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Worth it?

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Hi everyone! I‘m Arke, a high-school beekeeper and I plan to go into beekeeping and teaching beekeeping as a career later in life. As I’m approaching senior year, I’m trying to decide whether or not a four-year university would suit my goals.
If I went, I would not major in entomology, as I am viscerally afraid of most bugs (ironic, I’m aware), so please don’t suggest that.
I have access to the UC Davis California Master Beekeeping program, which feels more aligned with my interests (not to mention $30,000 cheaper). Does anyone have any thoughts or experience? Is traditional college worth it?
 

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Is traditional college worth it?
Yes.
But pick a worthwhile field that at least is somewhat aligned with your interests and abilities.

Beekeeping in general is not an industry where good money is to be made for the amount of work it takes. You need to bring some bacon to the table if to lead independent life one day.
Across all the industries out there, this is rather a low-budget curious fringe niche.
 

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If going to college will help you make money and secure your goals then it is a wise choice.

If not don't waste the time and money. Another option is to get a trade or skill that can make you money faster. Skills like welding, HVAC, truck driving (I hated driving a truck) or other skills that can pay good for those willing and are in high demand. You can save a lot of money up for future bee expansion. Be prepared to work your butt off and go without what typical Americans think are necessary. ( new phones), (new cars) (new TVs) (new anything) and weekends haha. If you aren't willing to work longer and harder than the average person you won't ever make it.

You can though. I don't say this to discourage you, but to give you some real sense of what you are proposing to do.

I started off beekeeping in my teens didn't know what the heck I was doing. Did just about everything wrong. The only thing I did right was to not give up and to work harder and smarter each year.

If beekeeping is truly your desire do yourself a huge favor and go work for an operation that has been proven successful for many years. Preferably an operation that has been in business for 10+ years. Do everything from scraping lids to queen grafting. My biggest regret wasn't that I didn't go to college, but that I didn't work with a bee master when I was around your age. Could have saved years and 10's of thousands

Instead of college debt and a piece of paper get the skills you need or some that will help you get you where you need to be and make some money while you are doing it.

P.S.
If you can't make money and be sustainable with ten hives you can't do it with 50-100 or any number. Don't grow past your experience or you will get burnt.
 

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such a simple question , with a very varied answer.

I went and I do not regret it, but now it is way way more costly AND it has been bastardized with politics or brain washing if that fits better. I would not go into debt 100K to get the degree. BTW teaching in general is a profession, if that is your wish then some sort of teaching degree is needed.
I agree with the above, today some sort of skilled trade is a cheaper way to get to a good paying job. I am thinking Electrician, welder, dozer/back hoe operator.

It really depends on your internal make up and what you want. I am not trying to block any path you have but as a high schooler you may also change your mind a time or 2, try to not get too far down a path before you decide it is not for you.

Also agree go find a summer job doing bee keeping with someone who "can " make money at it. The "master beekeeper" paper is no guarantee that you will make it in the trade. I have had bees since I was in High school, it somewhat can be done with any profession. heck you could bar tend in the evenings and keep in the day time.

I wish you all the luck you need to get on the path for you, what else do you like to do? build, create, Every thing in your world does not need to be bee related.

Here is an example, I wish I had tried. work you butt off as a pipeline welder or back hoe operator for 10 years, living like a college student. save every penny you can, then get a Tim's or a Burger King, or a McDonalds. (need 200K ish to go there) now work there 2 days a week to keep it running and do beekeeping the other 5. 100k of that would be the college debt you did not need, and since you started 4 to 5 years sooner you also have that time back. the 4-5 years in college and the 100K or more it costs needs to be considered in the big picture.

best
GG
 

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I suspect that if you dig into the paths of those currently teaching beekeeping (as a sustainable career) you'll find a large number of them have gone to college. As Grey Goose pointed out, teaching as a profession requires a college degree for most schools (private schools may have different criteria).

It's all well and good to suggest a trade career, if you want to spend the better parts of the beekeeping seasons doing that trade and not working with bees. The trade workers in my family went in early and came home late and exhausted for years before they got enough senority to get into better situations. In addition you'll need to think long and hard about how gender and race fits into those trade careers. Depending on the area and the career they are still dominated by white men. Your personality may see that as a challenge, which is great; if not it can be damaging to you.

For me, college was a tremendous experience and a great exposure to all walks of life (liberal and conservative). I made some of my best lifelong friends in college, I went places I never would have considered otherwise. I learned things about people and families that were beyond my small world.
 

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I am just back from 1 hour drive (took a kid to COVID testing site and back).

While driving across town on the highway, I got to observe hundreds of various industries around me.
Beekeeping?
Zero.

So, think about this for a minute.
 

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Speaking of the 4-year college, I will make sure my kids go thru it.
Even if for the exposure for what it is.
At the same time one needs to be smart about finances - we can not afford California or Boston, so forget it. There plenty of less glamorous ways to get the same.

The oldest kid is ready to graduate with a double-major.
He could have already, but we told him to not get rushed and take 1-2 more semesters (because he can). Meanwhile, he should take his time and look around at the job market and think about a potential carrier AND (again) take his time while doing it.
No silly knee jerk reactions are needed.

His debt - zero.
All paid by himself through the scholarships and work (staying with parents helped too which I only support).

What they do afterwords is their own choice and responsibility.
Our friends' son qot his Computer Science degree and........ decided to become a flight attendant upon graduation. Well, it is his life.
 

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I'd go for a primary career and keep beekeeping as a second profession if you can make it work. Traditional college really is only worth it anymore if you can gain marketable skills that are in demand. Something like accounting would allow you to bring a skill to any beekeeping business you may start. Just FYI, I am an entomologist and can say the job market is not the greatest so it really has to be a passion. I ended up Joining the Army 20 yrs ago because I decided tenure track academics wasn't for me. About ready to retire soon to practice beekeeping full time for fun (and my son is getting a degree in accounting).

Whatever you do, don't let the demographics of any particular profession dissuade you. This really is a non-factor. If you are good at what you do people will seek you out regardless--except the few you don't want to work for/with anyway.
 

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I imagine you will need to make over $100,000 per year to afford to live in California in the future, if not more.
If you plan to go into business for yourself I suggest a basic business degree at least 2 years long. It's hard to work full time and try to learn the basics on how to run a business.
How about working for a commercial beekeeper for a couple of years to see if you want to do that the rest of your life?
 

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When I was fresh out of high school, I had a direction firmly in mind as to where I was going to go. As time goes on, priorities will change, desires will change, and the direction will change. A well rounded education that is transferable to other fields will allow one to make such changes. A lack of education basically means 75% of the doors ahead of you are going to be closed. When I went for post secondary, I took engineering, and in the end it opened a lot of doors.

Today, I own an engineering firm, we specialize in a field that didn't even exist when I was going to school. I think a lot of folks finishing high school today will find the same as time goes on, the world is constantly changing. Where many will end up 20 or 30 years from now will be a field that does not exist today.

If one is thinking beekeeping, then I would suggest you take a close look at larger scale commercial beekeepers. The successful ones tend to be running a substantial business, and being the 'businessman' occupies the majority of the time, the actual work of keeping bees tends to be delegated to employees. This makes sense because there is a limit to how much one person can do, so scaling up in bee colonies will require more people to get all the work done. As soon as one scales up to the point employees are required, then a lot of other issues come into play. There is accounting to be done, payroll to meet, expenses to be covered, list goes on, and just gets bigger as the operation grows. A background in running a business transfers to any field.

I met a fella a few years ago, interesting chap, he was an RCMP officer. He had gone to university for something, I dont remember what, but worked for a beekeeper on the prairies as his summer job while going to school. His comment was 'loved it when I started, but, there is a reason I'm doing this today....'.
 

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I may be 14, but just listen. I have ties to a trucking business let's say. A trucker can make 100k a year and truck companies are in desperate need of drivers. Most truck companies will pay for you to get the special driving license you need to drive a semi. If you get that license now (better sooner than later as it gets harder to get one all the time), and your bee business fails or you don't want to do it anymore, you will have a great job to fall back on.
 

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Another side of it is that university can be done without paying huge amounts of money, but that takes work too. My daughters both recently graduated without student debt. They spent many hours searching for and applying for grants and scholarships. Some of the scholarships had very few people apply. The money is there but you have to treat going for it as a part time job. Also, universities are seeing declining student numbers and so are offering what amount to secret deals to individual students who ask. Mom and dad paid a few thousand a year, and their jobs and scholarships etc paid the rest.
 

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I went in-state to a 4 year college for Horticulture. I find that much of what I learned does apply to forage for bees. (I've also worked 25 years at a garden center so I definitely put my degree to use). If I'm not mistaken, Kim Flottum the recently retired editor of BeeCulture magazine also had a horticulture degree. Just get a 4 yr in the life sciences and you will find a nice overlap.
 

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As a college professor, I highly recommend going to community college for a couple of years to save money and figure out what you’re interested in. There’s no point in paying inflated costs. Also, college isn’t just about getting a job, it’s about learning critical thinking skills and collaboration, dealing with project planning and deadlines, and that will help you in any profession.
 

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I highly recommend going to community college for a couple of years to save money and figure out what you’re interested in.
+1
This is one of those "less glamorous" ways to skin the same cat.
I would totally consider this way if it is available.
In our town the community college earned credits are fully transferable to the local university (of course, again, you need to be smart about what you are taking and have at least some direction).

And, kids, (yes - you kids) while in High school - do take AP courses.
Don't slack out taking all the easy sh*t, cause the admissions will not buy into your easy GPA.
Go for the real stuff and do the APs - this is where the real money is (as long as you do go directly for the 4-year college).
My kid easily saved 15-20K in college costs just by plowing through the AP classes in high school.
Dollar saved is dollar earned.
 

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I didn't necessarily want to go to college. But, had full ride to Cornell or The Ohio State University. Picked OSU. I was 17 and knew nothing of Ivy League benefits, ha.

Enjoyed the social life, still hated school. The most beneficial courses had to do with business and econ, though that was not my major.

Most instructors had virtually no exposure to anything other than academia. Made it very difficult to sit through their classes (in fact, I don't think I attended more than one year of actual class in the four years I was there). I probably would have been much more suited to a vocational college.

Maintained my GPA, made it through, got my Bachelor's degree, and no debt.

I believe it helped me with my entrepreunerial enterprises and business relationships, but not as much as my real life experiences.

My business now, is getting paid to do the same things I did for fun, as a kid, growing up!!!!!
 

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In general I'd definitely say it's worth it. However, you should have an end goal in mind and make sure that's something that's sustainable and worthwhile. You want to teach beekeeeping but who will you be teaching? You'd need a PhD to teach at a university level with a whole lot of experience - as with anything academic. If you're focusing on teaching commercial beekeepers is there a market for that, how will you advertise and accomplish this?

My partner got her Masters in Marine Biology. She claims that 99% of those with a degree in Marine Biology end up doing something entirely unrelated. As interesting as it is, there isn't a very large job market for it. Luckily for her she interned at the right place, was offered a job there, and 8 years later is at the job level of a PhD. However, she isn't accredited in her research work as highly because she didn't get her PhD. Academia is very much a club of who knows the most with the highest level of education. This seems to be across the board regardless of topic.

I mention this because I'd imagine what you'd be heading into may very much be the same way. If you don't get your PhD are you as accredited as others offering the same services? How competitive is the market?

Lot of things to consider but with a little research and a strong goal you seem smart enough to make it happen.
 
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