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College dropouts, where are you now?

fain

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I stopped going to school a year and a half ago. I was in for a liberal arts degree. I just needed time off. I plan to go back and finish up, but I seriously am finding it difficult to motivate myself to do it.

At work, I'm already making more money than the "average" english/liberal arts grad (which isn't saying much), and the field I was studying had EXTREMELY limited career options. I only really chose that field because it interested me, and I'm truly awful at the math and science fields and have no interest in working with computers.

I'm sure this topic has been done to death over time, but for those of you who didn't go to school, or dropped out, how are you doing financially? I don't expect or need exact figures.

Everyone says college dropouts don't do anything, and maybe lots don't. But I'm making more money than my friends who have finished their degrees (granted, they all did Psych, History, and other nonsense degrees). I work in a fucking public library.
 

why

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It's a matter of where you go from there, really. Everyone here will tell you to stay in school, myself included. Some people do really well on their own and some don't. Scratch that, most don't. My employer during college didn't finish school and he's intelligent and successful and taught me a lot. It's funny to think that what I do now has so many similarities and I learned most of what I know and use outside of formal schooling.

Still, that piece of paper means a lot. I have no actual use for it anymore but I'd still go back to school just to put another notch on my belt.
 

crazyquik

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Go to community college and learn HVAC repair (heating, ventilation, air conditioning). Office dwellers love our air conditioning, and will pay top $ to get it fixed when it goes down. Retail stores might as well close in the summer if their AC is broken.
 

joeygladstone

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out of all the people i know who got a degree, about 20% of them use it. with that said i am still getting one.
 

JoelF

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Originally Posted by crazyquik
Go to community college and learn HVAC repair (heating, ventilation, air conditioning). Office dwellers love our air conditioning, and will pay top $ to get it fixed when it goes down. Retail stores might as well close in the summer if their AC is broken.

+1 If you're not really into school, learn a good trade. You can make an alright living and maybe even build a small business around it down the road.
 

HEWSINATOR

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Originally Posted by joeygladstone
out of all the people i know who got a degree, about 20% of them use it. with that said i am still getting one.

But consider the difference between using them in a practical manner once they have the job vs. using them to get the job.

Also, as cliche as it may sound, in school, you learn more than just the material. You learn how to learn, how to apply skills and concepts, etc... So, it may seem like you are not using the education, when you very well may be. Just because you went to school for finance and are working in HR does not necessarily mean you are not using your degree.
 

likeitaloud

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Being a Univ. freshmen myself, I don't have a very realistic perspective of things on this subject but I always considered undergrad as the upper high school of 30 years ago. Now you just need a univ. degree in any field for many jobs that pay good money and require basic customer service, paper processing.

Even if you don't go back your future doesn't have to involve giving hand jobs for crack. You can always become a low level policeman, breaking down house parties, carrying a gun, and feeling your dick becoming an inch longer for every citation you write. And you also get payed a wage that most arts/humanities grads don't ever have a shot at.
 

Tokyo Slim

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why

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I think the biggest difference between having a degree and not having one is how intelligent you are independently. With a degree you can slap it down on the table and say 'I'm this smart!' and your intellectual value to the interviewer is instantly quantified. Without one you need to prove it -- and many employers don't have the time or inclination to let you prove it.
 

montyharding

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I don't have a degree. However, everyone I employ and work with has a degree - because for what we do, if you haven't had my rather unique journey through life then any part of what we do is something you would need to have a sound academic base to be able to do.

As HEWSINATOR said, the fact that you have a degree doesn't mean you will be actually using it in the field that you took. e.g. My design team currently consists of music and engineering graduates as well as design graduates. One of the architects I work with re-qualified from medicine, and an interior designer I work with got his degree in physics. In fact, only in the core of the engineering, biotech and design disciplines that I have my fingers in can I count a majority of graduates in that particular field - especially as I have a tendency to retain people based on what they can do, as opposed to what they're qualified in.

Having a degree - even a fairly BS degree - has very little to do with any sort of baseline intelligence, but it means that you have an underlying educational base which qualifies you in a certain regard beyond just the specific subject. i.e. it's more about knowing how to follow something through than following something specific through. Or putting it another way, university prepares the average guy for a structured professional life quicker than anything else and this is what employers are generally looking for as far as someone in their early 20's are concerned. If you left a specific university recognised as a centre of learning excellence with a specific type of degree, that obviously marks you out in a totally different way. I am however assuming for the purposes of this post that you were attending a 'no-name' college with a BS degree.

There's a very good reason why I didn't go to college - I was pretty much at a trough personally, and almost about to be in a whole heap of trouble. And I'm sure in your case, there was also a good reason for quitting one way or another. In my case, I was extremely lucky to have had a bunch of people who recognised what I could do for them and offered me a way to progress in life. I took it, and while it hasn't resulted in enormous riches or any sort of personal redemption (quite the opposite, one might say) from my earlier problems, it's worked out not that badly.

The bottom line is that while you may be earning more now while everyone is at a junior stage in their professional lives, the opportunities and positions open to you down the line will undoubtedly change in accordance with what piece of paper you hold, unless you're prepared to take full responsibility for your own future. But so long as you seek employment, the likelihood of the lack of a degree limiting you is quite high.
 

Bradford

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There was an interesting article about this exact subject in the Times recently... http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/op...prod=permalink

It basically says that we should move away from a system that requires college degrees to one that values skill testing.

The problem is that in the current system, employers don't have time to see if someone has the skills for a job, so they use the achievement of a Bachelor's degree as a screening device to weed out applicants. I see job listings all the time that don't really need a college degree but have it listed as a requirement for application.

I'd also say its a reflection on the dumbing down of our education system. Since almost anyone can get a college degree, the degree itself has become devalued and basically worth what a HS diploma was 50-years ago.
 

mack11211

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It's a useful credential.

Ideally, you develop your ability to learn, and to think and write. Whether this is worth the time and money is another matter.

Most lib arts degree holders do nothing directly related to their fields of study....but some do.

I have one friend who cut out of college after a year. He went to school to do theater, then decided he could learn more in the regular world. So he dropped out, and got a series of entry-level theater jobs (building sets, assisting stage managers, working in theater offices) while he wrote and directed plays.

Now he teaches theater at a well regarded theater school. This is a testament to the skills he developed in the regular world, as attested to by his track record of productions, grants, residencies. But other factors are his marrying a woman with a masters degree in theater who was hired by the school on a tenure track. Would they have given him a chance without her being on staff? I'm not sure, I'm also not sure if he has tenure track, doubt it actually. And of course one way the school it self is credentialled is by a body that checks how many of the faculty have advanced degrees.

So even in the art field, degrees still matter....if you want to teach art.
 

StopPolloition

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I dropped out of college in my senior year, studied engineering and switched to classical civilizations. Joined the Army. It makes more money than most liberal arts graduates make when you include the bonuses, housing allowances, etc., but it's not my ideal job. I'm planning to go back to school. If I ever go back to the Army, I'll have the good sense to seek a commission as an officer next time.
 

Bradford

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Originally Posted by StopPolloition
I dropped out of college in my senior year, studied engineering and switched to classical civilizations. Joined the Army. It makes more money than most liberal arts graduates make when you include the bonuses, housing allowances, etc., but it's not my ideal job. I'm planning to go back to school. If I ever go back to the Army, I'll have the good sense to seek a commission as an officer next time.

And doesn't the Army require a degree to be an officer? I know my brother-in-law in the Air Force had to go back and complete his degree before going to OCS.
 

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