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View Diary: College Tuition Crisis Continues; Debt Crushing Graduates (168 comments)

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  •  Autodidact (none)
    There's something to what I call the El-Cheapo Scrounge-o-Matic kind of education. It calls for a certain amount of drive, curiosity, and love for the subject, and a good measure of outside the box thinking.

    The US Gummint paid for my AS degree in communications electronics when I was a member of the USAF. That got me started- I learned the basics of electronic systems and how they work, and they paid me (not much) to do it. Then, I took up computers as a hobby. I loved messing with them and became an authority on them, which led to 'hey, would you fix my machine- I'll pay you $$' opportunities. I took that money and scrounged the remainder section of Books A Million for more books about computers. Then, I landed a job selling computers, and got poached from that job by my boss who was looking for someone who actually knew about computer innards. He'd been burnt by a fellow with a BS degree, and an MCSE, but no actual idea about how a real live network functioned.

    The point of my little story is that it is possible to make a decent living and escape the amazing debt of college. It is clear today that the starting pay of college graduates is probably worse than that of someone in the trades- if they can get a job in their field. Sure, there will be companies who won't even interview you without that sheepskin. But there will be others who will be more than happy to accept actual skill and experience over a degree, and who will pay you for your abilities. Bottom line: people with actual hands-on skills- plumbers, mechanics, electricians, people who fix computers, etc. will always be needed. One might be able to program a computer from India, but you need a local to set it up and maintain it. Same with your car, your HVAC, and your sink.

    But you have to step out of that box. You have to be able to scrounge through libraries, online resources like MIT's stuff, network and pick brains. People think that I am nuts when I eschew 'higher ed'- but it seems like it's becoming more like a trap, and less like a way to get ahead.

    I'm too poor to be a Republican.

    by Sunfell on Wed Jan 11, 2006 at 10:34:00 AM PST

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