78°F
weather icon Clear

College not only option

Most folks have heard the joke about a doctor summoning a plumber for an emergency home repair. The doctor is shocked at the hourly labor charge and says, “That is more than I earn as a physician.” The plumber grins and replies, “I know. I used to be a physician.”

In 2014, I was working as a tribal police officer and stopped a speeder late at night on Interstate 15 southbound toward Las Vegas. The driver was a young lady; the front-seat passenger was her mother. As I often did on that lonely stretch of highway, I struck up a conversation.

The driver said she had just graduated college. I congratulated her and asked what was her major. She replied, “art history.” I half-teasingly said, “Oh, so you’ll be living at home for a while.” I didn’t anticipate the “how did you know” look of shock on her face. Her mother was nodding her head in agreement while suppressing her laughter. I issued a warning to gracefully exit the situation and made a mental note to stop teasing liberal arts majors.

Both vignettes are amusing because a hint of truth lies within. The idea of blue-collar training has become passé and taken a back seat to college. There is nothing wrong with going to college, but it is not for everyone — academically or financially.

The push for higher education, and the student debt incurred thereto, have reached ridiculous levels. Students are using student loans to pay for off-campus living expenses, including dining out. The average student loan debt is $37,000 for the class of 2016 for a four-year degree, which often takes five years. A chemical engineering degree will fetch an average starting salary of $61,000, and a liberal arts major will have an average salary of $42,000. Calculate average debt payments of $350 a month, and today’s college graduate is struggling immediately when the tassel is turned.

President Donald Trump recently offered an improved apprenticeship program as an alternative to college. It’s an excellent idea because we have plenty of young people saddled with decades of debt who majored in “hands up, don’t shoot” and other studies. Meanwhile, good-paying skilled positions go unfilled.

Some unskilled workers are demanding $15 an hour. No one is going to pay you $15 an hour to make sandwiches. However, someone will pay you $15 an hour to learn a trade such as how to be a carpenter, plumber, electrician or automotive technician.

I spoke with Mike Edelstein, a retired master electrician who is a friend of mine. “We’re doing kids a disservice by making them go to college. College isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t for me,” he said.

Edelstein began his apprenticeship as a 19-year-old and retired after a 42-year career.

To him, the allure of his apprenticeship was continuous training while earning an hourly wage. The classroom education two nights a week helped prepare him for the rigorous examination at the end of his apprenticeship.

Edelstein and his bride, Mary, have put two daughters through college and live the American dream in Boulder City. (His daughters will tease him from time to time that he did go to college, but for only three weeks.) He told me that a journeyman electrician will easily earn $43 an hour in today’s market. An apprentice will make almost $20 an hour. No student loan debt is incurred.

The decision to attend college is a personal one and should be made with prayerful research and advice. However, there is another way to live the American dream in this great country. Look at the labor cost on your next auto repair invoice.

Dan Jennings can be reached at bcpd267@cox.net.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
What are you going to vote for?

I’m not asking “who” you are voting for. I’m asking “what” you voting for. When we cast our ballots this November, we won’t be casting our votes for an individual, even though it seems like it. We will be casting our votes for an ideal, a concept of democracy for our nation’s republic.

Congress has way to fix unemployment problems

Folks don’t like to face problems. They’re much easier to ignore. Everyone chooses. Face problems and find a solution or have them blow up in your face. Or, maybe you’ll get lucky and the problems vanish. Or, you carry them around and suffer the consequences day by day, usually for far too long.

New forum allows locals to share thoughts

Today we are introducing what we hope will become a regular feature in the Boulder City Review.

City needs ‘imperfect’ mayor who can see all sides

After only a few articles, demands of life are such that sadly, this will be my last article in the Boulder City Review. So I leave you with what I feel Boulder City needs.

Officers’ heroic actions merit recognition

Despite some who believe I should overdose on a lifetime supply of humble pie, I stand by my May 13 article wherein I claimed the coronavirus was being used by many to seize power. Merely observe those in power as they flaunt their own rules and change the threshold for restarting the economy.

Mayor does much to better Boulder City

Competent leadership of a family or another entity usually comes with weighty responsibilities and the absolute certainty that someone won’t be happy with some of the decisions made.

City needs new mayor now

There is an African proverb that translates to the familiar saying that it takes a village to raise a child. This literally means an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. What’s my point? Right now, city hall isn’t united and our village isn’t healthy.

Build bridges, not barriers

Books and movies are meant to entertain, and often educate us. In today’s world, as we spend more time at home, the need to be entertained and educated has never been greater.

Council acts follow city charter

The blaring headline, the denigrating letters to the editor, the smoke thrown into our already hazy skies. All these false efforts result in the editor of this newspaper calling for the end of chaos at City Hall. Dire statements are cast forward that any action by the current City Council to govern this city are not worth our while.

City wrong to mandate voluntary unit

City Council’s action Tuesday night to require the Boulder City Police Department to maintain a mounted unit is wrong.