College: waste of time?

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,159
I recently watched this video. It is about how the price of college education goes up every year (above normal inflation) and the quality of education received goes down every year. It is also about government student loans. The basic theme is that college has become so diluted and overinflated, and everybody already has a degree, that a degree no longer means anything and doesn't set you apart from other job candidates; it would be better to spend those 4 or 6 or 9 years working and making money than spending it going to college and making yourself a debt slave. There are only a few parts which vaguely hint at "quackiness" normally rampant in normal "conspiracy theory" videos. I am curious what you guys think. please specify in your response if you watched the video and are commenting on its content, or if you are just commenting on the ideas that I presented here. please try to keep it politics free.

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
21,906
Personally, I think anyone who doesn't get a college education and could is a fool.

The other side of that, don't get stupid with your choice of degrees.

Choose a profession that people actually need.

I believe certain degrees the loan debt should be forgiven if it is followed up with certain jobs. Teachers perform a major public service, work long hours for not very good pay, put up with some of the crappiest conditions imaginable. Five years of service doing that and they have earned their place (and loan).

Georacer

Joined Nov 25, 2009
5,181
It's true that 20 years ago a university degree was equal to a job. Now, it's anything but that. I know too many people with a university degree in their hands working in bars and it's just too sad. I will say that the bar of university admittance is set too low, mainly to please (and leech money) from the vast public. Higher education just isn't for everyone. The sooner the parents realize their kid isn't suited for a lawyer of a doctor, the better.

Personally, I think I 'll go for a master abroad after my degree here, in order to get me closer to the business sector.

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,159
I posted a similar question on facebook. A guy who I served with in the Navy (brilliant guy) is dropping out. He is/was going to college to fulfill his life long dream if being a professional tuba player in an orchestra. He has the GI bill which will cover him up until a bachelor's degree, but after that he's on his own. He's done the math and says that it will take 80K to get him from there to a doctorate with the credentials needed to be accepted in an orchestra. and that's not even a given that they will take him, and if they do, it doesn't pay well enough to pay off that 80K so he's dropping out and starting as an apprentice electrician.

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
21,906
Goes back to choosing a profession that people need. If it needed the job will have a pay scale that works.

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
19,383
I suppose the title of the video "College Conspiracy" is a bit of a put off. There really is no conspiracy. So putting aside the title, I believe there is a lot of truth in the message of the video. I teach at a university. I would say more that half of the students I see should not be there. They are just wasting their time and money. These students have neither their hearts nor their minds in really wanting to learn. All we hear about are questions as to why they get such poor marks. We give them brain food and we challenge their minds but they just are not up to the challenge. They sit in classes with a notebook on their laps just taking notes.

I say, if you are bright and can afford to go to college, go for it. Make sure you get your money's worth by being fully engaged in all your courses. Be two chapters ahead of your prof and engage in discussion in the classroom.

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,159
Goes back to choosing a profession that people need. If it needed the job will have a pay scale that works.
The other side of that coin is choosing a profession that you won't hate later. I think I would really enjoy being an electrical engineer, but I don't see electrical engineer very high on the list of jobs in demand. I could always get a degree in biomedical engineering or financial examiner, but I wouldn't enjoy it.

K7GUH

Joined Jan 28, 2011
190
My first degree was in Philosophy. Fortunately, I have never had to earn my living with it. An Education degree at least got me a job as teacher, but even fifty years ago, that wasn't all that desirable a field to be in. I spent the majority of my working career fixing other peoples broken mainframe computer programs. Not rocket science, but it paid a living wage.

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,159
@ K7GUH: If you got your degree 50 years ago (did I interpret that correctly?) then I don't think it really applies to the message of the video. Your degree was probably well worth the money you paid for it, and it was probably challenging. see in the video 32:30 - 33:45. I think its a different ball game now.

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,159
I suppose the title of the video "College Conspiracy" is a bit of a put off. There really is no conspiracy. So putting aside the title, I believe there is a lot of truth in the message of the video.
Yes I think they chose the title poorly. I think there are plenty of people who could benefit from the information in it, if they didn't immediately skip it thinking it was "just another conspiracy video"

joeyd999

Joined Jun 6, 2011
4,268
I'm going to go one step further...i think kids in 11 & 12 grade should be able to choose a vocational route rather than classical ed. The world will always need A/C Techs, Electricians, and Auto Mechanics, and the jobs pay well for skilled workers. Forcing them to waste time in liberal arts doesn't make sense, especially when one has no interest.

The only thing i would require everyone to learn is basic personal economics...basic budgeting, credit, interest, and so on.

I'd also like to bring apprenticeships back....let young teens work under a craftsman for below minimum wage a few years*....far more valuable than wasting money on a college education for many.

*BTW, I did this under an engineer during high school...under the table, so to speak. Most valuable 2 years of my life!

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
12,500
Two things that nobody has mentioned are the rate of inflation and the cost of money. In a low inflation & low interest rate environment borrowing can be a good choice if you can anticipate the cash flow to service the debt. In the high inflation & high interest rate environment borrowing can also work because you are repaying the loan with cheaper dollars. In between those extremes the decision is harder.

1. Find an income stream
2. Use it to acquire assets
3. Don't waste your time looking back

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
19,383
That's a bit of a contradiction the way you put it. You have to separate interest rates from inflation. They don't necessarily follow each other.

When interest rates are low, the cost to borrow money is low.
When interest rates are high, the cost to borrow money is high. People refrain from borrowing.

When inflation is high, people who borrow money will benefit. People who hold cash will have less buying power, i.e. the value of their money drops.

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
428
It's a tricky one. I enjoyed my 4 years in university. I did a biology degree with a thought of either going into masters or maybe med school. Because I like learning (and really come from an entirely different background), I learned a lot, took a variety of courses, did a lot of high level sciences and just ran short of getting a math minor. Did 3 years of Latin to satisfy the arts criteria. This is sadly not what I saw from most people - most choose the path of least resistance. The idea that you can repeat the course ad nauseum as ludocrous to me - talk about leaching money off of people. This was a few years back. I am now doing a more applied program (guess if it's related to electronics ). I went back to university 2 years ago to take anatomy as I originally wanted to get into orthotics - things have taken a turn for the worse. I put the blame on schools. What is it, no child left behind policies? and now everyone is at a grade 5 level of analytical/critical thinking?

I guess in the end the students who cannot or are unwilling to assess their decisions critically well deserve the institutions that say "of well, might as well take 'em for all they've got"

Look carefully at what you want. I would not be happy with my university experience if I had to pay for it, but thankfully I got scholarships to do that for me. It is too bad no-one steered me towards trades/technology earlier.

loosewire

Joined Apr 25, 2008
1,686
When you find what you like to do, a good gauge,when you put in
18 hours and find it hard to go home. A cure for that is a business
on the homestead. Like Mr. Chips there are professors that helps
makes a classroom a place to learn if you are there for the right
reasons.There one thing that all societies have in common,you
pay in some way to make them work,If the grass is greener,you still
pay.

K7GUH

Joined Jan 28, 2011
190
Strantor: you're right about conditions 50 years ago. Times have definitely changed. Sadly, a young person nowadays seeking to learn how to use machine tools does not usually have access to a high school machine shop course. Similarly for woodworking and a host of other useful arts. I recently discovered an entire category of people who can't tie the knots that were a part of every boy scout's repertoire way back then. Hmpf.

Joined Dec 26, 2010
2,148
There are some interesting chicken-and-egg questions about what subjects ought to be taught in schools. Unless there is a realistic chance that students will be able to use the skills that they acquire, it is hard to justify the provision of the courses.

There are also problems with providing the relatively expensive equipment and materials required by these subjects, as well as staff with the appropriate skills to teach them. The greatest difficulties though may be the modern risk-averse culture, and poor control over student discipline. Teaching subjects involving sharp tools and other hazardous objects to ill-behaved students may be seen as simply too dangerous.

Having said all that, it seems likely that unless countries like mine want to go back to subsistence agriculture and a bit of tourism, some return to productive industry will be required. People will somehow or other have to learn the necessary skills. I would doubt however that many would require the ability to use a manual lathe, mill, or shaping machine: it is a hard job to imagine just what skills would be wanted.

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
21,906
One of the problems is the concept of a living wage. You have to be able to live off what you make, that used to mean college.

Too many votech jobs are considered menial, and don't make a living wage. Anyone who had earned minimum wage knows exactly what I'm talking about.

As usual I don't have answers, but I think it is important people recognize the problem. Too many blow it off as other peoples problem, just like the french aristocracy used to. We know where it got them. In many cases similar attitudes fulled the spread of communism.

For a society to be stable, decent jobs and a stable middle class are a must.

mbohuntr

Joined Apr 6, 2009
432
I absolutely agree Bill, Here's proof... In 1981, I graduated w/ two years in welding vo/tech, and a cert from ASME. After a couple of years, MIG welding became common, and VERY easy to learn. I applied myself learning layout and fabrication keeping my wage above minimum, but not by much. A welder around here is being paid less today than I made in 1981... NOT accounting for inflation!!!! $13/hr in 1981,$11/\$12 per hour today.... My hard earned associates degree has opened many doors for me, and I now earn a decent wage and am enrolled in an electrical apprenticeship. I am VERY glad I got a degree. I think parents should take an active interest in the degree their children pursue. We encouraged ours to go into nursing, and they both are doing well.

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
12,500
The interest rate in 1986 was 11 5/8% but I still had to have a house for a growing family. The interest rate did not stop me from taking out the mortgage because I had an income stream to service the debt. So high rates don't necessarily stop people from borrowing.