Re: The Road Less Traveled

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Building trades are lucrative and kind of useful things to know about -- very adaptable if you end up with a non-traditional career path in later life. I figure you call your local office of the Carpenters/Electricians/whoever union and ask about apprenticeships and training programs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 7:47 AM
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You're posing a question about options requiring less education to people who, as a joke, just went though the history of the poetic form? I think that may not be this crowd's forte.
A trade was the first thing I thought of, isn't entry into those done through apprentice-type situations? Check with your local trade unions.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 7:48 AM
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Apprenticeships haven't died out, but they're usually a little more regimented these days. A person training to (say) become a master carpenter* will probably follow a path where they take a number of courses at a technical college while working for a firm. Advancement to the next level ('getting your ticket') means passing an exam and having worked a certain number of hours.

That said, a very usual path into that and similar industries is being born into a family that has people that do it (not too much different from the Ivies, when you think about it) and tooling around for a little while before deciding to get certified.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 7:49 AM
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it's sounding more like he might not want to go to college right after graduation... but I don't know how he's supposed to that could really help him figure out what to do next.

Note to younger self: wait before going to college.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 7:50 AM
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E.g., my cousin works as a prep chef at a country club. It's fine for him for now, he has an apartment, usually enough money for him and his girlfriend to get by, but if he wants to advance in the kitchen, he'll probably have to get some formal training (though if he were just naturally talented, he'd get promoted.) His dad was a coal miner and got into real estate during one of the strikes as a temp job in an office, realized he could calculate interest rates in his head, and decided to get licensed.

shivbunny runs a seismic exploration rig. He got the job because his cousin has been working there for a while. For him, there's no further training besides ATF certifications as the career path is pretty much 'be responsible, show up for work, don't be an idiot, and the boss will put you in charge of projects.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 7:55 AM
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as that child is making the school look bad by harming their statistics of the percentage of graduates who go on to college, after all.

This is such an unfortunate attitude. I agree that it is often there.

One nice aspect about college is that you are forced to try some different things. This gives you an opportunity to get some better idea of what you might enjoy doing on a regular basis.

In a fantasy world, your brother would get a series of internships or even temp work to try a number of different jobs. Unfortunately, this requires some discipline, curiousity, and willingness to change your environment that lots of young people simply do not have.

One way to trick the system (ie brother, and family) is to set up a six month or year internship that doesnt start for six months or a year. That way, he is forced into doing something different between now and then.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 7:56 AM
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when i graduated from the school everybody were advising me to choose "scientific communism' as a major, people who chose that became political analysts by now
i wanted to become a geologist, but my mom said that's too difficult for a girl to wander all her life doing expeditions
so i chose medicine, coz did not want to be dependent on someone at least concerning your health
at least i know how my body functions and how to read scientific papers


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:00 AM
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My brother works for a ticket broker- he went to college and grad school, but they were totally irrelevant to his job, he's working for a guy he met in high school. Lotsa money and travelling involved.
I'm not necessarily recommending that as a career, I'm just saying there are all sorts of decent random jobs out there that require general aptitude and are mostly on-the-job training. If you can get into them without needing the college degree as signifier for general aptitude, you're fine with just a HS degree.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:00 AM
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was


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:00 AM
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This sounds like exactly the kind of situation community colleges are meant to deal with. Particularly if your parents are willing to be supportive, your brother could work part-time in a dead-end job and take classes at the local CC either to explore a skilled trade/"pink collar" (not just for girls any more!) type career, or to build up a few credits that can be transferred to a four-year college when and if he decides to go, or both. Despite the distorted view we get from our bourgeois perches, that's probably the single most common post-high school path in the industrialized world, and not entirely without reason.


Posted by: JWP | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:02 AM
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My high school was like that, too. 94% of our graduates go on to higher learning! How many stuck with it? Ehhhhhhhhh.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:03 AM
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Why would he need to do anything even aiming towards any sort of "career"? If he is interested in being an electrician or plumber or some other trade work, great, pursue that, but if not why can't he just get a job at Starbucks or Radioshack or at a local carpet cleaning company or whereever the hell else, take his time and see when and how his interests develop? Those might not be support-a-family "career" choices (although the last two came off the top of my head because I have good friends doing just that), but he's just exploring options. He can go to school later when he has some better idea of what he wants. (Whether "school" turns out to be college or trade school or whatever else.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:03 AM
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It is entirely possible to combine the two activities of "going to college" and "taking a year off". In fact, I'd guess it's probably the norm.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:04 AM
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Also, young men his age often tend both to enjoy and to be good at hard manual labor.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:06 AM
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so i chose medicine, coz did not want to be dependent on someone at least concerning your health

This makes sense. Becks, you mentioned EMT as a possibility, right? I suppose you call an ambulence service or a hospital and ask what the qualifications are -- maybe a community college course?

Also great for portability, like most health care jobs. My erratic cousin, the one who joined the Army after 9-11, is a pulmonary lab tech now (he'd always had restaurant jobs, either waiting tables or cooking, or ski instructoring, before). I figure this should suit his attention span, which seems to involve no more than a year in one location.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:06 AM
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Building trade apprenticeships (or any apprenticeships, really) aren't ideal for someone who's just taking a year or two off, and it sounds as though your brother wants to leave the college option open. Better just to get hired on by a contractor (or landscaper, or kitchen), or as I recommended in the earlier thread, go out West and fight forest fires. Or just bum around. Whatever.

Some people really benefit from not having to Work Toward Their Future for awhile.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:08 AM
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13: Parents are probably worried that a directionless year off turns into a directionless decade.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:09 AM
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If he is interested in being an electrician or plumber or some other trade work, great, pursue that, but if not why can't he just get a job at Starbucks or Radioshack or at a local carpet cleaning company or whereever the hell else, take his time and see when and how his interests develop?

Well, it's more fun and better paid doing something skilled -- working at Starbucks is kind of a bummer because anyone off the street could do your job with an hour's training. Doesn't mean that he's going to have to do it for the rest of his life, but four years as a union carpenter and then going to college is going to give him a whole lot more money and useful skills than four years as a barista.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:10 AM
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anyone off the street could do your job with an hour's training

My cousin the Starbucks barista would vehemently disagree.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:11 AM
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19 cont.: But, I sort of do agree, which is why I made the other recommendations.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:13 AM
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My guess is that one of the best options is to apprentice with someone who practices a specialized craft; jewelry-making or something like that. It's good at that age to interact with an adult you respect and who provides some guidance (and isn't your parent). And it can become a career, or just help make you a grown-up. No idea how one would find such an apprenticeship, but calling people who are making/doing cool things is probably a good start.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:13 AM
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The reason I don't think the idea of him taking a year or so to work at Starbucks will fly (even if I do think even that would likely give him more time to mature and figure out what he wants to do) is my father. I suspect one of the reasons he's pushing the military is because he wants to know all of his kids are headed down the path where they will be financially self-sufficient and moved out of the house before he retires in a few years.

The CC option is logical and sounds like a good one but, again, I think that might run into surprising resistance from my father. We all are able to attend the local 4-year university for free because my father teaches there. He'd actually have to pay for classes at the CC and, because of the free 4-year option, has developed a stubborn "I'm not paying for any higher education for my kids" attitude.

I really think, whether he admits to it or not, that he wants to know all of his kids have their hands off his money so he can retire without having to worry about supporting anyone and will push whatever is necessary to ensure that.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:16 AM
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Needed information: Becks--has your brother ever had a job of any sort? If so, what? And how did he like it?

If he's never had a job of any sort, the first thing he needs is a good ass-kicking. Then, we can move on to helping him with his career.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:17 AM
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Does the free 4-year degree go away when your father retires?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:18 AM
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Your dad sounds like he's being kind of a twerp here, but if that's the issue, isn't the solution for your dad to tell your brother to go find a job and an apartment, and that he's always welcome home on the holidays, but his room is going to be redecorated as a guest room? Your brother will figure out something -- waiting tables or whatever.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:19 AM
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I found that several years of heavy drug experimentation really helped me figure some shit out.


Posted by: PDub | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:20 AM
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Becks:

One day you will own a home.

My recommendation is that you push him to learn a trade where he can help you for free.

HVAC or plumbing are my strong recommendations.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:20 AM
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22: That was what I was going to ask. Are we talking about an eventually Hahvahd-bound kid taking his Wanderjahr, or a kid who's mediocre at school and would only be going off to college because it's the done thing? My youngest sister is in the latter category, she's at a local college that costs too damn much, miserable, and I would say stands a good chance of dropping out halfway through.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:21 AM
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Has he thought about going into drug dealing? There's a real need out there for responsible drug dealers who will show up on time for the transaction, and who won't make you hang around their apartment for an hour pretending to be their friend before you make the buy.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:24 AM
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23 - He's 15 right now so he doesn't have a huge work history since a lot of jobs aren't open to you until you turn 16. He teaches TKD classes a couple of times a week and is supposedly really good at it -- very patient about explaining things and working with kids. He also works as an umpire for baseball during the summer. He's looking forward to his 16th birthday so he can apply for a "real" job where he can get more hours and more money. I think he plans on applying as a stockboy at the pet store where my other brother worked in HS.

24 - Yes, I think the college education goes away when he retires and maybe when he reaches the age where he can no longer be a dependent. So he's either going to need to decide on college after not too many years off, if that's what he picks, or pay for it himself.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:25 AM
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And it's an excellent job for putting yourself through college.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:25 AM
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He teaches TKD classes a couple of times a week and is supposedly really good at it -- very patient about explaining things and working with kids.

Working at a gym, teaching exercise classes or doing personal training?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:26 AM
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How does he feel about school in the first place? Do you sense that he needs to get away from it?

What about volunteering for something like MercyCorps? I don't know how feasible it is, but it seems like something that might fly with your father as well as provide your brother a break from the school treadmill and open his eyes to other opportunities.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:26 AM
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31 to 29?


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:27 AM
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Your brother is 15? So we're not talking impending graduation but three years down the road?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:27 AM
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Parents are probably worried that a directionless year off turns into a directionless decade.

exactly, this is why the year off should be spent enrolled in a university, registered for classes but just basically taking it as a stress-free holiday. It's a win-win option for everybody except the college teachers and realistically, come on now people, tell the truth, who gives a fuck about them?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:27 AM
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34: Indeed. The brother of a friend paid his MIT tuition dealing pot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:28 AM
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isn't the solution for your dad to tell your brother to go find a job and an apartment, and that he's always welcome home on the holidays, but his room is going to be redecorated as a guest room? Your brother will figure out something -- waiting tables or whatever.
that sounds like throwing him out of home
isn't it too harsh
not my idea of fatherly love



Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:30 AM
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If he's still in high school, and your high school has 'industrial ed' options that can be done without giving up on traditional education, that would be a good place to start.

36: The kid dropping out after having accrued several thousand in debt is not win-win.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:31 AM
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35: Yeah. Is he a sophomore? A junior? Because this sounds as if it might be just borrowing trouble. A kid can grow up a lot, college readiness-wise, in a year or two.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:31 AM
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Are we talking about an eventually Hahvahd-bound kid taking his Wanderjahr, or a kid who's mediocre at school and would only be going off to college because it's the done thing?

He's really struggling with school and teetering on the edge of failing a few of his classes, despite tutoring and my mother constantly working with him. He loves to read and works hard but school just isn't "clicking". I'm thinking more and more that going to college right out of HS might not be the best path -- if he's struggling and still might fail a couple of his classes with this much tutoring and help from my mother, I don't know how he'll do on his own in college. (He's been tested for learning disabilities, etc. but there have been no conclusive results.)


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:31 AM
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Just remember that college credentials are a key mechanism of social closure many occupations. Or, if you prefer the economics version, the returns to a college education are very high these days in the labor market.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:33 AM
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Your brother is 15? So we're not talking impending graduation but three years down the road?

He turns 16 in a week. The reason I feel he needs a plan for what he's going to do sooner than later is because of my father's reminders that you can join the Marines at age 17 if you have a parent's signature.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:34 AM
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closure ^ in ^ many


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:34 AM
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He is 15?!?!?

New Ask the Mineshaft:

My son is almost 12. Where should he go for grad school? He likes PE.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:35 AM
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my father's reminders that you can join the Marines at age 17 if you have a parent's signature.

I grow annoyed with your father. Have you considered pointing at him and doubling over with laughter if he brings up the Marines thing again? Perhaps with the words "Jesus, Dad, what are you, stupid? What kind of an idiot suggests their kid joining the Marines under the current circumstances?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:37 AM
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Normally, I'd be more "eh, he'll figure it out eventually". But it feels more like the situation is "either come up with another plan or you're joining the Marines in a year".


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:38 AM
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46 is right.

He's been tested for learning disabilities, etc. but there have been no conclusive results.

i.e. He doesn't have a learning disability.

if he's struggling and still might fail a couple of his classes with this much tutoring and help from my mother, I don't know how he'll do on his own in college.

He doesn't really sound like college would be the right option. FWIW, I have a brother the same age who is also not going to be going to college [in fact, he's already left school].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:40 AM
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This join the Marines thing is insane. And wait, the kid is only 15?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:40 AM
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re: 47

That sounds like a fucked up situation, tbh. Is your brother the type to turn round and say, 'fuck your Marines, dickwad?' Or go along with it?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:41 AM
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41: Hmmm. I'd really advise trying to get him interested in something that has an eventual career, like a summer job in construction or as a prep chef or volunteering with the EMTs, that can give your dad something to fill the hole that 'join the military because you're good at taekwondo' is occupying. Something that your brother can excel at and then you can draw out the path from there.

Or really push a business degree from a trad 4-year school as an option that doesn't really require him to be good at school in the academic sense but means he can get a better job.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:41 AM
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'join the military because you're good at taekwondo'

oh no, this isn't really the reasoning, is it?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:43 AM
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And I'd really work on your brother. Your dad can't make him join the Marines -- he can toss him out of the house if he wants to (which would, I agree, be shitty, but he can do it) -- but he can't make him join the Marines. Hammering on the points (1) this is a stupid, stupid war that there's no reason for anyone to be fighting, and (2) that he probably enjoys having an even number of limbs and no persistent nightmares, with photographic support for your points, should keep him on track if joining the military isn't his idea to begin with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:43 AM
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The reason I feel he needs a plan for what he's going to do sooner than later is because of my father's reminders that you can join the Marines at age 17 if you have a parent's signature.

i really don't understand american paternal love
17 yo and army, it's just too incompatible
how about 1 yr exchange language studentship overseas? will it do the change?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:43 AM
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46: Seriously. Or perhaps tears of a daughter concerned for her brother's life would be effective on your father.

How are his ASVAB scores? Surely there's a military option that's better than joining the Marines! I've heard there's a several-year wait for Air Force positions, but c'mon, can't the kid dick around for a few years?


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:44 AM
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I think the full chain was 'join the military because it is a career path that assures me that you will have financial security and direction in your life and because you're good at taekwondo you'll end up being a l33t Special Forces guy, not a grunt.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:45 AM
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Or perhaps tears of a daughter concerned for her brother's life would be effective on your father.

Actually, with the way your father seems to think, pointing out that "When he comes home with PTSD, he's going to move back into your basement," might convince him that shoving your little brother into the military isn't the path of least resistance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:47 AM
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Becks, your brother is lucky to have you.

Also great for portability, like most health care jobs.

Just a quick note: Certifications can be great, as I said in the other thread. Really important to check how portable they are -- not just from state to state, but employer to employer. There is a real difference between a cert that can be used all over the country, and one that is useless as soon as you leave the particular employer.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:47 AM
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He's fucking 15?!? This is completely insane. I can't believe you're buying into this. Give the kid a break. Who the fuck knows what he wants to do in a few years at the age of 15?? Please delete the thread. I am appalled.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:49 AM
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i really don't understand american paternal love

If it's any consolation I was born and lived pretty much my whole life in the USA, and I don't understand it either.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:50 AM
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Jesus Christ, what is wrong with your father, Becks?! "My son's fifteen years old, and I'm tired of being responsible for all these damn kids; if he can't figure his shit out before he's seventeen, I'm going to ship him off to Iraq so I can finally take retirement. " That is perverse. I find myself wanting to pay a little visit to your father, if you know what I mean.

That said, construction pays well. I have a friend who saved enough money doing construction to go back to undergrad after having been booted for dealing lsd. His dad was a contracter, however. Is there a family friend in any of these useful-type businesses?

If your brother's a good teacher, maybe the Americorps thing is still a good idea. The goal, insofar as I can make it out, is to get him out of your father's reach until your brother can tell him to fuck off with his Marines crap.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:50 AM
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Where's your mother in all this? I really think your family needs to gang up on your father and tell him to STFU about your little brother needing his life planned out at fifteen. With derision and contempt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:51 AM
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OTOH, the current war may well be over by the time your brother could even join the Marines, so maybe that option wouldn't be as bad as everyone's thinking. But even giving this question casual consideration at this point if idiotic.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:51 AM
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Your dad does seem to be pushing this and making it worse now. As I said last time, I can feel the despair and anxiety—I've a 15-yr-old son myself—but the Marines notion is seriously out-of-touch.

There are probably people—incredibly unlikely to be us, as SP shrewdly observed up at the top—who know much more about non-academic alternatives than we do; the trick is figuring out who they are.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:52 AM
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36 is a bit heavy-handed, D^2. Your trolls used to be so elegant....

Given what's been revealed to date, I would modify LB's advice: get him a summer job with a small contractor - the kind of glorified handyman who does additions, but doesn't really hire subs except when required by code. He'll get to try pretty much every aspect of construction, and if he likes one of them, he can get serious about apprenticing post-graduation. If it doesn't take, it's still good experience and good $$. And apprenticeship is still a better option than the Marines, if he can't come up with a better way to put off your father.

On the TKD/umpire kick, those are both pursuable options in a slightly-more-serious vein. IOW, if he doesn't want to work for a contractor, he should find a way to do one of those things more seriously. Ask around in his current capacity, and someone will be able to point him the next step ("What should I do - short of school - if I want to do this for real?")

Groundskeeping is also an excellent summer job - maybe at the college? It's better than working for a landscaper b/c you're part of an institution (whether college or country club or other), can make some connections (how are his social skills?), and learn a few things (not just cutting grass, but a bit of horticulture, potentially mechanic stuff, even incidental construction).

Bottom line: if he doesn't want the Marines, he needs to make his next job/summer job be fruitful, not just stockboy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:54 AM
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the current war may well be over by the time your brother could even join the Marines

Yeah, right. We couldn't even begin pulling out of Iraq until Jan. 2009, and we'll be occupying Afghanistan for a lot longer than that.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:54 AM
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re: 64

There are probably people--incredibly unlikely to be us, as SP shrewdly observed up at the top--who know much more about non-academic alternatives than we do; the trick is figuring out who they are.

I suppose to a certain extent, me. However, my knowledge is a bit out of date and UK specific.

[I did a YTS -- the UK people will know what that is* -- when I was 17 and worked for 4 years before starting my degree.]

What I would say, is cut the wee bugger a break. If he wants to fuck about for a few years, it's not the worst thing in the world. And people who KNOW what they want to do at 15 are disturbing. Most people don't.

* it was a shitty cut-price alternative to apprenticeships pushed by the Tory government in the 80s and used as a dumping ground to keep 16 - 18 year olds off the unemployment statistics.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:55 AM
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how about 1 yr exchange language studentship overseas?

If not this, some change of venue/educational system ASAP might be a really good idea. I was your brother's age when school became intolerable; I basically stopped doing the work and got by on exam scores. But because I was expected to go straight to college, this went on for several miserable years, during which my relationship with my parents really deteriorated.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:56 AM
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I suppose putting him up for adoption would be the best thing.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:56 AM
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I find myself wanting to pay a little visit to your father, if you know what I mean.

Jackmormon is going to sleep with Becks's dad?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:56 AM
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He should start reading Ayn Rand or another similar body of literature so that he can feel superior to all those people brainwashed by a mainstream college education.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:57 AM
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Just remember that college credentials are a key mechanism of social closure many occupations.

But also: It's perfectly possible to work from age 17-22, get some experience under your belt, and then take college classes paid for by your employer. Forgoing college at age 17 doesn't mean giving it up for life.

I've seen too many teenagers -- mostly male -- pushed into their first year of college because nobody can figure out a good alternative plan. Absent a really good, pushy, supportive adult mentor or advocate, they don't make it. At the end of the first year, they have a ton of debt, a terrible GPA, no credits on their transcript, and some not-insignificant humiliation at failing something that our society tends to mythologize.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:58 AM
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Maybe he could just pick an academy and start training full-time for his UFC debut?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:59 AM
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Let's not get hung up on the 15-y.o. thing, folks - Becks said he'll be 16 in a few weeks. And in a few weeks and a year, Dear Old Dad will be marching him down to the Recruiting Office unless he has a credible alternative. And it sounds like Kid Bro isn't going to develop a credible alternative just for the sake of avoiding the Marines (incredible as that may seem). He may, but Becks is being proactive, and for good reason.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:59 AM
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No, I'm going to break his kneecaps.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:59 AM
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I'm getting a little annoyed on Becks' dad's behalf, because the best thing in the world my parents could have done is try to figure out for my then fifteen-year-old sister what she would like to do and excel at instead of trying to shoehorn her into the 'but your big sister is an academic' model which has lead to them draining their retirement funds to send a subpar student to subpar university where she's going to get subpar grades if she doesn't drop out to be a cashier.

The military thing is dumb, but worrying that you won't be able to provide for your kid's development does not make him a bad father.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:59 AM
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I don't think anyone's calling Becks wrong to be proactive, but she's being proactive about rescuing the kid from his father's being a lunatic. The father's demanding a solid plan or it's the Marines for you, kid, is insane.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:01 AM
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Fine, Cala, I'll just give him a stern talking-to.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:01 AM
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No, I'm going to break his kneecaps.

"Don't think of it as keeping your son out of the Marines. Think of it as... fire insurance."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:02 AM
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Becks - my cousin, who is about your brother's age, enjoys his job (it started as a fun volunteering gig when he was twelve) learning about airline mechanics. He's still in high school, and still getting a traditional education, but he's seriously considering training along that route.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:03 AM
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No, at least cut him, JM!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:03 AM
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re: 75

<low-blow>If you are going to break his knee-caps, study something other than TKD first! </low-blow>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:03 AM
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I'm curious, Becks... do you have any idea what the problem is with school? If you're talking about failing classes, but he really likes to read, it doesn't sound at all like a simple lack of intellectual capacity. Is he socially unhappy in school? Or in sort of an oppositional battle with teachers and your parents? Or you've just got no idea at all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:05 AM
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He teaches TKD classes a couple of times a week and is supposedly really good at it

I think you've answered your own question then. He can do this, and maybe get a personal trainer certificate. After a few years, he'll either become committed to it, or see all his friends getting college degrees and decide that he'll get one, too. But then it'll be his choice. The one thing that's not so great about this plan is that it doesn't necessarily get him away from your parents, which I think would be a good thing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:05 AM
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82: Never underestimate the force of a ballerina's kick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:06 AM
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I hear people make a good living writing for the National Review Online, and it doesn't require any education.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:06 AM
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Ditto to all of 74.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:07 AM
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For the construction routes it seems like he could just sign on as a summer laborer. That would at least put him in contact with people that know some of the more advanced stuff even if he wasn't doing it himself. Also what do the people at his dojang do? Some of the people at mine tend to work in construction/trades so there might be an in there if he wanted to follow up on it.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:07 AM
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re: 85

Good point!

re: 83

Liking to read isn't really any indication of academic ability at all. Other than basic literacy.

I've known people who barely read at all [and who hate reading] who are academically very successful and people who are the complete opposite. I presume we all do.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:08 AM
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Also, my out-of-high-school-by-the-skin-of-his-teeth cousin is now, at age 26, a special ed teacher. And he's great at it. Go figure.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:10 AM
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He could start riding the rails and learning essential hobo skills, so when the economy really tanks, he'll be ahead of the curve.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:12 AM
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What about computer-related shit? That stuff doesn't always require a college degree, and it can be fun to learn on your own or while working.

I had a friend (incidentally, who was the son of one of my professors) who actually did have learning disabilities, pretty severe dyslexia, very smart guy. Graduated from high school, and then kinda fucked around for a while. Worked at some supportive living organization, then learned some database shit and was running their.. something or other. I dunno, it was computer-related.

He spent the rest of his time playing guitar and fishing, and finally decided to go to college when he was 22 or 23. I think he's majoring in Mathematics, and working on local political campaigns.

You gotta let people have some time.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:12 AM
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84: This is good, but I suspect Becks' dad is looking for an option that he can imagine leading to a permanent career path, due to the timing issue with 'free college' and retirement. So something that just prolongs adolescence for a few years might lose out to the military.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:13 AM
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Let me put a plug in for your local public library, too, as well as advisors at the community college. These can be hit or miss, because it's dependent on human beings. But there are some really wise, experienced people who have 30 years in the business and can offer the in-depth, personalized analysis of those "Careers without college!" books for your local community. And Becks can consult them without even dragging her brother along, at least at the beginning.

(The person I'm thinking of has roughly the personality type of the "Marilyn" departmental secretary as described by somebody in that thread for helping SEK the other day.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:13 AM
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94 gets it right.

He could start riding the rails and learning essential hobo skills, so when the economy really tanks, he'll be ahead of the curve.

If you're thinking along those lines he should probably stick with the TKD but add some kickboxing and train himself in Tec-9 combat, so he can be successful in the age of roving gangs.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:15 AM
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I think starting this process at this age is very smart, not the least of which because it could prevent him from going to war. Add a slick military recruiter to the family environment, then off he goes.

The process this early also prevents feeling boxed in a couple of years. At that point, he'll have considered the different paths and it may make the decision much less forced.

But for now, make it simple. He likes TKD and reading (what does he like to read?). Sift through that a little and explore those particular interests plus whatever personality characteristics make those appealing.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:17 AM
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89: Yeah, but the sort of intelligence and literacy involved in liking to read should be plenty to make passing high school classes a matter of minimal effort. I'm not talking about high academic achievement, but what Becks is describing doesn't sound as if the problem could possibly be that he's just not bright enough to pass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:17 AM
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Prairie firefighter. No question.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:17 AM
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92: Huh, upon searching, the kid is even more successful than I thought (he's the first name iin the article).

Also, that first student he got elected was a student of mine in a class I T.A.'d. Ha!


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:17 AM
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Becks' dad is looking for an option that he can imagine leading to a permanent career path

But Becks's dad has an imagination deficit, as proven by his desire to give his son a career by enlisting him with the Marines. I appreciate that he's attempting to help guide Little Brother, but, Jesus, at a certain point Little Brother has to be allowed to lead his own life, even if it's one that involves a directionless period.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:18 AM
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Becks should work on getting her brother a littering conviction, so they'll put him on the Group W bench, and won't let him join the military.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:20 AM
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97 is entirely false. You still have to show up occasionally, and oftentimes do a bit of the homework.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:20 AM
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Becks' dad is looking for an option that he can imagine leading to a permanent career path

I agree. I think that what the summer job does is to help Kid Bro commit to a Career Path. If he tells Dad, "I want to be a carpenter, and I've signed up with the Union for an apprenticeship," well, that's a permanent career path - even if we all think it may only be a 5 year plan.

I would say this, Becks: make very clear to your bro that, if he doesn't go to college right after HS (which he shouldn't) or the Marines (which he shouldn't), then he should assume he'll have to pay for his own college when the time comes. That won't resolve your father's concerns, but it means that, when Kid Bro is 24 and ready for college, he doesn't get bent out of shape because Dad won't give him a penny for school. So many parent-child relationships get fucked up over college costs; indeed, this one is in the process of doing so.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:21 AM
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I said minimal, not no, effort. I had some interesting grades of my own, as did my big sister. But that wasn't about lack of intellectual ability, it was about being too lazy to keep breathing unless frequently reminded.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:22 AM
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by the way, given that "personal trainer" is an option, could we kind of discard the construction industry apprenticeship ideas? Less well paid, substantially more disagreeable and surprisingly high danger of death or serious injury. The only disadvantage is that like all service industry jobs, personal trainers get paid in special gay money which isn't as manly as blue-collar money, although financially more or less equivalent.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:24 AM
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What if Little Brother signs something forswearing any claim on dad's money for college? It would be mostly symbolic, since he has no such claim, but it might put your dad at ease.

And getting him a conviction for something sounds insane, but it's actually something I might do as a last resort. The fucking Marines. Jesus. (Of course, you'd have to set him on a charge that hits the sweet spot between disqualifying him from the military, but won't fuck him for life.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:24 AM
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97: My sister's a bright kid, but a poor student. She has severe test anxiety and hates school. Intelligence and doing well enough to pass don't always line up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:24 AM
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And 103 is right. The underlying dynamic here seems to be that Becks Sr. doesn't want to do anything to take care of his son after high school graduation. And if that's where he's coming from, it should be out in the open, but that means that his input as to what Becks Jr. is going to do with his life should be regarded as purely advisory and of very little force.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:24 AM
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LB, at this point high school is about compliance behavior for Becks's brother. I hear your point, but I don't think he's in the same boat you were.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:26 AM
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Of course, you'd have to set him on a charge that hits the sweet spot between disqualifying him from the military, but won't fuck him for life.

Does that sweet spot exist anymore?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:26 AM
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105: Less well paid, substantially more disagreeable and surprisingly high danger of death or serious injury.

Really? I guess I don't actually know, but my impression is that you'd make a lot more doing construction than being a trainer. Trainer sounds like a broke 25-year-old's job to me, while skilled tradesmen own real estate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:26 AM
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89, 97: I'm wondering about this too, although I'm not sure there's anything to be done about it besides giving him more maturation time. Your father's retirement anxiety seems somewhat selfish in the context of this character.

I'm wondering if there might be "feminization" issues with him and school, which is what your dad might be picking up on with his out-of-date Marine notions. That role-model stuff is important and runs both ways, even to guys who seem utterly unmisogynist and non-macho. It's my guess that many young men need to become a little more mature than they leave high school partly to come to terms with that.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:27 AM
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105: It has nothing to do with gay money and everything to do with where the career goes.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:27 AM
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Does that sweet spot exist anymore?

Dunno. I can't do all the research, man.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:28 AM
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109: Well, that's what I was asking. I get that there are all sorts of reasons for academic underperformance, and I've experienced a few of them from inside. I was just curious as to whether Becks herself had a guess as to what specifically was going on with her brother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:28 AM
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Clearly Labs needs to give Becks's brother a blowjob in a public bathroom.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:28 AM
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This is sort of interesting, since my younger brother took the non-college path ten years ago. He's done a lot of stuff, some of it work, some not, but I get the feeling that he's starting to have a bit of the "what am I doing with myself?" crisis. He's been good at several of the things he's done - restaurant cooking, construction, jack-of-all-trades at a disaster relief effort - but none of them seem like he wants to do them for the long term.

He still wants me to help him buy a yurt to live in, though.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:29 AM
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JRoth gets it right again in 103.

And to 109: I think that glosses over some fairly important emotional dynamics. There is a long way between "parents can't technically force their children to join the military" and "I generally love and respect my parents and don't want to have a huge blowup fight right at the time that I don't quite know how I am going to make my way in the world."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:30 AM
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111: You make more than you do as junior faculty at most R-1 schools, if you stick with it. It's also easier to fall into the easy ne'er-do-well trap of working construction and spending all the money, but that's mostly a class thing, and if you're disciplined and actually get your certifications, you're making a good income.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:31 AM
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Yurts are awesome! One of my best vacations was in a yurt in Alaska.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:31 AM
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He could do what I did, and smoke a ton of pot until a cushy computer job comes along.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:32 AM
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Whoops, 109 s/b 108.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:32 AM
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118 to my 108, rather than 109? If so, you're right that it's nothing like as easy as I make it sound. But this is a genuinely bad situation, if Becks has a handle on what's going on, and if I'm understanding her correctly (both of which may not be happening, of course). Becks Sr., as a father, does have an absolutely huge amount of emotional and practical leverage over a 15 year old son. And it sounds as if he is (oh, I'm sure out of of nothing worse than shortsightedness) trying to use that leverage to really screw his son over for his own convenience. I think it's a situation where a giant blowup is warranted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:34 AM
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123: OK, I think we're more or less in agreement.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:35 AM
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Worst comes to worst, if he's headed down to the recruitment office, suggest Blackwater. Better pay, less accountability, same moral invidiousness.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:35 AM
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114
you can cut off his index accidentally
so that he can't push on the trigger
and voila, disqualified


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:36 AM
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Some info on personal trainer salaries/benefits (numbers match what I'm finding on other sites).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:36 AM
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105, 113: Remember that personal training is a much younger industry than, say, carpentry and thus has a much younger age pyramid. I don't think that trainee carpenters with less than two years of experience earn much real estate. Median weekly income for carpenters in residential construction according to the page I found on Google was $595, median hourly wage $22.42 in 2006. More (sometimes a lot more) in towns with a construction boom going on, but you might have noticed that said boom is rather coming to an end (which might make those apprenticeships a bit thinner on the ground).

Meanwhile, personal trainers are usually charging $40-70/ hour to the client, with the trainer keeping 25-50% of that. Once you adjust for the very high proportion of part time and inexperienced workers, two or three different surveys indexed by fairly obvious google searches set the median income at $40-50k for established trainers with a good client base. I therefore disagree that the prospects are any worse, not to mention that it is a lot easier, less capital intensive and less risky to set up as a self-employed personal trainer than a self-employed building contractor. The economist in me is slightly amazed that people are regarding construction work as the epitome of a stable career with good prospects.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:37 AM
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"screw him over for his own convenience" might very well mean "scared shitless that he'll be retired, his son will be poor, and he won't be able to help"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:37 AM
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It's also easier to fall into the easy ne'er-do-well trap of working construction and spending all the money, but that's mostly a class thing

quoted without comment.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:38 AM
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129: And that would be shortsightedness, nothing worse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:40 AM
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Trainer sounds like a broke 25-year-old's job to me, while skilled tradesmen own real estate.

Both seem to enjoy about the same status around here. Trainers have to touch sweaty people, so advantage: tradesmen.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:40 AM
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might very well mean "scared shitless that he'll be retired, his son will be poor, and he won't be able to help"

I think this is a bit of a tangent, but even granting what you say, encouraging (strongly encouraging, in this case) the son to join the Marines now is irresponsible.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:40 AM
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128: Median income for carpenters is around the same. Also, we're not talking 'certified personal trainer' we're talking 'TKD instructor'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:42 AM
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I see from Ogged's link that male and female trainers get paid the same. Keep your brother away, Becks - he'd get screwed. Men are supposed to earn at least 33% more than women doing the same work. It's like, a birthright or something. I read all about it over at B's place.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:43 AM
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Trainers have to touch sweaty people, so advantage: tradesmen.

Plenty of those sweaty people are hot stay-at-home moms.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:43 AM
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Construction spans a wide swath of things. If you are talking laborer then no they don't make a ton of money. If you are talking electrician/plumber/master carpenter then you are getting into a much higher pay structure. It takes a while to get to that level. A guy who I know who is a CPA says that some of the plumbers around here make almost as much as the doctors.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:44 AM
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Plenty of those sweaty people are hot stay-at-home moms.

Forgot about that. Scratch 132.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:45 AM
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133: Yes, which is why I've been suggesting lots of career paths that can take the place of 'Marines' in his dad's mind. Becks' dad isn't a warmonger, so I'm sticking with my position that he's only suggesting the Marines because they're the ones that advertise on TV as something to do besides college.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:45 AM
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134: well exactly, and it's much more pleasant work, without the necessity of a long, unrewarding and poorly paid apprenticeship (or rather, said apprenticeship has already been served during the becoming a tae kwon do champion process). Also, you can work indoors and you don't fall off roofs.

I am not sure what the point is about the difference between a personal trainer and a tae kwon do instructor - it is perfectly possible to do both together and as far as I'm aware most martial arts types do, because the personal training stuff can be really quite lucrative if you get a good client base.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:46 AM
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Also, we're not talking 'certified personal trainer' we're talking 'TKD instructor'

I thought we were talking about the latter leading to the former. I'm thinking of this because I was just chatting with one of the lifeguards who was a fresh-faced kid a few years ago and is now a studly young man who got his personal training certification and has a good gig at one of the local country clubs. He seems to enjoy it and it can be a real career, especially if you set up shop for yourself when you're more established.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:46 AM
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A guy who I know who is a CPA says that some of the plumbers around here make almost as much as the doctors.

ahh the ultimate economic urban myth. Lost count of the number of people who've tried to leave the rat race and become a plumber because "wow they earn the same". If you own your plumbing business and are prepared to do a lot of 24 hour call-out work, and you manage your inventory and billing just so, and so on, plus you really take advantage of your favourable tax status, then you can make a lot of money as a plumber. But you can't really compare the income of a small businessman with that of an employee, or the working conditions, and you have to ignore the substantial proportion of plumbing businesses that just go under.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:49 AM
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If he does decide to go that route, I bet I could ask friend-of-the-Flophouse Pete to talk to him about careers in personal training. Pete's also doing personal training on the side while he works his way through business school, so that's one advantage to that option.

He also really likes computers and technical things like that so maybe some kind of tech support job could be a possibility, too.

I don't know what LittleBro's problems are with school. Like LB, I always though one could at least pass with minimal effort but he's really struggling. There seems to be a big disconnect between how he does during tutoring and his grades. He'll sit with the tutor for a long time, the tutor will think he has a real grasp of the material, he'll take a test and think he did really well, and then he'll get it back and find he failed it. That's what I have the hardest time understanding -- whenever I did poorly on a test, I knew I did poorly on a test. There was rarely more than a 5-10% disconnect between expected grade and actual grade.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:49 AM
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What is the certification for a personal trainer anyway? All the ones I have known have either degrees in sports medicine or are getting degrees in something related.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:49 AM
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I think that part of the reason for the prejudice in favor of tradesmen is that it seems like a more natural alternative to Marine. Not sure that Becks, Sr. will buy personal trainer/TKD instructor as a career path. That said, if Jr. wants to pursue it, he absolutely should.

One benefit of the trade career path is that it's pretty flexible - you can always make cash doing handyman stuff, and you can improve your own property. It's not simply a matter of, "housing is down, I can't find work." You find different work using the same skillset. And, frankly, if you were part of the recent boom, you can afford a few fallow years. Or maybe you go to college after all.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:51 AM
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I just heard that a doctor friend who doesn't have an esoteric specialty and works regular hours is making around a million dollars a year, so color me skeptical on parity with plumbers.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:51 AM
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Big differences between construction and any kind of tkd instructor/personal trainer job:

Construction you usually start off working for someone else. High-ish risk of injury (not just the 21 y/o who got impaled on a piece of metal at the construction site near me last year, but really easy to get repetitive strain injuries. Bags of concrete are heavy. Demolition work is scut work, given to guys at the low part of the ladder. You're carrying buckets of busted-up bricks.) OTOH, you get paid well and quickly (sometimes in cash), if you're the slightest bit reliable you can move up, you may learn a second language depending on co-workers, and you'll be around professional tradesman and can pick their brains. Downside: Substance abuse is, IME, endemic.

Martial arts/personal trainer type jobs: You have to be better at managing your client base (if working with a studio) or your own business (if self-employed). You don't get paid for travel time, materials, carting your stuff all over the area. You're in a service industry, with all of the personal interaction and weirdness that that can include. Depending on what you're doing there can be a risk of repetitive strain injuries (although not so much in the 3-5 year time frame we're talking about). You'll get paid somewhat less reliably, your employer if you have one may take a cut, you may be forced to sign an "I won't take my clients with me if I leave" clause when you start teaching/training with a gym/studio. Don't know much about the personal foibles of your co-workers, but my sense is that alcohol is the drug of choice, many of them see this as PT or adjunct rather than a full-time career, and it's much more middle-class occupation.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:51 AM
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140: Presumably he has to get the certification somehow.

The other thing about construction as a field is that like 137 points out, there are a lot of supervisory/manager/small business sorts of positions available to someone who no longer has the physical ability to go clambering up roofs.

I'm not saying it should win out if the kid has other options, but electrician/plumbers/carpenters aren't scraping by if they've worked hard at it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:52 AM
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What is the certification for a personal trainer anyway?

Sounded from my conversation with this guy very much like a regular teaching certificate: take a series of classes, do a practical internship, and get your certification.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:52 AM
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What is the certification for a personal trainer anyway?

You can take classes at a CC. That's how I got enough PE credits to graduate from high school (no lie).


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:53 AM
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Further to 142.

In the UK these days, doctors make a LOT more than plumbers. Average GP salary is approx 100,000 UK [i.e. 200,000 USD at approximate current exchange rates].

Also, plumbing these days isn't actually an easy road for the non-academically inclined kid. My brother looked into it, and there is a surprising amount of 'book learning' required as a lot of what they do these days is fit central heating systems, and other systems that require a fairly wide range of qualifications to meet safety standards.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:55 AM
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I think that part of the reason for the prejudice in favor of tradesmen is that it seems like a more natural alternative to Marine. Not sure that Becks, Sr. will buy personal trainer/TKD instructor as a career path

ahh yes, the "intangible issues". However a monetary reform was enacted in the 1990s and these days the special gay money that they pay you in the services industry can be spent at nearly 90% of normal retail shops. At some point rationality has to intrude on these things, unless the intention is simply to make the young chap miserable for the sake of it.

One benefit of the trade career path is that it's pretty flexible - you can always make cash doing handyman stuff

Not at all always true!

It's not simply a matter of, "housing is down, I can't find work."

Yes it often is!

And, frankly, if you were part of the recent boom, you can afford a few fallow years

Also not true! Without wanting to be more patronising than is warranted (which I think is about 5 units on the SI Patronising scale given the "more like a Marine" silliness), the construction industry is a pretty popular object of study in the world o'economics and it suffers from unemployment cycles like nuthin else.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:55 AM
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147: The upside is that if you get the reputation as the 'sober reliable one' you move up really fast. This is true in pretty much all the trades, even in the more specialized ones that involving handlin' friggin' dynamite. The injury risk is real, but it's not always concrete or outdoors; shivbunny spent his early twenties in a shop that manufactured windows. Hasn't moved concrete ever.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:56 AM
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A good friend of mine is personal trainer. As he explains it the trainers who set up successful gyms tend to have college degrees. He's in fact getting a graduate degree in business. I don't know whether his experience is typical, but he seems to think it is.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:56 AM
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so color me skeptical on parity with plumbers.

Like I said this is anecdotal and I don't know what he was comparing exactly so I am sure there is some selection bias as dsquared pointed out. I am sure these aren't apprentice plumbers and they may be business owners. He basically said they were making into the six figures annually. Which I would say is probably on par with a younger doctor, and a very good income around here.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:57 AM
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becks - is there any kind of vo-tech school in the area? I grew up in a similar suburban environment, but there was also a very decent vo-tech school that offered training in a ton of things - botany, cosmetology, automobile repair, television & broadcasting, HVAC, culinary. A lot of those kids went on to do very well in specialized careers, without going on to a traditional college. Of course, most of them had a pretty good idea with what they wanted to do.

I know that it allowed for enrollment post-HS too, as well as letting you do half-days there during your traditional HS years.

All that being said, all my "loser exes who will never go on to college or make anything of themselves" according to my parents went into computers/got Microsoft certified or whatever. And are rolling in $$$. I have a liberal arts degree and can barely keep myself alive. Bah.


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:57 AM
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The other thing about construction as a field is that like 137 points out, there are a lot of supervisory/manager/small business sorts of positions available to someone who no longer has the physical ability to go clambering up roofs.

I hear that country clubs have managers these days too.

Look, I promise that if this bloke was like an American champion bricklayer, or representing his country in the World Carpentry Championships I would be saying "probably better stick with that rather than starting at the bottom in tae kwon do". But in the circumstances it just seems daft.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:59 AM
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A good friend of mine is personal trainer.

Armsmasher, on the other hand, is a writer.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 9:59 AM
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152: Come on, you're comparing the best case for a personal trainer (with a trad degree) with the early part of a construction career path and concluding that personal training is the way to go. Not all carpenters end up being successful small business owners, but not all people who like to exercise do, either.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:00 AM
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159: well no. I'm comparing median to median, adjusted for part-time and age structure, and concluding that the wages are the same, but the initial progression is steeper in training, the work is less dangerous and disagreeable, the lad in question actually has relevant experience and we are entering a construction bust.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:04 AM
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What about computer-related shit? That stuff doesn't always require a college degree, and it can be fun to learn on your own or while working.

My neighbor and friend is an IT consultant, lives in a rather bigger house than me, when he isn't living in his other house, and does not have a high-school diploma, let alone a college degree. On the other hand, he wrote a key piece of networking software that pretty much everyone uses, and (as you may have guessed) is extremely smart.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:07 AM
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I thought the computer industry had been professionalized now and people starting now need a college degree, unlike in the 90s. Unless the person is a total genius obsessive.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:08 AM
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It seems like we're falling into the same trap of thinking there is only the option of personal trainer or tradesman now, much like my dad's thinking the only non-college option is the military. Any other suggestions?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:08 AM
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TKD/Personal trainer stuff sounds like a good path. Exploit the network connections: there are a lot of bloggers in DC who'll be hitting the >30+25lb metabolic slowdown in the next few years. A latent client base awaits.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:08 AM
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And I get the sense that the time to get in on the no-degree but know-computers gig was in 1995. Lots of unemployed computer nerds around these days.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:09 AM
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163: Well, depends. Is there anything else that your brother's a national champion at?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:09 AM
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133- Yes, developing alternate paths is necessary, but you can also diminish the appeal of military service as a career option by making the counterarguments usually untold. Looking for excitement? Accounts of just how boring and tedious it is for long periods, even at war. Helping people to become free? Just how many innocent civilians are killed. Etc. Etc.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:09 AM
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I thought the computer industry had been professionalized now and people starting now need a college degree, unlike in the 90s. Unless the person is a total genius obsessive.

I would say he is pretty fucking smart, yeah. Plus, he wrote the right stuff.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:10 AM
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Becks- I was a Marine and was in charge of recruits at Parris Island. Please tell your Dad that if your brother is not highly motivated to become a Marine he will be miserable for 12 weeks and probably wash out anyway. A good DI might be able to spark some inner fire, but most recruits that get sent home didn't want to be there in the first place, and the number one reason was family pressure. I signed too many discharge papers where this was the case.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:10 AM
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Weren't there a bunch of suggestions in the other thread about this? Fighting forest fires I remember, and I know there were some others. I suggested apprenticing to an artisan upthread. It just seems like he's already doing this thing he's good at and which can lead to a pretty stable life, either for a while or as a career.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:11 AM
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Any other suggestions

Cop or firer fighter?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:13 AM
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dsquared and I will stop agreeing about everything any minute now.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:14 AM
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163: "Trades" is a pretty big tent. Does beauty school count as a trade? Then you could make your father's head melt.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:14 AM
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I hear grad school in Philosophy is pretty easy. Or Finance.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:14 AM
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On second look not sure what a firer is, but I am sure he could fight it and win.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:14 AM
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Does beauty school count as a trade?

Driving around town the other day I saw a Cosmetology place that had the owner's name on a sign and, underneath, the words "Ph.D in Ethnic Hair Care."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:15 AM
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172: did you notice that the moment you started having good sex, you started agreeing with me?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:16 AM
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re: 162

That's increasingly true, yeah. I have a lot of IT experience, it's what I did before I went to university and I've maintained that throughout [doing IT contractor type work to fund my studies]. I applied recently for a job for which i was qualified* and I didn't even get an interview. I can only assume that part of that was that I don't have a degree in an IT related subject.

* by which I mean, it required a very specific combination of skills, each of which is fairly common but which are almost never found in combination. And my most recent work experience was in exactly that combination of skills.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:16 AM
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Becks, I think that what we should be looking for here is not an alternative career path that will shepherd him from seventeen to retirement (!) but rather an interim solution to get him out from under your dad's weird influence and give him some eckperience in the world until he's able to make up his own mind about what he wants to do, ie, until he's able to tell your dad off.

So, Americorps, forest fire-fighting, personal training... all of those ideas from the other thread...


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:16 AM
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I know a guy who trained as a masseur and did that and bartending for years before putting himself through Yale.

If your brother really likes TKD, could you push him towards a degree in sports medicine or nutrition or even the CC certification (placates your dad)?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:17 AM
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Any other suggestions?

Beyond the previous forest/prairie-firefighting recommendations, natural disaster-related work generally seems like a good bet.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:17 AM
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)| Tangent

LB, have you had any word from that interview?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:19 AM
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This is one of my pet topics and I'm sorry I missed it. Basically there are three things in play: how will he earn money, what will make his parents happy, and what does he want. The parents sound like they're on the middle class track, in the sense that making good money in a plebian business wouldn't make them happy. The brother sounds like he doesn't know what he wants.

The military is the worst possible choice. Besides death, there are many other potential and likely problems. One of my family members rehabbed through the military, but the bro doesn't sound like he's on a terrible downward path.

If it were my kid I'd tell him to make his living as best he knew how for a couple years, but that we'd be holding college money for him. I'd also be willing to pay college money for a legit trade school or even as startup money for a business.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:19 AM
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I can only assume that part of that was that I don't have a degree in an IT related subject.

More likely your swarthy Glaswegianness. Or, more seriously, that they thought you wouldn't stick around (unless it was contract work).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:19 AM
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179: It has to look like it could shepherd from career till retirement, even if it only lasts five years, otherwise the military will win out.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:20 AM
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169- Are they discharging that many people these days? Seems like they'll take anyone who can fog a mirror with all the waivers they're handing out- or is that only Army and the Marines are still selective?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:21 AM
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I thought the computer industry had been professionalized now and people starting now need a college degree, unlike in the 90s. Unless the person is a total genius obsessive.

Not so I've noticed. To be a programmer, perhaps, but I can count at least four or five sysadmins that I know who entered the field in the last five or so years and don't have any college at all, and in some cases only have a GED. He might have to start in desktop support or something, but that's still a lot better than laying asphalt or being up to your elbows in a mix of shit and drano.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:23 AM
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182: Argh argh argh argh. No, no word. Argh.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:23 AM
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It has to look like it could shepherd from career till retirement, even if it only lasts five years, otherwise the military will win out.

Where are my knives?

Ok, I'd better walk away from this thread now.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:23 AM
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185, 189: Yeah, I really think an important part of handling this is creating a family dynamic that makes it clear that your father doesn't have the power to order your brother into the Marines, and is a ninny for suggesting it forcefully.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:24 AM
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Okay, it won't win out. His dad will be content if his plan includes working at Starbucks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:25 AM
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"more like a Marine" silliness

Don't tell me about it, tell Becks, Sr. I'm not the one who thinks that something as stupid as the USMC in 2008 is a good career move.

Not at all always true!

And yet still fairly true! I know, because I did it, with very little prior experience, for 4 years out of college. I'm not talking out of some white collar ignorance (or economics school study), but personal experience.

Surprising fact: even in an economic downturn, collapsed ceilings and broken windows need to be repaired.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:25 AM
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And when I say "creating a family dynamic" I mean "shouting a lot."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:25 AM
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188. Crap. I was hoping for good news for you. Even knowing it is the holiday season, when decisions don't get made, doesn't help much I guess.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:26 AM
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More likely your swarthy Glaswegianness. Or, more seriously, that they thought you wouldn't stick around (unless it was contract work).

Or that they already had the person they wanted to hire in mind, and just listed the job to jump through hoops.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:27 AM
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Maybe he could get pregnant and sell his story to OK magazine, like Britney's sister.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:27 AM
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This was a second interview. The first interview was in maybe July sometime? But it went so nicely that I was kind of hoping this would be a quicker response.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:27 AM
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192: four years is less than an economic cycle and one anecdote is less than a representative dataset. It's precisely because handyman jobs of that sort can be done by people with "little prior experience" that it is not possible for skilled construction tradesmen to preserve their income in an economic downturn in this manner.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:27 AM
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196: Not to mention the miracle of funding lots of research projects!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:28 AM
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187: Or you can get your ABD in philosophy to prepare for a sysadmin career.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:29 AM
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Being a plumber isn't an alternative to being an MD, it's an alternative to being a BA barista. Uncertain and unmotivated students tend to drift to BA degrees, most of which have little intrinsic value. An English BA requires at least a year of additional schooling, and the programs you're channeled toward aren't necessarily really appealing.

IIRC the bottom rank of MDs in the US, except for the ones who are effectively donating their time, make about $100,000.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:29 AM
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198: How do personal trainers fare in economic downturns?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:30 AM
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202: It's absolutely recession-proof. Countercyclical, actually.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:31 AM
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I've a dutch-nephew who is about the same age and has, on his own, decided to join the colors after HS. This is better than Beck's bro with the pressure from dad. But, my nephew's reason is not because he wants to join the military per se, but that it will pay for college (a bunch of siblings and not a ton of cash). Mind, he isn't all that sure about college either. Then again, he is 15 going on 16.

Still, I have strongly urged him that he should only join up if his primary purpose is to be in the military. If it is, I support him 100% even with a war on. But joining up for the bennies should be secondary. TLL is right.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:33 AM
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Or you can get your ABD in philosophy to prepare for a sysadmin career.

Well, a sysadmin career at a pretty high-falutin' company, iirc. The person I was thinking of has a high school diploma, no college at all, worked desktop support at Verizon, and is now a sysadmin at a dot-com (support, not operations), a job she got within the last year. being a girl helps (her words, not mine), but even so.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:33 AM
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In many parts of the country the influx of illegals has had a bad effect on wages and working conditions in construction and similar trades. And of course the housing bust isn't helping either.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:36 AM
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198: Four years is what we're talking about for this kid. If he likes the building trades, then it's a career, and good enough. If he doesn't at all, then he doesn't pursue it. If it's OK but not great, then he's in it for 4 years, keeps himself housed and fed, and looks to something else in 2012, the Marine Corps safely in the rear view mirror.

Also: I don't think he's a national champion TKD - he's good at teaching kids how to kick each other. Not exactly the same, and somehow less useful to your argument. Huh.

Anyway, I've already said twice that, if he wants to go that route, he should pursue it. But if he does want to, why is this discussion even happening? He's already on this career path.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:38 AM
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My ex-wife worked as a masseuse for about 30 years and was always making OK money. Her clients were rich and economic downturns didn't affect her (the kind of economic downturns we have these days don't reach very high). All contract work, no bennies, no retirement, flexible hours.

I say this because personal trainer sounds similar. There may be info above I haven't read, but otherwise personal trainer strikes me as a very odd choice for anything other than getting by for a few years. A notch above pool boy and yacht crewman, but basically a servant type position. (My ex-wife wasn't concerned about social status.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:38 AM
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I don't think he's a national champion TKD

I think he his, or something like it; mentioned in a long-ago thread. Stop picking on my fuck buddy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:42 AM
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206: My understanding is that undoc workers mostly pervade the cheap housing industry - that's part of why I specified way up top that he should look for a small-scale guy who wouldn't be hiring out of the parking lot of 7-11. And obviously, if he goes into a union apprenticeship, there's neither price nor position competition from undoc workers. Finally, most Americans will not be hiring undoc workers for indoor handyman work (which is the fallback job for this path).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:42 AM
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All contract work, no bennies, no retirement, flexible hours.

You know, I hadn't pinned it down until you said this, but I think my guesses about benefits are what was making me thing of building trades as a better idea than personal training. I haven't researched this, so I don't have data, but I'd guess that a building trades job would be much more likely to have health insurance than a personal trainer job. Being a personal trainer sounds like the sort of thing where they call you an independent contractor and don't give you anything but your paycheck.

Anyone know?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:44 AM
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A notch above pool boy and yacht crewman, but basically a servant type position.

I think it depends. If you work at a club or corporation, you can move up to something like a management position. You can also set up your own shop, and become a proprietor of a small business, hiring trainers to work for you. If you just do sessions, then yeah, I think it's like being a masseuse.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:45 AM
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mentioned in a long-ago thread

Argh. Suspected as much, but couldn't bother to search. But really national-champ? Like, #1 at his age and weight, not just, say, been to the nationals with a hundred other kids?

Anyway, I think the key question is whether his interaction with kids translates to adults - as an 18-y.o. personal trainer, he'd be working with people older than him. Skills with kids can be very transferable, or not at all. His personal TKD abilities are secondary - even less important if his training regimen isn't TKD-specific.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:46 AM
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Anyone know?

Check the link in 127.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:46 AM
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In some or many areas of construction there's very little union work available, so that all union workers end up doing some non-union work. Politics of various sorts decides whether jobs are union or not, and the union jobs go to high-seniority guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:47 AM
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214: It doesn't really say much about benefits.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:48 AM
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It says that you probably won't get benefits unless you work for a corporation, which is a hard gig to get.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:51 AM
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215 is a good point for potential longevity. Around here, the ironworkers (who actually put up the steel frames of bldgs) have been advertising on billboards - they need apprentices. I know that a number of the other unions are taking apprentices as well, which they don't do unless there's enough work. But Becksville may not feature much in the way of union work, and Becks, Jr. may not want to move just to follow this vague career path. Or that may be perfect.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:52 AM
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Meh, benefits. Just pray for Edwards and 60 Ds in the Senate, and you can have all the healthcare you can eat.

As for retirement - wasn't Jack LaLane working out until he was 90?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:58 AM
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re: 184

It was a fixed term contract for the duration of a single project. Although I suppose the contract was marginally longer than the previous couple I'd taken.

195 is also extremely likely.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 10:59 AM
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Becks brother should investigate working for a railroad, either as a trainman or a yardman. The pay is good, the job is secure (steady demand an union contract), and the health and retirement benefits are excellent. After 25 years of shrinking their workforces, the railroads are hiring like mad (slightly less so in the last 12 months, but that's a cyclical blip). The first few years will suck from a scheduling and shift assignment perspective, but after he has seniority it's pretty easy-going. Also, half the incumbent workforce will be gone in 10 years (due to aforementioned demographic gap), so he will get high seniority very quickly.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:05 AM
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This city is crawling with contractors with minimal skills who got their licenses (an easy process) only because there's been so much work; even in a downturn, competent, reliable tradesmen will have plenty of work here for a long time.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:07 AM
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Okay, I've got an employment question of my own. I recently took a computer programming aptitude test, and it was kind of fun. A friend of mine told me that a friend of hers left publishing to do work as a computer programmer. I'm told that there are actors in New York who do computer programming, because they can get benefits and work kind of erratic hours. Where are these jobs? I thought that you needed to have a computer science degree to work as a computer programmer and that only high-end stuff was being done domestically. The entry-level stuff is being sent to India, right?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:09 AM
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In fairness, I should mention that a major drawback of railroad jobs is mandatory drug testing.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:12 AM
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re: 223

It depends what you mean by programming.

I'd be surprised if much of the everyday 'programming' that people can get on casual contracts -- db development, web-programming, that sort of thing -- gets farmed out to India. But I'm not familiar with the software development market [rather than the database/web market which is where I personally get work].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:15 AM
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Cooking school not a good investment.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:27 AM
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BG, to add to what ttaM says, if it's worth their while to run the aptitude tests, there must be a market for the people they select. I'd guess that database, web programming is the market they have in mind - serious software people are a rather different species to the rest of us. You'd have to do a training course, and whoever runs that would give you some tips about looking for work, even if they didn't have a formal assistance programme. Worth looking into, but it's not big bucks any more.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:31 AM
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Seems like they'll take anyone who can fog a mirror with all the waivers they're handing out

There is a big difference between who gets recruited and who gets through basic. Certainly the DI's are trying harder to retain recruits, but they also don't want to retain recruits who are unsuitable, because the cost will be measured in lives.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:34 AM
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Becks, do I have your dad's thought processes right?

"My son isn't a very good student and university seems like a bad fit, because he won't be able to get in anywhere on scholarship and will likely founder, putting himself in debt with no degree. He won't succeed now at the school where I teach, either. He could take some time and figure out his options, except that I'm retiring, which leaves us back to square one: poor grades, no money, lots of debt. So delaying his schooling won't help.

"If he goes into the military, he will learn some useful skill and figure out what he wants out of life, and then, they will pay for college. Problem solved!

If that's the case, there was an article a couple months back about some guys, National Guard I think, who signed up for a second tour because they needed X days to secure an education and their term ended up being officially over at X-1. Aside from all of the nasty business of the military (which your dad might be justifying as 'worth it if it means he goes places in life'), this means that the reason your dad wants the military for his kid is unlikely to pan out. Depending on your dad, that might work more than 'my little brother might get blown up' as an argument against the military.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:43 AM
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No one ever was sorry they learned to weld.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:50 AM
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Machining is fun and profitable.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:52 AM
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Both of those things are usually taught (to some extent) at vo-tecs and ccs.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:53 AM
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I do find that there are a variety of computer-related jobs that are less dependent on college degrees compared to comparable jobs. Not necessarily "serious" programming or the "self-made network guru" type of thing, but rather infrastructure-related help desk or deskside support or computer operations. In those areas people with the right aptitude (good intuitive grasp of informally using the Scientific Method, some people skills & a willingness to dig through things like Microsoft Technet without committing suicide) can often get themselves pretty well-established w/o a degree.

This came up in my last real involvement in our college recruiting process when I was quizzed on why compuitng infrastructure groups did not seem to benefit from the formal process. My reply was something along the lines of "Because they need the kids flunking Sociology because they are hanging out at the the Computer Lab too much rather than the little cookie-cutter brown-nosers you send them."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:53 AM
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163: It seems like we're falling into the same trap of thinking there is only the option of personal trainer or tradesman now, much like my dad's thinking the only non-college option is the military. Any other suggestions?

A job that could become a lifetime career with a path to advancement and stuff, or at least close enough to that to fool your father, for a teenager who isn't inclined towards post-secondary education whose closest things to marketable skills are teaching ability and Tae Kwon Do? (Both of which are great skills, don't get me wrong, but not very marketable, especially without a college degree.) Yeah, I think personal trainer, tradesman or soldier more or less covers it these days, unfortunately. Sales, maybe, but probably not. I agree with the people who are saying that looking for a career should not be a priority at this point.

Admittedly, this is ex recto, but there are still ways to get a degree for a non-ridiculous price even though undergraduate tuition costs a ton on paper, right? State college, community college, Canadian college (although maybe that won't be an option if the dollar falls any further), getting your employer to pay for part of it, working at a college and getting an employee discount... It'll never be as easy as it would be right out of high school, sure, but in the unlikely event that your brother decides someday that he wants or needs college, I doubt it's really now or never.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:57 AM
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229 - I think what you're saying is pretty close to his thought process. Funny - my mother already brought up the National Guard X/X-1 thing with him (she mentioned that when I talked with her about how I thought it was a bad way to pay for college). I plan on revisiting it with him -- he could be dismissing anything my mother says as hysterical anti-war arguments. I'm hoping that if I don't immediatly jump to arguing that he can't serve in the military because the current state of the military is bad and instead try to persuade him that it's a bad idea for LittleBro that he might listen to things like the X/X-1 argument more closely.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 11:58 AM
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230: Especially if you are going to appear on Junkyard Wars!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:01 PM
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236: do they still make that show? I'd love it, except that I think they sweetened the junkyards.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:04 PM
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they also don't want to retain recruits who are unsuitable, because the cost will be measured in lives.

Not in recruiters' lives, though.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:07 PM
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238. That is why there is a difference between recruiters and DI's. Both are guaranteed promotion upon successful completion. Great way to get that rocker.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:13 PM
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I'm only popping by for a quick second (as I'm planning to be all dedicated and focused today), but in case no one has mentioned it upthread, I've known a few people who did Americorps and loved it. I don't know, really, whether it's the sort of thing that helps a guy figure out what he wants to be when he grows up, but it seems rather like the very thing to give a guy some time to grow up while he figures out what he wants to be.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:15 PM
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177: So we've established both that ogged is having sex and that it's good? Geez, miss a day, miss alot...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:20 PM
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235: Yeah, I know my dad would be unconvinced by weepy arguments from the family liberal, but could be convinced by a benefits one. I suspect if youngest calasis had been a calabro, the military would have gotten kicked around as an option in our household, too.

I think if you hit him with "this is just not a good financial plan" plus "And look at his plan for being self-sufficient with his proven TKD skill & the CC's program for certification & State's program for physical therapy & all those aging boomers" might have some luck. Maybe some literature on adult-oriented education might help, too. "See, he can make money getting people in shape, sock it away, and once he figures out what he wants, he'll be able to pay for it." Or if your brother does some votechy things now for fun or summer jobs, he can make the case that he can do that for profit. (Better to have some experience than vague hopes of 'Oh, I could swing a hammer.')


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:26 PM
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Two people I know 25-40 did the National Guard fro education thing. Both were very very lucky not to go to Iraq (after all, wars are what armies are for), and both may have had to use devious methods to get out. One was a new mother at the time she was to be sent, but I'm not sure that's what got her out. It was a nightmare all around.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:28 PM
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I don't think anyone has mentioned banking yet. I know from personal experience that banking and/or finance are career categories where a person can make good money with only a HS Diploma. You start at the bottom and work your way up, but the industry doesn't care about your education level.


Posted by: Ko-Ain't | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:42 PM
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One more comment and I'm going to go away again.

Little Brother seems incredibly powerless in all of this discussing of his future. Is there any way to help him exercise some agency in this future-planning? What does HE want to do? What sorts of things does he enjoy more than others? Even if we come up with Teh Best Career Plan Evah, it's Little Brother who's going to have to prefer it to the military. Really, the only way that Becks's father is going to be put in his place is by Little Brother's saying, "here's the way it's going to be, Daddy-O."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:45 PM
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What were the thoughts on him joining the Coast Guard as a compromise? I learned on Thanksgiving that my directionless cousin will be heading that way come the new year, in theory to have an adventure and "figure stuff out" without the blowing up of shit and babykilling. Quick Googling suggests you get the same educational benefits in the CG as you do in the other uniformed services.

I learned from The Guardian that CGers should be careful in Navy bars, though.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:51 PM
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What does HE want to do?

Exactly: and it's quite possible he's not doing well in school because he's simply not interested enough, therefore can't focus (even enough to tell whether he's done well on a test). My own brother had the same trouble in the last couple of years of high school. The obvious answer is for him to pursue work in something he clearly is interested in ... hence following up somehow on the TKD/teaching. Something pursued simply because he's been handed the task may well run into the same focus issues.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 12:56 PM
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245: I don't think anyone was suggesting that this decision be made without his consent. Just looking for suggestions because asking him what he wants to do might be generating a big 'dunno' at this point.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 1:02 PM
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Certainly the DI's are trying harder to retain recruits, but they also don't want to retain recruits who are unsuitable, because the cost will be measured in lives.

TLL, I'm curious to know what percentage of enlistees don't make it through boot camp. Do you know? Thanks.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 2:33 PM
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Methinks Unfogged is showing its true bourgie colors here. On the one hand, there's nothing much wrong with "screw around for a couple of years". On the other hand, there are lots of pretty good jobs that aren't college-track. Not MD-level, but pretty good. But they involve being obviously not New Class and not cool, and thus would not appeal to properly ambitious parents or Unfoggedians.

Last, for guys who don't know what they want to do, or who don't really want to do anything, life can be rough. Even relatively easy jobs require some commitment. I've certainly been there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:14 PM
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Dude, we're (largely. I certainly am.) bourgie as all get out, but we've been suggesting non-college jobs right and left. What great suggestions got left on the table that would had been offered if the commentariat had been further down with the gente?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:18 PM
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Babykilling isn't the worst problem with military service. It's the actual personal death-or-dismemberment experiences. All the military services including the Guards are routinely liable to combat now -- one of Rumsfeld's efficiency innovations. The George Bush draftdodger Guard is ancient history -- Bush uses the Guard's new wartime mission as a screen to hide the actual nature of his own service behind. And even with a Democrat in office, I would expect more or less continual warfare in the future.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:20 PM
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I think the point is that Witt in 94 suggests getting advice from someone different from all of us, who will probably suggest things none of us had heard of.

I like the railroad idea, personally. There will have to be a lot more railroad jobs in the coming decades. I would have liked the trucking idea 20 years ago.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:20 PM
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All of us with children and friends know about the issue of setting up or guiding the non-academically inclined, whether we face it personally or not; People we know do. I'm not aware of a good general answer. "School skills," as several people mentioned above, seem to be more-and-more needed for all sorts of occupations that didn't used to need them.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:23 PM
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Although not all school skills. Becks Jr. sounds like he has a test problem, not a reading comprehension or other school-type-behavior problem. He might do just fine learning difficult stuff in a vocational rather than an academic framework.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:25 PM
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I don't know, now. Probably less than 20%. here is a link to the official policy:http://www.usmc.mil/directiv.nsf/6132dc9fe2213a378525707a00532d62/dbc15635bdf2cae585256776005aecd6/$FILE/MCO%201130.65A.pdf


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:39 PM
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Thanks OFE.

The Computer Programming Aptitude test was given to me by a vocational counselor, so I'm not sure how many jobs there are out there. I've heard that there are some where they'll actually train you, though. But I'm dubious.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 3:45 PM
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I've heard that IT consulting firms, like accenture, will train you, but I don't actually know anyone who went that route.

You can get hired anywhere, if you show off something cool; I know a high school dropout who got a job at Google (and then quit to found a startup).


Posted by: halax | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 6:00 PM
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All the military services including the Guards are routinely liable to combat now -- one of Rumsfeld's efficiency innovations. The George Bush draftdodger Guard is ancient history -- Bush uses the Guard's new wartime mission as a screen to hide the actual nature of his own service behind.

learn some history. a big part of the post-vietnam reform of the armed forces was moving large chunks of the military into the guard and the reserves, precisely on the grounds that it would make it harder to wage a prolonged and intense war without broad political approval. if anything, rumsfeld would rather have moved things back to the professional military, trying to reverse the effect.

BG: you can get computer programming jobs without a degree if you have some experience. getting the experience doesn't take money, just time and inclination, but it's critical. or you might be able to find a big consulting firm that would train you.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 6:15 PM
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getting the experience doesn't take money, just time and inclination

This is not my area, but I have heard that people who get into open source development build their skills in open source communities and sometimes get jobs because of their work there.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12-19-07 8:43 PM
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||
God damn it, I hate job negotiations. I feel like asking for more money or vacation time is going to piss off the people who will be my bosses, even though they're probably expecting me to ask for more money and will be surprised if I don't.
|> (but not really since this thread was at the end of the tape anyway.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-20-07 3:18 PM
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