Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Community of Interest › Education › 2 year or 4 year college, what would you recommend?
- April 10, 2015 at 11:49 am #85348LongViewFarmParticipant
Hey my name is Jonny and I’m in Mr. Fisher’s environmental studies class and I’m curious to whether I should pursue a two year or a four year degree in environmental sciences and maybe forestry and land surveying. I have been told that in many cases a two year degree gets the same level of jobs as a four year recently and I was wondering if it was worth it to go all the way and have to pay off a good amount of student loans, or to go for a two year degree with a science major and a minor in something with job skills.
I know you folks have lots of experience in the field, and likely have pursued education in the field. Thanks in advance for your feedback!April 10, 2015 at 3:39 pm #85349Will StephensParticipant
This is a topic near to my heart for a number of reasons.
I am a carpenter by trade. I worked as a carpenter’s helper in highschool and also did lawns and landscaping. I went to a 4 year college right after high school, working full time, at my parents behest though I wanted to take a year off. I am now a 43 year old carpenter with a double major in Anthropology (I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist) and Literature with a minor in music who spent 12 years paying off his 4 year degree and within two years of graduating realized I would have gone to school for a completely different reason. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to pay for college twice. I barely made the first time financially.
I would strongly recommend 1-2 years working in the fields you are interested in before college. That will allow you to discover if you like doing what you think you will like doing after college and also give you a better understanding of what level of schooling is appropriate for what you decide.
You will also get more out school the more specifically you know what you want. I am grateful for my degree and if you decide to pursue one you too will appreciate it. There are intangible lessons learned in college that will serve you the rest of your life even if you change fields someday (statistics say you will change fields several times throughout your life) so I am certainly not saying don’t go. But I am a strong advocate for at least one year working in a field you are interested in pursuing before committing to the time and expense of either a 2 or 4 year school.
My opinions only. I am really happy for you to be in such a good position to have the option and opportunity. GOOD LUCK!
WillApril 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm #85366Donn HewesKeymaster
Great answers from Will. Let’s just say for example you decide you want to be farmer. In the past I would have said no doubt the a college education will assist you on pursuing that goal, but with the debt involved today I am not so sure. Folks used to feel that you could figure out what you wanted to do after you got to college I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone accruing debt. While there is much to be said for a college education, we (and especially those in high school) are led to believe it is the only good option. I believe there an almost limitless supply of interesting, profitable tasks that can add a great deal to society or a community. Without knowing exactly why one is going to college, they may end up finding the debt is actually a limiting factor that prevents them from following their true calling.April 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm #85369Carl RussellModerator
I agree with everything said above.
From the aspect of forestry, environmental sciences, or surveying, I think it does not matter which you choose, 2 or 4. The difference is that 2 year schools are usually geared more toward technical aspects of the work, and are generally not geared toward professional level certification.
I cannot speak directly to the 2 year programs, as I went 4 years for forestry, but I do believe that many 2 year programs are excellent. You are usually on a faster track to get the baseline skills to get out in the field to do the work. And like Will said, that can get you on the ground so you can decide if it is for you.
However, for forestry and surveying in particular, there are generally requirements for professional certification that are only met with 4 years of college. Having those skills and the ability to operate at the higher pay scale, for lack of a better way of putting it, could be worthwhile, but that could be a good reason to go back to school if you decide it is what you want.
Personally I would not be where I am today without my degree, but most the way I piece together my living has little to do with the professional level of training that I received.That being said, my degree also has always provided me with a validity that I would not have without it.
I think the main thing is that you find a school program that will keep you engaged, inspired, and motivated. I am going through the same thing with our daughter. She has been mulling over all kinds of career choices, as if she can project herself forward 6 years and know what she really will want to do. I think it is less important to know what you will want to do, than it is to enjoy what you are doing.
Make college be a growth experience for you. Find something that will make you want to get up in the morning, and stay up late at night digging deep into the recesses of what you learned that day. That is what college should be about. Then when you are done, go out and get a job. If the two things line up great.
Of course I have to apologize because I went to an in-state school 35 years ago, with Veterans education benefits, and work-study, and basically got paid to go to college. I know that is not a fair comparison, and I agree with Donn, I would not recommend that you just go to college for the sake of it, with the potential debt.
If you would like to shadow me sometime while I am cruising a woodlot, or marking timber, or supervising a timber sale, you are more than welcome to get a little taste of how a forestry degree plays into my life.
CarlApril 13, 2015 at 1:15 pm #85374LongViewFarmParticipant
Jonny read this thread this morning. Thank you for your incredibly valuable advice! He is a wonderful student- curious with a strong work ethic, and friendly. He will do a lot of good in the world. The current leading plan for his education is the 2 year Forest Technology associate’s degree from Paul Smith’s.
As much as I want to push him towards a 4 year degree, like the Natural Resource Sustainability Bachelor’s even I have doubts as to its real value in today’s society. It is certainly valuable, but the rediculous level of debt he’d have to take on? I find myself standing back, watching, and supporting whichever way he goes.April 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm #85378daniel groverKeymaster
I agree with what Donn, Carl, and Will have written above.
As someone who took on about 25,000 in debt (relatively little, comparatively) in order to attend a four year liberal arts college and then became a draft-powered farmer, I have mixed feelings about the value of college in today’s society. My college education was and is incredibly important to me and in many ways shaped the world view that resulted in my seeking farming as a path.
One thing that is abundantly clear to me, though, is that I was not prepared to take on debt when I did. At 17 or 18, and having never taken on debt or paid my own bills, I could not conceptualize the impact that the debt would have or truly understand what it meant.
There are ways to receive a college education without going into debt. My advice is just to carefully question the assumption in our society that in order to go to school, you should take on debt and also the assumption that you should go to school at all. The world is full of amazing opportunities and possibilities to explore–college, whether 2 or 4 year, is just one of those.April 24, 2015 at 11:39 am #85452BaystatetomParticipant
5+5=10. But so does 6+4. I am a licensed consulting forester and I only went to school for 2 years, many in my field have masters degrees. There is more then one road to where you are going, take the best one for you.
~TomApril 25, 2015 at 10:47 am #85454Tim HarriganParticipant
First of all, do not back away from a 2 or 4 year degree because you think it will be the easy way because that is highly unlikely it will be the easy way. Many folk are very successful with no college at all, but that is increasingly difficult in today’s society. If you work hard, are honest and reliable you will build a reputation that will serve you well locally. But a degree with experience will open more doors and give you more mobility and options. I agree that working one or two years before going to back to school will help focus your interest and intensions, and I highly recommend it. A two-year degree with experience will accelerate your learning and provide insights that could take years to gain without the focused training. Many two-year programs will transfer credits to a 4 year degree if you decide to continue, although it gets more difficult to complete a degree as you get older and take on more responsibilities with less mobility.
You can get a college education without taking on high debt. Think local community colleges and public universities. Look for scholarship opportunities. Work while you are in school. Some private (expensive) schools might have assistance that makes them competitive with public universities. If you come out with $10-$20 K in debt, big deal. Buy a use truck rather than a new one, live on what you have rather than what you want for a few years. Not everything is easy.
I have a hard time whipping up great sympathy for many of the folks we read about in the news coming out with $100 K in debt with a good education but no real skills or experience. Expensive, private schools they did not have to go to but went because they had their heart set on it; no real plans or thoughts about what debt means; no or little contribution to paying their way as they went and taking 6 years rather than 4. A little harsh, I guess, and it does not apply to everyone’s situation, but if you order dinner, and clean up your plate, don’t complain when it comes time to pay.
There is a lot of talk about how hard it is today, but I promise you, it has always been hard unless you had the comfort of having it paid for by someone else. A 2 year program with work experience is a good start. As you progress your goals will become more clear and you can adjust accordingly. Good for you for thinking about it now rather than later.May 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm #85555BaystatetomParticipant
Very well said Tim!
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