College no longer provides job security. Is it still worth attending?
A college degree is still a well-trodden path to relative financial success. Even so, a college degree is no longer a guarantee of a secure job, or of any job at all.
The world of work is changing quickly and will change even more in the years ahead: so too will the challenges that your children face. Many people assume that if their children go to college and take a degree in one of the “safe” disciplines like law, medicine, or accounting, their futures will be secure. In some countries that is still true. In the so-called developed countries like the United States it is not. America has more lawyers per capita than any other country in the world, nearly forty for every ten thousand citizens, and a great many more graduates are not practicing law, either because they do not want to or because there aren’t enough jobs to go around. One of the results of this glut of lawyers in the United States is an increasingly tangled web of legislation and litigation. Lawyers, after all, have to do something with their time.
Let me say right away that a college degree is still a well-trodden path to relative financial success. According to a 2014 Pew study, the income gap between college grads and high school grads has never been greater and has widened in a relatively short time.5 Even so, a college degree is no longer a guarantee of a secure job, or of any job at all.
The Price of Success
According to one estimate, 45 percent of recent college graduates worked in “non-college jobs.” A “college job” is one in which at least 50 percent of the workers in that job indicated that a bachelor’s degree or more was necessary. This plays to the Great Recession narrative of college graduates working as taxi drivers and sales clerks, but the authors point out that this isn’t an exact number, as a percentage of these people will make the transition to college jobs in the coming years.6
The other factors to bear in mind are the mounting costs of college and the rising mountain of student debt. These numbers suggest that the accepted story of school/ college/ security may not be nearly as rosy for many individuals. For one thing, the cost of college in the United States has skyrocketed—from an average of $18,574 in 2000 to $38,762 in 2015.7 That’s an inflation rate of 209 percent, or 71 percentage points higher than the overall rate of inflation over the same period. Many families can’t keep up with this, which has led to the highest levels of student debt we have ever seen—more than $35,000 per borrower in 2015.8 Our children are entering their adult lives with financial burdens that few of us had to carry.
This scenario—carrying a considerable level of debt while finding oneself underemployed in a field that may offer advancement but doesn’t align with your desired degree in any way—is one that bears consideration before you guide your children toward four or more additional years of school. One of the reasons for this problem is that we have so prioritized the need for our children to become doctors or lawyers or to get their MBAs that we’ve sent them the unconscious message that anything other than that equates to selling themselves short.
Fit for Work?
Meanwhile there is an escalating problem of youth unemployment. In some countries almost 50 percent of young people are not employed or never have been. In the United States the overall rate of youth unemployment is around 10 percent. In some parts of the country, it is almost twice that. Nationwide, about one in seven young people—about six million—are not participating in work, education, or training. They have no role in the economy and no stake in it either. They are sometimes referred to as “the disconnected.”9
Ironically, millions of jobs are not filled. It’s been estimated that by 2020 there will be 95 million such jobs around the world.10 In 2016 there were 5.5 million unfilled jobs available in the United States.11 Many of these were in areas of skilled labor, which require specialist on-the-job training but not college.
Bob Morrison of Quadrant Research knows from personal experiences how much of a problem the overemphasis on sending everyone to college can be, even in the field of vocational education: “I see this in my role as president of a large regional school district here in New Jersey. One of the measures of a successful high school is the percentage of students that enroll in college. Schools strive to push all students to go to college because of the impact on school rankings. There has also been a troubling trend in vocational and technical schools (VoTechs). Many of these schools are now becoming elite training schools in STEM with a heavy focus on technology. Many have abandoned the career side of Careers and Technical Education (CTE). We do need more students to look at career pathways outside of the collegiate route, but we also need to take a hard look at the transformation going on in our VoTechs. Now that everyone, including VoTechs, is caught up in this ‘move them on to college’ mind-set, my worry is that soon we may not have the infrastructure to support the non-college options that so many students need and want.”12
One of the results is the loss of practical and vocational courses in schools. The loss of these programs and the decline in apprenticeships and other training opportunities has contributed to what has become known as the global skills gap. “Many Americans don’t have the skills that those available jobs require,” noted Patrick Gillespie, a reporter at CNNMoney. “The skills gap has become a serious problem in the U.S.”13 About a third of job openings in the United States in 2018 will require some kind of noncollege professional training, but only 12 percent of the labor force has any kind of vocational certification.14 There are exceptions. One of the most significant is the mounting success of Big Picture Learning.
The Big Picture
Big Picture Learning (BPL) was established in Rhode Island in 1995 with the aim of putting students at the center of their own learning. BPL cofounders Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor merged their thirty years of experience as teachers and principals to demonstrate that education and schools can and should be radically different. The first class of Big Picture Learning graduated in 2000 with a 96 percent graduation rate. Today, there are over sixty- five BPL network schools in the United States and many more around the world, including schools in Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, and Canada. Two of the signature features of BPL schools are an emphasis on personalized education and on connecting students learning in school to the wider world of work. BPL students spend considerable time in the community under the supervision of mentors. They’re not evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests but on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, “and on the habits of mind, hand, and heart, reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.”15
5. The income gap is more than $17,500 a year in full- time salary for those aged between twenty-five and thirty- two. For early boomers in 1979, the gap was $9,690 (all dollars are adjusted). Danielle Kurtzleben, “Study: Income Gap Between Young College and High School Grads Widens,” U.S. News & World Report, February 11, 2014, http://www.usnews.com/news/ articles/2014/02/11/study-income-gap-between-young-college-and-high-school-grads-widens.
6. Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, “Working as a Barista after College Is Not as Common as You Might Think,” Liberty Street Economics, January 11, 2016, http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2016/01/working-as-a-barista-after-college-is-not-as-common-as-you-might-think.html.
7. Travis Mitchell, “Chart: See 20 Years of Tuition Growth at National Universities,” U.S. News & World Report, July 29, 2015, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2017-09-20/see-20-years-of-tuition-growth-at-national-universities.
8. Jeffrey Sparshott, “Congratulations, Class of 2015. You’re the Most Indebted Ever (for Now),” Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2015, https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/05/08/congratulations-class-of-2015-youre-the-most-indebted-ever-for-now.
9. See One in Seven, a report of the Measure of America Project of the Social Sciences Research Council, http://www.measureofamerica.org. According to the report, “Of the twenty-five largest metropolitan areas, Boston and Minneapolis– St. Paul perform the best, with fewer than one in ten young people disconnected from the worlds of school and work. In Phoenix, nearly one in five is disconnected. African Americans have the highest rate of youth disconnection, at 22.5 percent. In Pittsburgh, Seattle, Detroit, and Phoenix more than one in four African American young people are disconnected. Latinos have the second-highest national youth disconnection rate, at 18.5 percent. In Boston, New York, and Phoenix, more than one in five Latino young people are disconnected.”
10. “A Multilateral Approach to Bridging the Global Skills Gap,” Cornell HR Review, May 8, 2015, http://www.cornellhrreview.org/a-multilateral-approach-to-bridging-the-global-skills-gap/.
11. “Table A. Job Openings, Hires, and Total Separations by Industry, Seasonally Adjusted,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 8, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.a.htm.
12. Bob Morrison, personal correspondence, July 2017.
13. Patrick Gillespie, “America Has Near Record 5.6 Million Job Openings,” CNNMoney, February 9, 2016, http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/09/news/economy/america-5-6-million-record-job-openings/index.html.
14. “Report: Vocational Training Misses Mark in Many Countries,” U.S. News & World Report, November 18, 2014, https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/18/report-vocational-training-misses-mark-in-many-countries.
15. “Our Story,” Big Picture Learning, https://www.bigpicture.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=389353&type=d&pREC_ID=882353, accessed September 14, 2017.
Excerpt from You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education by Sir Ken Robinson, Ph. D and Lou Aronica, published on March 13, 2018 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Ken Robinson, 2018.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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