The False Choice: Going to Harvard or Working at McDonald's

In the United States we have shamefully convinced most high school students that they either need to go to Harvard or they need to go to McDonald’s.

"The vast majority of students' education after high school will look nothing like mine," says Jeff Livingston, Senior Vice President at McGraw-Hill Education. 


Livingston's education looked like this: he graduated high school, then went to an Ivy League university, graduated "and went on with my career," he says. "That is now an unusual experience to a ridiculous extent except among education policy people."

The reality is that many more students leave high school and go directly to work, where they might hope to learn career skills on the job. The problem, however, as Livingston points out, is that we have a "tragic absence of apprenticeships" in the United States. In Europe, on the other hand, young people are getting "both academic training and work training while being paid by an employer."

Livingston says young people in the U.S. are missing out on job opportunities that involve middle-level skills. "In the United States we have shamefully convinced most high school students that they either need to go to Harvard or they need to go to McDonald’s," he says. 

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

Videos
  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less