”.  When offered “Higher Education” versus “Alternative Education”, which system do you think most parents want their precious little snowflakes enrolled in?

Clearly, not everyone is cut out for college.  Just like not everyone is cut out to be an electrician.  So let’s stop trying to cram square pegs into round holes and get back to giving each student an honest evaluation of his or her abilities.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to have ridiculously expensive Universities.  That, along with a national infrastructure that will continually need repair, because there is nobody to do the work!

As Rowe closed the segment with Carlson, he signed off with, “If you want to make America great again, you’ll need to make work cool again!”  Sounds like a t-shirt slogan to me!  I’m sure he can find a bunch of out-of-work college students to crank them out for him.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

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