This post may not be what readers expect. I will not be writing about the difficulty of finding a job with a liberal arts degree, although that topic certainly deserves a post or two. I will not be writing about underemployment.
No, the most intriguing moment in my hair color adventure today (darker blonde) came when the shampoo girl explained that her parents had been unwilling to pay for beauty school so she had been obliged to get a degree in psychology instead. She attended a perfectly reputable Midwestern college, graduated and found steady employment that paid reasonably well, selling software and then doing IT recruiting.
She wasn’t happy, though. When her fiancé told her he would float her for a year so she could pursue a more fulfilling path, she jumped at the chance to go to beauty school in her late twenties. To mollify her parents, she showed them a business plan detailing what she intended to do with her beauty certification. She has taken a pay cut for over a year to train and serve as an apprentice in an upscale set of hair salons.
I detected no apparent regrets or second thoughts. She is doing what she wanted to do all along. She is happy.
Eduhonesty: I thought my shampoo
girl woman exemplified something I have known for a long time. Our relentless push to get all America’s students into college needs more flexibility. We need to rethink that one agenda for all. Not everyone is meant to get a degree. Not everyone is able to get a degree. Those who fail may end up saddled with frightening debts. That psych degree cost many thousands of dollars.
High schools must present career options and their ramifications, including the many advantages of a college and/or university education, but America also needs to revitalize its vocational and technical options. Youth unemployment should not be a problem at the same time that we are importing skilled machinists from other countries. Many people prefer to work in trades. They want to build houses or color hair. Telling these young adults that they must go to college frequently benefits no one.