Saw on last week’s news that TV actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to a couple of weeks in prison, some community service, parole and a fine for trying to buy her daughter’s way into college. My knee-jerk reaction was: yeah, and…?
Some giddy reporter nattered that the reason the crime had been committed was that Felicity’s daughter couldn’t even be tutored into being able to pass the entry exams, so Mom paid someone to tinker with the test and get the girl in. Why? Why was it so vital for a kid without the aptitude for college to be admitted? So she could be an actress like her mom, apparently.
Now they’ve got my attention. For years, one of my pet peeves has been the ever-growing obsession with college degrees. While I certainly want the appropriate sheepskins on the walls of my doctors, lawyers and CPAs, I’d much rather see an ASE certification in my auto mechanic’s waiting room and some assurance that the maintenance crew and pilot of my flight to Phoenix have passed all of the relevant FAA classes than to know they graduated from Columbia.
Why is it so many of us are willing to pay through the nose for our kids to go through four or more years of college when what they really want to do is sell real estate, paint or own a gift shop? Sure, the rounding effects of higher education are a nice accouterment in life and if money is no object, why not? But there are myriad ways for a person to earn a perfectly respectable living by just taking some classes, accumulating the appropriate certificates and getting a job. For students and/or their families to spend ten to forty thousand dollars a year on a 4-year degree and then end up doing work they could have been qualified for at a fraction of the cost is goofy.
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the only path to a decent place in society is through a college education. And it’s just not true. There are trade schools and junior college courses related to almost every profession you can think of. Astrophysicist? Maybe not; but Certified Nursing Assistant? Plumber? Computer repair? Yes, lots of careers can be founded on classes which take a vastly shorter time and much less money than are required to obtain even a single college degree.
I know and am sure you do, many people with yellowed degrees hung on a wall (and maybe still being paid for) which have exactly nothing to do with the field in which they’re earning their living. We need to take the stigma away from trade schools.
An actress?! Huffman could have saved her daughter and herself untold humiliation by just, in time-honored Tinseltown tradition, helping to get the girl’s foot in the Hollywood door. But no, because they’re a ‘family of a certain stature’, a degree was required even if the kid couldn’t add 2+2. Sad.
Leslie Baker is a native Arizonian who retired from the construction and real estate industries. She volunteered for over 20 years with various Hospice organizations. She and her husband, Phillip Mojica, live in Linden.