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Old 04-23-2013, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
20,958 posts, read 15,275,811 times
Reputation: 23737

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A gentleman I know updated his Facebook with status with how "education is a great equalizer." More formal education is available to more people today than perhaps at any point in human history. Children finish high school at rates not seen fifty to a hundred years ago. Much ink has already been spilled regarding how many people attend and graduate college, only to find jobs where degrees are not necessary. Today's society is likely the best educated any society has ever been, but we are also a profoundly unequal one. Why?

I look back upon my own childhood, growing up in the schools of a relatively rural, poor district here in Tennessee. Job opportunities weren't great here even before the economic collapse. Even if our area could have afforded to spend more money on education, many local parents didn't value it, believing their children could go work at one of the local factories or the coal mines in nearby VA/WV. Because of our poverty, bright kids that would have had more opportunities in a wealthier area of the state, like Nashville or Knoxville, often were not able to realize their potential in K-12, reducing the chance they could go to the best colleges with the best connections. Some people have risen above the handicap of being born in a bad area, but many children from bad areas are economically stunted for life.

There are always horror stories in the media of some idealistic, naive kid running up $100,000 in debt for a creative writing degree and ending up broke. That's to be expected. However, many of my friends and peers are STEM and business school graduates - computer scientists, accountants, and other traditionally white-collar paths - and are either grossly underemployed or unemployed. Many of us are saying - "Would you like fries with that?" when we're holding at least undergraduate (and in some cases, graduate) degrees in fields that should be more marketable. What the K-12 schools and universities are teaching is completely parallel to what the private sector needs - in very few fields does what they school teach even appear relevant to employer demands.

How can we say that education is still an equalizer when many people are educated in things that used to have market value, but no longer, and are crushed by student loan debt?
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Central Maine
2,868 posts, read 2,843,280 times
Reputation: 3976
It is not just the "education" in my opinion. It is what you do with it after that counts too. And "education doesn't just mean college (not saying that you are saying it does). It does little good if you are going to go through the trouble of getting an education only to hang your diploma on the wall and ignore everything you've learned. If there are no equitable opportunities where you are....move. It won't kill you and might broaden your horizons. Even with children. I have, many times. And learning goes on throughout your entire life, formal and informal. Your official degree is just the begining.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:40 AM
Status: "Trump-$500M Tax Cheat" (set 25 days ago)
 
Location: Washington, DC
3,826 posts, read 3,759,351 times
Reputation: 6408
Education is not an equalizer (historically guns and computers are), though it does help.

Truth is, being part of the upper-class is the key. More and more, well-to-do people are clustering: in neighborhoods, elite universities, large financial institutions, and other corporations. It's like they are all living in gated communities, giving eachother's kids great job opportunities (even if those kids are slackers), money marrying money, making money from money, etc.

This group just keeps getting richer and richer while everyone else stay flat. Actually this group votes more Democrat than Republican but the Republican party prioritizes this group above everything except maybe guns.

Some of your friends who've gotten the right degrees, will eventually attain success and become part of the middle, if not upper-middle class. But they will hit their own glass ceilings.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Texas
42,203 posts, read 49,768,169 times
Reputation: 66975
The opportunity to obtain an education is the great equalizer.
But not every education is equally useful.
And obtaining an education without first having figured out how it's part of a greater plan to advance yourself is kind of stupid.
Your student loan problem is greatly due to people willy-nilly going to whichever college and doing whichever major and not really thinking through the plan of how they were going to use this education to do something, figuring if it was cost effective, etc.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 49,557,510 times
Reputation: 24548
The Prime American Myth is that you can become part of the ownership class through education, hard work and luck. You can become wealthier than you started but except for a very few, usually those that are lucky enough to marry in, will you ever become part of America's Aristocracy. These plutocrats educate their children in exclusive schools, like the Ivy League, to keep the children away from the untermensch and money grubbers. They realize that the only thing better than keeping the money in the family is to join two families and combine the money for the profit of both. Do this for a few generations and you might just become respectable.

Picking a college and a possible career just for the potential wealth is not a great idea because all the other money grubbers will already be there. I think a kid should figure out what they would like to do, learn to do it, and then learn how to get paid for doing it. Doing work you despise for people you hate can make you money but will most likely drive you crazy. There is lot of people out there that said, “Great, I am finally rich!” just before the dropped dead of the stress.

So get a college education, find a decent job, settle in for a four decades of boredom, and finally retire and tell the rest to stuff it.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,720 posts, read 24,618,407 times
Reputation: 9173
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW View Post
I think a kid should figure out what they would like to do, learn to do it, and then learn how to get paid for doing it. Doing work you despise for people you hate can make you money but will most likely drive you crazy. There is lot of people out there that said, “Great, I am finally rich!” just before the dropped dead of the stress.
So if a kid likes "art history" or "literature" how are they going to figure out how to get paid for doing that? They need a unique education just for that. The demand for people with these skills is nonexistent.

I think a useful education is very important. But it is wrong wrong wrong to get costly education in a field that has no prospects. And it is a financial disaster if that education is paid for with loans than cannot be repaid in a reasonable period of time.

Some people act as if they have a right to do what they like and get paid for it.
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
21,465 posts, read 22,706,474 times
Reputation: 45139
Quote:
Originally Posted by DauntlessDan View Post
It is not just the "education" in my opinion. It is what you do with it after that counts too. And "education doesn't just mean college (not saying that you are saying it does). It does little good if you are going to go through the trouble of getting an education only to hang your diploma on the wall and ignore everything you've learned. If there are no equitable opportunities where you are....move. It won't kill you and might broaden your horizons. Even with children. I have, many times. And learning goes on throughout your entire life, formal and informal. Your official degree is just the begining.
Andrew Carnegie built libraries across the country because he believed that with access to books, any person could become educated. You don't have to be in college to read literature or about philosophy or science or business or anything else. Having internet access means learning is exponentially easier than at any time in history. I have a liberal arts education, and I know that in this economy it's a luxury, but a university isn't a trade school. Learning is its own reward. If you can take what you've learned and transfer that into a career, that's wonderful, and if not, you're still an educated person.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,874 posts, read 12,921,392 times
Reputation: 28957
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoffdano View Post
Sure you're an educated person. But what good is that if you read books all day? If you can afford to do that - wonderful. But don't ask society to fund or reimburse that luxury.
I didn't hear her asking for that. And since when is having an educated populace a "luxury"? The countries that are challenging us for world standing get that it is not. People who are educated usually desire to do something with that education. They are the people inventing things, starting new businesses, proposing the ideas that improve our society.

Also, educated people are likely to make better decisions when it comes to their life choices and performing their duties as citizens. That's why educated people are less likely to have children they can't afford. They are also much less likely to divorce. According to a study done at Penn State University, the educated are "less likely to commit serious crimes, less likely to place high demands on the public health care system, and less likely to be enrolled in welfare assistance program." There is a direct correlation between education levels and the tax revenue the educated person creates. It's also interesting to note that mortality decreases for every additional year in schooling by 7.2% for men and 6% for women and overall health of an individual tends to track the level of education he or she has.

Good education is directly responsible for much of the greatness displayed by our nation. The chance of an educated person deciding to sit home and read books is about as likely as a high school dropout becoming a millionaire. Yes, it happens. But the more we improve our educational opportunities, the more we increase the cushion that absorbs those who do not contribute, whether they are home reading books or out committing crimes.
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Old 04-23-2013, 03:30 PM
 
375 posts, read 578,671 times
Reputation: 359
not a true statement. Guns are an equalizer for physical conflict, but nothing really parallel to that in your career.

There are plenty of Ivy League kids who I am friends with who make very little money due to picking a stupid major like English or Sociology. They would have been better off going to a trade school and learning something useful like welding or plumbing. I went to a pretty good public university for free, made great grades, majored in engineering, and have a nice job.

It is more about decisions than just "an education"

Just because you went to a big name school and have "your degree" doesn't entitle you to much of anything.
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:32 PM
 
686 posts, read 1,365,921 times
Reputation: 423
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoffdano View Post
...
I think a useful education is very important. But it is wrong wrong wrong to get costly education in a field that has no prospects. And it is a financial disaster if that education is paid for with loans than cannot be repaid in a reasonable period of time.
...
Unfortunately, useful education varies according to situation even for the same person.

I agree it is wrong to get an expensive education in a field with no prospects, but the greater wrong is to link education with employment/wealth. Much of the education process should (and it can with the right parents, mentors, and environment) teach us how to learn anything. Then in any situation, we can use what we know and learn what we need to know for the situation.

Of course, it helps not to want to make the most monetary profit out of every situation we encounter.
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