Our generation is generally the first to have gone to some form of post-secondary schooling – on average. I know there are some families that are already on their 3rd generation of Harvard alumini – and to them, I say, “Piss Off” – this article isn’t about you – although my underlying point will likely apply to you as well, as you will see. For MOST of us, our parents completed maybe a year or two of Community College, if that, but it didn’t matter – these lucky baby-boomers still landed jobs that now pay in the upper regions of 75-100k per annum or more. My father is a prime example of this – his 2 years of College back in the early 70s landed him a sweet job for IBM, which, by today’s standards, one would need at least a Master’s Degree in Computer Science or Engineering before they even took a sniff at your résumé. Whether it is sheer progress or a case of supply & demand, it really has changed in the last 30 years.
Because of this shift, (and our parents being aware of this) they insisted that their children went to University to “have an opportunity that they didn’t have”. From a very early age, we were coached to understand that high school was just the beginning and that there was much more learning to do. Study, study, study! Even my school was on board – I’ll admit, it was a very middle-class-centric school that I attended and there were not many ‘practical’ classes to take. I think there was a Home Economics classroom somewhere... not that I ever entered it – it was not compulsory, not even in grade 9.
When my guidance counsellor suggested that with my interest in the Creative Arts, a good Art College could be an option for me (meaning NOT University). When my mother found this out, she went completely ballistic... OK, never mind... University it was.
So, we all went off to University – thousands of us – and after 4 years, what did we have to show for our $25,000-$60,000* education? I’ll tell you – poor eating habits, a stack of essays... and knowledge essentially good for nothing more than competing in Jeopardy. Yes, it nurtured our critical thinking, but if you didn’t have it to begin with, University doesn’t magically create it. Unless you were going to do more school in the form of Post-graduate certifications, Masters, PhD, etc, an Undergraduate Degree gets you sweet fuck all. The worst part, which is what I’m essentially observing these days, is that these thousands of University graduates cannot do ANYTHING that requires a practical everyday life skill.
I don’t want to blame anyone – it’s just another one of many symptomatic back lashes from the baby boomer generation; I doubt anyone could have foreseen this. And of course, it’s not like as a 16 year old, we thought to ourselves, “Gee, when I’m 35, I sure would like to be able to sew and cook.” Of course we didn’t; if we had the gift of foresight at 16, we would all have done things differently, I’m sure of it. I also have to mention that there was also the strong feminist movement blowing through at that time and the idea of a young woman wanting to sew and cook instead of wanting to become an astronaut was like a crime against our sex.
Some people say, “Well, go back and learn that now!” OK, with what time, exactly? Between babies, mortgage & car payments, full-time job, laundry, groceries, hockey practice, swimming lessons, marriage and generally attempting to keep the house from falling apart, when is there time to do that, seriously? I’m happy when I get time to enjoy a coffee that is not served in a disposable cup! That is why we go to school when we are young – because it’s when we have time for it.
The sexiest man I have met in a very long time was the handyman that we hired to do some jobs around our house. He could lay flooring, install a tile back-splash and put up a railing – and it totally turned me on! I love my husband, but these are things I really wished he could do – or even myself – but we cannot; we are both intellectual dummies. I’m sure even that 3rd generation Harvard graduate wouldn’t know the difference between a drywall screw and a wood screw to save their life. The person they have to hire to do their manual labour is likely making more money than they are – so who’s laughing now?
(*based on Canadian tuition fees; the high end is including residence fees)