Rethinking Higher Education, Part Two: Internship vs University

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In part one of this series I spoke of the high price tag of higher education and proposed the idea that traditional college degrees were not neccessary for financial success. With that belief in mind I will spend the next few blogs explaining the proven alternatives to traditional colleges and universities.

The first alternative is an old idea, the internship.

Many years ago if a young man wanted to learn to work with metal he would approach the local blacksmith and ask to learn from the more experienced man. If the instructor agreed the young man would work for free in exchange for real life, hands on experience and education. The young student would learn how to run the blacksmith business including what to charge customers, how to accept payment, how to deal with inevitable customer conflict, working the forge, and personal responsibility, among other things.

An obvious advantage of internships is there is zero cost to the student and the student’s family. Picture a small village in colonial America with familes of meager means. Keeping food on the table is already a challenge. Asking these families to find money for the educatiin of their children would be like expecting to slap a rock with a stick and get water from it. It’s just not going to happen. But these families were not without hope. If their young son was determined, hard-working and future minded, he’d receive a valuable, FREE internship, aka apprenticeship, which would eventually help him become an entrepruener!

Nobody spends a dime, no debt is created, a skill is learned and the Blacksmith/teacher has help in his shop for a certain amount of time. That’s a win, win, win situation.

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“But Taz, aren’t internships a thing of the past?” Great question.

I searched online for “Internships in Houston, TX” and found there are a lot of both paid and unpaid internships out there of varying types. One company is in search of a “Marketing Intern to work 10-15 hours a week” offering “reimbursment for gas used at a per mile basis, free lunch during any events, experience meeting professionals at networking events…” along with several other perks. Another company offered full-time employment with great benefits after only three months as an unpaid intern. These internships offer something traditional colleges lack- practical, usable experience in the field.

Internships are alive and well and they can help you gain valuable knowledge without taking on the burden of debt. I love the concept of internships because they offer an alternative to spending a large amount of money in exchange for an education. This concept gives hope to those who are less fortunate in the area of finances. Recently I learned of a doctor who is still paying off his student loans THIRTY YEARS after earning his degree.

When I look at both the American and global economy I see there is a need to question the status quo. The American dream is harder to acheive, upper middle class citizens have lost their houses due to the dishonest practices of the banking industry, the middle class is shrinking, etc. etc.

Higher education is no different. We have to question the status quo. What do we want for our futures, financial freedom or a life of servitude to creditors like the doctor I mentioned? Obviously we want financial freedom. Then, it’s time for us to question tradition, look for alternatives like internships, place them on a scale and make an honest evaluation of what is best for our financial futures.

So, what’s your opinion on including an internship in your Higher Education plan?

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2 thoughts on “Rethinking Higher Education, Part Two: Internship vs University

  1. Trina

    This is a great article! I couldn’t agree more. After 8 years, I am still paying off student loan debt. I love the experience college offered socially, but financially, it wasn’t a practical idea. I felt pressure to attend college in order to validate my worth. Know what I know now, I’m glad I decided not to finish college unless I could pay completely out of pocket. Great wisdom behind these words!

    Reply
    1. bbminister Post author

      Thanks very much for your comment Trina. It is a shame that college costs so much that 8 years later the debt still exists. I agree that attending traditional colleges should be accompanied by a “graduate debt free” plan.

      Reply

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