Archive for November 20th, 2013

November 20, 2013

A different kind of scholarship

by Grace

“We’re lending money we don’t have, to students who can’t pay it back, to educate them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts.”

Mike Rowe, former host of TV show Dirty Jobs and known as “the dirtiest man on TV.” has seen too many young people taking out student loans that do not lead to well-paying, satisfying careers.  This prompted him to establish a scholarship for trade and technical training.

Personally, I think it’s insane to start a career thirty grand in the hole, especially when there are no jobs in your chosen field. The fact is, the vast majority of jobs today do NOT require a four-year degree. They require training, and a truly useful skill. I think we’ve confused the cost of an education with the price of a diploma. That’s why I started The mikeroweWORKS Scholarship Fund. I want to challenge the idea that an expensive four-year degree is the best path for the most people, and call attention to thousands of real opportunities in the real world that real companies are struggling to fill.

So far about half a dozen technical schools are participating in the scholarship program.  Application requirements include an essay, attendance records, and references.  Applicants must also sign the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge (Skills & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo), an affirmation expressing a strong work ethic and self-reliance.  Here’s one statement from the pledge.

12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.

Back in the 1970s, Rowe saw a poster in his high school guidance office that gave what he thought was horrible advice.  It urged students to“work smart, not hard”.

… The picture of the person working “smart” was holding a diploma, and the person working “hard” looked miserable performing some form of manual labor.

Rowe created an alternative poster with a new message.


Rowe is not anti-college.

“I’m not against a college education. I’m against debt,” …

What he’s against, Rowe added, is that we started promoting college “at the expense” of the vocational training that, in many cases, is what’s actually needed for the career.

“It’s not about, this is good or this is bad,” Rowe said. “It’s about, when did it make sense to say one size fits everybody? It never ever made sense to do that, and yet we’re still selling education the same way we sold it when you and I were in high school.”

Of the roughly three million jobs that companies are struggling to fill, Rowe said only 8 to 12 percent require a college degree.

It’s true that too many college graduates are chasing too few college-level jobs.



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