Friday, August 24, 2007

8-24-07: Moving on Up

I should really get around to finishing the books I start. I definitely will finish the new Harry Potter, but another book I really want to finish is The World is Flat. I read the first chapter or so, and it was dense, but good. Well, not that dense. But it raises some good points.

One of the points the author, Thomas L. Friedman, makes is that outsourcing is actually good for the American public because it forces people to look for better jobs. I like that. It forces. You can’t argue with true force. You can say something suggests change, but that’s weak and usually never pans out. Forced change is a sure bet. Anyway, the point is that outsourcing, or illegal immigration, is leading to more and more American jobs going to other people, and the undereducated are suffering. The answer: get a better education, get a better job. It’s why America will be fine.

I think there is a very relevant parallel to this phenomenon and the mindset of a young professional like myself. I want to go to law school. I’m currently studying for the LSAT, which is weeks away. I want to use my engineering education and go another step, or at least get a good education on my company’s dollar. My buddy Dan wants to do the same. He’s actually looking at going for two post-graduate degrees at once: a Master’s in Engineering and a JD. We’ll see how that goes, but you have to admit, there’s some ambition involved.

From what I gather, this ambition is becoming more and more common. 100 years ago, going to college was a privilege. Nowadays, it’s an expectation. In most countries there is no such thing as a community college. Yes, there are many countries with government-sponsored schools that allow many youths to gain excellent educations. But just look at how universal this trend is becoming. More and more people around the world are going to college. My sister started classes at UNCW this week. The South is becoming the new hotbed of great bargain colleges. Imagine telling some one in Macon, Georgia in 1933 that, within 70 years, the South would become THE place to go to college.

But I digress. My point is: more and more children are raised by ambitious parents, which leads to new and improved expectations. If you had an MBA in 1990, you’d need an MBA AND a Master’s in Engineering to have the same “career purchasing power” in 2007. I’m going for a JD to gain an edge, and I’ll shoot for an MBA later on. Maybe even a Master’s in Engineering. If you asked some one in 1957, just 50 years ago, what a person with three post-graduate degrees could do in society, there answer might likely be “Anything they wanted.” In 50 years, I bet my grandkids, by then likely in middle school, will be sitting down with me planning their PhD path. God, I hope so. If they just got their Bachelor’s, I wouldn’t know what to do with them!

I want to go finish that book now.

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