Phi Beta Cons

How Does the Military Manage?

We keep hearing about all the jobs that “require” a college degree — as if the work were so hard that a bright high-school kid couldn’t possibly learn to do it. But as the writer of this e-mail points out, the military has jobs that call for a great deal of training, intelligence, and responsibility and manages with young people who for the most part have never gone past high school in formal education:

Mr. Leef: I completely agree with your view on higher education and its necessity, or perhaps its non-necessity. I served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years, attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer. I was in the communications field where we worked with complicated equipment in the various frequency ranges such as HF, VHF, LF, SHF and others. We had to know how to put the systems together so that we would be able to communicated via encrypted circuits to other ships and stations as well as ships of allied countries steaming with us who used similar and compatible systems but required special components. I don’t have a college education and the vast majority of the sailors who worked with and for me did not as well, yet we were  able to work our systems, communicate effectively, write reports, and do all the million and one other things required when serving on a U.S. Navy Frigate. The idea that all of our children must have college educations is ridiculous. We need welders and machinists, electricians and plumbers, cops and firefighters and all other sorts of jobs that are not necessarily dependent on a higher education. I’m reminded of a joke where a guy is talking to a woman who tells him that she has a degree in psychology. Oh really, says the guy, that’s great. Yeah, says the woman, would you like to supersize your drink?


Art Brecher

Chief Petty Officer

United States Navy (ret)

Sparks Nevada

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.