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Episode 6 — Education

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#1 Earwolf Admin


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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:00 PM

The rookie and veteran pass the axe as they discuss education on this week’s Love, Dad! Dave & Jeff recall their college experiences to determine the drastic change in higher education today. We also tackle the questions as to what motivates the youth, why the cost of tuition continues to rise, and what are the benefits of having the college experience. Plus, the clean joke of the week and a couple time saving tips of the week!

#2 klem_johansen

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 04:18 AM

On the college vs. business quandary - I know it's a weaselly sort of answer to say "both" when given a multiple choice question, but I really think that's true. Kids need to go to college and they also need to get real experience well beyond the banal, surface-level stuff they might find in internships and the like.

The model for success has changed so much in just 2 generations. It used to be that you could climb a ladder of institutions- the right school, the right starter job, and on and on. These days, those institutions are faltering, and it's up to young people (and old 40-somethings like myself) to create our own tiny institutions, our own brands, in order to make something sustainable both financially and creatively.

The blogging & podcasting phenomena have revolutionized journalism and comedy. (And isn't journalism a form of comedy?) People are starting thousands of mini businesses and ad-hoc agencies to make things happen on their own terms and for their own reasons. In a generation, this notion will be commonplace. So, how to prepare our kids?

All along, I've been telling my 10yo son and 15yo daughter that they need to "make their own fun" as they grow up. My 15 year old is proficient in WordPress coding and took her first freelance job this summer (so proud!), and my 10 year old wants to start his own comedy site.

At the same time, I've been saving for college since before they were born-- because as important as that entrepreneurial spirit is, I have to ensure that they have the liberal arts foundation that I think is vital to being a citizen and a full participant in the culture. While I completely agree with your sentiment about the over-valuation of college in the minds of many people, I think the two go hand in hand. One without the other leaves a young person at a grave disadvantage in a constantly-changing landscape.

I'm going to stop typing now.

#3 Jeff Ullrich


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Posted 13 September 2012 - 06:28 AM

View Postklem_johansen, on 13 September 2012 - 04:18 AM, said:

All along, I've been telling my 10yo son and 15yo daughter that they need to "make their own fun" as they grow up. My 15 year old is proficient in WordPress coding and took her first freelance job this summer (so proud!), and my 10 year old wants to start his own comedy site.

That's really great Klem, you must be very proud. I have 18 years to think about this and in the end it's not likely my decision, I'm just skeptical that college is worth the expense. It seems to me that there are other options for the same time and money that might be more valuable. I'm sure the world will be a different place at that point and who knows what we'll all think then. Thanks for writing and listening!

#4 Josh T1326657816


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Posted 13 September 2012 - 12:14 PM

Great things to think about. My wife and I have had this discussion a lot. She's a lawyer, with huge debt, making an embarrassing salary. You touched on so many good topics, and they all seem to apply. It's not practical to have kids working in factories to teach them work ethic, and our parents all thought if you go to college it will just work out, but that is also not true.

I agree that the answer seems to be to encourage the passions your kids have. The guy working the concession stand needs a kick in the ass and some encouragement to do something he cares about. Even working towards something motivates the rest of your life. On the flip side I think some people in our country waste far too much of their energy on work. I have friends who work in Chicago an average of 50-60 hours a week and can't leave work at work. Their work ethic is exceptional and somewhat of a detriment to their lives at home. The analogy you guys came up with that our lives are a work of art is perfect. And in this case their work of art is just a job, not their family, and we easily loose focus of what's truly worth our time.

I agree with Jeff in my thought that my son will benefit more by some life experience than from just going to college with no clear directive. My current thought is to encourage his passions and help guide him to something he may enjoy. If he has a love of math and a gift with finances, I won't discourage him from becoming an accountant but I might have him work with a friend to see what that type of work entails. But a bachelor of arts in "whatever" just to have a degree is worthless.

I also have about 18 years to see, so I am very interested in what the college landscape looks like then. My best guess is that the system will somewhat correct itself, and a growing lack of attendance will change the costs and technology will change the idea of what college is. We already have free courses in podcast and other forms and I think good things will come of it.

Thanks again for the show!

#5 Mike Deaven


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Posted 19 September 2012 - 08:53 AM

Hey guys, love your show, but I have to disagree with you Jeff. I think you make a bit of a sweeping generalization, excepting only doctors and lawyers, saying that education isn't worth it or isn't valuable.

First of all, the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) are almost always going to require a college education. Partly for resources (can't just have chemicals to work with at your house, or a high end unix server to work with for tech), and partly for the value of peer review throughout education (especially valuable for math). Not to mention that to become any kind of scientist likely requires many additional years in the education system.

Second, not everyone has a pal in Zurich where they can send there kids, or the resources to do so even if they do, and there is no financial aid for these kinds of "life experiences." Some people can't even afford a computer, so going to college with financial aid may be their only way to access some resources. It may be their only avenue for more broad exposure to the world.

And speaking personally as a software developer who has been writing code since he was 10, the knowledge I gained in college has drastically changed how I write code and develop in teams as opposed to an island. You could "learn on the job" in some cases, but companies at the current time are more and more reluctant to support a developer who needs "development." They need at least a level of assurance that this person has learned how to develop maintainable code with multiple team members, and a degree offers this.

And finally, ignoring all these other things, not everyone is or can be or wants to be an entrepreneur! You tout your ability to go start your own business, but you talk about constantly that you work weekends, you work late... some people do not want this quality of life. My college degree has allowed me to have a job that makes good money with 9 to 5 and weekends free! Some people actually want that! And that's not to say I am lazy, I just prefer a life with less stress and demands on my time. Also, What about social work, or these types of public service jobs? They cannot be created or trained for through entrepreneurship.

The cost of college is certainly getting out of control, and having attended a state-supported school, I strongly urge people I talk to to way the pros and cons of spending potentially 100s of thousands extra for the "name" school or whatever, but it remains a valuable investment for many fields. Your field of entertainment certainly may not be one of them, but Doctor and Lawyer hardly covers it.

#6 Jeff Ullrich


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Posted 19 September 2012 - 09:15 AM

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree, my comments are HEAVILY influenced by my own situation and life choices that don't fit as well with other people's professional goals. You raise plenty of great points that would be fun to debate over coffee. The problem is that it's hard to cover all the variations of topics like this in a short podcast. So what you heard was me making a strong statement from an admittedly narrow perspective. However, just because you got so much value from your education doesn't mean that everyone will. I believe I said on the show, it's really about the kind of person you are. And I'll make another sweeping generalization, it just seems like a lot of 18 year olds aren't as ready to take advantage of what an education has to offer as much as you were.

I'm not great at debating over a forum, not a lot of experience with it. But I agree with many of your points, I just think there are lots of shades of gray and case by case variations here. And that makes it a pretty interesting and fascinating topic. If you live in LA, let's get coffee!

#7 Mike Deaven


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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:49 PM

Debating over a forum is never pleasant, and I would love to get coffee, but unfortunately pretty far from LA. In any case, we probably don't have much of a debate because I agree with what you've written here. College is definitely not for everyone, and we do need to stop thinking that it is a requirement or the end-all be-all of professional development. The shades of gray you speak of are all I wanted to point out, and I imagine that your initial statement is colored by the fact that we so often hear now that college is required or essential, so you felt the need to make a strong counterpoint. I think what we should be emphasizing is there are many options that are available for further development, professional or otherwise. In any case, I appreciate you reading my comments and responding to them thoughtfully, and keep up the good work, really enjoying the show!