Quoting Quiverfull: College Degrees Are a Waste of Money?

Quoting Quiverfull: College Degrees Are a Waste of Money? April 20, 2016

quotingquiverfullby Marc Cohen from No Greater Joy Magazine – From Marc

Editor’s note: This new issue of No Greater Joy magazine has four articles written by homeschoolers singing the praises of homeschooling while claiming that the lack of college degree hasn’t harmed them in the slightest in the job market. While I cannot speak to some of the areas of the career paths most of them have taken I have to say this one particular one, a pilot with the US Army is at best highly exaggerated! A position as a pilot is one of the most coveted and competitive in the entire military and almost always requires the rank of officer AND a college degree. What’s likely true is that the author is a Warrant Officer and he pilots a helicopter.  He mentions only helicopters in his service. That’s just about the only way the allow a degreeless non-officer to fly. Oh, and about that 60K in debt an officer might have? Four years or more flying for the military can translate into a lucrative position flying for a commercial airline. That investment into their college degree will pay for itself many times over during the life of their career.  There’s nowhere near as many opportunities for helicopter pilots in the private sector.

I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed to work hard to get it. I couldn’t rely on an $80,000 piece of paper from the state university telling others I was good at basket weaving. So instead of that, after high school I got a lot of life experience that definitely helped me get to where I am now. I worked many different jobs; I went into the woods for weeks, went on long hikes and figured out where my breaking point was. That’s not something a tenured professor can transfer into your soul.

I did everything from teaching flying and delivering boxes for UPS to driving the Amish to market. It wasn’t glorious, but it was valuable, and I had a résumé. I had more than two letters behind my name. So when I looked into flying helicopters for the Army, the “undergraduate degree” required to become an officer didn’t daunt me too much. Only a handful of people are selected, and pilots make up about 0.2% of the entire Army. When it came time for my interview with a colonel and a few majors, I heard it could take up to an hour to impress them. Mine lasted about four minutes. They said they were tired of seeing unemployed history majors with nothing to offer and were always looking for people with real life experience. And it only got easier after that. I finished at the top of my class in boot camp and was an honor graduate in primary flight training and the Blackhawk course. Yes, the vast majority of pilots have degrees, but they also have $60,000 of unpaid student loans and nowhere jobs in their field. I had a passion to fly and to serve our country and a degree didn’t stand in my way. Now, with so many alternatives to traditional college it almost seems pointless to lock yourself into four years of classes you don’t really need, with people who won’t help your career at all. Granted, there are many fields that require a four-plus year degree, but most can be done online or with distance programs that build a degree for you. Distance learning and real life experience are where it’s at. God gives us the dream and desire, but we have to be the owner, coach and cheerleader to get it done.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, cultural enforcers and those that seek to keep women submitted to men and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

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  • Nea

    And I know two people whose careers stalled horribly without degrees, one of whom had 30 years practical experience in his line of work. I know two more who were informed that future roles and raises were dependent upon earning *more* degrees.

    Anecdata’s a wonderful thing. You can cite it to prove any damn thing that you want.

    Also and more pertinently– the government, by law, has to offer a “degree or X years experience” option when hiring, which is why this guy could blow off the undergrad degree requirement. Private employers do *not.*

    PS — the Smithsonian and, surprisingly, the FBI both seek people with history degrees. I’m just sayin’. But this being Pearl propaganda for men, he of course has to choose action over what he likely considers the softest (and to Mikey, the scariest*) alternative.

    *Mikey is, after all, on record talking about how being asked to consider and research historical context of the Bible in college to be too hard for him to cope with.

  • MillyPierce

    So college degrees are worthless? Please tell me that when you or your family need medical care and the Dr. tells you he learned by stitching up injured animals in the woods and went to University of Phoenix online, but you can totally trust him!

  • Victoria

    I can’t speak for everyone, but escaping to a public college enabled me to learn to develop critical thinking skills and to make friends and have relationships outside of the fundie-bubble. These two things were the best things I could have done for myself– and that’s besides the stellar academic program that I was in and all the cool information I learned. I decided I didn’t have enough of school and am in graduate school now though, so I may be a bit biased. It is hard work, but extremely rewarding.
    Oh, and I’ve worked full time since I graduated high school, so this guy can suck it with his “lazy undergrad” speech. Most of the people I know worked hard through college (which gives you awesome time management capabilities, imagine that!).

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Without a degree they’ll never let him near an airplane or fighter jet. It’s helicopters or nothing. Even the military has standards

  • Nea

    Doctors? You don’t need no stinkin’ doctors in Pearlworld! Don’t you know that the wimminfolk can cure anything with herbal tea? (Which is, sad to say, the other Pearl income, for when telling people they’re just not good enough for Mikey’s penis-shaped God doesn’t bring in enough $$)

  • Nea

    Not just standards, but requires proof of competence. If he hadn’t had that helicopter experience already, they wouldn’t have given a damn about anything else, up to and including that he knew his “breaking point” when alone in the woods.

    But to be honest, I’ve never gone near the fighting side of the government. I have contracted in gov’t office jobs, wherein “x years experience” will allow someone to skate past a few initial goal posts. But only a few and only the ones at the beginning of a career. My two friends who were told “thus far and no further” were both Govvies who were told that promotions above Grade X required graduate degrees, period. Only one of ’em went and got the extra education (and later, a second degree for the same purposes of promotion.) The other? Lateral job moves for the rest of her career.

  • Nea

    There’s nowhere near as many opportunities for helicopter pilots in the private sector.

    I’ve been thinking about this, and all I’ve come up with is:
    – flying ambulance
    – traffic control
    – crop dusting
    – chopper tours
    – private pilot
    – helicopter flight instructor

    That’s six whole options, but I’m willing to bet that none of those pays anywhere near what a commercial pilot makes. There’s nothing in this guy’s record to assume that he’s good enough for, say, stunt flying. To be fair, I don’t think stunt work in the movies requires a degree, but it’s also physically punishing and incredibly dangerous.

  • BlueVibe

    Nothing like pulling out the hyperbole to make a pointless point:

    “I couldn’t rely on an $80,000 piece of paper from the state university telling others I was good at basket weaving.”

    I’m not sure what that is. Fine Arts, maybe? Are there any accredited schools that even offer a bachelor’s in basket weaving? (I know that the point is that he didn’t want a degree in some “useless” subject, but when you go too far in your mockery, your point is meaningless.)

    Full disclosure: I have a bachelor’s in history. I also have real-life experience and a passable job. I would have a much better job if I had gone to graduate school. That he jumped on the line about “unemployed history majors with
    nothing to offer and were always looking for people with real life
    experience” just underscores that he is totally uneducated and is looking for justification to stay that way. I’m pretty damned tired of this idea that people who have made even a little academic effort have obviously never gotten their hands the slightest bit dirty. The two are not mutually exclusive! They don’t break your arms and legs when you get into college.

    My brother is an archaeologist. A real one with a Ph.D., not one of those digger yahoos you see on TV. The joke is that archaeologists are the drunken rednecks of the social sciences, but don’t kid yourself–it’s competitive (and underfunded, so you have to be good to survive in it), conceptual, and hard work. Archaeological digs can be physically really tough.

    Our dad was (is retired) a geologist. His doctoral field research had him camping in northern Michigan in the winter. Tell me again that academics are wimps with no skills?

    One of the reasons that veterans often have a hard time finding jobs when they leave the military is that being well-trained and successful within a structured culture is not the same thing as being educated. Even army medics are not necessarily well-prepared to be, say, EMT’s, because the nature of the injuries they’re likely to see is not that similar: Medics can probably treat trauma with their eyes closed, but an elderly lady with heart trouble or a small child who drowned in a pool? Not so much. You don’t see a lot of those in combat and you can’t handle elderly people and small kids they way you do young, healthy, soldiers.

  • Mel

    I have a lot of experience and education in education topics. The article written by Karen in the same issue is blatantly misleading and I’ll do a quick blog post on it.

  • pinkie

    To be fair, there’s also helicopter logging. Or firefighting.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    My husband is retired from the US Military Intel, in a field where even the grunts had degrees an language training to go with their top secret security clearances. We were stationed very near the East-West border before the wall came down at an airbase with oodles of chopper pilots and Air Force officers who flew spy planes. We lived in that environment the first ten years of our marriage and he’s clearly exaggerating about the military. Even in government positions that are not military you’re right, you have to have certain level of education to get promoted up the GS ladder.

  • SAO

    Fish spotting, ferrying people to difficult oil sites. I have a friend who was a helicopter pilot and she found it fairly easy to get jobs, once she’d racked up enough flight hours, which she did flying overseas. I don’t know about her debt, but the overseas jobs paid her living expenses and the fish spotting provided both room and board, on board the ship.

  • Nea

    Ooo! Looking forward to it.

  • Nea

    I’d never heard of helicopter logging.

  • Nea

    This is a highly informative subthread!

  • SAO

    The data speak for themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
    Unemployment for people, 25 or older, without a HS diploma (this includes a lot of the homeschooled) is 8.6%. With a HS diploma, it’s 5.4%. With a college degree, it’s 2.8%, or nearly half the rate with HS diploma and a third of the rate without a HS diploma.

    Median weekly wages for those without an HS diploma: $493; with an HS diploma: $678; with a BA or BS: $1,137.

    Those are facts, based on all Americans. And sure, some people without an HS degree do better than some people with a PhD, but those are outliers, like Bill Gates, who dropped out of college because Microsoft was so successful.

  • Abigail Smith

    I felt shamed for years by the fundies that I not only have a college degree, but also Masters and Doctorate degrees…these idiots thrive on their own fears and also making others fear….my husband is a college professor and there is no degree in basket weaving, nor would anyone go into debt to get one…

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Fish spotting? There’s one I never heard of before. Yeah, the oil industry particularly in the states along the Gulf of Mexico does employ helicopter pilots to ferry folks to and fro the oil rigs.

  • Astrin Ymris

    “Basket-weaving” is a term used by anti-intellectuals to sneer at what they consider “useless” higher education, particularly in fields that lead students to think critically about biblical literalism.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Doesn’t that “…When it came time for my interview with a colonel and a few majors, I heard it could take up to an hour to impress them. Mine lasted about four minutes. They said they were tired of seeing unemployed history majors with nothing to offer and were always looking for people with real life experience…” sound like the constant CPM claim that homeschoolers with no college will wow prospective employers with their “character” over applicants with university degrees?

    IOW, I find myself a bit skeptical that things went down exactly as Marc Cohen says. It seems a bit too conveniently “faith-promoting”.

  • BridgetD

    I have to wonder about that. People with the attitude of college as a waste of time give the example of a “degree in basket weaving,” which is, of course, ridiculous.

    Most degrees, even those in media, the arts, and social sciences will give you a leg up opposed to someone without a higher degree. It may not be entirely worth it monetarily given the current debt-to-prospective pay ratio. Still, my philosophy is that it is better to follow your passion rather than follow the money only, since going for high pay jobs only will probably mean that you’re not as good at your job, and so not as competitive in the field as others.

    Anyway, I seem to have gone on a rabbit trail there…either way, higher education is a good thing to pursue, even if it is just a program for a certain career track at a community college or trade school. If nothing else, it opens up opportunities. My teaching program, along with ultimately leading to a bachelor’s degree, includes certification and student teaching in the last two years of your degree, connects you to internships and study abroad programs, and will help you find a job after you graduate.

  • BridgetD

    Right. It’s true that student debt is currently at an appalling level ($30k is the average). It’s also true that some career tracks do have more candidates than they have job openings (such as engineering), and some jobs have low starting pay or limited upward mobility (such as teaching or the arts). That does not make a college degree useless. Far from it. It has been said time and time again that a bachelor’s degree or higher will, on average and depending on the career track, lead to better employment opportunities and exponentially higher pay.

    There are alternatives to college for people who either can’t or simply do not want to go to college that will lead to fulfilling careers. There are trade schools, some job training programs, and community colleges often have programs for certain fields that don’t necessarily require any further education. If you’re very lucky, you might be able to create your own business and not have to worry about formal training or education at all, but the risk in that case is enormous. Many careers, however, either prefer or require at least a bachelor’s degree. You won’t find any reputable doctor, for example, without an MD, which is from four years of undergrad and at least three years of medical school.

  • katiehippie

    You’d think that someone so proud of their practicality would think that basket weaving would be a good thing. I doubt it’s easy to do and you come away with something useful to boot.
    His mention of distance learning at the end may be the clue about the degree he needed to fly helicopters. Maybe he does have a degree and doesn’t dare tell his parents.

  • SAO

    In some places, such as Alaska, the season for certain high-value fish is very short, so they use helicopters to find the schools. A case of efforts to prevent overfishing resulting in more technology to keep up the catch.

  • SAO

    PS, if you look at it on an annual basis, on an annual basis, the difference between a HS diploma and a BS is $23,000, meaning in 1.5 years, the college graduate’s salary premium has paid back the average debt and in 3 years, they’ve earned the bogus $60k debt mentioned by the blogger. Those without an HS diploma make $32K less per year.

  • Pennybird

    Knowledge is power. Is it any wonder that Quiverfull would downplay the importance of higher education? Once the kids get out into the world and learn there’s more than one way to skin a cat, the only way they’ve known could very well become less attractive.

  • BridgetD

    Basket weaving would be a pretty useful skill to learn now that you mention it. I don’t know about you, but I love useful DIY stuff. They don’t need a degree to learn either, which is great since no such program exists to begin with, lol.

    But, since I’m in the K-6 and special education program, something I do when I’m bored is scan pinterest for inspiration to use in my future classroom…you know, since I’m a nerd :P.

  • Julia Childress

    I would award him a BS degree in Sweeping Generalities with a minor in Exaggeration.

  • Julia Childress

    So true. It’s possible to work at the same time that you’re working on a two-year program at a community college. You can come up with some creative ways to avoid the kind of debt that he’s talking about. IMHO, it’s all about the fear that the secular institution of higher learning is going to steal your soul.

  • texassa

    My father was a Navy pilot. An undergraduate college degree and status as an officer was an absolute requirement. My brother also served in the military as an engineer for the Air Force. He received a full tuition college scholarship from the AF by participating in his university’s ROTC program and committing 4 years of service.

  • texassa

    People like these say education is a waste yet they take advantage of and benefit from others who have higher education. Look at the Duggars with their better-than-you doctorless, medicineless, home births. That is, until they’re at death’s door and dial up 911 to come save the day. Or they go against medical recommendations and common sense to continue conceiving children and then enlist the care of specialists to save their 1-pound preemie. You better believe all those lawyers the Duggars keep on the books have college degrees. And the engineers who build our roads, the vehicles they resell, etc. Idiots.

  • Nea

    There are degrees and degrees. Employers also know the difference between ivy league and distance diploma mills…

    As for the practicality of basket weaving – it is a practical skill, but it’s also women’s work. And we all know how well Mikey and his clones handle being asked to do anything remotely coded “girly.”

  • Nea

    Yeah, come to think of it, he never even mentioned that CC 2-year degrees are perfectly legit and don’t cost that much. (Another way to keep costs down is to spend a few years at the local college for cheap, then transfer to a high-prestige school for the graduation year only, so you get the nice name without the horrible debt.)

    This is just another variant on Mikey’s scare story that if the kids get off the leash, you’ll lose them.

  • Nea

    I’ll bet the “real life experience” line came up, but take the “tired of seeing” part with a small salt mine. Real life experience does grease the gears nicely… but not to the point of bypassing an entire interview or causing the interviewers to diss interviewees.

  • Julia Childress

    This topic is near to my heart, because my 3 children completed four-year degrees, and only about $55000 total came out of my pocket, most of which I had managed to save before the first one graduated from high school. We used a combination of community colleges for two years, random scholarships and academic scholarships (both of which the kids had to work for), a modest athletic scholarship for one son, state four-year universities, student jobs, and work-study. We avoided: out-of-state colleges, car payments, credit cards for the kids and the thinking that we parents should take on debt in order to provide college for kids. I did have to borrow $4,000 from my 401(k) for the final tuition payment for the last one, who gave up his athletic scholarship in his senior year, but he has actually paid me back for that. There are creative ways to minimize the burden of excessive student loans. For the fundies, it’s all about the fear, so they need to keep preaching about the horrors of college debt.

  • katiehippie

    I think it would be awesome to learn. But alas, I don’t need any more hobbies at this time.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Yeah, it does seem very unprofessional for interviewers to casually disparage the value of a college education. I’m sure their ideal applicant has BOTH a college degree and real life work experience.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    We did something similar and paid for the college degrees of our 2 kids. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it to give them a good start as adults. My daughter is working on her masters while working full time at the university. They are picking up the tuition for her degree. It can be done.

  • Rachel

    I think the problem is when you assume that just because it worked for you, that doesn’t mean that that’s going to work for EVERYBODY. It’s so great that this person found a career that he enjoys and that he didn’t have to go to college if he didn’t want to. But that’s not going to lead to success and happiness for everybody because we all have different skill sets and life goals.

    I, for example, love traveling, and since a child I had a dream of visiting the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. I also love language learning. In that regard, college has been the best thing that could have happened to me. I decided to major in Spanish, which opened up opportunities to study in Spain. I am currently finishing up a Master’s degree, which opened up the opportunity last year to get a scholarship to study an indigenous language in Cusco, Perú, which provided me with the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of exploring Machu Picchu. This coming academic year I will be moving to a country in South America to teach English (minimum requirement? A Bachelor’s degree). These priceless opportunities would never have come my way if it weren’t for my education. And I might still have some debt from undergrad, but once I get my PhD I’ll be able to get a well-paying job and pay that off. This is the life that brings me joy–I am looking forward to a year abroad, and I can’t wait to see what other travel opportunities come my way in future years.

    But just because my path has been working for me doesn’t mean I’m going to say that EVERYBODY should go to college or grad school. You do you!

  • Julia Childress

    I always look at the Duggars and hope they’re grateful that someone allowed their children to pursue higher education.

  • persephone

    My uncle spent over 45 years in the Army, was a Green Beret in Korea and Vietnam, then his career stalled because you couldn’t move ahead without a degree. So, late in his forties, he went back to school. He ended up retiring a full colonel, while other soldiers who wouldn’t go back to school were pushed out of the service.

  • persephone

    He says one of the things he did before joining the Army was teaching flying. Obviously, he didn’t learn that from a book. Someone had to teach him, whether that school was public or private.

  • Mel

    In all truth, the college application process is only minimally about getting accepted.

    The real competition is between students within a given institution to get the most scholarships and grants to drop the amount of money paid by the student.

    I paid my own way through college. By going to a school where I was a highly competitive student, I got the college to cover ~50% of my total tuition, room and board. That alone knocked my $80,000 bill to $40,000 for 5 years of study. I worked part-time and used that money to pay $24,000 worth of tuition down while I was still in college. That left me with ~$16,000 in loans. I should also count $25,000 ($5,000 x 5 years) of lost wages for not working as many hours as I could have while in college. Total cost of college: $65,000

    That $65,000 degree bumped my yearly income from $10,000 max as a cashier to $30,000 as a teacher. The $20,000 pay increase means that I was ahead financially after 3.5 years of teaching. In other words, I was “down” $65,000 for 8.5 years followed by being up at least $20,000 per year for the rest of my career. And I’m a teacher which isn’t a terribly lucrative career for science majors. I’m betting some friends of mine who went Bachelors of Science in Chemstry –> industrial job have a return on investment time of less than one year….

  • BridgetD

    I’m paying my way through with grants, scholarships, and loans because my parents are absolutely broke. I’m seriously lucky though. Because of mental and physical health issues, I haven’t able to work more than one semester so far. I also talked it over with my parents and therapist, and we agreed that it was better that I skip the local community college because I was absolutely not thriving at home. However, my university granted me a pretty decent scholarship (similar to yours, ~50% of tuition and fees) for being in the top 10% of my class and getting a good score on my SAT. As long as I keep above a 3.5 GPA, it is recurring as well. Right before I left for college I also received an inheritance from my great-grandmother’s estate that I put entirely towards my education. Thanks to both of those, I will be able to not only complete my degree here, but I will be studying in Europe this summer. I still took out government loans, but I hope that I will be able to catch up with those after some time. Teachers aren’t paid extremely well compared to other fields, but at least according to my sister (she did not finish her degree, but has been paying her student loans on two low-pay jobs without too much trouble) the loan officers are willing to work with you.

    You know, I had actually considered going into biology since it was my favorite subject from a very young age. I’ve always been an analytical person as well, so I always excelled in mathematics and sciences. I even managed to get a 5 on my AP biology test (the only one of my class), which I have been extremely proud of since I first opened that sheet of paper. Still, I was kind of unsure from junior year of high school to right before I entered university, but I’ve had so many great teachers (including my high school biology teacher, who actually had worked for the CDC and was among my top two favorite teachers throughout my entire public school career) that I was inspired to change my major last minute to special education. Now can’t really imagine going into any other field. That job I took my freshman year was a work study at the local low-income elementary school, and I felt so at home in the classroom. Anyway, I guess I went off on another rabbit trail there, but I hope that you find fulfillment in your career, even if it’s not what one automatically would think a science major would be doing.

  • Nea

    Yeah, Mikey’s columnist is skipping the fact that employers – including the military – will pay for college in return for using those skills for the employer for x amount of time. Part of my masters degree was paid for by my company at the time.

  • Nea

    He also glosses over that the Army also trained him. This guy’s had plenty of schooling.

  • BridgetD

    Your kids quite lucky to have a mom like you. My parents can barely pay for our own expenses, so we’ve all had to pay for our own college. Not that we’ve all gone through college, or at least gone through the same path for our higher education.

    I have no idea whether my older brother has a higher degree, but my eldest sister paid her own way through junior college and then went to a university to get her bachelor’s degree. The next oldest only has a GED, but is an example of dropouts that manage to turn their lives around and eke out a good living for themselves nonetheless. My twin went to a collegiate high school, so she graduated with an associate’s degree. She went through two years of university as a national merit scholar before dropping out due to health reasons. She wants to go back, but needs to figure some things out first. My brother is trying to get into a culinary program at a junior college. My little sister is still in high school. As for me, I took the plunge and went straight to university after two years of healing from what was basically a mental breakdown directly after senior year (I honestly felt that I needed to throw myself in and see if I sank or swim, since I was absolutely not thriving back at home). I did have a great scholarship from the school though, and as long as I keep at a 3.5 GPA or higher, I will continue to get that money until graduation.

    So yeah…our circumstances vary widely even within the family, but hey, that’s not to say that it is impossible to graduate debt-free even today. It’s super hard though. In my case and my twin’s, we had a fair amount of luck and academic prowess on our side. We still have/had loans, but it’s not as crippling as it could’ve been.

  • In my day, I didn’t hear the term used by anti-intellectuals to sneer at higher education so much as by intellectuals to mock the kind of majors that students on athletic scholarships selected. The implication was that they were being paid to play, and pretended to be students by studying useless if not downright non-existent subjects (implied by the term “underwater basket weaving”)

    “Hepster Lingo,” “Any snap course in school is ‘underwater basket weaving.'” In a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times in 1956, a correspondent bemoaned an alleged decline in academic standards among college football programs and mentioned “majoring in underwater basket weaving, or the preparation and serving of smorgasbord, or, particularly at Berkeley, the combined course of anatomy and panty-raiding”.[6] The following year, an article in the National Review mentioned that “the bored students in the educationists’ courses call those dreary subjects ‘underwater basket-weaving courses'”,[7] and another year on a newspaper column noted that “One seaside university is bowing to the stern educational demands of the times by eliminating its popular course in underwater basket weaving”.[8] An article in the Daily Collegian at Penn State University in 1961 refers to a parody in which “a typical Miami coed majoring in underwater basketweaving was interviewed”.[9] An article from 1976 refers to football players so dumb that they had to take underwater basket weaving,[10] and another 1976 article refers to underwater basket-weaving as “an old old family joke”.[11]

  • BridgetD

    Awesome, and I totally agree. I think that some people project their experience onto others. Being kind of non-traditionally poor (we made above the poverty line, but medical bills killed my family’s income), an education major, jumping directly to university instead of taking courses at a community college or joining the military for personal and health reasons, dealing with various health issues, all of this has taught me that my situation and my neighbor’s is always going to be very different, even if we’re in a similar boat at times.

    Going back to education and careers, I’m an intellectual. I would never dream (though, granted, the money factor made me hesitate before applying to my school) of going any other way aside from a college degree, since that is what works for me best. I also decided on a teaching career, despite the negative aspects of it, because I was inspired by years of excellent teachers. When I volunteered to read and help out in a preschool classroom freshman year (technically it was a work study for me, but it was officially a volunteer position), I felt sure that I made the right choice. I’m still a little clumsy and under-confident, but that will come with experience more than anything. I will be studying in Spain this summer (which I would’ve never been able to do without my program; my family was so poor, the only vacations we took were a few hundred miles north to Branson and a few hundred miles south to Galveston), and then I start field experience next fall. Certification and student teaching begins senior year.

    So, my philosophy is always to follow your passion. If you want a college degree, you should go for it. If you don’t, that’s fine too. As you said, you do you.

  • Julia Childress

    We always approached college for our kids as “when”, not “if”. My husband and I were both from poor fundamentalist Christian backgrounds, and ended up having to pay for most of our college expenses while at the same time supporting ourselves (hubby did have VA benefits for part of his). Saving for children’s college was a priority, and we started as soon as the first one was born by putting any cash they received for gifts right into the college savings account, then budgeting as much as we could. I’m proud of my kids, because they never expected things to be handed to them and they all worked hard at academics as well as jobs in order to make sure they would get through college. Our oldest went to pharmacy school, so she had about $100,000 in debt when she finished. However, she moved back home for two years and paid off all of that debt, then married a fellow pharmacist who had done the same thing.

  • Astrin Ymris

    When I went to college in the 1980s, we had government-funded low-interest student loans, which made things a lot more affordable. Also, states put a lot more funding into the state university system, so colleges could charge lower tuition.

    *sigh* That’s before the full-impact of the cut-government-spending, businesses-do-it-better-so-privatize-everything movement was felt.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Ah, how times change!

    I actually learned the term from this:


  • BridgetD

    That’s really awesome. My parents wanted all of their kids to get a good education, but they could barely keep up with their own expenses unfortunately. Medical bills basically drained any savings that they had. They have been highly supportive in other ways though. My parents are also allowing me to return home for a while after graduation. I’m just going for a bachelors degree, so my debt isn’t going to be huge. But, for that matter, I doubt my salary as a first year teacher is going to be particularly high either. Still, it is very comforting that I won’t have to worry about rent on top of student loans, healthcare bills, and other payments I will have to make. I hope to at least have enough money left over from whatever my paycheck is that I can put it in savings. I just never want to end up in the same position that my parents were in for most of my childhood if I can avoid it.

  • zizania

    Our local Tla’amin people weave gorgeous baskets and offer courses in how to make them. Hats, as well. And they charge an eyebrow-raising price for them.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I think “underwater basket weaving” is an older expression meant to signify “useless degree” so he didn’t completely pull that out of his ass.

    Except I got one of those “useless degrees”–I was a philosophy of public policy major and, while in college, got so tired of people snickering and asking “Do you want fries with that?” when I told them that I just started saying “public policy” for a while because that seemed to get less annoying derision. (Seriously, I’m amazed what people think it’s okay to say to strangers.)

    Except…I was gainfully and professionally employed from graduation right up until I left my last full-time job weeks before I started an MSW at one of the top social work schools in the country. I’ve never been paid well and, as a social worker, I likely never will be, but I certainly haven’t done too badly for myself and I’m proud of where I am in my life now. I’d hardly so my degree has been useless.

    Now, I was a “non-traditional” student for most of college–I took time off after a few semesters and worked and kept on working after I went back so I did have “real life experience” when I graduated. And I think that did help me. But still, the jobs I could get after I got that piece of paper were better than the ones I could get before–and I was extraordinarily lucky to be able to get entry-level professional work in the non-profit sector without a full degree to begin with. That’s not something most people can do without a degree and it was probably due to a few strokes of luck (like a rare executive director without a degree herself who was therefore more inclined to give me a chance because I had smarts and experience and, hey, she could pay me less than someone with a BA) that I could do it at all–and I still probably couldn’t have if I hadn’t been in the “some college” category as opposed to the “high school diploma” category. My fortunes improved after graduation just because I had that piece of paper.

    And you know what? My last job before grad school–when I decided I needed to get off the non-profit human services train for a little while before heading back into it for grad school–was working for a music school, teaching piano, guitar, and voice lessons. I really did not use any knowledge gained from my degree in that job (though I did use knowledge gained from teaching experience that I was able to get from having a degree so it was indirectly important). I have never really studied music formally. I am a primarily self-taught folk musician with a few years of piano lessons back in elementary school, who had managed to play professionally from practice, practice, practice and putting myself out there. Talk about “real world experience.” What I was teaching my students was mostly stuff I had learned without formal education and my professional playing experience was gained entirely on my own steam. So who needs a stupid degree, right?

    Except that job required me to have a degree. Why? No reason really (although many of my coworkers did have music performance or education degrees which I’m sure were valuable to them). Except that, to the clientele we were serving, a college degree signified “the right sort of person.” Lots of people who aren’t musicians don’t realize that lots of musicians are self-taught, so the degree signified that I was properly educated (even though my degree had nothing to do with music). I think it also signified “middle class” and, well, to professionals in the suburbs looking for music teachers for their children, that matters too. It was basically just credentialism.

    Is credentialism fair? No. Is it a reality? Yes. I know lots of college-educated people who have jobs where they use knowledge bases not gained from their degrees (or which really don’t require degrees at all) that they nevertheless couldn’t have gotten without having those degrees. You can think that’s bullshit all you want but that’s not going to help you on the job market. Sometimes you have to play the game. If the rest of the world has decided that that piece of paper means something, it does, whether or not you think it should.

    And also? I loved my undergraduate studies. I learned a lot from them that has helped me both in my work during and after college and now in grad school. I formed relationships with many of my professors and I used them as references for jobs and one of them wrote one of my letters of recommendation for grad school. So I’d say they definitely helped me. Learning matters and you can learn a lot at college–provided you don’t go in assuming that everyone there is just a soft-handed chump with nothing to offer.

  • Leigh Andrews

    I don’t know when your uncle served, but it’s been common for at least 25 years for mid-career officers to need to have at least a master’s degree (or “substantial progress” toward completion of the degree) to be competitive for promotion to 0-4 (major/lieutenant commander), plus there is Combined Army Staff School required and the equivalent for other branches. It is also good to have been selected to attend Command and General Staff College not long after your selection to O-4.

    Current majors and lieutenant commanders will really be hurting when the selection boards for O-5 (lieutenant colonel/commander) come around because selection rates to O-4 were will in excess of the historical rate of 85%. They were closer to 95-98%.

  • purpleprose78

    My uncle was a warrant officer who flew helicopters who didn’t have a college degree. (Though he had “some” college back in the 1960s before he decided that it didn’t suit him.) He stayed in the military until he retired after 30 years. He did some government contracting after that. (Granted, I some times wondered if the Helicopter pilot was code for something else. He always seemed to be in the thick of things when stuff went down.)

  • persephone

    Over 45 years, and he pretty much served everywhere.

  • B.E. Miller

    Re; History majors…. I knew way too many (when I was at TWU) whom were going to be hired after they graduated by the CIA or other ‘intelligence gathering agencies’.

    Because having a deep knowledge of the history of a people helps …. darn, now I’m not sure how to say it.

  • B.E. Miller

    OMG, thanks for that link! It looks to be a wonderfully cracky fic. I’ve put it on my ‘save for later’ list. All Hail Loki!

  • B.E. Miller

    I also saw a few articles online not long ago (a google search should pull them up) that some places are now wanting some college experience for jobs that used to require only a HS diploma. Like a in-building courier. I doubt that they would take a homeschooling grad with no GED…

  • Astrin Ymris

    Because history is a data mine of information about applied politics, sociology, and mass psychology, which can help us generate correct predictions about current events, maybe?

    Or to put it more concisely, studying history helps you avoid repeating it! ;-D

  • Nea

    History major who once applied to the FBI here. It’s for two reasons – familiarity with patterns (and the ability to see them repeat) in a culture and also practical experience in digging into a wide variety of things – diaries, communications, art, etc., to find the minutia that builds a bigger picture.

  • BridgetD

    We still have low-interest government loans available, and I qualified for a Pell Grant (though it is comparatively tiny) and an academic scholarship from the school (which is pretty substantial). My sister has not had a terrible time paying her college loans so far.

    The biggest issue I have is the sheer cost of college means that we often have to take out huge amounts in loans, particularly if you can’t work or have other limitations to obtaining other sources of money. My annual tuition and fees is about $24k (that is an in-state, public university). I’m 99% sure that my debt is going to exceed my first-year salary at this point. I think that the loan officers are willing to work with you, but I’m still worried about that :(.

    Kind of off topic, but my dad actually graduated from the University of Tulsa (out-of-state, private university) in the early 70s. Prior to my sister entering college, he pushed us to work our way through as he had done. My sister actually did work as an RA while she was at the University of Oklahoma, so she got free room and board as well as a small paycheck. She was also a National Merit Scholar, which OU offers them a very nice deal. Even after all that, she still had loans when she left.

    By the time I entered university, my dad realized how much work it would take to earn enough for college tuition and fees at the average hourly wage for students in my area. He really changed his point of view, and is really not happy with the state of things given what he had experienced 40+ years ago.

  • Astrin Ymris

    We had something called National Direct Student Loan. It had a very low interest rate, which didn’t even start until six months after graduation. I had it and Pell Grant for two years. After that, my cumulative GPA was high enough that I got enough Pell Grant to cover me.

    Now student loans have been “privatized” to for-profit lending institutions with far higher interest rates. It’s ridiculous.

  • BridgetD

    Yeah, it is ridiculous. Do you remember what the interest rate was for your loans? At this time, they have direct subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, and their interest rates are somewhere between 4-5%. I also got a “parent plus” loan this year, which is in my parents’ name. I honestly only applied for it since being rejected meant an extra $2000 on either your sub or unsub, I can’t remember which. The parent plus has a higher interest rate than either of them (6%) so I’d like to avoid taking them out in the future. I only took this one out because it was honestly an emergency. None of these have to be paid until 6 months after graduation or dropping out.

    My Pell Grant is ridiculously small, but I also bit off more than I could chew my first semester (I ended up in the hospital due to a nervous breakdown, but somehow managed to not fail anything…I still had 3 Cs and 2 Bs, unfortunately) and my GPA plummeted. I managed to pull myself together, so it’s now sitting around a 3.4. At this point, the Pell Grant doesn’t cover a quarter of my annual tuition and fees. When my dad lost his job, they raised it by a measly $200. Still, that was $200 that I didn’t have to pay out of pocket and won’t have to pay back, so I can’t complain too much.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I’m afraid I don’t remember the exact details. I think I paid $40 a month for two years or so to pay off my NDSL, but I couldn’t swear to it.

    I’m sorry about your health and financial problems. RL sucks sometimes. 🙁

  • B.E. Miller

    Thanks for helping say it better than I could!

  • B.E. Miller

    There’s actually a lot of work that goes into making the basket. And I’m not talking just making it, but all the prep work as well.

    I found out when I watched some documentary about basket making among the slaves in the Southern US.

    Basket making was so important, because baskets were used for everything, that slave families that were involved in making baskets were rarely broken up.

    Probably because you needed the kids learning the basket making skills young, so they could make the good quality baskets, and if you sold them away from their basket making parents, they wouldn’t learn those skills so well.

  • B.E. Miller

    The PBS documentary also followed a professional artist basket maker as she gathered her plant material for the basket, processed it, split it, and such. I have got to see if I can google it….

  • B.E. Miller

    Sorry to hear about the heath issues, and the money woes. Best wishes on your goal of the degree.

  • B.E. Miller

    Yes it is! I never knew that small airplanes could be used for fish spotting. Didn’t even know fish spotting was a thing!

  • B.E. Miller

    Did some googling….



    “Positions that used to require just a high school degree are increasingly being filled by college graduates, according to a new survey. A study by CareerBuilder.com found that some 27 percent of employers have raised their educational requirements in the past five years, largely because they reported getting a better return on investment from their college educated employees, when compared to workers with just high school diplomas.”