First In Your Family

Those of us who were the first in our families to go to college face some particular challenges. The biggest challenge is not having a trusted mentor to guide our decisions.

Buzz Today Source: First in the Family A first in the family student: “Everyone was telling me to go in there and get a business degree. I don’t know what the reason was but, yeah, sure, I’ll do it. I think that was another reason I struggled in early college. Why do I need to know this? As soon as I shifted over to political science I was loving it.”.

We see in the BUZZ Today quote how the absence of a trusted mentor impacts success in college. Notice this student was taking the advice of “everyone”. Business was what others steered him to with little regard for what fit him. In fact, what “everyone” was saying was what they thought about him and about business. Probably the “everyone” didn’t know very much about either one.

Those that come from a family where college education was the experience of earlier family generations have a real advantage.  Not only do the family elders have the experience of college, they have two equally important things to bring to the first in the family college student.

Knowing how to register for classes and where to look for scholarships are important, but there even more important things. A mother or father with a college degree know their son or daughter. As parents who have, for eighteen years, spent almost every day with their child, they know that child. They know their likes and dislikes. They know their habits and above all they know what motivates them. Without motivation all is lost. So the educated parent can act as a mentor and avoid the “everyone” advice in the BUZZ Today quote.

But even more important, the parent is a trusted adviser. The son or daughter knows the parent after nearly two decades in the relationship. It is that trust which can help the student avoid the risk of losing motivation because the courses simply do not fit who they are.

In the end, every first in the family college student needs a trusted source of advice and guidance. A good place to start is with the book Your Future is Calling.

Why Doing Your Career Homework Is So Important

Headline: Community college grads out-earn bachelor’s degree holders.

This is a rather powerful statement designed to get attention. The reason it is so powerful is because it reinforces a common journalist theme today that the cost and debt required to earn a bachelor degree are not worth it.

Source: CNN Money “I have a buddy who got a four-year bachelor’s degree in accounting who’s making $10 an hour,” Berevan Omer (a recent community college graduate) says. “I’m making two and a-half times more than he is.” Omer, who is 24, is one of many newly minted graduates of community colleges defying history and stereotypes by proving that a bachelor’s degree is not, as widely believed, the only ticket to a middle-class income.

The use of sweeping generalizations often used around this issue of earning a degree of any kind does not contribute to better decision making. Here we are talking about decision making that directly impacts your future.

Let’s look at the BUZZ item more closely. First of all it is true that some associate degree holders make more money than some bachelor degree holders. This is true for lots of situations. Bill Gates does not have a degree of any kind and I have a Ph.D.  Bill Gates makes a heck of a lot more money than I do. Does this mean that you are more likely to earn more money by not getting a degree? Absolutely not.

The tricky part of the BUZZ article are the words slipped in to reinforce the popular theme that getting a degree is “not worth it”. The high impact words are: defying history, stereotypes, proving, only and widely believed. These are words meant to prove sweeping generalizations in support of the conclusion being defended. Especially suspect is the combination widely believed.

Belief is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. There is no evidence provided in the BUZZ to support the claim that such beliefs are indeed widely held. These beliefs are indeed being widely reported but this does not mean that they are widely held beyond the reporters doing the reporting. The facts (in contrast to beliefs) are that since 1988, the number of jobs requiring bachelor degrees have grown 82% while the number of jobs requiring associate degrees have grown by 42%. Jobs for those with only a high school education have actually declined 14%. The data also shows that over a lifetime, the average bachelor degree holder earns far more than the average associate degree holder.