Great Jobs for Grads Without a Four-Year Degree

American Experiment recently launched a new initiative called “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree.” It’s a multi-year project to encourage parents, students and educators to consider alternatives to college. In the process, we hope to build recognition of and support for other routes to satisfying jobs and fulfilling careers via the many options available throughout Minnesota.Gt Jobs Guys

With the Class of 2017 about to set off on their own, American Experiment’s Mitch Pearlstein shared writer Matthew Crawford’s wisdom on “Great Jobs” in a column for the Mankato Free Press. Crawford owns a motorcycle repair shop in Virginia, as well as a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago.

With young men and women in Minnesota and across the country only days and weeks away from processing into auditoriums and gyms to Edward Elgar’s most famous work, I’m curious about how many people find the following excerpt, in a chapter titled “The Separation of Thinking from Doing,” as intriguing as I do.

One of Crawford’s main arguments is that “doing” blue-collar things such as plumbing and fixing intricate engines routinely requires more actual “thinking,” more cognitive firepower than do many white-collar jobs. Hence the chapter title. He is right, by the way.

“So what advice,” Crawford asks, “should one give a young person? If you have a natural bent for scholarship; if you are attracted to the most difficult books out of an urgent need, and can spare four years to devote yourself to them, go to college. In fact, approach college in the spirit of craftsmanship, going deep into liberal arts and sciences. But if this is not the case; if the thought of four more years sitting in a classroom makes your skin crawl, the good news is that you don’t have to go through the motions and jump through the hoops for the sake of making a decent living.”

The Center’s Kathy Kersten joins Mitch Pearlstein in heading up the “Great Jobs” project. Crawford’s last quote in Mitch’s column sums up our project’s objective.

“Even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers. You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information systems or low-level ‘creative.’ To heed such advice would require a certain contrarian streak, at it entails rejecting a life course mapped out by others as obligatory and inevitable.”

Parents: Might this sound like sound advice to you? Or a little too quixotic and disconcerting for your tastes?

Students, especially new graduates: What say you?