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09/15/2011 05:26:01 PM · #1
i have had this argument before and i was wondering what your opinions are.

If you go to college, are you there to "get an education" or to "learn a profession"?

People i talked to are pretty adamant that you dont go to learn a profession, that's what trade school is for they say. I argue you do go to learn a profession and not just to get and education, but I'll interject my thoughts through the discussion.
09/15/2011 05:28:08 PM · #2
Are the two mutually exclusive now?
09/15/2011 09:44:58 PM · #3
Originally posted by HawkinsT:

Are the two mutually exclusive now?


Nope, they are not.
It is true, though that many college degrees focus on giving you the *background knowledge* you need to then learn a profession. Engineering is a good example. Once out of school, you have the basic tools, but it will be years until you truly are a well-developed engineer.
There are schools in almost every discipline, though, that do a superior job of teaching the practical skills, not just the theory. They bridge the gap between just getting an education, and learning skills that you can apply directly.
09/15/2011 09:59:41 PM · #4
I believe a good education will help you in any profession. Some colleges have programs that educate you in a more specific way towards a particular profession, some have more generalized programs with a concentration of classes in the subject you choose to study... but either way, education is the primary goal in college - with the hope that when you graduate you will have conquered not only enough to land a job in your profession but also the ability to think outside of your area.
09/16/2011 01:05:23 AM · #5
You go to college to learn how to learn. Let's say you go through 4 years of college and graduate with a history degree.
If you are the interviewing for a new tech at the Robonuts Tool Development Inc. There are two applicants. All other things being EQUAL, but one of the applicants had a degree in history from a 4 year university...who do you hire?

I hire the history grad. With everything else being equal, it would be rather odd to not take the person with a degree. At least you KNOW this person learned something...stuck to a commitment etc....(Exclude the overqualified chatter)

College gives you an edge.

Now if you are in need of a vintage car tune up business and need a tech, do you hire the college grad or someone that took an 18 month trade school course in repairing old engines....who do you take?
09/16/2011 05:32:34 AM · #6
Originally posted by kenskid:

You go to college to learn how to learn. Let's say you go through 4 years of college and graduate with a history degree.
If you are the interviewing for a new tech at the Robonuts Tool Development Inc. There are two applicants. All other things being EQUAL, but one of the applicants had a degree in history from a 4 year university...who do you hire?

I hire the history grad. With everything else being equal, it would be rather odd to not take the person with a degree. At least you KNOW this person learned something...stuck to a commitment etc....(Exclude the overqualified chatter)

College gives you an edge.

Now if you are in need of a vintage car tune up business and need a tech, do you hire the college grad or someone that took an 18 month trade school course in repairing old engines....who do you take?


Sadly, we have a bevy of people with degrees that know nothing, have little propensity for learning, cannot spell, write, or structure a sentence. In addition, some have very high expectation as to what their starting salary should be and just how quickly they should climb up the corporate ladder.

One cannot generalize, but a there are some degrees that have very little use in the "real" world.

Take a look around you and find out where a vast number of the skilled trades people come from... I know that in Canada we import a good portion of ours since we fail miserably in developing our own.

Ray
09/16/2011 06:21:32 AM · #7
I don't know how it works elsewhere, but in Ireland you choose what you want to study before going into a course.
So I did electrical engineering. All my subjects focused on that for four years. I'm under the impression that in the states you have to take some alternative classes or something as well as core engineering subjects. Here that's not the case. It's 100% engineering.
I feel like I have been educated in the area, and with that have the knowledge to adapt to a profession. I've worked a few internships and I used very little of what I learnt in university directly there. However, without what I learnt I would not have been able to do the jobs. Engineering I think educates you towards a profession. Even electrical or electronic is a HUGE area and as a result you have too much to cover to really target one profession after finishing.

I'm finishing up a phd now. I sort of feel the same way. Learnt a lot. In the future I'll probably not directly use what I learnt. But will reuse the skills learnt to adapt to whatever needs doing.
09/16/2011 06:23:34 AM · #8
Originally posted by kenskid:

You go to college to learn how to learn. Let's say you go through 4 years of college and graduate with a history degree.
If you are the interviewing for a new tech at the Robonuts Tool Development Inc. There are two applicants. All other things being EQUAL, but one of the applicants had a degree in history from a 4 year university...who do you hire?

I hire the history grad. With everything else being equal, it would be rather odd to not take the person with a degree. At least you KNOW this person learned something...stuck to a commitment etc....(Exclude the overqualified chatter)

College gives you an edge.

Now if you are in need of a vintage car tune up business and need a tech, do you hire the college grad or someone that took an 18 month trade school course in repairing old engines....who do you take?


I used to agree with this assessment, however, now that i am a student again after working in the real world for some time i disagree. how does having a degree give you an advantage when competing with other applicants in the same field who all have degrees?

I HAD to go back to school to advance my career. While its true that i could have learned civil engineering, on the job and have learned quite a bit in my 10 year stint as a designer. In order to sit for the PE exam, a bachelors from an accredited university is REQUIRED, it didn't used to be. so while i may have working knowledge of engineering, it means little to an employer if I'm not licensed.

In fact many professional titles require some form of formal schooling or training. Which is why i now believe that in college you learn a profession or at least prepare for a profession. While it may be feasible in the future to get some other job becuase of having a bachelors degree, i cant transfer a degree in engineering to law or medical or some other specialized field.
09/16/2011 09:28:39 AM · #9
Originally posted by mike_311:

In fact many professional titles require some form of formal schooling or training. Which is why i now believe that in college you learn a profession or at least prepare for a profession. While it may be feasible in the future to get some other job becuase of having a bachelors degree, i cant transfer a degree in engineering to law or medical or some other specialized field.


You can't enter medicine or practice law because of licensure requirements and those requirements include an education from an accredited educational program. It's not just being a doctor or a lawyer, there are plenty of "blue-collar" jobs that you also can't practice without additional education.

That said, I know more than a few doctors and lawyers who started their careers as degreed engineers. One of my former employers had a program for mid career engineers where the company would pay them their salary while they went to law school at George Washington U., which they also paid for.
09/16/2011 01:25:35 PM · #10
Originally posted by mike_311:

i have had this argument before and i was wondering what your opinions are.

If you go to college, are you there to "get an education" or to "learn a profession"?



I think it really depends on the goals and aspirations of the individual student. There are usually opportunities for both at a college or university.
09/16/2011 01:29:43 PM · #11
Being a college student right now... I am going to say that I feel like I am getting an education more than getting job training. Job training to me is being at your job (or future job) and learning first hand what will happen and how it will happen. School to me is learning the basics of what your job may entail. For example, I am majoring in business so that I can eventually try to make my way up the ranks at a photography company. That being said I am learning the basic ways a business works but there is no way that I will learn my job until I get there and see it first hand.
12/19/2011 07:41:52 AM · #12
When you learn a profession, you are getting an education. If you’re defining an education as the ability to retain knowledge and know-how on a variety of fields then that’s what high school is for. College is for the purpose of refining skills in one particular group of subjects that can be further refined at the graduate level. The group of subjects you choose is your major or for some an associate’s degree. In the end, all that knowledge you chose to learn has to somehow give you a monthly paycheck. So whether you look at it as job-training from the get go or look at it as getting an education that will hopefully land you a job is just a matter of perspective.

While hands-on experience is valuable, having the stamp of an accredited, reputed college only enhances your marketability. An education - be it an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree – gives you the intellectual depth and theoretical training to support and strengthen your practical experience. A college degree also proves to prospective employers that you have the drive, discipline and tenacity to pursue what you’re interested in and complete what you began.

Ref: Stevenshenager.edu/programs

Message edited by author 2011-12-19 07:42:28.
12/19/2011 08:35:40 AM · #13
IMHO, it depends on the job/career. For what I do, I did not need to go to college. Only reason why is so I can have a piece of paper that says, I paid a whole bunch of money and supposedly learned a few things which have made me into a smarter person to be better adapted for life in the real world.

For what I do, a certification/diploma only says you know your stuff on paper. Job experience, says you actually know what your doing.
12/19/2011 09:49:17 AM · #14
Originally posted by IAmEliKatz:

IMHO, it depends on the job/career. For what I do, I did not need to go to college. Only reason why is so I can have a piece of paper that says, I paid a whole bunch of money and supposedly learned a few things which have made me into a smarter person to be better adapted for life in the real world.

For what I do, a certification/diploma only says you know your stuff on paper. Job experience, says you actually know what your doing.


But what you do, or want to do, might change and your degree will come in handy.
12/19/2011 11:13:39 AM · #15
Originally posted by Spork99:

Originally posted by IAmEliKatz:

IMHO, it depends on the job/career. For what I do, I did not need to go to college. Only reason why is so I can have a piece of paper that says, I paid a whole bunch of money and supposedly learned a few things which have made me into a smarter person to be better adapted for life in the real world.

For what I do, a certification/diploma only says you know your stuff on paper. Job experience, says you actually know what your doing.


But what you do, or want to do, might change and your degree will come in handy.


True. But I guess every situation is different.
12/19/2011 11:40:36 AM · #16
I chose not to go to college right out of high school in hopes to build my photography career. I built it, owned my own company, traveled the world, made money, and became amazingly unhappy. I realized I was not motivated by money, and when owning a business you unfortunately have to sort of be motivated by it to succeed. People were baffled when I sold my fancy car, bought a beater, and went back to school as a 22 year old freshmen (the age most people graduate at).

It's been tricky to figure out what I want to study as I already have the "skill" (photography) I need, which will probably never be improved at the University I attend. Do I be safe and get an MBA even though I despise business? Do I follow my fascination of neuroscience even though I don't want to go to medical school? Or do I study my passion, regardless of what sort of money I can get out of that degree, simply because it enriches my life?

The best career I can think of is to teach art and photography in underdeveloped countries as a way of creative therapy, but there is NO degree that will even come close to preparing me for that. Yet, I'm going to have to have that piece of paper if I ever want to get any sort of teaching job anywhere. It's a backwards system.


12/19/2011 11:48:39 AM · #17
Originally posted by RobotBanjo:

I chose not to go to college right out of high school in hopes to build my photography career. I built it, owned my own company, traveled the world, made money, and became amazingly unhappy. I realized I was not motivated by money, and when owning a business you unfortunately have to sort of be motivated by it to succeed. People were baffled when I sold my fancy car, bought a beater, and went back to school as a 22 year old freshmen (the age most people graduate at).

It's been tricky to figure out what I want to study as I already have the "skill" (photography) I need, which will probably never be improved at the University I attend. Do I be safe and get an MBA even though I despise business? Do I follow my fascination of neuroscience even though I don't want to go to medical school? Or do I study my passion, regardless of what sort of money I can get out of that degree, simply because it enriches my life?

The best career I can think of is to teach art and photography in underdeveloped countries as a way of creative therapy, but there is NO degree that will even come close to preparing me for that. Yet, I'm going to have to have that piece of paper if I ever want to get any sort of teaching job anywhere. It's a backwards system.


Well said.
12/19/2011 12:21:14 PM · #18
I'll tell my own tale, since some of you might find it relevant:

Right out of high school, I went to a university...mostly because it was expected of me. I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to do or even what course of study I was interested in. My school "counselor" was a fucking idiot and suggested I apply at a fast food restaurant and work my way up to manager. I had OK grades and a ridiculously high SAT score, so getting admitted to a good school wasn't a huge challenge.

So I started out as a Physics major, since that was my best subject...I hated it. No one could explain what I'd do with a degree in physics besides continue to grad school and eventually get a PhD. Ummm no thanks. I saw the stuff my professors worked on and I wasn't interested.

So I switched majors to applied art with a concentration in photography. I did really well in school. Then I graduated...there were NO actual entry level jobs in photography. I knew nothing about business, which is what I was supposed to be doing for myself, working as an assistant, hustling photo gigs etc. I was working at a professional film lab in Hollywood, doing some shooting, some assisting and darkroom work on the side...I was making about half of the national poverty level in one of the most expensive cities in the country and I was sinking. Then I got my car stolen (thankfully my cameras weren't inside) and there was an earthquake which shut down the highway I took to work. That was the "death blow"...I was 27, I was broke and just a hair from being outdoors...

I bought a vehicle with my insurance money, loaded up all of my stuff and moved to Michigan because it was cheap and I had a place to crash for free. I got a job running a 1hr photo shop and started back to school to study engineering...I finished right after I turned 30 and got a job right away. I won't say that I love what I do, most days are boring as Hell but it beats the starving artist gig I had going out west. I'll probably look for something else to do after my kids get off to college or whatever they decide to do. I hear MSF needs people with technical/mechanical skills to help them operate in austere, third-world environments...that or possibly working in Antarctica... I dunno.
12/19/2011 01:38:31 PM · #19
I'm 46 and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.
12/19/2011 01:43:17 PM · #20
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

I'm 46 and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.


I don't plan on growing up.
12/19/2011 01:46:42 PM · #21
In my field, college teaches you the basic background information. Grad school is where you start getting your "job training".
12/19/2011 01:49:57 PM · #22
Originally posted by Spork99:

Originally posted by Strikeslip:

I'm 46 and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.


I don't plan on growing up.

me either you can hang out with us slippy!
12/19/2011 04:13:14 PM · #23
Originally posted by kenskid:

You go to college to learn how to learn. Let's say you go through 4 years of college and graduate with a history degree.
If you are the interviewing for a new tech at the Robonuts Tool Development Inc. There are two applicants. All other things being EQUAL, but one of the applicants had a degree in history from a 4 year university...who do you hire?

I hire the history grad. With everything else being equal, it would be rather odd to not take the person with a degree. At least you KNOW this person learned something...stuck to a commitment etc....(Exclude the overqualified chatter)

College gives you an edge.

Now if you are in need of a vintage car tune up business and need a tech, do you hire the college grad or someone that took an 18 month trade school course in repairing old engines....who do you take?


That may have been true in the past, but nowadays where a college degree is a requirement for many entry level jobs, you may as well get the job training.
12/19/2011 04:21:39 PM · #24
It all depends on the job. Some may or may not agree to this but in IT, what I am currently doing, you don't need a college degree. All you need is a bunch of high level certifications (Microsoft, Cisco, HP etc...) and you could land a 6 figure a year job.

Message edited by author 2011-12-19 16:22:24.
12/19/2011 05:05:42 PM · #25
Education is a very valuable thing, whether aimed at specific future employment or general knowledge growth. I've had 3 different careers in what I (still) consider a young life; and hope this isn't my final employment destination. I would offer that a college degree is merely a baseline. Outside of a specific technical career, a bachelor's degree discipline, at least in my experience as both employee and employer, may only be relevant in your initial job out of university. Often times not even then.
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