Is college for everyone?

August 15, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Parents and teachers for more than a generation have steered students toward college and white-collar work, and few states need the graduates more than Indiana, which has one of the lowest levels of college attainment in the country.

Lost in the attention, though, are jobs that donâ??t require a bachelorâ??s degree but still offer wages well above what many college grads earn.

Manufacturers often complain of being overlooked. So do electric utilities.

Increasingly, coal mining companies are joining the fray. Theyâ??re desperate for employees as baby boomers retire and the country increasingly turns to coal to meet its electricity needs.

Yet, the industry suffers from a stigma of black grime and pick axes, says Nat Nolan, president of the Indiana Coal Council, a trade group of mine companies.

The work still isnâ??t clean, and most of the new jobs are in underground mines. But the pick axes were traded for mechanized equipment and computers long ago, and safety is much improved from the explosion-ridden days of the past.

Mining companies are offering entry-level pay of $50,000 a year to workers who hold nothing more than high school diplomas. A couple of years of electrical training pushes the figure to about $70,000, and a few years of experience can result in a six-figure salary. Thatâ??s more than most beginning lawyers earn.

For people who simply donâ??t want to go to college, or know they arenâ??t college material, has the value of a college education been oversold?
ADVERTISEMENT
  • The jobs you describe are some of the most dangerous and least desired jobs out there.

    Most college graduates are smart enough not to seek dangerous, dead end jobs located hundreds of feet down in coal mine and up on high voltage electrical lines during a big storm.

    Coal Miners and Electric Company Lineman deserve their compensation, but so do the more educated and better compensated leaders of the coal and electrical companies.
  • You forgot probably the best compensated job that doesn't require higher education.

    The military.
  • No, college is not for everyone and never should have been viewed in that light.

    It is very disturbing however that the culture of blacks in the US today lets
    so many of this important group fail to finish high school.
  • A few weeks ago, I walked through a modern, clean manufacturing plant in Pendleton that builds aluminum and steel scaffolds for big projects such as industrial shows and concerts. The owner lamented that he could put three more welders to work immediately, but he had too few applicants. He said his beginning workers told him their high school guidance counselors stress college -- or a life of flipping burgers. His jobs pay $14 an hour, plus benefits, to start and require creative thinking on custom jobs. Not a bad way to start for someone with some welding know-how.
  • Potentially dangerous, yes. But as the author rightly says, the coal mining industry is barely a shadow of its past. And there is insistence in some circles to paint the industry in the same light that it was in the 1920's. The media has provided a great disservice to the public by doing precisely that. Today, miners are thoroughly trained in the classroom as well as on the job. Without reservation, I have no trouble saying that the coal industry is among the best trained workforces in terms of safety and health. Least desirable jobs?....hardly....not when you start out with full medical and retirement and roughly 50K/yr.
  • This may very well be one of the most ignorant, self-aggrandizing comments I've read recently:

    Most college graduates are smart enough not to seek dangerous, dead end jobs located hundreds of feet down in coal mine and up on high voltage electrical lines during a big storm.

    I never cease to be amazed at the holier-than-thou manner in which many of my peers display themselves. I suppose there's no danger of any non-college graduates taking offense to such comments, though. After all, surely THOSE people don't read the IBJ online...if they can read at all, eh, Bing?
  • I am a non-college graduate and work in a highly specialized field. Because I don't have a degree, I make about half of the salary of someone who does the exact same job. Now what's wrong with THAT picture? Oh, and I think I'm smart enough not to grab a power line in a lightning storm.... As if my salary were not enough to degrade me as it is! (nod to Mama)

    Just because someone dumps thousands of dollars into a school does NOT make them any smarter, it only gets them paid more!
  • Reguardless, College should atleast be made avalible (financially) to those who desire to continue their education. My aunt has the intellegance to continue but never had the money to obtain that degree. This is truely an @$$ backwards society. If you have money, you CAN get a higher education, if you don't- then tough (insert your favorite word here).

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

  2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

  3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

  4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

  5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?

ADVERTISEMENT