A Plumber’s Education

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A proud father was showing a fellow worker a picture of his five grown sons. His friend asked what they did for a living. The father said the older two are doctors and the youngest two are lawyers. The friend asked about the middle son and the father said, "Oh, he's a plumber. Someone had to pay for all the others' educations."

This week's article is a little bit of a change of pace. While we wait for the weather to officially usher in spring, I’d like to discuss something that is going to affect a lot of people in the near future. When I was a senior in high school, it was a given that you were going to college. I was told by EVERYONE, (except my parents) that you wouldn’t ever become successful if you didn’t have a college degree. I applied to college and got accepted, just to keep the guidance counselor off my back, but I knew that the college road was just not for me. Fast-forward 10 years and not much has changed. High school students are immediately ushered into picking a college and a major, two decisions that are unrealistic to make at the age of 17. They sign for loans that they don’t read, and if they read them, don’t understand, all the while believing that they are doing the best thing for their future. After all, this is what they have been told since they were five years old. Why would they think there was any other option?

Let me tell you, from the bottom of my cynical heart and the oldest millennial on the spectrum, that the system is broken. Ten years ago the tuition was affordable compared to what it is today, yet students and their parents are blindly charging forward going deeper and deeper into debt for a degree that is worth less and less. I am not speaking to the people who want their kids to become doctors or lawyers or CPA’s. If your kid wants that, then of course you have to conform to the rules that are in place. What I am saying is that if your kid isn’t sure, or not made for college, it doesn’t mean that he or she will have any disadvantage going forward. The jobs that are available in the “skilled labor” fields are wide open. Heavy machinery operators, plumbers, electricians, the list goes on and on and these are good jobs. You learn a skill that going forward, very few people seem to want, which only makes it more valuable a skill to have. People think that these are the jobs that nobody wants and I never understood why. Yes, you get your hands dirty, yes you have to move to actually get the work done but I guarantee you the first-year law clerk working 80 hours a week, sleeping at his office works harder than I do. Just because you wear a suit, doesn’t mean the work isn’t hard. It is the perception of these skilled labor jobs that I wish was understood. After all, the main reason that kids don’t want to become plumbers is because their parents don’t want them to become plumbers. Every kid thinks they need to become a surgeon to make their parents happy. I’m telling you, as parents, don’t discourage your kids from seeking an alternative way to the top. There are plenty of ways to get there. It’s the perception that has to change first. It should be perfectly fine not to go to college at all. It starts with the parents. Don’t be afraid of going against the grain. I can tell you firsthand that not going to college was the greatest thing I ever did for myself.

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