Different “strokes”

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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!

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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 . . .

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