With his first real job in hand, albeit an entry level one at that, he and his wife confidently bought a small condo in an old building that was decidedly a fixer-upper.
The first quote that he received for some plumbing work was a shocking eye-opener.
"Dad," he whined incredulously. "This guy is making three time what I make and I've got degrees up the wazoo! "
"Shudda become a plumber!" I answered sarcastically.
Funny, burlesque, but actually quite true.
Last week I ran a translated letter by Lysiane Gagnon wherein she reminded readers of the educational divide between Anglophones, Allophones versus Francophones.
While English cegeps and universities are crammed, French schools go begging for students, to the point that some are offering classes and degrees in English.
That's how desperate they've become.
On Friday last, Jack Jedwad added his two cents to the debate;
"A survey conducted last April by Léger Marketing for The Gazette and the Association for Canadian Studies revealed that only 46 per cent of Quebecers, compared with 60 per cent of people in the rest of Canada, agree that “a university degree is essential toward succeeding in today’s society.” That response merits broader discussion in Quebec. Read the rest of the story
Most of us anglos and allos grew up in families that placed a high value on a university degree. Ironically, where our parents didn't have a post-secondary degree, the desire to see us achieve one seemed to burn even brighter.
Back then, a university degree was perceived as a ticket out of the grunge labor market and for those of our parents working in factories, retail, clerical or other poorly paid jobs, it was an attitude that we could well understand.
Still today, professional degrees, be it medicine, science,
But for general degrees be it in the liberal arts or letters domain, a university degree doesn't even put you ahead of the line in applying for a job as a barista .
The value of a general university degree has been so over-valued, that society, in a push to graduate everyone, has opened up fields of study leading to a degree where the work involved can be considered the equivalent of a high school course a few decades ago.
Other than the 'high' value' degrees, industry has discounted these degrees and most of these students have largely wasted their time in university.
That famous 'Bachelor of Arts" degree is the new high school diploma.
Here are some interesting facts from the USA.
One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don't even require college degrees.
There are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.
317,000 waiters and waitresses and 365,000 cashiers have college degrees, 24.5 percent of all retail salespeople have a college degree.
Once they get out into the "real world", 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the "real world" while they were still in school.
Read: University education no guarantee of earnings success
So maybe, just maybe, the francophones attitude, which places a lesser value on university degrees has it right and maybe we have it wrong....
It's hard when a basic tenet is challenged, but funneling everyone to university is no doubt a mistake.
The idea of lowering standards so that the academically challenged can graduate with valueless degrees is something that a responsible government should reconsider.
Nowhere in the current debate over tuition fees does anyone ask whether this model of streaming as many people as possible to university makes sense at all.
Today's society does not need more college and university graduates, we need less, a lot less.
On the francophone side, officials are so obsessed with catching up to the Anglo side in terms of graduates, that students without high school diplomas are being encouraged to enter cegep and given course loads dumbed down, based on their educational capacity.
In the end nobody is a winner.
I haven't a clue how to account for the different perceptions between francophones and anglophones/ethnics in relation to the perceived value of a university degree, but it does appear the francophone attitude is more realistic and in fact more practicable.
The problem remains that society in general and the government in particular is trying to change that francophone perception, when in fact it should be modifying its own attitude in the other direction.
Instead of pushing unqualified students into dead-end programs in cegep and university, they should be offering training in careers in the booming resource sector, where a miner with a year or two of training can make upwards of a $100,000.
Professional degrees will always remain important, but interestingly, the government need not make any effort to promote these elite programs, students that are high achievers need no encouragement, the medical schools and engineering schools will always receive many more applicants than can be accommodated, even in French universities.
Now I am not calling for an elimination of the social studies, art, history or geography courses and other 'soft' courses. Society needs to be well-rounded and these studies are essential.
What I am saying is that these courses have been watered down to accommodate poor students and this is what needs to be changed.
Offering fields of study that don't have a big financial return for society is a luxury that should be reserved for elite students, not dummies.
These courses should be as equally demanding as the study of medicine or law. Those who can't hack it, shouldn't be in school.
It's time to reassess the notion that university is a plus for everyone, it isn't.
It's time society put equal or more value on job training in lucrative industries and fields where Quebec's future lies.
By reducing the number of those who don't deserve the privilege of having their studies underwritten by society, enough money could be found to make the necessary savings to keep tuition low.
I actually remain sympathetic to low tuition fees, but I object to paying for substandard students pretending they are university material when clearly they are not.
There are many ways to find the money to support lower tuition fees, the most important saving to be found is in reducing overall capacity.
If the student associations want to reduce costs and therefore tuition, they need to look to themselves first and get rid of the deadwood.
The problem with Quebec is that we're always having the wrong conversation.
Don't miss Friday's post....... Partition is Separatists' Last Hope!