Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Heavenly College Education on an Earthly Budget by Lee Martinson (sneek peek)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

A Heavenly College Education on an Earthly Budget

Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (December 4, 2008)


Status: Married, dad to 4 homeschooled kids

Occupation: College Financial Aid Consultant (Diploma Therapist), author

Member: ACCA American College Counseling Association

Passion: Brain and biblical principles based learning - Advocate for intellectual freedom.

Hobbies: Table tennis; humor; collect and learn words like nikhedonia (which means pleasure derived from anticipating success), and absquatulate (which means to get up and depart quickly) etc.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.95
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (December 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159858667X
ISBN-13: 978-1598586671


Introduction: Why a College Degree May Be a Financial Disaster

The numbers are disturbing.

According to Kenneth Gray, Professor of Workforce Education and Development for Penn State University, 50% or more of college graduates with a social sciences degree end up in a job for which they are overqualified, and therefore underemployed.

Regarding the definition of underemployment, many in-laws offer a simple one: It is any job that their son-in-law has. For the record, underemployment as referenced here, is being in a job that doesn’t utilize all the skills and knowledge a person was trained for, and therefore doesn’t pay as well as a job that is designed for the person’s level of education. In professor Gray’s study, those with technical degrees, such as engineering and computer science, faired better at 20% or less being underemployed.1

A couple of years after professor Gray’s study, Steve Giegerich wrote an article for the Associated Press stating that even tech degrees are no longer a sure-fire ticket. Many of the jobs are going to China and India.2

And according to economist and former representative of the Board on the California Postsecondary Education Commission, Velma Montoya, growing global jobs competition has reduced the payoff to U.S. college attendance. She says that exports of skilled U.S. jobs to foreign countries have rapidly narrowed the income differences for college- and high school-educated workers.

She also says that high-paying, post-college jobs now are either for academic and athletic college superstars or those willing to go on for graduate or professional training.3

According to another study done by the Nebraska Department of Labor about workers in Nebraska, 67% of workers said they were underemployed.4

There are many other such studies and expert opinions like the ones above.

Underemployment is a huge problem. It’s not just about which kind of majors are in demand—oh no, if only it were that simple, but it’s not. I suspect that it’s even more complicated than what is reported, and what is more menacing and ominous about it is that it isn’t going to get better any time soon, in fact it will only get worse.

Here’s why:

According to Professor Kenneth Gray of Penn State, only 23% of all jobs require a four-year college degree. Years ago, when a much smaller percentage of the population got college degrees, merely having one was almost a guarantee of a good job. However, fast-forward to today and what do you have?

I did a bit more research, and according to my estimate, for at least every 35 college graduates there are only 23 jobs available that require a four-year degree. The bottom line? Thirty-four percent of all college graduates are not going to get a job that is equal to their training. That means that many college graduates will end up in a lower paying job. It is an economic fact.

People often talk about how since everybody is getting a degree these days, it isn’t worth as much as it used to be. However, as we see here, it is much more than that. It’s not just that he who has a degree is not as special anymore; it is the hard math reality that there are too many degrees chasing too few degreed jobs. Ouch! Now mind you, that is based on good economic times, but if the times are bad, well… double ouch!

On top of that, not all college degree jobs pay well. Some earn substantially more than the median, which obviously means others earn much less.

Have I mentioned debt yet? Debt at graduation is very commonly in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, and for a smaller but growing number of graduates, it even gets into the $40,000 to $130,000 range. Many experts say that student loan debt is becoming overwhelming for too many graduates.

Imagine graduating with a lot of debt and then getting a low paying job. A growing number of students wish it were only their imagination. Unfortunately, it has become a reality for them.

According to an article by Tosin Sulaiman of Knight-Ridder Newspapers, many college graduates are turned down for jobs because the potential employer runs a credit check on them and after viewing their credit history, believes them to be financially unstable.5 Such an unfortunate graduate as that is probably thinking, “If you’d just give me the job, I wouldn’t be unstable.” Life is like that sometimes.

Speaking of instability, you should also know that bankruptcy doesn’t discharge student loan obligations.

Another problem is that because debt is overwhelming for many students, more of them are defaulting. This is causing there to be less funding available. With less funding available, more students are dropping out of college because of lack of funds.

Getting heavily into debt for a degree that doesn’t teach you how to think and gain good vocational skills is not worth it. You could often do just as well or better without a college degree. Therefore, you have to ask yourself, “Do I really want a degree, and if so, what am I going to do differently so it will be worth it?”

What do you think then; do you still want to try for a college education? Are you sure that it will be worth it? I don’t blame you if you still want one, but as you can see by the above information, it isn’t as good of an idea as you might think unless you do it right and increase your odds for success. If you do the things the average high school and college student does, the odds are not going to be in your favor, especially since there are probably some hard economic times ahead.

When they pick a college, students mean well, they really do. But often they don’t know what they are picking. The average high school student often picks a college based on what friends say, or on the colleges’ prestige, or simply because the college is supposed to be good at a certain major.

The student waits until it is time to apply and then wonders how it is all going to work out. The average college student goes to the average college, has fun, maybe gets drunk a bit too often, cheats here and there, gets in debt, plows his way through college, and then hopes for a good job, which he may or may not get.

How are you going to set yourself apart from other graduates? What is it going to take for you to be among those who are considered very desirable for hire, and who don’t have a mountain of debt over their heads? How can you increase your odds of being one of the degreed 35 who gets one of the 23 degreed jobs?

After graduation, you will have to promote yourself to the business or labor market. What are you going to say? What will you show them besides a diploma? Think about it. One potential employer was quoted as saying that hiring isn’t just about having a college degree; it also has a lot to do with character. That is worth your consideration. Besides character, many jobs require specific vocational skills and you would do well to know what those skills are for your chosen major.

Time out. Stop reading now and write down what you would like to market yourself as in the future…

Done? Now your job is to learn how to get an education that will make it all true. Your ideas may change over time, but you will be further ahead by having something to work towards. Actually, after reading this book I hope you will revise your plans and have a much better idea. So, make sure to go over your plans again later.

While you are at it, don’t simply trust that a given college will provide the appropriate training in the required skills for your major. Talk to some employers, find out what they are looking for, and then make sure that you get training in those skills.

Doing these things is more than just working towards getting to college, and it is much more than just working towards a specific degree. You need to look at yourself as an entire person and look at what you want to do in this world. That is a much better approach.

You, and anyone else who does this, will have a bright future ahead of them. On the other hand, the average student will graduate with perhaps a very disappointing future. I say that because I am also considering debt, not just whether the student gets a good job or not. Some get a great job, but face paying student loans for 30 or 40 years and it isn’t very pleasant. For graduates in that situation, it might mean that financially, college didn’t really get them ahead.

A college education is probably going to be the second biggest purchase of your life, and a huge investment of your time; so you can’t afford to wing it on this one. You have to go into it knowing that you are going to be one of “too many degree holders” for the number of degreed jobs. To set yourself apart, you will have to really learn something of value, get some good skills, learn how to think, and be a person of good character. You need to know it is those things and not the degree itself that matters most.

If you get a narrow-minded degree, for which you were narrowly trained, and you graduate with your debt in tow and there is no job available for you, that will be a disaster. If you don’t get an adequate job, that will be a disaster. Conversely, if you learn how to think, analyze, make good decisions, obtain some good life skills along with your training, and can get through college with little debt, then college will not be a waste of time and money. You will be able to either find a great job or be capable of creating your own.

If you want to do this and increase your chances of success, I believe it will take a Heavenly Education. In the chapter after the next one, we will talk about the difference between a Heavenly Education and a regular education. By the way, in this book I use regular education and training and stuff education interchangeably.

The truth is, the right kind of education won’t create a problem of too many degrees chasing too few jobs, because the right kind of education will give a person versatile skills and the mental capacity to learn how to create opportunity even where none seemed to exist. Mind you, the right kind of education is not necessarily the same for everyone—it should be within the framework of a person’s particular talents.

It is worth noting that many jobs don’t require a degree yet pay very well and are very rewarding. There’s nothing wrong with graduating with a degree and getting one of those jobs. You’ll know that you got the right kind of education and that the skills and knowledge you acquired, combined with an ability to analyze and think well, will still help you excel.

In the end, if you get the wrong kind of education at the wrong price, it may turn into a big disappointment. If you even get the wrong education at a cheap price, it will still be a big disappointment. On the other hand, the right education at the right price will benefit you no matter what.

That is why the first part of the book is dedicated to defining what a great education is. That is the starting point, and it is what you must know before anything else. Until you know there is enough worth in the education you are pursuing, there is no point in looking at price.

Welcome to the new millennium, where any old degree at any price is no longer worth it. We are fast becoming a global economy with fierce competition for the better paying jobs. You aren’t only in competition with American students.

Once you can see how to ensure that you will get an education worth something, then later in the book we’ll look at lowering the cost. The case I will make is that if you get an education that is worth something, and you learn to rely on the Lord, there will be nothing to fear—you will be fine.

One of the problems with people and jobs is that they don’t understand economics very well. Their only concern is for getting their slice of the economic pie, as understood by themselves and the rest of the masses. They are only concerned with the distribution and redistribution of what currently exists, and how to train and get one of the jobs that those in charge are willing to “hand out.”

One of the things that they don’t understand is that we unintentionally limit the portion of the pie we receive. We even limit what we perceive to be the whole size of the pie. While there is only so much of any one thing that people need, there are plenty of other things that haven’t been discovered. There are new products and services that haven’t been offered yet. There are niches that are underserved, just waiting to be discovered and filled. We can always make the pie bigger.

There are usually at least two options. If we lose jobs to other countries, we can retool and get more competitive, or we can make new and different jobs. It just takes the right mentality and the right education.

You need an education that will help you understand this and help you develop some skills that support this idea. If you get any old degree, you would be right to be very concerned about the future. If you receive the proper education and preparation, there will be nothing to fear.

We’ve gone over some of the serious financial problems that can occur in pursuing a degree, and that is part of what makes many modern degrees not worth much. To avoid all of those problems, you really need a Heavenly Education. A Heavenly Education doesn’t just prepare you to face the future; it prepares you to shape the future.

I haven't read this book, yet, but believe me -- I will! My youngest will be heading to college in just over a year and that means the coming year is planning time. I'll review the book when I do read it.

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