There’s a real life School of Rock in Dublin city centre

any job – you need to be working on your instrument eight hours a day.”

This article originally appeared on The Journal.

“NOWADAYS, EVERY MUSICIAN is their own manager.”

James Byrne has some insight into how to make it in the music business. Byrne, who is a tutor at Dublin’s BIMM music college, learned how to get into the music industry the hard way. He spent years drumming for Villagers and SOAK and running his own label, Any Other City Records, and now teaches students about how to avoid the pitfalls he faced.

When it comes it to the students, I teach them the information and the stuff they need to know and relate it to my own experiences. I think they find it very helpful. It’s almost teaching them the mistakes you made.

All-focus James Byrne giving a presentation to prospective CIPD students of BIMM Source: Liz O’Malley

Being hands-on and practical is important for students attending BIMM, Ireland’s only music-focussed college, who learn all about the industry from tutors such as singer-songwriter Cathy Davey; Conor Adams, the guitarist and vocalist in The Cast of Cheers; Dave Geraghty, the guitarist for Bell X1; Kieran McGuinness and Ronan Yourell from Delorentos; Louise Macnamara, one of the Heathers duo; and Mick Tierney, singer and songwriter with Republic of Loose.

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Course Decision Cannot Be Taken Lightly

A look at why students are dropping out of third level courses

This post originally appeared on the Irish Times Student Hub

The Irish Times recently revealed 1 in 6 students do not progress past first year of a higher education course, with up to 80% dropping out of maths related courses.

Obviously it’s partly explained by the fact that it is hard to ask an 18 year old to pick the course that will likely decide their career for the rest of their life, especially when they will have had little experience of what those courses or careers would be like.

For example, I knew quite a few people who hated studying law. One person ended up changing courses but the others continued with their studies because they didn’t really know what they wanted to do, and it was better to have a degree than not.

These people had all been told law was ‘a good degree to have’. They knew they were good at English and history and figured law would be a good fit.

Even though I had the benefit of studying a three week law course when I was a teenager, I’m now studying journalism. I don’t regret studying law but I realised I didn’t necessarily want to practice it. That took a few years and the benefit of experience for me to recognise.

Nowadays, when students are sitting down to put together their CAO list, chances are the only things they’ll have to go on are the three weeks of work experience in transition year, hearing about their parents’ jobs, and what they’ve seen on TV. A friend said he decided to put law down on his list after watching an episode of Law and Order.

It’s not surprising, then, that many people get to college and find that studying a subject is a far different experience to what they expected.

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How Much Is A Degree Worth?

Even if you think that universities should be purely a place to learn and expand your mind, it is surely obvious that we have a system which does not encourage students to learn well.

This post originally appeared on the Irish Times Student Hub

When you graduate from college, you feel like you should be qualified for something.

After all, you spent three to five years reading, cramming and studying. All of this knowledge should be useful, otherwise what was the point of learning it?

For better or worse, going to university has always been considered necessary in order to get a good job. The corollary of this is going to university should in fact lead to a job.

It used to be the case that having an undergraduate degree would make you instantly employable. However, now that the number of people with degrees has increased this no longer seems to be the case.

You leave university and realise that while education may be a prerequisite for certain jobs, it certainly doesn’t assist you in getting them. All those years of study haven’t prepared you for the ‘real world’.

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Crisis of College

The question ‘Is College Worth It?’ has really and truly been put to bed. The Pew Research Center Study this year on higher education has found that on average a bachelor’s degree in the US will earn a graduate $500,000 on top of the average industrial wage over the course of a 40 year career, taking into account student debt. This difference is roughly double what it was two decades ago.

A college graduate earns 98% more per hour than someone who never went to college. 53% of college grads are satisfied with their jobs compared to 37% of non-grads. 22% of those who never go to college end up in poverty, compared to 5.8% of those with a bachelor’s degree. These numbers don’t include those who went on to study a masters or PhD.

The question of whether or not college is worth it also misses the main issue of economic mobility. In the past it was possible to get good working class jobs which paid wages able to pull large groups up into the middle class. With low skill jobs moving to developing countries and many career paths blocked to those without a college degree there is a consensus that having a degree is the equivalent to having a high school diploma three decades ago – it’s a basic requirement to break into the middle class.

According to the White House Report on Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students, in 1970, roughly 75% of the middle class had a high school diploma or less. By 2007, this share had declined to just 39%. Without a college degree, children born in the bottom fifth of the income distribution have a 5% chance of making it to the top fifth, and a 55% of chance of making out of the bottom fifth. With a college degree, the chances of making it to the top increase to 19%, and chances of making it out of the bottom increase to 84%.

A degree has become more necessary than ever. The question we should be asking is not whether college is worth it. The question is whether or not college is really preparing graduates for the work environment.

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Going Back to the Drawing Board on Education

Moving education from the classroom to the computer

Every country in the world is reforming their education system at the moment. The big question is whether our education system needs reforming, or if we should completely reinvent it.

In his talk on how schools kill creativity, Sir Ken Robinson argued that schools do not work in a realistic way. First, they create a narrow view of intelligence that doesn’t take into account the different forms of human talent. Second, schools supress imagination and creativity in favour of ‘the right answer’. Third, they assume that every ten year old learns at the same rates in the same subjects.

Our education system is a creature of the period it was created in. Back in the industrial age it made sense to emphasise the basic subjects like maths and English which were required for work. Students went through the school system as if on a conveyor belt, coming out (hopefully) able to read, write and do basic arithmetic. It was a ‘one size fits all system’.

We now have a mountain of research from bodies the American Psychiatric Association, Cambridge University and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development which shows that not every child develops at the same rates. This leads to big problems in terms of children being left behind or bored with how slow they are going. As a result many students find themselves opting out of the system.

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Degree of Choice

Is Liberal Arts going to be a thing of the past?

Let’s talk numbers.

According to Forbes, subjects studied as part of Arts degrees such as English and Philosophy are ranked exclusively under the Top Ten Least Valuable College Majors. Meanwhile, more than 90% of graduates from subjects such as medicine, engineering, veterinary and mathematical science are employed.

A 2013 report by American consulting firm McKinsey finds that 42% of arts graduates feel that college didn’t prepare them for employment, more than graduates from any other degree. 47% said that if they had the choice do their degree over again they would have chosen a different subject, again a higher percentage than any other course.

For the lucky few who do get employed they earn the least out of any other degree, a third less than those who graduated from science according to a British Labour Force Survey from 2012.

The idea that an arts degree is useless has been around for a while, but the discussion about whether they should remain part of university course catalogues has come back to the fore with the discussion of youth unemployment.

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