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Ditch College, Get a Real Skill, Live a Good Life by Jeffrey Tucker

Aveda and others show new way to follow your passion.

Scene one: I needed a haircut and someone suggested I go across the street to the Aveda Institute. Fine. My hair was cut by a student who was grateful to be working on a regular person, not a manikin. She had another six months in training to before she could become a certified cosmetologist with a credential to work at any salon, cosmetics counter, or spa in the country. It was my first exposure to this institution that was founded initially as a cosmetics line.

Scene two: I met a brilliant young woman with top scores and a great chance for admission to a top college. Her goal from childhood had been to become a physician. Then one day she realized that this future actually sounded miserable. She didn’t want to hang out in dingy operating rooms, struggling with bureaucracy. What she really loved was hair, makeup, and fashion. Why not follow her dream? Instead of college, she enrolled in the Aveda Institute. She can’t be happier.

Scene three: I’m getting my haircut somewhere else and I ask the lady cutting my hair where she moved from. Washington, D.C., came the answer. How did she end up cutting hair here? It was closest to her house that she bought in Atlanta because she liked the neighborhood and the house was affordable. So she could choose to work anywhere she wanted? Yep. Why? She graduated from Aveda, which is the best credential she can have in this industry.

So I’m thinking about this. Here is a school (there are dozens around the country) at which enrollment lasts about one year and costs between $15-20K to attend. This compares to the four years and $100-400K you will spend on a college degree. Many people who leave college are lost and confused, with few skills, no work experience, and no network to tap into for jobs. Aveda graduates have real skills, can work anywhere, and tap into a vast network.

It was the first I’ve heard of this school. The more I look at it, the more it seems inevitable that such models are going to replace college for many people in the years ahead. It makes no sense to spend all that time and money getting a degree that has marginal benefit in the job marketplace. Yes, it is necessary if you are pursuing a career in medicine, law, accounting, engineering, or academia.

That accounts for a small percentage of people who pay for college degrees. We keep hearing about how a college education is connected with higher earning power but the cause and effect relationship here is complicated at best. Some people argue that it is entirely illusory. Meanwhile, real-life experience in fields outside those requiring college credentials is showing something very different.

Meanwhile, Aveda seems to be thriving, and its students and graduates seem very happy, with as much upward mobility as they desire. The one in Atlanta that I visited was teeming with male and female students, all working very hard to master a trade. There are others in New York, D.C., Chicago, Nashville, and many other parts of the country.

I thought I could easily do some research on when these schools started and how many people attend them. Not so. Not even the Wikipedia entry on Aveda mentions their highly successful training programs. It seems to be flying beneath the radar, growing based on industry reputation alone. I’m sure their products are great, but the schooling is the disruptive innovation here.

Scene four: I was invited to attend a data science meetup in Atlanta. It was held at the headquarters for the General Assembly, which is a training camp for the management of digital properties. The meetup was fun, but what really stood out was the very existence of this institution. General Assembly teaches front-end development, project management, beginner website creation, social media skills, and high-level coding. Their classes range from one evening to three months. The pricing of the service depends on the class. The resulting credential is impressive on the resume, and, like Aveda, you tap into a vast network of people.

Unlike the typical university, General Assembly seeks close connections with the surrounding business community. They host socials a few times per week. They bring in business leaders and technicians to give lectures. Many of the teachers here are actually workers in real world enterprises around town. General Assembly is there to facilitate an exchange of knowledge between practitioners and aspirational workers.

It turns out that there are other such institutions in town, including Iron Yard. And around the country there are Code Camps. The tech industry is the fastest moving and among the most profitable in the country, so it makes sense that the industry would demand actual credentials and skills, none of which are provided by the stodgy old-world institutions of colleges and universities.

The tech industry may have given rise not only to all the wonderful new technologies that have changed our lives so fundamentally but also to a new form of education itself. These camps could point the way toward a new path after high school. Why precisely should a person spend yet another four years sitting in a desk, listening to a lecturer, when he or she could be working while training and getting better at a skill for which there is a real market demand?

We all know people in their twenties who look back at their college years and wonder why it all happened. For many of them, the time they took off to get their degree was misspent. Many graduated without any real awareness that jobs actually do require people to bring value to the firm. No one is going to pay for an undergraduate degree. Employers pay for services rendered, not a resume. The only purpose of the resume is to signal the highest likelihood of success at doing a real job.

Stay in School?

For a very long time, young people have been told that the key to success is to “stay in school.” But what happens when life experience begins to tell them the opposite? Or perhaps the definition of what constitutes school needs to change. Work can be school. Education can be combined with work. Education should be structured not just to impart abstract “knowledge,” but actual know-how. And what if it turns out that doing things differently also turns out to be more fun in any case, not to mention more financially rewarding?

By analogy: for generations, Americans were also told that the single greatest and safest investment they could ever make was to buy a house. That illusion blew up in 2008. Now people see houses for what they are: good for some purposes, bad for others, and by no means a guarantee of high future income.

So it is for college. The difference is that most people don’t know it yet. Meanwhile, these many institutions offering real training for the real world are thriving as never before.

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE and CLO of the startup Liberty.me. Author of five books, and many thousands of articles, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. Email.

Precarity

Precarity is a neoliberal term that was unfamiliar until I researched the theme of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) conference. It means precarious, hazardous, risky, and it focuses mainly on the supposed “evils” of capitalism. Although life’s uncertainties have existed since the beginning of time, these women had come together to discuss the insecurities of living, focusing on the drawbacks of being ill prepared for functioning in today’s workforce. Where previous generations sometimes stayed with a company from hiring to retiring, today’s employees change jobs frequently and must keep up with the ever-changing technology. Thus these women fear the difficulties that arise with a free society, changing economy, other unreliable coworkers, and all that free enterprise has to offer.

Risk is the very essence of freedom and of life, and yet this is their anxiety.

They spurn those gifts bestowed upon us by our Creator and cited in our Declaration of Independence – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness, all of which involve risk. It is the freedom to pursue our own happiness along our chosen path that helps us to accept failures and overcome hindrances, and to continue chasing our personal dream. Instead these women are overwhelmed by responsibility, regarding the challenge as simply “misery” generated by capitalism, since they view that the sale of one’s abilities for profit may also result in failure and unemployment. Resistant to change and diversity, they yearn for their vision of a more secure and simpler life of the past, which, of course, is remembered without the discomforts, diseases, poverty and squalor.

Their dreams of the Utopian past erase the men’s long hours of hard labor, the women who were bound to a life of raising more children than they could manage, illnesses that have since been eradicated, few kitchen appliances to ease daily chores, and a labor force of children to help families make ends meet. Blaming capitalism for their current difficulties, the NWSA members want more entitlements and government intervention in exchange for the joys of innovation, growth, and the dignity of achievement. Taught by today’s academia to rely on their feelings and to redefine right and wrong, they wallow in comfortable discomfort and, significantly, decide to boycott Israel, her harvest, inventions and medical innovations. Could it be because Israelis treasure life and produce advantages and benefits not previously known, while the Palestinians desire to acquire Israel without the labor? Arab leaders allowed the barren, sparsely populated, impoverished land to become malaria-ridden over centuries before the Diaspora Jews returned to their historic homeland to cultivate the soil and recreate a flourishing democracy.

Precarity is the cost of living! It is the cost of charting one’s own course with all the possibilities of turning the unsure into opportunities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “all human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and shall act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” but the new liberalism distorts the vision of brotherhood into a nightmare of sameness, none better or worse; the goal of certainty, no triumphs or failures; and a less educated population reduced by chaos, abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, and incurable diseases. And for political correctness, with their minds distorted and freedom of speech eradicated, these souls will no longer recognize friend from foe, good from evil, excellence from mediocrity, or even female from male.

Amazingly, although we know that eight-one percent of mosques in America advocate violence, and Germany appears to be losing its autonomy to the invaders, and Sweden is losing its heritage, and Belgium went on lock-down, and France is actively closing mosques and eliminating militant imams, the NWSA denounced Israel. Despite the legal documents to verify that Jews, not Arabs, hold rightful title to the land, and under whose direction diverse people within flourish, these women choose Islamo-fascism, where a clear majority of its people favor severe Sharia law and terrorism.

As technology (much of it from Israel) provides us with a front seat to the world, we have seen Muslims destroy 3,000 people in the World Trade Center; Muslims behead or burn Christians alive; Muslims turn their young children into knife-wielding murderers; Muslims kill groups of revelers in arenas and weddings and schoolchildren in classrooms and school buses; Muslims car-attack or knife Jewish pedestrians, but these women are boycotting Israel. Muslims are harming girls with Female Genital Mutilation, followed by enslaving, torturing, and imprisoning women in lifelong domestic/sexual servitude in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, but the NWSA women ignore where they could be truly useful. Islam is overtaking and creating havoc in Europe, and our national intelligence-gathering agencies (FBI and DHS) have long terror-watch lists of dangerous Islamic jihadists, but the NWSA is boycotting Israel.

What the NWSA should know is that the Jewish people have moral, historical, religious and legal claims to the disputed lands in Israel, yet Israel has been willing to forego some claims for the sake of peace. The State of Israel was built on land purchased by Jews, and Jews have been a presence in Jerusalem for 3,000 years, with a majority-Jewish population for more than 250 years.  Israel already ceded land to the Palestinians, who, in turn, destroyed prospering businesses and use the land for launching rockets. In truth, the Arabs who took the name “Palestinians” are the occupiers.

Morally, Israelis are first responders who have helped numerous countries, from Albania to Turkey, after floods, fires, earthquakes, bombings, tropical storms, hurricanes and cyclones, providing emergency humanitarian and medical personnel and assistance. Israelis helped Boston after the Marathon Bombing and California with its fires and water shortages. America benefits from this valuable partnership, including intelligence; the UK benefits from Israeli technology in protection, jobs, medicines and more. Israel is a global leader in bio-technology and defense, agriculture, water innovation, medicine, book publishing, and more.  Increasingly, Israeli entrepreneurs are attracting more foreign banks’ investments in their innovative technology.

IsraAid, which, in cooperation with Israeli NGOs FIRST and Operation Blessing-Israel, launched a social-worker training program in the new African state of South Sudan, one of the most undeveloped in the world. They are addressing the country’s violent misogynistic culture of rape and forced marriage. The women of NWSA could be involved, but do absolutely nothing.

How will these work-shy, incompetent women defend themselves when the soldiers of Allah fill our streets and execute their many forms of violent jihad on our citizens? Will they crumble into submission when the young Muslim males wreak havoc on the most vulnerable? Will they merely stand by and watch the migrants join forces with their brethren in the terror mosques to create battalions beyond the control of our diminished police and armed forces? These women are either terribly ignorant or filled with a fanatical evil – how else to explain this mindset?

Perhaps it is then that the National Women’s Studies Association will finally achieve its goal.

Their insecurities will be gone because their future will be spelled out to the letter. All the laws of Islam are clearly defined for women in the Qur’an. Independence and security will be as amputated as the limbs of Islam’s thieves. They will be guaranteed of being equal to all other women (devalued by men), and their tomorrow will be precisely as today – that is, of course, unless they are accused of some minor Mohammedan infraction. Then the morrow will not even come into question.

Final note: With all the ignorance shown by NWSA, they also appear to be unaware that Israel boycotts are Illegal. Under corporate law, an organization, including nonprofit, can do only what is permitted under the purposes specified in its charter.  Boycott resolutions that are beyond the powers of an organization are void, and individuals can be sued and board members liable for damages.

We Need YOU to Protest this Unfair Boycott!

  1. Call NWSA:(410) 528-0355
  2. Email NWSA at: nwsaoffice@nwsa.org
  3. Click here to protest on the NWSA Facebook page.