Some advice from career counselor Mayor Bloomberg: If you are a so-so high school student, steer clear of college — and learn to clear clogged drains.
Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show Friday that going to trade school to become a plumber is a better economic bet for many teenagers than obtaining an undergraduate degree.
“The people who are going to have the biggest problem are college graduates who aren’t rocket scientists, if you will, not at the top of their class,” he said.
“Compare a plumber to going to Harvard College — being a plumber, actually for the average person, probably would be a better deal.”
He said plumbers make a good living without having to pay off college loans.
“You don’t spend ... four years spending $40,000, $50,000 in tuition without earning income,” he explained.
Another benefit: Plumbers don’t have to worry about their jobs being outsourced or handled by computers. “It’s hard to farm that out ... and it’s hard to automate that,” he said.
The mayor said “a number” of studies conclude that plumbers start their careers with less debt and higher wages than their peers who attend college.
Mark Kantrowitz, an authority on college financial planning, said the mayor is partly right.
With the loss of income for four years, plus student debt, some people who go to college will have less to spend over their lifetime than people who skip school and land well-paying jobs in trades like plumbing and electrical work. “Not everyone has to go to get a college degree to get a good job,” he said.
But, Kantrowitz added, for most people, “college is a good investment.”
By attending a state school or a less prestigious private college, some students can improve their chances of faring better financially over the long haul, he said. “The only schools that cost $40,000 or $50,000 like the mayor said are elite schools,” Kantrowitz said.