New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s 2016 book, WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE: AN ANTIDOTE TO THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS MANIA, is a thoughtful take on how higher education in the United States has become less of an intellectual endeavor than a mercenary business. Indeed, devotees of the U.S. News annual college rankings won’t appreciate Bruni’s assertion that, when it comes to manipulating admission data to give a false picture of how selective they are in accepting students, “the fix is in.”
Perhaps you’re scratching your head, wondering what the preceding paragraph has to do with a photo relating to room-painting?
In recent times folks have begun questioning whether the decades-long assertion of American culture that one had to acquire a college education to live a satisfying and socially useful life. This discussion appears to be sparking a renewed interest in, and advocacy of, the place of trades education in this country.
Overall, my generation wasn’t oriented toward learning a trade. Despite that there are trade-like tasks that I occasionally engage in around the house. I enjoy – and believe that I’m pretty adept at – house-painting. It probably also has to do with my tendency to appreciate accomplishing an “A to B” job!
I’m not alone in having found that my formal higher education did not equip me for the career I ended up pursuing. Do I mourn this? Sometimes. Still, there are plenty of times when I can’t help wishing I had become a house painter, all those decades ago . . .