College kiddos are disillusioned by college degrees -- surprise?

Appley's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 559

According to a recent WSJ/NBC survey, a staggering estimate of 47% young Americans feel that a college degree is not worth it compared to a 49% who do. That is a pretty close divide which is probably something that should be more shocking than it feels.

Some are starting to believe that learning a trade is probably a better shot at finding employment than a college degree. Claims are that the pay for trade professions are just about the same as those which require a college degree. Research shows though that on average those who attain a college degree have a better economic life chance than those who do not... but perhaps the distribution is very skewed?

Other points raised is the obscenely high costs of college, including tuition, boarding, supplies (...textbooks... and dumb access key bullshit nowadays). Although this is a point no one is really disputing. College is pretty unreasonably expensive for the run-of-the-mill American.

The survey was conducted from a sample of Americans who both had college degrees and those who did not. Unsurprisingly, there was a general trend where those with a college degree thought the payoff was worth it and those without did not think school is worth it.

  1. Is the current generation of college and incoming college students more cognizant of studying for the purpose of making money than the previous generation? In other words studying at what you can make money from?
  2. Will this trend continue to strengthen or contract in the face of a slowly declining economy?
  3. Do you think the results of this survey come from a systemic failure in society or a shift in social expectations? I.e, perhaps college education is an attainment that most people would like to explore later in their lives rather than after high school.

Feel free to share any other thoughts.

Comments (102)

Most Helpful
May 25, 2018
Appley:

Research shows though that on average those who attain a college degree have a better economic life chance than those who do not... but perhaps the distribution is very skewed?

Anecdotally, it sure seems like the distribution is very skewed. I'd be shocked if there weren't studies that said as much. Borrowing $100K for a Gender Studies degree and borrowing $100K for an Electrical Engineering degree are totally different propositions. They both get grouped as "a college degree" when surveys like this are performed, but if we're talking about the economics of the two choices, they're not the same.

Personally, I think many students would benefit from starting off at a community college while they figure things out. I ended up in that situation because I hated high school and didn't want to go to college. My time there allowed me to work the graveyard shift in a factory full time and realize I didn't want to do that for a living. Also, it allowed me to explore potential paths, drop classes and only lose a few hundred dollars, etc. Ultimately, I transferred to university after earning my associate's. My degree looked the same as everyone else's, and I had the same access to recruiting and had two full-time front office offers in hand senior year.

Beyond the fact that many people are borrowing money for degrees with poor financial ROI's, you also have the degrees themselves becoming devalued by grade inflation. Moreover, I met all kinds of people who were in college for anywhere from two to five years and bounced around and changed majors, and ended up with a lot of debt and no degree to show for it.

Obviously, the current status quo is not sustainable. My gut feeling and worldview leads me to believe that the federal government's guaranteed loans for any student/degree are creating a lot of artificial supply that is bastardizing the supply/demand equation, pushing the cost up and stifling the incentives for innovation. But I'm not an expert on the issue, so take that theory with several grains of salt.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

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May 26, 2018

Agree. Plus Community Colleges have smaller class size and professors there to teach not research.

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May 26, 2018

That's pretty much what I'm doing. At least in my area if you have 3.0 HS GPA you get 30 credits free of charge each year. It's nice if you don't know what you want and can adjust your classes/schedule easily if you get a job/internship.

I was told it would hurt recruiting when time comes to transfer, I guess in your case it didn't?

May 26, 2018

.

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May 25, 2018
LifeIsShort61:
Appley:

Research shows though that on average those who attain a college degree have a better economic life chance than those who do not... but perhaps the distribution is very skewed?

Obviously, the current status quo is not sustainable. My gut feeling and worldview leads me to believe that the federal government's guaranteed loans for any student/degree are creating a lot of artificial supply that is bastardizing the supply/demand equation, pushing the cost up and stifling the incentives for innovation. But I'm not an expert on the issue, so take that theory with several grains of salt.

Sorry, what I meant to say here was that guaranteed loans seem to be creating artificial demand that is bastardizing the supply/demand equation, not artificial supply.

"Now you's can't leave." -Sonny LoSpecchio

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May 27, 2018

Completely agree here - They need to come up with a way to incentivize the banks/lending entities/government agencies to scrutinize the loans more thoroughly (payback, risk, solvency, ROI analysis) based on each type of degree vs. what the cost would be. Right now no group has any reason to do this since the loans can't be wiped from the borrower's record.

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May 30, 2018

I think you are spot on re: government guarantees.

Just like the RMBS that were financed into the abyss, student loans are currently the beneficiary of decades of social mythology and institutions touting the soundness of the investment. As the economic mobility conferred by a college degree dries up, and more and more young lives are transformed into debt conduits, this social myth will come to its breaking point. I think the survey mentioned by OP is part of that process.

Jun 3, 2018

I agree with this sentiment entirely. I think the easiest way to rectify what I see as a growing problem with no end in sight is to allow for actual defaults on student loan debt. Right now, the system is wildly irresponsible among borrowers and lenders alike. The government has no willpower to change the system to curtail borrowing through increasing lending standards. Right now, the ROI on student loans makes a lot of sense for MIT EE majors and no sense at all for a lot of non-target, non-STEM majors, but everyone has equal opportunity to borrow.

Having been a trader during the financial crisis, it annoys me to no end to see structural problems in another GIANT loan market that persist for decades until the system eventually collapses under the weight of the incompetence and greed of the people within it. I think nothing will change in the US under this administration, but the loan pool is corroding, and will eventually be almost complete shit. The specialty lenders who refinance your student loans cherry pick the best-performing loans from the pool, leaving the government with a pool of increasingly bad loans that they would have to charge off if they were anything besides student loans with the 'super rights' associated with lifelong, no default clauses.

But that just traps people who can't pay in a cycle of debt they can't escape. What's worse, because the loan pool decreases in quality due to the circumstances I just described, the interest on the remaining loans need to increase to immunize the portfolio against the higher likelihood of losses. But that just traps people for longer and at higher rates, decreasing their future consumption and savings.

All of this is a fucking disaster waiting to happen. Why can't we seem to fix anything before it becomes a crisis?

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Jun 10, 2018

Since 1978, the college bubble dwarfs both the housing bubble and spiraling medical costs. It's a classic case of unintended consequences: federal policies created by President Carter to make college more affordable for all middle-class families let to

1) price inflation, as accredited colleges an universities raised prices vs. expanding capacity

2) credential inflation, as companies started to use a college diploma as a screener for jobs that hadn't previously required a degree.

As LifeisShort61 points out, the big losers are kids who drop out without earning a degree, which raises a question mark for future employers, and saddles them with debt that can't be discharged in personal bankruptcy.

For a radically contrarian take on the issue, read
https://www.peter-boettke.com/app/download/7119702...

Jun 10, 2018

Anything the government touches becomes unaffordable.

Jun 10, 2018

Double post

Funniest
May 25, 2018

The thing about learning a trade is you can't be soft and most kids these days are fluffy little marshmellows hosting circle jerks in safe spaces wearing pokemon outfits snipping each others' dicks off and shit

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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May 25, 2018

oh my god trigger warning please I can't handle your microaggression your words hurt me even more than when I was cutting myself yesterday in the bathtub why doesn't anyone understand me my pronoun is she/they/they I can't even

May 26, 2018

Those tradesman actually make good money too. My parents paid my plumber $65 an hour to get something fixed.

May 26, 2018

.

May 25, 2018

He probably wasn't even licensed. When you see guys on a construction site, most are just laborers. Our laborers make $25-$40/hr. Our licensed guys (welder, HVAC, electric, plumbing, etc.) make $80+. There are some trades that will make $120+. The real value in learning a trade isn't in the hourly pay. Most of our hourly guys blow all their dough on motorcycles and trips to Vegas. The smart guys run their career like a business and end up eventually becoming GCs or running their own crews or becoming flippers or starting inspection companies or whatever. Dude, my inspector makes like $600-$800 for a few hours of work. And he has 6 guys working part time for him doing the same shit and he gets the majority share of that too.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

May 27, 2018
Pump And Dump:

Those tradesman actually make good money too. My parents paid my plumber $65 an hour to get something fixed.

He obviously does not live in Manhattan. I was quoted $500 to open a stuck valve on my patio (it's a heptagonal key, so I had to ask), a job that took me 10 min to do myself.

May 25, 2018

Some majors are completely useless. You don't need a degree to learn about philosophy, history, women's studies, english. You could say the same about other majors that are useful, but the economy can support them. You don't need to learn programming at college to make money as a programmer, but there are jobs for people who study programming at college. The economy can't support 3000 gender studies majors. College will continue to be seen as useful for the majors that provide the best job opportunities (Programming, Engineering, Finance/Accounting). I can't find any statistics about this but I wanted to search for successful author's and what they studied at college since people now study Creative Writing hoping to become an author. Kafka = law, Hemingway = high school, Pynchon = English, Dostoyevsky = Engineering, Dante = college didn't exist, Shakespeare = college didn't exist, Gene Wolfe = Engineering. Some like Pynchon, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck studied English but the people interested in writing have a higher chance of studying writing so their going to school to write isn't necissarily what made them a great writer. It was their dedication. Many don't want to dream anymore and set their goals too low. "Our great danger in this life is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed" holds true in this time when people don't want to put in any effort past what is required of them.

May 25, 2018

More who dropped out because it was a waste of time for them or didn't go:
Don Delillo
Raymond Carver
Sherwood Anderson
Henry Miller
Albert Camus
Charles Dickins
Joyce Carol Oates
Richard Yates

May 25, 2018

lot of carryover between the french dude who wrote The Stranger and american millennials

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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May 25, 2018

Many of the kids coming into college are simply "in college" because that what everyone else is doing. Many of them want to avoid going into the workforce and would rather live at home, and get free federal aid money/loans. If it was true that kids wanted to study to make money from, you would see a majority shift into STEM and Accounting/Finance. However, what you see now is the increased flooding of students getting admitted into universities under Arts degree, while impacting the enrollment of the people trying to get into a STEM major program.

At some point the system cannot sustain itself. I meet often people with Masters degree working at restaurants/Starbucks or doing UberEats/DoorDash to make ends meet. I have met several students who already owed private university + law school debt borrowing more money for a MAcc/MSF degree just to land a decent job.

I think a similar survey was released out that showed that many people would benefit more going into a trade profession, or skills training (medical such as RT, PT, OT, etc.), IT, CNC, etc., as opposed to college degrees. Many parents push their kids to go into college because they do not want their kids to live their lives working in factory type jobs.

No pain no game.

May 26, 2018

.

May 25, 2018

There is a stronger demand for people with MS/PhD in some specialized areas of engineering. I know a few companies looking to pay 80k-100k+ for electrical engineering MS/PhD folks, esp. in the ASIC design and embedded engineering field. These positions are not a walk in the park.

No pain no game.

May 30, 2018

Not sure what discipline of engineering you are referring to but I know mechanical exceeds this amount significantly. Have a friend that just got a job in a low COL state making 100k base out of undergrad. A family member started at a similar salary a few years ago. Both oil and gas. To be honest I sometimes regret not going the engineering route over business.

May 29, 2018

Stem is overrated. Speaking as stem grad. At least overrated in terms of direct career opportunities.

I do think stem grads make great hires. Not sure if it's because of how you are taught to think or because it's a stronger filter than other majors.

Array
May 26, 2018

I'm sure there's also a lot of kids who simply can't afford or fathom financing their college education so they just write it off as not worth it anyway. A lot of the kids in my High School that were just plain retarded used to say that college is a scam just because they knew they were too stupid for it and couldn't afford it anyway.

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May 26, 2018

Outside of top universities and hard sciences/engineering majors most college students are retarded. Seriously, just go to an average Big State U and talk to a communications or psychology major. Those kids who thought it was a scam might have been smarter than you think.

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May 26, 2018

Nah, those kids were retards.

I don't think being retarded is why they thought college was a scam though. People always convince themselves that shit they can't afford is lame anyway. Fortunately that coping mechanism also prevents class warfare.

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May 26, 2018

I got a lot out of the last two years when I was actually in my major. Other than that, it was really just a good way to go learn about life and go from stupid high schooler to a contributing member of society.

Lots of good life experiences.

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May 26, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mike-meru-has-1-milli...
Article of a guy with over $1MM in student loans!!! Read the article and see if you may be able to poke a few holes in the system.

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May 27, 2018

A college degree is for me 100% worth it, just not at $30,000. Also, I see the comments that some majors are completely useless like Philosophy, English and History and those two I 100% disagree. As a Kenyan, Philosophy to me is one of the most vital courses that I wish was taught in High School. I am glad I loved reading because it was Albert Camus, Hesse among many other authors who truly changed my world. When others worried about looking pretty, I looked horrible (Seriously, my pictures speak volumes) while I worried about the world and my own existence.I grew up in a stereotypical Kenyan low income household where Jesus was the answer to everything. Religion is taught in schools and at the age of 8, I was screaming Jesus was my savior. I became probably more and more like my grandfather and immersed myself in books and I finally realized why my grandfather never stepped a foot in church. Haven't been since I was 16. Philosophy is the one thing I well and truly envy about Western society. Seriously, Kenya exiled our smartest and most philosophical writer who again is an author that changed my life (Ngugi Wa Thiong'o).

Also, the curriculum in schools changes a lot in Kenya, but my mom's generation learned pre-colonial history, but I was never taught that (I feel going to a predominantly white school may have been the reason). I was never taught of our kingdoms, the swahili coast, etc. The archeological findings in Kenya are astounding. I am re-learning this shit. I know the basics of my tribes religion and the folklore, but there is so much I have learned of our history that I wish was in our schools. Instead, I learned some middle Easterner with a great looking beard was going to save us with his magic powers. Which I think is heavily related to the colonialist dogma of how colonialism was good for Africa. "When the missionaries came, we had the land and they had the bible, they taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the bible."

May 25, 2018

I said it was 100% useless as a college major. Not 100% useless. You can read Camus on the internet/at the library. You can read about history on the internet/at the library. You don't need to go to a school and pay X amount of dollars get a degree for Philosophy, English, History.

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May 30, 2018
famesjranco:

I said it was 100% useless as a college major. Not 100% useless. You can read Camus on the internet/at the library. You can read about history on the internet/at the library. You don't need to go to a school and pay X amount of dollars get a degree for Philosophy, English, History.

I don't agree with this. I have been in the workforce for nearly a decade now and I would say that my philosophy, political theory, and history classes have had much more long-term value for me than my economics and finance classes. My philosophy classes really taught me how to think, argue, and read deeply in a way that I would not have done on my own. If you can write a 10-page paper on Plato, you pretty easily do any sort of research and thinking that you would need to do in the real world. I would not have had the motivation to do any of that on my own. Reading Plato on your own is quite different from discussing him in a small group seminar and writing papers.

The problem (as you and others point out) is that the current costs of getting this sort of liberal arts education are prohibitive unless your parents are wealthy, you're going to an inexpensive school, or you are confident in your future career path and don't care about your major (like my buddy who majored in political science and has made a great living doing web development, which he had been doing for fun since long before college).

The second big problem is that it is too easy to get through a liberal arts major without really putting in too much work. A BA in Physics tells you much more about a person's intelligence and/or work ethic than a BA in History. Liberal arts degrees are not as good at being filtering mechanisms (which is a shame as one of the smartest guys I know is a history major and I have met many dullard STEM majors).

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May 28, 2018

I honestly don't understand why American kids just accept this. They protest on the street for any school shooting or something racist Trump has said, but for this?

In my country there are riots when college tuition goes from 1000 euros a year to 1100.

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May 27, 2018

I think it's a case of feeling the system is stronger than us and also that there is a massive divide between the liberals and conservatives on this. This is the only place where wanting cheaper education and health care will get you labelled as an entitled snowflake. At this point, I have honestly stopped caring about politics. I have only one goal here and that is to keep myself hardened and get financial independence. If you are not rich here, you are nothing. Actually, that's an unfair statement. After living in three countries, I have learned being poor sucks no matter where you go. Also people aren't that different. There are times American's adherence to the left and right makes me feel right at home. Fuck voting for our interest, just pick whoever is part of our tribe.

Jun 10, 2018
Rimu5:

This is the only place where wanting cheaper education and health care will get you labelled as an entitled snowflake.

You have this backwards. If you REALLY support cheaper education and healthcare then you support the free market and/or resigning to the immutable law of supply and demand. In other words, you aren't a "liberal snowflake"--you are a conservative realist. In the U.S., healthcare and education costs are out of control because of 50 years of government intervention, regulation, and subsidies.

May 28, 2018

Probably been said before but too much info on the thread to read everything so, my experience may be considered out-of-date since I'm older than the average user on WSO. That said, there are jobs in this country whereby if you possess an actual skill, a college degree is not necessary. However, that "skill" must be obtained somewhere.

I'm an electrical engineering department manager and I can tell you that working in the engineering field makes a college degree compulsory. That said, I have a few electrical designers who went to a community college for 2-years to get an associates degree in Autocad Electrical. I've a 24-year old young lady who is single, no kids, smart as a whip and she makes ~ $60k/year. BUT, she works her a$$ off, she is diligent, proficient, punctual, willing to learn, willing to do whatever is necessary to complete the job, etc. etc. etc.

Point of the story: If one has a skill they develop (mechanic, carpentry, engineering technology, plumbing,.... nearly endless list) by any means available, including community college, then a university education is moot. For those who want to move up the corporate ladder, there are certain items that need to be checked along the way, including receipt of a college degree.

Just my 2 cents for a 50-year old who started 35 years ago thinking I would have the world by the tail by 25, only to learn that the world does not give one good crap about a persons dreams. Each of us must find our own way in life and each one of us must work our butts off to get where we want, not expect it to be handed to us by some benevolent government who some believe owes its citizens all the creature comforts civilized society offers.

May 25, 2018

Well said.

Going into engineering, I believe the only way to live out one's dream is simply to start their own business, or go into quant trading (like a few) to open their own shop at some point.

Attaining an Associates in Electrical Engineering yields better results (and similar wage, if not a little more) compared to some folks just finishing a 4-year study - better employment prospects and they understand the field like the back of their hands. However, its drilled into a lot of student's heads is that these 2-year skill sets are a complete garbage (look at RN programs - many of them are at an Associates level, but can earn well over six figures with great hours), so going to a 4 year to accrue a lot of debt in "X" major will make them successful.

No pain no game.

Jun 10, 2018
dm100:

For those who want to move up the corporate ladder, there are certain items that need to be checked along the way, including receipt of a college degree.

But this speaks to the public policy aspect of higher education. If society weren't subsidizing college degrees for millions of people each year (and if every high school guidance counselor wasn't pushing nearly every student into college, regardless of their academic abilities), a college degree wouldn't merely be a check mark next to your name ensuring your ability to rise the corporate ranks. But because society does subsidize the college degree, to your point, one almost must have a degree to climb the ranks.

The system is completely broken.

May 30, 2018

Nurses in the UK:

*"Fully qualified nurses start on salaries of PS22,128 rising to PS28,746 on Band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change Pay Rates. Salaries in London attract a high-cost area supplement. With experience, in positions such as nurse team leader on Band 6, salaries progress to PS26,565 to PS35,577."
*
So in London a nurse team leader gets US$46K.

Sometimes I feel people underestimate just how much better paid grads in the US are versus elsewhere.

May 30, 2018

Well, at least people are thinking a bit more about whether college is worth it now...

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

May 30, 2018

For all you Humanities haters, beware. The first few yrs of your career will be about technical stuff (probably better suited for a pre- professional degree). However, mid level and up is about leadership and soft skills. To get there and beyond requires serious critical thinking, communication and leadership skills. Oddly enough, the tables turn, and the technical guys are the commodities and easily replaceable (by the new class of technicians each yr).

Not saying you can't acquire these skills through STEM (especially critical thinking), but humanities are more about breaking down issues, looking at the big picture, analyzing options. Science / math is about black and white, either/ or. The world is about the stuff in the middle.

Jimmy Carter was likely the smartest president (recent history) by pure education- nuke engineer, knew topics to the minutia level. Worst President we've had in my lifetime. Wasn't a leader or particularly good communicator.

Anecdotely, college roommate was a Big 4 (Big 8 at the time) recruit. You'd never know this guy was an accountant (sorry accountants). Great personality, handled himself well, etc. Fast tracked because they saw a leader, not an accountant (They have hundreds of accountant, they need leaders). Was hired away by a client, put through Wharton on their dime and is now a F100 CFO. All because of his soft skills. He tells me the board is full of guys and gals like that.

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Jun 10, 2018
rickle:

For all you Humanities haters, beware. The first few yrs of your career will be about technical stuff (probably better suited for a pre- professional degree). However, mid level and up is about leadership and soft skills. To get there and beyond requires serious critical thinking, communication and leadership skills. Oddly enough, the tables turn, and the technical guys are the commodities and easily replaceable (by the new class of technicians each yr).

Not saying you can't acquire these skills through STEM (especially critical thinking), but humanities are more about breaking down issues, looking at the big picture, analyzing options. Science / math is about black and white, either/ or. The world is about the stuff in the middle.

You're making what I believe is the false assumption that humanities majors in 2018 American/Canadian/Western colleges and universities are acquiring the soft leadership skills. I would argue that most humanities majors leave college stupider than when they arrived.

May 30, 2018

I guess that depends on the kid and the school. My bigger point is that the technical skill sets take you so far, and then leadership and soft skills are required to get you to senior spots. I'm sure they're out there, but I know lots of senior folks across many industries, and to a person they are strong leaders, charismatic, and always the types you would want in front of a client. They are not technical (may have the ability but no longer serve in those roles) .Many technical people get stuck in the weeds. Technical skills are easy to hire. Leadership skills are hard to find.

So, no matter the college major, tell your kids to get active in clubs and take leadership roles. That's really important.

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May 30, 2018

I think the disillusion comes because school isn't reflective of the real world. For example, in school if you take a test and make one mistake, you still get a 99%. In the working world, that one mistake can be your job. School is also very based doing what the teacher tells you, where as in the market you are told what to do all the time. Some people like/are good at taking orders and doing those orders, that's why they stay in school so long for numerous degrees.

Secondly, in this country we have become more geared toward academics/white collar jobs. If someone has a blue collar job they are essentially looked down upon, that's why there is a shortage of carpenters/plumbers/handymen. Additionally (I don't know the specific time frame), there was a point in the US when police/teachers/military was looked at as professional jobs and respected. Now, if someone goes into that line of it's assumed they can't do anything else. I guess I'm thinking about how most Presidents use to serve in the armed forces but probably didn't have too, ie JFK. Probably what I'm getting at is somewhat of a "class" system in jobs, certain jobs are attractive based on how they are viewed in society, others are not.

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May 30, 2018

To answer in order:

  1. The current generation of students is probably no more or less cognizant of financial ramifications of a degree than previous generations - but they ought to be.
  2. This trend will continue as long as the economics of the education industry (which gave rise to this situation) persist in their current form.
  3. There is, in my opinion, a huge systemic failing in society as far as higher education is concerned.

Higher education used to be something that only the upper crust of society did to solidify their credentials as part of the cloistered upper crust (we're talking turn of the 20th century and earlier).

Then, higher education opened its doors to the masses, and for a time that facilitated upward economic mobility for the bright and motivated.

And, as with so many fundamentally valuable assets that are surrounded in social mythology (housing, the wonders of technology, etc), eventually bankers figure out a way to sell the mythology, collect the profits up front, and distribute the risk broadly through financial engineering, which can become a self-begetting mechanism for economic harm - in this case, I argue that it has.

As with the housing market, I think college degrees are becoming an overvalued, over-leveraged asset that allocate profit and risk to separate individuals, and undervalue the risk at that. Every year, droves of newly minted HS grads take on boat loads of debt (which, by the way, is "government-guaranteed" in the sense that it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy), and then "invest" it in a degree - any degree - because the social myth told to them by their parents and peers reinforce this poor decision making and encourage people to take a "leap of faith" rather than exercise their critical judgment.

Am I saying a college degree has no value? Of course not. No more than I am saying there is no value in a house.

Nonetheless, both of these valuable assets have been inflated and sold on credit to those who have no real ability to acquire them and pay off the debt, solely on the basis that "this is the road to prosperity". And the harms incurred by this risk taking will materialize in unexpected ways - with a generation of indebted graduates who have nothing but non-dischargable debts to show for their hard work and years of effort.

I am not liberal when it comes to discussions of political economy. And I generally think that financial engineering is a good thing for the modern world. However, I think the American economy (and by extension, the globe), has an unfortunate and persistent tendency to transform the cornerstones of our nation and civic life - most recently housing and education - into mere instruments of profit.

Modern education is the shameful pimping of yet another dream, which will likely end poorly as all other similar attempts do. And we will all be to blame for it when it does.

May 31, 2018

A lot of the non-elite liberal arts colleagues will be dead within 20 years, if not sooner. I'm doing a restructure right now of a large liberal arts college in the northeast - if it wasn't for super wealthy donors literally throwing tens of millions a year into this thing it would have been bankrupt 5 years ago. Enrollment is down so they have to raise tuition to stay afloat... because cutting worthless teachers making $250k+ isn't an option apparently.

Upper management is full of ex liberal arts professors of the school with useless degrees such as sociology. No idea why they're in this mess lmao

FYI I realize most colleges are supported by donors, but this one in particular needs donations just to shore up huge operating losses... there's a separate endowment fund that pays for scholarships etc (that they have heavily borrowed against, lmao)

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May 30, 2018

Bernie Sanders' wife presided over a very similar situation a few years back before the school she was helming blew up.

I'll be glad to see the day when these schools go under. It's heartbreaking to me to see the nation's youth borrow heavily against their future just so they can have the "privilege" of funding the plush lifestyles of their tenured professors and a bunch of useless bureaucrats in the dean's office. It disgusts me how these pied pipers disingenuously coo about twee nonsense like the value of an education and their bloated disciplines, when in reality they know full well that the education they provide isn't worth close to the money that's paid for it. But they're happy to collect their six figures and saddle their students with a lifetime of debt. The gall of it astounds me.

May 31, 2018
Fugue:

Bernie Sanders' wife presided over a very similar situation a few years back before the school she was helming blew up.

I'll be glad to see the day when these schools go under. It's heartbreaking to me to see the nation's youth borrow heavily against their future just so they can have the "privilege" of funding the plush lifestyles of their tenured professors and a bunch of useless bureaucrats in the dean's office. It disgusts me how these pied pipers disingenuously coo about twee nonsense like the value of an education and their bloated disciplines, when in reality they know full well that the education they provide isn't worth close to the money that's paid for it. But they're happy to collect their six figures and saddle their students with a lifetime of debt. The gall of it astounds me.

exactly. Although I have a feeling that a lot of these professors actually are delusional and think they're providing value to allow kids to be successful, in most cases they're not.

I can't be too specific but the college essentially wanted my bank to fund all their losses and basically become a charity for them because "they're doing god's work" and educating children. Typical "evil bank" liberals that have no sense of reality.

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Jun 10, 2018

It's important to note that college is generally good for individuals (although it's especially bad for individuals who don't finish). However, it is questionable whether or not most college degrees are good for society to be subsidizing. "The Case Against Education" makes the argument that there is generally little, if any, positive return to society in exchange for society's subsidy of college degrees. That's the critical takeaway from a public policy standpoint. But if you go to college and graduate you will probably be better off long-term.

May 30, 2018

The bottom line here for me is that degrees which are a massive purchase with serious financial ramifications are being sold like a piece of upscale artwork.

Nobody asks students to think about "will this piece of paper be worth the hundreds of thousands you are paying for it"?

Everyone is preoccupied with affected nonsense about "following your passion".

The truth is, most kids at that age don't have a passion to speak of. They don't have an intellectual interest in their chosen path of study, or maybe even any hypothetical path of study. They are not good enough at what they study, or at a prestigious enough institution to reasonably claim that they will be able to parlay their knowledge into being a professional expert on the subject matter. They are hopping on the college bandwagon because it is what's expected of them and society makes it easy to "just do it". If they are lucky, this effort will enhance their ability to sell their time for a desirable wage somewhere down the line.

These days, the young admins that work for me all have college degrees from no-name schools. It's wrong. You shouldn't need an expensive piece of paper from a school nobody recognizes to be worthwhile of a basic entry level job in administration. And yet this is the world we live in because there is a lie being perpetrated on a massive social scale that keeps us all silent about the ridiculousness of this predicament.

I went to a school with 10,000+ undergrads, and in my four years there I met more people who dropped out and wasted tens of thousands of dollars than I did meet people who struck me as genuine intellectuals. Many schools are at best a money pit for the professors, administrators, and financiers who maintain the system. At worst they are literally factories that turn impressionable young people into debt conduits so that the aforementioned hustlers can extract guaranteed loans from their financially desiccated bodies.

College feels more like a corporate retreat with mandatory "meetings" (so they can write it off for tax purposes) than it feels like a place of real academic rigor and intellectual curiosity nowadays. This fact alone makes me view the entire enterprise as bankrupt. A lie we all tell ourselves because those who benefit do so greatly, and those who have been had are too ashamed to admit it to the world.

Jun 10, 2018

Spot on. Spot on.

To your point, those administrators "need" a college degree because so many people (in absolute terms) have a degree that employers use a degree as a method of filtering applications. And this issue exists because of our society's habit of pushing people into college and subsidizing their education.

The 6-year college graduation rate is 59%. That means that 41% of all persons who go to college not only receive no benefit, but they are actually harmed economically by having attended college. Among the 59% who finish, a substantial portion of them do not obtain skills applicable to the workforce but simply acquire a college degree to get past the application filters (in other words, society is subsidizing a counterproductive degree because society bears the cost but receives no return). Bryan Caplan, The author of "The Case Against Education", estimated that 5% of college graduates obtain required skills for their chosen job path as a result of college (in other words, about 5% of degrees are a net benefit to society; the rest are resume builders and are, at best, only beneficial to the individual obtaining the degree).

The system is completely and utterly broken.

May 25, 2018

So, there was a young inventor who taught himself electrical engineering through YouTube and other online resources, made an invention, and sold it to one of the Sharks for $500k(?) with a 3-year contract agreement for work (somewhere in the six figures). I have worked with some engineers who completely taught themselves how to code, mathematics, and science background and was able to interview with the company and land a position.

I think if employers are willing to invest in training programs (apprenticeships), you will see a lower enrollment (less debt) of students and a higher quality group of work people. Better stability, less turnover, and less stress on the employee (little to no debt).

Systems like this cannot last as long as people think it can. At some point the debt will default and crap may hit the fan. A lot of the news stories are concerning families who have their kids still living at home, not able to pay rent and have a high burden of debt. It's sad.

Alternatively, a lot of students who attended 4-year schools should look at skills and training offered at Community Colleges. Virtually free tuition for low income people and you have a skill that employers can use. Many offer internships available and employers hire directly from the internships. The problem is, a lot of students are drilled from families/societies that these skills are essentially not worth pursuing and cannot be compared to a "4-year" degree. They want recognition from their peers and feel equal.

It's sad to think about these things sometimes.

No pain no game.

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May 26, 2018

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May 25, 2018

Companies I have worked with are actually encouraging this kind of behavioral thought processes. One of the companies I originally canceled an interview with actually hand picks their computer engineers, starts them off as a Software Tester Part-Time, then once you are fully trained (usually 1 year), you have the shot at a 70-80k job as a Software Test Engineer - generally speaking, the only requirement is a desire to learn and an Associates in IT/Computer Science/Mathematics/Physics (something STEM).

Nursing is perhaps the most impacted major across most of the states. You just need an Associates degree program to work in the industry. Job stability, good pay/benefits.

No pain no game.

May 30, 2018

This is spot on. I don't understand why people need to pay 60k a year to be taught subject matter that has existed for centuries, or even millennia, by adjunct professors that are themselves being abused by the modern academy. It's all such a load of bullshit.

May 31, 2018

Liberal Arts majors can work in your favor but its an uphill battle. standing out is always a good thing considering how competitive analyst gigs are now adays.

1) going to a target or semi-target is key.

2) you still need to know finance stuff

3) places like business schools and BB firms stress diversity, so this is an easy way to check the box for diversity if you really know your shit

Jun 10, 2018

To your point, I actually think the liberal arts are wonderful areas of study that can contribute greatly to life skills. I think the issue is the modern academy--the typical liberal arts education in America is not good; and based on what I'm seeing, I don't even think it's particularly good at elite schools, such as Harvard or Williams. It's not Yale or Oxford circa 1925. It's really bad.

May 31, 2018

agreed. it says a lot that you can just "tack one on" to a finance major. and you should definitely do so. Finance+Math, Finance+History, heck even Finance+Gender Studies or Finance+Film Studies

Jun 3, 2018

I thought of 2 potential reasons for this.

1) Some people get college degrees in industries that don't even need one to start off with or got a degree that doesn't really have a well-paying industry to exit into. For instance, do you really need that degree in feminist dance therapy? In this sense, a college degree most certainly is not worth it. Also, plenty of decent paying jobs in the trade industry (e.g. plumber, electrician, etc) don't require a 4 year degree.

2) Since it's almost expected that you go to college, having a college degree no longer makes you stand out. The same could be said about when having a high school diploma was uncommon. We are at the point that unless you graduated from a good college with good marks and some sort of work experience, the college diploma is no longer worth it. With rising college prices and a diminishing value of a college diploma, some people really don't think it's worth it. Don't forget, the median U.S. household income is $59k so paying anywhere from $30k to as high as $60k a year for a college degree is a seriously heavy financial burden for a lot of families. However, I would like to refer Ben Franklin's quote stating "An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest".

Made ya look

Jun 4, 2018

This is, I feel, part of a market correction in favor of not getting college degrees. Plenty of people get by just fine without college degrees. There are a bunch of people in trades, even in the college-heavy US, that do just fine without college degrees. Look in Europe or Australia and that expands even more.

Hell, just look at the BBs that are from Europe. Literally half (2/4 - DB and UBS) of them have CEOs that never went to college. Hopefully it won't be too long before people in the US realize that college education is good, but not necessarily required to indicate that someone is smart enough to make it.

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May 30, 2018
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Jun 4, 2018