Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The mad chase after degrees

It seems that today, hardly any people don't have a degree in something, which causes employers to be increasingly picky about people who don't have degrees, even if the job in question doesn't really require studies of three or four years. I used to work as a secretary when I was fresh out of high school, but now, most secretaries are required to have a degree, even though in my opinion it's completely unnecessary.

My husband is currently hunting for a job, and many places won't even interview him because he hasn't completed his degree yet. Those who do interview him, however, are deeply impressed by his level of both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. It's really frustrating that a piece of paper should stand in the way when everything else fits right in.

Not long ago, I was asked to provide daycare for a one-month-old baby. It didn't work out eventually and I'm glad it didn't, because it would have broken my heart to see this little one left with me every day, instead of being with his mother where he belongs. I refrained from judging, of course, because who knows what desperate circumstances might force a new mother outside the home so soon after her baby was born. I soon found out, however, that she was about to begin studying for a Master's degree - hardly an emergency. I remained speechless for several minutes after I heard this. This young woman, only 22 years old, now leaves both her babies in daycare every day before catching a ride to university. Again, who am I to judge another person's choices? Yet I can't help but wonder whether she will regret it in, say, ten years.

As you know, I have a degree in nutrition. While what I learned was interesting and useful, I don't think the degree would have been worth the sacrifice if I had to accumulate debt or postpone starting a family because of it. Thankfully, I didn't have to do any such thing, as I received a scholarship and continued to live at home. But now, practically, if I chose to work outside the home I wouldn't be able to afford a nanny. My friends from university work at jobs with the most pitiful salaries, which might be alright for them now as they don't have children yet, but I'm sure that as the years go by, choices will become increasingly painful and complicated. Four years of excruciating effort, and there is hardly any way they will earn more than the cleaning lady.

A young woman I know recently started a two-year study program which will give her a professional license. She was almost ashamed to admit that what she is doing isn't a degree. Yet what she is doing is much more sensible, in my eyes, if she plans to settle down anytime soon.

I'm not trying to bring across that degrees are useless. I'm just questioning their need for any and everyone. Now, it seems that even having a bachelor's degree isn't enough - more and more people are doing their masters', which means more years of much effort and little income. I do believe there is a place for a reform, for reasonable evaluation whether the job (or person) in question really requires a degree or not.


Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

I agree with you, Anna. It is quite ridiculous the time and treasure that most people put into acquiring degress that most never use.

Or worse, as you mentioned, how employers pass up intelligent, knowledgeable, and capable workers for employees of lesser quality simply because they have a degree.

I don't know if it's true in Israel, but education, in my opinion, has ceased to be about education at all and has become nothing more than a lucrative business model. For those not studying the specialized sciences or law, I truly don't see the point of any of it.

And I have a degree. That cost a fortune and so far, has done nothing for me in the sense of generating income.

Untypically Jia said...

I completely agree with you Ana. Though I'm not a mother, I am a wife and while my husband worked (and our house suffered) I went to college for 2 years to obtain a diploma in an area of study I knew I wouldn't want to do forever because of the pressures I was receiving from family members who didn't understand why I wanted to be a homemaker.

I went to school, accumulated over $10,000 in debt, injured myself shortly after, thus being unable to properly perform my newly acquired skills.

During these two years, my marriage suffered and I gained a lot of weight (something that is currently -according to doctors- preventing me from getting pregnant), we had to buy a new car because although my husband had a way to get to work, I needed a way to get to school. Later that year when he lost his job, we suddenly had $10,000 in school loans as well as an $8,000 car loan to lay off.

It's been the worst mistake of my life. While I would have loved to get a degree in something I truly would have cherished, because of the pressures I felt forced upon me at the time, I wasted much time and money that has hurt our credit and held us back.

Joie said...

I agree that not everyone needs a degree. I think some in the US are starting to see that all that debt for a person who earns a bachelor's in psychology (an absolutely useless pursuit without going to grad school) isn't worth the receptionist job he/she will probably end up getting. Our focus on everyone going to college has resulted in the dumbing down of higher education -- of course that dumbing down starts well before college, IMHO.

However, the difference between what one can do or earn with vs. without a GRADUATE degree is staggering. My husband and I both have grad degrees. He has a PhD. and I have a Masters and a half (two different areas). His starting salary at the age of 27 was a good $80,000 more per year than it would have been without his degrees. My own profession requires a Masters but it does not pay well. It's a profession of service and I wouldn't do anything else.

Leila said...

I can't even express how much I regret going in for a 4 year degree (which has actually turned into 5 years)! I feel trapped because my parents are the type to believe that a piece of paper saying you completed four years of liberal socialist education is the be all end all of life. I don't want to defy them by not finishing my degree (they really want that for me) but at the same time I don't want to dedicate 2 more years and thousands of dollars to a degree I don't need (I am planning to stay home after I marry). I really really wish I had done a 2 year certificate or diploma, or even a couple years of bible school. That way I could at least have that oh so important "piece of paper", and it would have been cheaper and a smaller time commitment. Ladies, think long and hard about what you really want out of a post secondary education before you commit yourself!!!!

Bethany said...

I agree that it's not always sensible for everyone to enter higher education and get a degree. It seems to me, that it would make more sense to streamline training and produce people who are more specifically qualified for the field they're entering. Then schooling wouldn't have to take as long as it does.

Anonymous said...

Anna, you are right on with this. I have natural artistic ability with some college background and am interested in animation work, yet nearly all studios require at least a bachelors degree. Art schools are so outrageously expensive, with so many liberal arts electives that have nothing to do with the field I want to pursue. It makes it a very hard decision for not only myself, but others who without degrees, are in a current job market (here in the US) that is on the fringe. There are college graduates strapped with debt who cannot find jobs, then end up working for minimum wage and cannot pay off their debts. As for graduate studies, so many are required to have them, which means more debt, stress and not a high chance of employment in the current economy. If people can find ways to start their own home business, that really is a good way to go, and many don't need a degree to do so.

Stam House said...

I understand completely what this post is about!!!

It's seams that you are not good enough is you don't get the higher education and the bar is getting higher and higher!!!!

We has a family decided even before our children were born what kind of schooling they would have.

We looked into the bible to see what would be a biblical view on education and work.

We came up with this, our girls will revived skills that would be beneficial for them in being keepers at homes. And their is a lot to learn about that field. we might think that you don't need education to change diapers and cook and clean, but this is wrong. Lots more is involve in home keeping, learning how to prepare healthy nutritious meal on a budget. The science of cooking and cleaning (it is a real science) being able to teach younger children and train them up etc... multiple skills are needed

And if Lord willing we do have boys in the future (We will not be finding out baby #3 gender before birth) they will be taught the multigenerational value and skills. What does this means, well my husband works in if father's bakery (part time) and the rest of the time he operate his own pizza business from home. So our boys will be learning work skill from their Father and Grand father and would be able to work for them or able to start their own business from the skill that they would learn.

Make any sense to you?

Have a wonderful day


Happy Hermit (Happilyhiddenhermit@gmail.com) said...

I agree , degrees are rather uneeded , I have a degree in administration , but it's useless when I have a given talent for handwork (intense beading and quilling). My degree is a waste , and just because a paper says you are competent in a subject dosnt mean you will do it right.

KerryAnn said...

I have a degree in Geology and am just a couple of credits away form a degree in Biology. I finished my last year of college instead of getting married at my parent's insistence, got married, then only worked long enough to pay off my student loans before leaving my job to start a family. I have been a stay-at-home mom ever since, and I now run my own busniess from home, writing books and running a website. At the poisitions I interviewed for, the starting salary for both a secretary and a geologist was $35K. Of course I picked being a secretary because the job had less responsibility and stress. It was also close to my husband's office so we could car pool together. I could have better skipped the whole thing and not even bothered and been that much ahead. I will not go back to get the Biology degree.

The only reason I can see for a degree is if you are in a state that requires it to homeschool your children, such as Tennessee in the US.

Rachel said...

Oh my, Anna, this is something I've thought long and hard about it over the past, oh 15 yrs or so...

If you don't rack up the debt going to school for a degree you either won't use, then you can get a job with a smaller pay scale, doing something you really enjoy, without the crushing burden of debt hovering over your head. If you don't have to work at a job paying minimum wage (or slightly better), long hours, etc, to make ends meet and pay the debt off, then you can have more time to devote to the things--and people!--you love.

Frankly, while I don't want to lay the blame on any one generation, I have to say that the WWII and post-WWII generation have really been a driving force behind the "piece of paper" mindset. Is it because of the influence of the Depression? Is it because the soldiers coming back from the war flooded the market, and having a degree was a serious help in those days? Was it because they saw a college degree as some sort of symbol of 'having made it' in life? I'm not sure, but I can see any one of them, or a combination of them all being responsible.

My parents absolutely had a fit when I chose to marry before I finished college. My then-fiance, now DH, was in the US Army, stationed in Germany for another year, before he was due to return to the states. I *could* have finished college and gotten my degree, and then felt like I *HAD* to use it, to justify my parents' spending the money. Instead, I chose to marry and figured that if I wanted/needed to, I could finish school down the road.

15+yrs later, I've not chosen to go back, and probably won't. I've learned more IRL in the intervening year, in "on the job experience" as a wife, mother, and home-educator, than any book would have taught me. Not to mention, the opportunity to learn the things I am interested about, at my own pace, as I wish to do so. No artificially set syllabus, etc.

I wish that more folks would go back to the apprenticeship model. There are SO many jobs that really don't require a degree, as you and the other ladies have stated, where it is nothing more than a slip of paper. *Everyone* does not need (much less "deserve" a college degree). There are plenty of jobs out there that shouldn't require them, and yet, if you don't have one, you get passed over...

I have a friend with a degree in Medieval History with a minor in Literature. You want to talk about a useless degree? Unless you work in a museum, there's pretty much no use whatsoever for it. Another friend has a degree in Near Eastern History and a minor in Hebrew (she's not Jewish, and is now a SAHW/M, and other than her graduation present of a trip to Israel, has likely never used her degree, at all, to my knowledge).

This is getting long, but really, let's start cutting out the mindset of "you MUST go to college", and instead, go back to the 'well, think about your vocation in life. Are you going to NEED a degree, or can you get that knowledge elsewhere, more efficiently, less expensive....

Anonymous said...

While I wholeheartedly agree that the price of entry into the job market has been ridiculously inflated by the ease with which people can now get university degrees, said degrees aren't job-training certificates. Yes, professional degrees can (whether you believe it or not) make one better-qualified for certain jobs than other people might be. But beyond that, they are there as a tribute to the kind of analytical/critical thinking, exposure to other ideas and worldviews, and reading in which the people who possess them have (supposedly, at least) been trained.

Discouraging women from pursuing higher education is a sad thing, in my opinion; education is like prayer--it is never "wasted". Yes, each woman needs to ask herself just what she wants out of her experience, but when we're young we often can't see the bigger picture, and don't realise that waiting until we're, say, 25 to start our families, rather than starting at 20, will have been well worth-it for the long-term difference that university education, if of good quality, can make in our lives.

I have a PhD in English--and am also happily childless--and it was the best thing I ever did. It has given me a very long outlook on history, and has, frankly, made me much more compassionate when dealing with people. Did I have to get a doctorate to be a better person? Of course not. But the study was a privilege, and has brought many wonderful things.

Thank God for your education, Anna, whether you think you should or not. When you are older, you may feel quite differently.

Anonymous said...

It's funny. I managed to get a degree as was the norm for everyone around me - more than 99% of my graduating class went on to college straight after high school - I fought it but the parental pressure was just too great not to go. So I went, achieved well, and upon graduation I didn't want to start a career. I got married and had a couple of babies. What's funny is that I've had to try to get some jobs while my husband was ill, but I couldn't get ANY - I didn't have enough career experience (OK, ANY career experience!) to get a "good" job, and the other positions I applied for - secretary, receptionist, that sort of thing - said that I was overqualified and thus out of the running. I ended up looking for three years for a job, unsuccessfully, before my mother-in-law hooked me up with a call service job making minimum wage. I was working with high schoolers - and the only reason I got the job was because of connections; they said they never would have looked at my application otherwise because I had had too much school. Oh, the complete irony, that with my degree I couldn't even get a good job without a Master's degree! I'm stuck between both worlds.

I actually started a Master's that you take online courses for, so I could do it after the kids were asleep for the night, but I think I'm going to quit that as it's causing me too much stress - all my fellow students are very career-oriented and that's just not my life right now. (Or, probably, ever!)

Leah Burks said...

It's as if you read my mind! My husband and I have noticed this trend also for a couple of years; how even a bachelor's is starting to look like "barely enough." It is pathetic! I also have a degree in nutrition, and it may serve my family and I, but in the long run, I think the debt is causing us much more pain than the degree could ever provide us use!

PhDCow said...

As a college professor, I have a different perspective. Children (and their parents) are led to believe that college is another check on the "life" checklist. And it is not. I can't begin to tell you how many students I have who shouldn't be in college. Not because they're not smart (most are), but they either have no interest in the subject matter or they're just not academically-inclined. Why their parents feel the need to waste tens of thousands of dollars each year on tuition is beyond me.

Although my children will go to college for free (one of my benefits), if they aren't ready for college, my husband and I will not push them in that direction. If either of them wants to learn a trade or if my daughter wants to stay home and learn domestic skills, we're fine with that.

As my dad (high school diploma and 36 years with the same company) is fond of saying, not everyone can be at the top of the heap or having the flashy jobs. The mundane still needs to be done and those doing it should be respected for it.


Wordy Wife said...

I'm in a dilemma over this very situation. I'm currently pursuing a bachelor's degree, but as soon as I'm done with university, my husband and I want to start a family. I don't even plan on entering the workforce. Why am I slaving over a degree I will probably never use, and postponing having children that I desperately want? Growing up, my parents always told me that without a formal education, you are some kind of classless, ignorant bumpkin. It's hard to shake that.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna- In the city I live in, the best offers I get for work in the field I hold my degree in (acting) is minimum wage. Most theatres actually only offer me a "stipend" of $100/mo--not even enough for gas! I consider going back to get my Masters' to teach, and that would pay for daycare, as teachers' salaries and benefits are impressive in our area. However, as I was considering the actual reality of placing my two babies in daycare, I couldn't cope with it! Someday, when all my children are older and in school themselves, I probably will go get my Masters and become a high school English and Drama teacher. But, acting is difficult, because it often takes you away from home if you want to go somewhere that actually PAYS! In the meantime, I am happily home with my babies and have turned to writing rather than acting as my creative outlet, something that I am working on getting paid for, as well, though that takes time ;-)

may said...

Does your husband intend to finish his degree? Maybe it would be worth it if it got him more interviews?

Anonymous said...

I, too, agree that degrees are becoming more and more worthless. My husband is a part-time math teacher at a community college. And although he "only" has a BS in Math, he has more knowledge in the subject than many of the full-time math teachers (who's Masters seem to be in Biology or, of all things, music).
But, alas, they won't make him full-time faculty until he has his Masters. So we either keep-on, keeping-on with low pay, or incrue MORE debt to get a piece of paper proving his knowledge. Ridiculous.

Mrs. Anna T said...


We're considering it, but it would be so expensive and time-consuming, and what's more, would not increase my husband's knowledge and skills in the slightest. It would be too frustrating to have him slave away for another year and a half... for what? For a piece of paper. So for now we are trying to see what he can do with a professional certificate, wide knowledge in his field, and lots of enthusiasm. I'm sure the right position will turn up.

Linda T. said...

One of my daughters has chosen to get a certification in copyediting via on-line education with a university. It's affordable and she's able to work part-time while she's doing it. Her reasoning? She didn't want to waste time on courses that didn't educate or equip her to serve, and she didn't want to enter her adult life with debt. She knows she wants to work with writing - she's gifted and passionate about it. I'm thankful that there are new options for young women today.

eliza said...

Dear Anna,

I also see this as a very 'American' problem. In most European countries, you can get a degree for very little money, or even for free!(Denmark). If you go to the Open University in the UK you can have a bachelors degree for about 3000 pounds.

Would you think differently in these circumstances?

Love, Eliza

Anonymous said...

"Four years of excruciating effort, and there is hardly any way they will earn more than the cleaning lady. "

LOL. Got news for you, my family ran their own cleaning business for decades and I started my own successful cleaning business while in college. Do any of your friends clear 50 dollars for 15 minutes of work? My family did when we were in and out of an office in 15 minutes or less and we charged 65 bucks for each cleaning. I averaged 20 to 60 bucks an hour when I cleaned (and that is profit as I had almost no overhead).

I did this all before I had kids though and now I clean for free.

Funny story, a girl I grew up with was trying to pay for college and my Mother tried to hire her. She told me she wasn't going to scrub anyone else's toliets. She is still in debt for that degree ten years later and never did find a job in her degree. But my parents had no debts (paid off their home in less than ten years) and I came out of college with only a 400 dollar loan.

So based on that AND that I have been debt free those ten years she has been paying it back..hmm, who is laughing now LOL.

College degrees...many of them...are simply a way to enslaved people to debt for the rest of their lives.

And this is coming from someone who thought the world about them..till you live in the real world.

Your Husband may be MUCH better off either starting His own business or finding someone else who did who will recognize his talent and skills and work ethic and be willing to put him through any necessary schooling. I know people that have gone that way.

Putting infants in daycare is the saddest thing I have ever heard...does anyone ever wonder what happens when they cry for Mama all day..

I had a women I just met aske me if I could watch her daughter for her and shocked I blurted out..Can I watch your wallet too? How about your car? No, then why on EARTH would you leave your sweet baby with me..a stranger. She runs the other way when she sees me but maybe just maybe it made her wake the heck up!

Many Blessings :)

Anonymous said...

I think most women who use daycare in raising their children do not actually regret their choice. In every culture and in every time there have been women who are not the chief role in raising their children, whether because of wealth and its lifestyle expectations, or work, or education pursuits. It simply seems to be a fact that not every woman is filled with longing to be with her own children all the time.
There are also women who for reasons of necessity or culture are the chief caregivers of their children, but not because of desire, and neither parents nor children are left best served or benefited by this. Let people do what they want, but at the same time we need to make sure that all options are open and available to people - whether to stay home raising the children or not.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I wish you and your husband much luck in his job search. I live near New York City and if you don't have at least a BA/BS, the best job you will get is washing cars, no matter how knowledgeable you are. The other problem is social status, which is silly, but may matter a lot once you have children. People without degrees are looked down upon. I have a MS which I haven't used since my first was born, but I am so glad I have it!!!

in His peace,

Anonymous said...

My brother worked as a mechanical engineer while attending school to finish his degree. One wife, two kids, and 20 years later, he graduated. Do you know what? The very same company he was working for, doing the same job and work he was doing before graduating, gave him a huge, huge raise. The "piece of paper" meant everything. Unfortunately, that's how it works.

Kris said...

A degree is much more than a piece of paper. It's a symbol that you are able to commit to a goal and follow through on your word. It's an indication that you have been exposed to critical thinking, objective analysis, and group dynamics. It denotes a certain level of expertise in your chosen arena. It says you are up to date on research, technology, and advancements in the field. It means you can take instruction, process what's needed, and act independently to fulfill your obligations. And yes, it implies that you coughed up some dough to go to school.

While one could argue that degrees are becoming less meaningful, I would go in the exact opposite direction. They're more important than ever: job searches are increasingly competitive, the jobs themselves require higher levels of expertise, and companies are more likely to invest in someone who's shown they can succeed in a conventional academic setting (because it means they're likely to do well in an office setting).

I understand why people might not be happy with the current system, and that degrees are not for everyone, but for many, they're still one of the best ways to ensure professional success.

Anonymous said...

"Again, who am I to judge another person's choices?"

You are so sweet and full of wisdom to realize such a thing. So many people have to make such hard choices in this world. Prayers and consideration...not condemnation are what we need as we walk through this veil of tears.

Michelle at #!/usr/bin/mom said...

My husband is a professional in the computer industry. He has 20 years of experience (and he's only 37!) and a wide range of much demanded skills. In one of his areas of expertise he literally wrote and taught the course. Yet when he got laid off last year many companies refused to even interview him since he does not have a degree. It's their loss. Fortunately there have been plenty of other companies who recognize his talents and are willing to pay him quite well.

As for me, I spent a year doing what I was "supposed to do" in college. I was "supposed" to get my degree, get my teacher's certificate, and become a public school teacher. I was "supposed" to be the first person in my family to finish college. (Oh, well, I'll let my little brother have that privilege!) I hated it and dropped out, even before I ever thought of being a stay-at-home-mom. (At least, thought of it outside of secret daydreams of what it'd be like if I'd grown up "in the old days" when women could actually do that, LOL.) My grandmother was SO disappointed. She kept bringing me college catalogs and telling me it "wasn't too late" to go back to school, even when I was married and had four kids. She kept telling me how she had dreamed of going to college, but couldn't after she got married. So I suggested that she go to college now! "It's not too late!" She brushed it off, and she never did sign up for any classes, but now she volunteers at the local college, in the library. She loves it!

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

Education is a money-making racket (yes, I have a degree), but now because so many people have them, employers require them in jobs that formerly did not need them. I don't see any way out.

Anonymous said...

Do keep in mind that another reason employers want employees with degrees is that, well ... people with degrees stuck to it, finished the job, followed the requirements, jumped through the hoops, etc.

(Of course, I also believe in the actual value of a liberal arts education, including core requirements unrelated to future employment, but other commenters have already weighed in on that).

I just wanted to point out that I have been in hiring roles in companies before, and one reason college graduates are valued is that they are people who persevere and get the job done -- fulfilling a college's requirements has at least a bit in common with fulfilling an employer's. Someone who thinks he doesn't have to get the degree because he "knows it all already" is quite likely not to do the work the boss wants, the way the boss wants it. (Some jobs require independent thinking, but many just require producing work to spec).


Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, I met a newly married couple who had both recently graduated with degrees in art. Their combined student loans exceeded our mortgage (US$250,000). They were both looking for work, but the chance of finding employment in their field is almost nil.

So here is a young couple at the beginning of their life together, already drowning in debt. They're unable to buy house, unable to have children without severe financial hardship, and pretty much forced to work for money their entire lives.

I'm absolutely astounded that it's possible to rack up so much debt for something so useless.

I heartily agree with your questioning the current attitude toward degrees. In the US, college seems to be a shameless money extraction scheme. Thousands of impoverished graduates are churned out into the job market each year, with that prized piece of paper, but almost no work skills.

It's a tradgedy. It's almost like the Emperor who is wearing no clothes, and we need more people to speak up and question it all!

MissFifi said...

It is extremely frustrating and I apologize now as I am going to sound ranty.
I got a certificate in oncology massage over a year ago and have be unable to find a job in a hospital. I do volunteer in Hospice and that is very satisfying, but I am mad that I spend the money sometimes.
I even have over 15+ yrs experience as an executive/administrative assistant, yet, I have applied for jobs since July 2008 and nothing. Is it because I lack a degree or is it because the economy is so bad here in the States? Probably a little of both. Nothing annoys me more than seeing ads that request an Exec Asst to have a bachelor's degree or higher and a second language and then list a salary of $35K!!! What happens when the economy picks up and people who have advanced degrees that took any job can now head where they need to in their profession? Degrees are certainly necessary for certain fields, but not for all.

Mrs. Taft said...

If my husband had stayed in school, it actually would have put him farther behind the curve. At first it was hard to get the 'good' job because of it, but after he had worked for awhile he was able to make his own way and now that experience he has is invaluable to employers, more so than a fancy degree. He's proven he knows his stuff and is a quick learner, always adapting, time and time again. His base of knowledge AND his experience put him head and shoulders above someone of the same age who has a degree.

Furthermore, he works in computer programming, web development in particular. Things change quickly in his field, and university classes are often a year or so behind. He dropped out because he was learning faster, and better, on his own than in school, and it would have been a colossal waste of money.

Stam House said...

Ps I was listening to "Return of the daugthers" http://www.westernconservatory.com/products/return-daughters-dvd

A very good DVD!!!! a must watch!!!

I remember one of the fathers talking about education vs schooling and that we are addicted to schooling (going to get that higher degree in a intuition) Rather then educating our self and our children.

Now and age education (or knowledge) is accessible at our finger tips, from book to internet etc... We could learn everything that a institution would offer right in the comfort and protection of our home.

Lets face it, a girl on her own, not being under her fathers protection is a easy prey. (rate of sexual abuse against women in college is disturbing!!!) Why would we as parents trow our children (girls especially) to the wolf and pray that they are going to be ok. Girls should be protected by their father until they are given away to their husband. God is very clear on that!

It is not a waste for a girl to stay home, she could learn and grow and be the best helpmate for her future husband. And yes she is able to get educated there!

Boys that will grow up to be men need to learn to be providers, and what a better way to do it then to learn from the one who has been providing for his mother and himself all his life.

Not saying that schooling is all bad but we must live life that is pleasing to God and not men.

Getting that degree just because we are expected to is pleasing MEN and men are never please (part of our fallen nature)But in pleasing God and not conforming to the world, He will bless us! And His blessing is nothing compare to the praise of men!!!


Anonymous said...

I do not think there is a clear answer to the "college or no college debate." For my mother (84 yrs.), a high school diploma was adequate for a good job. By the time I graduated high school, a Bachelor's degree was needed. Today it is the Masters degree. Unfortunately, we cannot change the system. We must only work within it.

It is easy to say that trades are just as good as a college degree. I would have agreed with you twenty years ago. When I ask people to name these jobs, the list is very short. My husband is a high skill tradesman. It took him four years of an apprenticeship program and ten years of being a journeyman to obtain the skill base. He is very good at his job, but is sitting comfortably in China. He uses his skills in another area. If you have drive and interest, it is possible to get an apprenticeship in a skill, especially if you will work for nothing. Unfortunately, there is another problem. Our government is not kind to small businesses and it isn't getting better.

In the end, we decided that our children, both sons and daughters, would go to college. The boys would major in a degree that would traditionally allow them to be good providers, but flexible enough for changes in a changing economy/world. The girls would major in a degree that would enhance their skills as a help-meet to their husbands and to the education and nurturing of their children. It would also give them "insurance" should it be necessary to support themselves. They have had their degrees for quite sometime now.

There is no reason to get into debt for a degree. It may take time and effort, but there are numerous ways to do it.

I agree with you. A bachelor's degree isn't for everyone. Unfortunately, post-secondary education is almost essential for employment. Jobs that would have required on the job training, now require going to a "school" to be certified. I still am in shock that a relative went to "school" to be certified to change tires!

Mrs. R.

Mrs. Anna T said...

"In most European countries, you can get a degree for very little money, or even for free!(Denmark). If you go to the Open University in the UK you can have a bachelors degree for about 3000 pounds.

Would you think differently in these circumstances?"

Eliza, while it seems education is less expensive here than in the US, there is still the added cost of not working, or working only part time, plus the prices of housing, plus (often) having to maintain a car, which is many times enough to get one into debt even when education is supposedly "free".

Jo said...

I have a degree (Sociology/ statistics) which I needed to have to become a statistical researcher - it took me 6 years to complete as I had 2 small children at the time. I studied via correspondences so my children and I stayed home which worked our perfectly.

However I have interviewed young graduates (and read 100's of their applications) and I must say the level of grammar/spelling and basically being able to string a sentence together worried me a great deal. They also come into a job and want to be a manager before they have even learnt the basics and when they finally do climb the ladder they make poor managers as they have no life skills/people skills and very little work expereince.

Please remember that some Christian working mums (mine children are now 21 and 17) can manage very well with both a career and their children - it just means that my career is NOT number one in my life and that my family will always come first.


That Married Couple said...

A current PhD student here. I have to say, I agree with Kris above. Getting a degree, especially a graduate degree, is more than a piece of paper. While it used to be a high school diploma was all you needed, that has been replaced by a bachelor's degree.

Of course college isn't for everyone. I was lucky enough to learn this by watching my younger brother, who finally went to a police academy instead and loves his job.

Also, the amount of debt people go into for a degree is absolutely ridiculous, and moreover unnecessary. State schools, community colleges, and even online schools can provide the education you need for a much more reasonable price. And finally, don't assume everyone who goes to graduate school went into deep debt for that. While most people do for their Masters, most PhD students don't pay at all and actually get a stipend - essentially getting paid to go to school.

And after all that rambling, I have to say that I can't wait to finish my degree and become a stay-at-home mother. While I will probably never use the specific facts I learned in my subject matter, I do think there are several life skills that school has taught me that will be very helpful.

Pendragon said...

My sister-and-brother-in-law placed their son in day care a month after he was born. Three years later, they placed their daughter in day care a month after she was born. No, they were not in "desperate circumstances." It was a deliberate choice on their part.

My nephew is now 18 and my neice is 15. They have grown into delightful teenagers. They have close relationships with their parents, their grandparents, their uncle (my husband!) and their aunt (me!) The family has no regrets, and would surely do the same thing again. Indeed, I believe my nephew and niece will likely raise their kids the same way.

Amanda said...

I'm currently a Master's student and Teaching Assistant in English Literature at a State University. I get a stipend that pays me to go to school and the hours I am there teaching or studying my two toddler sons are either with my sister or husband. Sometimes a friend watches them for a few hours.

A "mad chase" for a degree would be foolish but a steady pursuit of higher education is commendable. I achieved my Bachelor's degree with zero debt and zero parental support and now my pursuit of my Master's is paying my son's medical bills. There is a great deal to be said for formal education in it's own right and many completely avoid the debt trap that seems so paralyzing.

SJ said...

A BA is not all that useful in many areas. My brother's BA is in accounting, which was immediately useful, as he has moved directly to a CA program. Some BAs are more useful than others.

Many BAs are just stepping stones to graduate credentials, and in that case I think that you're wrong. Many graduate degrees significantly increase your earning power and flexibility. Mine (law) took three years and increased my earning power immensely. It also permitted me, after a few years of hell, to gain a profession that I can fall back on (G-d forbid), practice part-time, or come back to.

It is four years out of the day I left my two week old daughter to write my law exams. So far, no regrets. She seems to have held up as well.

MarkyMark said...


I don't know what the situation is like in Israel, but here in the USA, we have temporary help & staffing agencies. We have those that supply people to client companies doing office work; we have others that send out people to do regular labor; we have agencies specializing in computers & IT professionals; we have temp agencies for accountants; if you can think of the line of work, then there's probably a temp agency that deals with it.

How they work is like this. Let's say a company has someone out with a long term illness or injury. The company still needs to get that person's work done, but they don't want to replace the injured person, either. What they'll do is call a temporary employment agency to send them someone to work for a day, a week, a month, or even years in some instances. The client company pays the agency a fee for this; the agency keeps a percentage, while paying the temporary employee the difference.

This is actually a GREAT job searching tool, particularly for those who don't have the right connections, right piece of paper, etc. Why? Because, you can get your foot in the door; once you do, you can SHOW the company what you can do, and that you provide value to them. It gives them a closer look at what you bring to the company-more than any job interview would.

This also works the other way; potential employees can get an up close, personal look at the company also. They can learn a LOT more about it than any hour long interview will teach them about the company. They get to experience the company, its culture, and potential colleagues first hand; they can better answer the question: would I REALLY want to work here?!

For those lacking a degree, this is an excellent search tool to use. One, it gives you a REAL look at the company. Two, you get valuable experience, and you get PAID for that experience-wow! Three, it exposes one to different people, thus giving one an opportunity to work on interpersonal skills in different situations; that can make a big difference if there's a layoff. I know it did for me. Four, it exposes one to new industries and businesses that you otherwise wouldn't know existed. Five, it can give you new professional contacts, one of whom could lend help in the job search. Finally, it gives a talented person a way to show what they can do; if they can do that, then they'll get hired. At the end of the day, companies are all about making money, and they'll want those who can best help them do this.

Perhaps your DH can do this? Again, I don't know if Israel has these temporary help agencies, particularly those specializing in his field. If this is an option for him, then he should pursue it if he's unemployed.

As you can tell, I'm a fan of this. I've used this method to secure employment in the past, and I'd do so again if the need arose. If you want to find out more, then read The Temp Survival Guide by Brian Hassett. It'll tell you everything you need to know about working as a temporary employee. Plus, it's a funny and good read too. Have a nice night...


Melissa said...

This is a very interesting topic, one that I often ponder on. I have a BA and a Master's degree, and while I am now at stay-at-home mom (and always wanted to be one), I am very happy with the fact that I have post-secondary education. Perhaps it's because I loved what I studied, and I believe that you have to love what you study or else frustration will quickly ensue. Also, my BA degree allowed me to have a good job and develop a good network in the years prior to having children, and this not only gave me financial stability and the ability to save for the future that I envisioned (me staying home once the children arrived), but it also gave me insight and experience into the working world, which I appreciate. I can have meaningful discussions with my husband about his work because I understand what he's going through. By the way, he works in an industry (technology) where a degree is very much needed, and our livelihood largely depends on the education he has achieved. Also, in this world of too many conflicting visions, I find the need to be well formed and education in order to teach your children good values and principles. So...I'm not completely wasting my "education" being home. I do believe in higher education, and while much can be done to improve the current teaching establishments, and the "piece of paper" mentality is certainly erroneous, there are valid reasons for pursuing higher learning.

On another note, I just want to say to Anna that I really enjoy this blog. I'm Catholic but I find that we have so much in common, and I'm learning a lot about the Jewish faith by reading your posts. Thank you!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Mark, thanks for the tip. While we don't have agencies like that in Israel, the idea remains true: all my husband needs is "to put a foot in the door", and then generally, the question of him not having a degree never arises.