AMEN BROTHER: Mike Rowe, ‘You don’t have to go to college’

Published on November 24, 2013

Mike Rowe has some good news for American parents: Your 23-year-old kids don’t need to live on your couch anymore. That is, if they skip college, learn a skill and work hard.

Because college isn’t for everyone. Hell, it isn’t for most people. And that’s OK, because the Bureau of Labor and Statistics points out that 75 percent of jobs created over the next decade won’t take a diploma.

Hell, there are 155,000 janitors with bachelor degrees right now, according to Bob Morse, who is the director of data research at U.S. News and World Report — the magazine that produces its definitive college rankings every year. That’s more people than there are chemists.

Meanwhile, this year, Americans’ collective student debt surpassed $1 trillion.

So what gives? Why aren’t more people spending less time and money, and pursuing a trade that will win them gainful employment?

Take a look at the culture, Rowe told an audience at the Charles Koch Institute’s Diploma Dilemma panel.

“When’s the last time you saw a plumber or a guy who knows how to fix a refrigerator really portrayed on TV without a work belt or a yard of butt crack showing?” he said. “‘American Idol’ is our number one show. What’s the message there? ‘I’ll have my fame please and I’d like that now. I’d like that now.’”

But it’s not just pop culture: Parents and counselors share the blame when a kid chooses. The American cult of self esteem plays a large role. ”‘Somebody told me I was a precious snowflake,’” Rowe feigned, “‘and I took the test and I’m smart and I went to college and now where’s my job?’”

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