WCCC News Article

Welding Senior Graduating, Already Working

Branden Baker

Warren County Career Center Welding Senior Branden Baker, Springboro, is featured in a new book, “The College Dilemma: The Lies We Tell Our Children and the Truth We Hide” by Professor Brooks Fiesinger. In the book, Fiesinger analyzes college education and the shortage of skilled tradespeople. Branden and his father, Doug, are profiled in the book because Branden chose to become certified in welding and go into the workforce instead of finishing traditional high school and then going on to a four-year college. Doug, a successful business owner, supports his son’s decision. Branden is already working at Hamilton Safe and is on track to meet his career and financial goals.

At age 10, he began helping in his father’s auto business, Car Connection Ohio, which sells late model vehicles and parts to car rebuilders. By age 15 he was working at Kings Island, working long hours and saving his money. Branden has followed his father’s advice to plan ahead financially. He had the intelligence and resources to go to college, but prefers a different path to success.

“I plan to keep pursuing welding and seeing how far I get,” Branden said about his future career plans. “I am excited about my future in an in-demand career field. I learned a lot in my welding lab and am certified to progress in my career.”

“A hot topic that has been brewing for the last few months has been the student debt loan crisis, high college costs, low graduate salaries, and even collegiate fraud,” Fiesinger said when asked about his reason for writing the book. “Bachelor’s degree attainment has grown 21.2% in the last 10 years, yet the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have any non-STEM bachelor’s degree careers on its list of top 30 list of forecasted career needs.

“I believe many students would be better off going to trade schools, but as a society for some crazy reason, we make kids feel like that is NOT an OK path for high achievers. Instead we push them to derail their lives forever down a college path that may not be right for them. Again, don't get me wrong - I love college, and teach there because I love to see students do amazing things with their lives. If a student dreams of being an engineer, by all means go get an engineering degree! You'll make plenty of money to pay off the loan, you'll have good placement odds, and because you are passionate about it you will work hard, study hard, and take a lot from the experience.

“But a lot of the ‘engineers’ don't even want to be engineers. They'd rather be an electrician, but being an ‘electrician’ wasn't an option. So instead they drop out of an engineering program after two years because it’s a bad fit, and wind up doing general construction labor, paying off $40k in student loans.”

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