Degree by Default
The writer of “Degree by Default”, April Yee, is a Ph.D. degree candidate in the
Sociology and Higher Education departments at the University of Pennsylvania. She does a lot of
research into the sociology in education and social class inequality. The article “Degree by
Default” gets into the reason(s) behind why graduates from high school go to college. She
Followed 34 first-year students from diverse backgrounds, male and female students, and even
first generation students to children that had parents that went to college. With all the diverse
students chosen, she wanted to find out why students went to college, consequences of going to
college when you aren’t ...view middle of the document...
Unlike years ago, the same jobs only required that you need a high school
diploma due to advancements in technology. Sociologist Randall Collins predicted this shift in
society that the college degree will replace the high school diploma in his book “Credential
Society” over thirty years ago. Why high school graduates are going to college is from pressure
from their parents or society to achieve that “better” life to be successful. Whatever claim they
make, nowadays it’s something that is expected from them in society to go to college, enlist in
the military, or some kind of trade school due to socialization in our culture.
United States society has been shifting from an industrial economy to a service economy.
Most of the blue collar jobs are being shipped to the countries that are industrializing where the
people are willing to work for a lesser pay than Americans and the globalization of the world’s
economies lead to this shift in economics. Society has to adapt to these changes and the shift to a
service industry requires more people to have college degrees to compete for the jobs. The next
step for the U.S. society is the postindustrial where the focus of the jobs is in communications,
media, R&D, financial institutions, and advance technologies. All these fields and related fields
require a higher education and less on the job training. The social norm of the postindustrial
societies then requires more people with college degrees and now the shift in the belief that
people have the expectation from the society that they need to go to college.
Socialization for kids is to learn the cultural norms and values in the society they are
living in. In the postindustrial society they focus more on education for the college degree to help
with better job opportunities since less people are going into the “family business”. Families that
take up their parents’ roles for their future jobs like agriculture and industrial production jobs and
focus more on the higher education allow for the next generation to adjust to society changes
from industrial economy to a service economy. In China the same transition is happening from
an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. More of their people are going into the
factories for jobs to make a living instead of working on the family farms. China’s social norms
are adjusting to the change by being able to make a better living for themselves in these factory
jobs and moving to the cities much like the United States did a little over a hundred years ago.
Society’s changes are necessary for the progress of the culture. As the society changes
there is a need for change in social norms and values of the culture. When the job market shifts
from industrial to service then there is a much more need of higher educated people to take up
jobs in the market. Kids are growing up with the social norms and...