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  1. #1
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Go to Uni? Or learn a trade? What's the future?

    I have twins who will be 17 next month. Thus, I have been doing considerable research on universities. It seems to me that the state of the liberal American university is abysmal - not to mention incredibly expensive - and with no guarantee of a decent job at the end of the pipeline.

    Is a university education still a "must-do"? When I got out of the Army, I went to a four-year university since the thinking then was you simply couldn't get a decent job without, at a minimum, a BA. It worked in my case, but that was many years ago.

    I have two BA degrees, and a year of post-graduate study - I honestly can't say any of it taught me much I didn't know. Experience is life's professor.

    I'm sure some here have advanced degrees, and also sure a number have had good careers without higher education.

    I might add that fucking off in university for four years is an education, at least socially, in its own right.

    What think you, Td'ers? Is university a scam? An over-priced hustle? Or a requirement to get your foot in the door?

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat Jesus Jones's Avatar
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    Don't know about the US, but apprenticeships should be brought back.

    Uni at present means large debt with little to no guarantee of finding a decent job.

    Unfortunately a catch 22 position!

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    How's this for the ultimate non-answer... It depends.

    But seriously it does. Who your kids are, what they want to do etc. In my case I went to university wanting to do one thing and ended up doing something else completely different. The best advice I ever got was that 'a degree is just a passport to a job interview': it shows you can apply yourself to something.

    I don't think a degree and qualifications are strictly necessary though because if you've got the drive and will-power you can do what you want. Plus it seems to be quite cyclical as well - every 10 years or so it's 'we need people with more qualifications' or 'we need people with more trades'.

  4. #4
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson View Post

    'a degree is just a passport to a job interview':
    Quite true. As far as kids knowing what they want to do in life, I guess some do.....I certainly had no clue. I had no clue when I went in the Army, and none when I came out. I just stumbled into the career in which I spent my life - loving every day of it. That said, I would never have been considered for the job without at a minimum a BA - about 80% of my entry batch mates had advanced degrees. As you said, the requirements keep changing.

    Jesus mentioned apprenticeships, which give a kid practical experience as well as a chance to see if it's the job for him...unfortunately, I don't think the apprentice system ever was as widely spread in the US as in Europe - other than in Trump's reality show.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    The problem is expecting 17 or 18 year old kids to even know what they want to do I think. I sure as fuck didn't back then - much less if I'd enjoy it or it would be relevant.

    And the landscape changes so fast too. Twenty years ago who would have ever thought there would be a paid position for something like a 'Social Media Manager' for example?!

  6. #6
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    ^Yep. Seems like every other person is an IT something. Life coaches, fingernail technicians, personal trainers, baristas...strange old world.

  7. #7
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    Unless the course is vocational, there is no guarantee of anything but what is true is the fact that no blue chip company worth its salt or government department is going to recruit anyone into their fast-track streams without a good degree in a good university.

    The point is, are you propelling your children into further education because a) they have great potential and need a rigorous academic regime to develop it, or b) are they simply going because they can and will muddle through to obtain a mediocre degree but will have had a great time in the process and may make a good network of friends and contacts along the way?

    I suggest you just bite the bullet and hope for the best although I think I would have second thoughts in sending them to the US but would be tempted to put them into semi-seclusion in New Zealand where they will be assured of surviving the experience and will also benefit from the 'British' university culture, and it would be nearer to home.

    Australia of course simply has too many ockers, bogans and generally all-round uncouth lower end types who are not gentlemen and whose idea of courtesy is to " slip a sheila one up the shitter if she's on the rag".

  8. #8
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    try plumbing, good money in it. Baldrick is your man.

    Universities are expensive, and a passport to the corporate world security, if that's still relevant today

    a trade might be more rewarding financially,

  9. #9
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    My son is good with his hands, and loves tinkering with things. I'm thinking with the number of guns in the US, a career as an armorer could be quite lucrative.

  10. #10
    On a walkabout
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    If I had my time over again I would learn to read, write and speak as many of the most important global languages as I could as there are many job openings for multiligual people with common sense.

    Then I would do a short international business coarse on line and use the internet for finding various related information.

    Jobs are there for translators and business advisors and for example.

  11. #11
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    Experience is life's professor.
    Right up to the point that you need surgery of course. Or a skyscraper built, or your kids educated beyond kindergarten level, or, or , or.........

    If they have the brains for it, they should go to University and its not really a question. Put it another way, getting a degree will open doors for them - not getting one will sure as hell close a lot of doors on them.


    Your job is to guide them into a degree that is useful to them on graduation.

  12. #12
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    I have similar concerns but a few years further away than you. The 14 year old twins have given it some thought already. One is convinced he will fly in the air force. Aiming high is good but I have encouraged him to add some reality to his ambition and have a plan B. The other is looking ICT and programming. He has the smarts and probably a back up plan. He is the one most likely to buy his old man a classic Bentley, after he has re-mapped the engine chip.
    The youngest is a grunt like me. He lives and breathes football. If it suits him, I will change his surname to Kowalski and send him to Poland on a plumbing apprenticeship.
    They could all get on without a degree but uni is more than just a rite of passage, it's also a plan B.
    When we have had important decision to make in the past, we found the best way was to talk to them like grown ups, and leave trail of breadcrumbs to the most appropriate decision.
    The latest on UK uni costs is going up to GBP 6200 per year. That means at least double that for the twins for starters. The college fund is looking lightweight already.

  13. #13
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    A factor in the decision could be where you live/reside and what apprenticeships (if any) are available in that location. Whereas it's common to leave the family home to go to university, people tend to find apprenticeships near to where they live.

  14. #14
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    What is Canada's higher education system like?
    One good thing in their favour, at least they are not Belgian.

  15. #15
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    not sure about these days, but i done a 3 year plastering apprenticeship, then an extra 2 years doing fibrous work (ornate mouldings etc) on-site. started up my own business and retired before my 48th birthday.

    and yes s.a i worked with my hands and i'm an oik
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  16. #16
    Thailand Expat

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    ^^ Same as most civilized countries...Good, better, and best...

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton
    It seems to me that the state of the liberal American university is abysmal
    Can you be more specific about what you mean with this statement? The state of American universities is far from abysmal. In fact most of the top uni's in the world are in America.

    Like Ant says it is different for every kid. If you want them to be able to jump right into a lucrative career I would suggest you push them into the tech field. More specifically in web/software development. They can do this either via a computer science tract in a Uni or via a condensed program offered at a trade school or community college.

  19. #19
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    When I was a kid the apprenticeship system paid for one to go to university. There were just different levels of apprenticeship.

    My answer would be university but only for technical stuff like engineering. A degree in history is only a passport to a job interview': it shows you can apply yourself to something. BUT is necessary for any decent job in government or the public sector. Even nursing careers hit a ceiling of they don't have a degree. Criminology to be a higher ranking policemen? Etc.

    There are very few farriers or proper tree surgeons or... but in those cases location/local availability is a huge factor.

    Specialist training maybe more important than a degree like say, to get a job as a project manager one might be better off with a good diploma in project management rather than a degree in civil engineering.

    Depending on availability pay for two good career path aptitude/psychological tests. The sort of thing where they ask : would you rather fix and old clock or help an old lady across the road? May not help them directly but would help you guide them as to something suited to there characters?
    Maybe there are some free ones?

    As has been said at 17 I had no clue...
    Last edited by VocalNeal; 30-07-2016 at 01:31 PM.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
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  20. #20
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrylad66 View Post
    not sure about these days, but i done a 3 year plastering apprenticeship, then an extra 2 years doing fibrous work (ornate mouldings etc) on-site. started up my own business and retired before my 48th birthday.

    and yes s.a i worked with my hands and i'm an oik
    The classic old British apprenticeship was a bloody good thing. Usually coupled with some day release study program at a technical college or similar. Think by and large it is a thing of the past, and we are much poorer for it.

    Despite my comments above, there are careers that do not need a Uni education, but the collapse of the trade apprenticeships has wiped out valuable career paths.

  21. #21
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal
    My answer would be university but only for technical stuff like engineering
    as the world gets more technical the only real jobs for humans will be the technical repair and design

    I am glad I did a trade - even though it is one that people outside of industry really have no idea that it exists - but it has always been the back up to get employment and its composition of technical , process and mechanical has been a steady learning experience.

    I did a year of a BSc in my yoof as part of originally wanting to be a carrier jet jockey , but circumstances changed and finally I ened up doing this trade.

    Trades have been depreciating , as there are many people in the world who can do the basics - which is what is required for a majority of jobs - and are prepared to take a lot less money

    Degrees as pointed out by genticles are good if the person has an aptitude and will really benefit , but sadly the majority are just ticking the boxes and getting the form signed - I have worked and still work with many injuneers of various technical branches , and only a few I find are worth the effort.

    but degrees seem to still be the benchmark , unless you have built a solid reputation over the years


    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly
    try plumbing, good money in it. Baldrick is your man.
    I took this for you this morning - I am trying to work out a high temperature issue with stage 1 of a high pressure nitrogen compressor

    can you advise me what registry key I should be changing ?


  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub View Post
    If you want them to be able to jump right into a lucrative career I would suggest you push them into the tech field. More specifically in web/software development. They can do this either via a computer science tract in a Uni or via a condensed program offered at a trade school or community college.
    Snubby is part right, but the growth field is going to be Information Security, trust me.

    With all this shit going onto the "Internet of Things" there will be a massive shortage of people equipped to secure it all.

    And with so many compliance laws, companies pay big bucks for people who can help them stop data breaches.

    And it's a global requirement so really only language will stop them getting a job anywhere.


  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    Snubby is part right, but the growth field is going to be Information Security, trust me.
    I am not going to disagree here. Information Security is booming I have a friend here in Seattle who is the directer of Information Security at a major company here and we have had many conversations on this topic. That said there is a massive demand for developers here right now and there will be for sometime to come.

  24. #24
    Neo
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    I've got a trade and never been short of work, but if I could have got a university education I would have jumped at the chance and for sure my life would have had far more aspiration.

    Depends what you want to study though... I was always interested in big building projects and water systems, so some kind of civil engineering to do with flood control or irrigation would have been a dream ticket... and consider how valued that would be today with the environmental problems the world is facing.

    Certainly the environment and green technology is the future and would make for a future proof career. Perhaps get hold of the Naomi Klein book This Changes Everything and see if that ignites a passion in them... if not, well people will always need their hair cut and cars repaired.

    (have to disagree somewhat about tech/IT work, it is almost like being a very intelligent worker drone, yes many have an aptitude and a passion, but in the main it doesn't attract the brightest of minds and it's very un-creative for the majority of those involved, and for those majority positions there is a lot of competition which in turn dictates 'competitive' salaries)

    (I should also add that though the Naomi Klein book is radical and anti establishment it does offer a raft of ideas on how to change systems and apply technologies to promote a sustainable future.. surely a worthy cause for kids of this generation to take up, whether that be through technological development, legislative law or social awareness)
    Last edited by Neo; 30-07-2016 at 02:33 PM.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick
    I am trying to work out a high temperature issue with stage 1 of a high pressure nitrogen compressor
    Isn't that Charles law? Compress a gas and it gets hot?

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