Is a college degree worthless?

Discuss all general (i.e. non-personal) investing questions and issues, investing news, and theory.
ziggy29
Posts: 925
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Southeast Texas Boonies

Post by ziggy29 »

rob wrote:I think it depends on the type of job... I would expect if you a professor then it's very useful whereas driving a taxi... not so much.
Then there are the "in between" cases -- occupations which really shouldn't require a college degree, but increasingly do.

My dad left the Air Force in 1966 and took one or two classes in mainframe programming and became a programmer/analyst without college. No way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that happens today.
User avatar
preserve
Posts: 560
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:13 pm

Post by preserve »

schwarm wrote:
Dale_G wrote:
p.s. I've fired far more Ph.D's than BS's or MS's - probably because I erroneously expected more of them! So Ph.D's and MS's don't count for much if the kid simply wanted to avoid work for a few more years.
I'm curious what type of PhD's these people had, and if it was related to the field they were working in.
I'm also curious. A PhD that can be readily hired/fired probably doesn't have much weight to begin with.
User avatar
preserve
Posts: 560
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:13 pm

Post by preserve »

ziggy29 wrote: My dad left the Air Force in 1966 and took one or two classes in mainframe programming and became a programmer/analyst without college. No way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that happens today.
Non-college degreed programmers and systems engineers are dime a dozen.

There are many college degreed computer engineers that would love to have the job/pay non-degreed programmers have at pixar etc.
User avatar
paddyshack
Posts: 283
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:49 pm

Post by paddyshack »

I have a state school engineering degree, and it was worth every penny. I also have a state school engineering degree which was a full-ride (full stipend research assistant), and I don't think it's helped me that much more - but definitely worth what I paid for it essentially in wage difference for those two years.

The only reason I'd even consider a private school is for the terriffic network those can provide for your career throughout your life. That's where a degree from Stanford, Yale, Harvard, etc. can pay for themselves - easier access to higher paying jobs. Otherwise, as a hiring manager, I'm tempted to conclude that your degree from some small, expensive private school means mom and dad have money and weren't too schrewd with it.
Topic Author
technofox
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue May 22, 2007 8:25 pm

Post by technofox »

ziggy29 wrote:Worthless, no. Overrated, sometimes, depending on the major and the occupation. Part of this is because we've become a nation of snobs when it comes to education and because we look down on people without degrees as losers. The result is that a bachelor's degree is fast becoming what a high school diploma was 40-50 years ago in the job market and the graduate degree is the new baccalaureate degree. There's a lot of "education creep" going on in a competitive job market where there are more degrees than jobs.

For someone not going to grad school, the expensive "big names" are even more overrated for an undergraduate education, but unfortunately too many old boy network types do the hiring and look for the name on the label even if the product isn't much better.
I agree with the overrated part. I have even been caught by my wife (a college drop out), that I can come off arrogant at times because of my degrees and education, by looking down on those that don't. It's been hardwork to break that habit, because of how ingrained it is in society where I live (both the arrogance and looking down on others).

I also agree that the the bachelors is the new high school diploma and masters the new bachelors. Its really perverse.

I also want to point out to posters in regards to vocational schools, I went to a vocational school for both PC support and Networking during high school, and I was way past a lot of my pears during my first four years of college. In a nutshell, if I was a hiring manager, I would hire a person who went to a vocational school before hiring someone with a bachelors degree (it's just an opinion and an observation, as vocational schools are more focused in the real world than academia from my experience). The only thing I think vocational schools should add for tech jobs is technical writing and documentation.

As for going to grad school, my coworker was (and still is) up in the air of whether or not, a master degree would be good for him. I explained to him the only reason why I went to grad school, is do to the fact that I want to become a college professor and an Information Security professional later in my career. He decided to still go to grad school, but I am still finding that he is still up in the air between certifications and degrees.

I think a grad degree should only be chosen for those who wish to pursue teaching, science (engineering), or upper management positions, and undergrad is for those who want to remain in the tech side or applied sciences. Its just my opionion.

I also think BBA's and MBA's aren't worth their salt unless they are taught with long term value focus, like Edward Deming's 14 points or some other quality management philosophy with long term investment in the company and it's employees. What are your opinions?
User avatar
tc101
Posts: 3416
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:18 pm
Location: Atlanta - Retired in 2004 at age 54

Post by tc101 »

To technofox,

What's done is done. You have already spent the money. Regrets about the past are a terrible waste of emotional energy. I know that letting go of regrets is easier said than done, but work on it. Energy put into understanding how the mind works and how we let go of negative emotions is energy well spent. Energy put in to regretting the past is energy wasted.
. | The most important thing you should know about me is that I am not an expert.
SP-diceman
Posts: 3968
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:17 am

Post by SP-diceman »

I guess it depends which side of the fence your on.
College degrees aren't "worthless".
You said yourself you have about $67,000 in loans.

Employment is a game like everything else. Sure there
are basics but ultimately there's a lot of luck involved.


Thanks
SP-diceman
tibbitts
Posts: 12828
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Post by tibbitts »

In some cases a technical MS may not pay off right away, but may pay off down the road, as you have described with your teaching aspirations, or in availability of promotions. It may open doors (or prevent them from closing) later, probably more so as time goes on. So I think it's too early for you to draw conclusions about the value of your degree.

Paul
User avatar
White Coat Investor
Posts: 15146
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Greatest Snow On Earth

Post by White Coat Investor »

If the main reason you got the advanced degree was to increase your earning potential, then yes, I think you made a bad decision. But there is so much more to education than just increasing earnings, and only you can evaluate that. My wife has a master's that isn't earning a thing right now. But the experience is quite valuable to both of us.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course
Rodc
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:46 am

Post by Rodc »

preserve wrote:
schwarm wrote:
Dale_G wrote:
p.s. I've fired far more Ph.D's than BS's or MS's - probably because I erroneously expected more of them! So Ph.D's and MS's don't count for much if the kid simply wanted to avoid work for a few more years.
I'm curious what type of PhD's these people had, and if it was related to the field they were working in.
I'm also curious. A PhD that can be readily hired/fired probably doesn't have much weight to begin with.
I have seen worthless PhDs.

But, the other thing I have seen come into play (fortunately watching others) is that sometimes less than intellectually competent supervisors (or co-workers) simply don't have the background or intellectual horsepower to understand PhD level work or the subtleties between top level work and something hacked together.

Of course a lot work simply does not take a PhD level solution and some PhDs (or other high level types, not really a degree thing per se) simply can't bring themselves to dial it back. That is not so much a failure of the education or maybe even the person, so much as a mismatch between person and assignment.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
User avatar
foodnerd
Posts: 433
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:16 pm
Location: Northwest Arkansas

Post by foodnerd »

rob wrote:I think it depends on the type of job... I would expect if you a professor then it's very useful whereas driving a taxi... not so much.
Just to throw in my 2 cents, it very much depends on the career path you have chosen, whether or not the profession is a specialized or technical job and most important, the demand for that profession in the market place.

I get recruitor calls or emails about once to twice a week looking for "references" for a job opening.

I was just very lucky that I was able to go a State School that had one of the best programs in the country for my field.

But one of the sayings I have been told here time and time again, a degree just means your trainable. Its your work ethic and determination on whether or not you'll make it.

Again, just my thoughts.

FN
wilson08
Posts: 439
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:37 pm

Post by wilson08 »

fluffyistaken wrote:Almost any degree that does not specifically target a high-paying field (computers, engineering, hard science, pre-med/medical, maybe some business, and probably some others I forget) will be a "waste of money". It may be fun, satisfying, personally enriching, but it is very unlikely to pay for itself unless you stay in academia and become a professor in that field.
I love art, history, and literature but got a degree in
civil engineering so I could have the money and time
to enjoy art, history, and literature.

Wilson
avalpert
Posts: 6313
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Post by avalpert »

fluffyistaken wrote:Almost any degree that does not specifically target a high-paying field (computers, engineering, hard science, pre-med/medical, maybe some business, and probably some others I forget) will be a "waste of money". It may be fun, satisfying, personally enriching, but it is very unlikely to pay for itself unless you stay in academia and become a professor in that field.
Sorry but this is bull. I hire at above average rates liberal arts majors all the time -as do most of my competitors across the consulting world. Ultiamtely, your degree is far less improtant to your success and salary in the business world tha your motvation, critical thinking skills and adatability - and you can hone those skills just as well in philosophy or classic greek as you can in a technical field.

Whether the experience is worth the cost is an individual decision - it is as foolish to compare the value purely in terms of earings power as it is to compare the value of a ferrari to a buick based on how much time you save from the extra accecelration speed...
User avatar
fluffyistaken
Posts: 1435
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:32 pm

Post by fluffyistaken »

avalpert wrote:
fluffyistaken wrote:Almost any degree that does not specifically target a high-paying field (computers, engineering, hard science, pre-med/medical, maybe some business, and probably some others I forget) will be a "waste of money". It may be fun, satisfying, personally enriching, but it is very unlikely to pay for itself unless you stay in academia and become a professor in that field.
Sorry but this is bull. I hire at above average rates liberal arts majors all the time -as do most of my competitors across the consulting world. Ultiamtely, your degree is far less improtant to your success and salary in the business world tha your motvation, critical thinking skills and adatability - and you can hone those skills just as well in philosophy or classic greek as you can in a technical field.

Whether the experience is worth the cost is an individual decision - it is as foolish to compare the value purely in terms of earings power as it is to compare the value of a ferrari to a buick based on how much time you save from the extra accecelration speed...
I have no doubt you hire some outstanding liberal arts majors who are well deserving of their high salaries, but they are not representative: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife ... index.html

I was a philosophy minor myself and thoroughly enjoyed it but it's my CompSci degree that brings in the money. Missing out on 4+ years of income and work experience and having to pay for 4+ years of school is not worth the average starting salary of $30-35K in the purely financial sense. Yes, obviously there are non-financial reasons for getting an education as well but I don't think that's what this thread is about.
hewhomustnotbenamed
Posts: 572
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:27 pm

Post by hewhomustnotbenamed »

From a monetary perspective a liberal arts degree is kinda iffy.

However it and a rather unique life experience got the attention of admissions to a professional degree :dollar . :thumbsup
I might be crazy but, I ain't stupid.
User avatar
joe8d
Posts: 4457
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:27 pm
Location: Buffalo,NY

Post by joe8d »

Many Federal jobs require a degree from an accredited university and core coursework. Internships and entry level positions are frequently granted to those with a high grade point average.

Victoria
Victoria,
Our Community college (3 campus) and the two 4 yr schools (UB and Buff State) are all part of the SUNY system.
All the Best, | Joe
Charleville
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:14 pm
Location: Des Moines

Post by Charleville »

I don't think a college degree is worthless. Many jobs a person could do by apprenticeship, law used to be this way. However, college is about obtaining independence from your parents. The real "magic" of college is discovering yourself without you parents hovering over you--it is about charting your own path. I realize there are helicopter parents but they can't be homeroom mother at college. At college we are more likely to discard what we don't like about our parents lives because they are not lording over us and you can take a look around at what you like and dislike. Hopefully, you don't like the libations too much and you survive the experience a more confident person.
sdrone
Posts: 108
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:17 pm

Post by sdrone »

Forget the choice of degree, the choice of job, etc. for a minute.

Study after study after study over the past couple of decades shows that....

1. Those with college degrees make a LOT more money in their lifetimes than those without.

2. Those with college degrees have a MUCH lower divorce rate than those without.

3. Those with a college degree consistently rate their lives as more fulfilling, happier, and with a higher quality of life in surveys than those without a college degree.
chaz
Posts: 13604
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Post by chaz »

Degrees from UCLA led to a wonderful career which ended when I decided to retire.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
User avatar
Dale_G
Posts: 3387
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:43 pm
Location: Central Florida - on the grown up side of 83

Post by Dale_G »

preserve wrote:
schwarm wrote:
Dale_G wrote:
p.s. I've fired far more PhD's than BS's or MS's - probably because I erroneously expected more of them! So PhD.D's and MS's don't count for much if the kid simply wanted to avoid work for a few more years.
I'm curious what type of PhD's these people had, and if it was related to the field they were working in.
I'm also curious. A PhD that can be readily hired/fired probably doesn't have much weight to begin with.
They ran the gamut, Physicists, EEs, MEs and IT persons (persons for political correctness, but they all happened to be men).

Hiring was easy because the location was an R&D lab in a rural college town in the Midwest - and all these folks yearned to come home. That should have been a warning.

The MS guys did better than the PhDs. Most of the PhDs couldn't seem to shake their Ivory Tower illusions - and adapt to the real world of actually getting the job done today, this week, this month or this year.

I loved these guys, but most of them should have been flailing away on a five year program to determine the respiration rate of Boll weevils in Texas during a July thunderstorm.

Dale
Volatility is my friend
User avatar
celia
Posts: 12130
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Post by celia »

techno,
The value of your degrees is that you will have many more opportunities available to you than a high school graduate. Very few people stay in the same job their whole working life, but you will have the option of doing any job that is open to high school grads plus jobs requiring your BS plus jobs requiring your MS. You will be able to apply to many more jobs during your lifetime, than if you didn't have your background. This is important when you also consider that some jobs 10 or 20 or 30 years down the road don't even exist today.

You have shown that you can learn and adapt and that is what employers are looking for. I've read that some employers are looking for grads from some colleges that are difficult to get into because the applicant made it past the screening process for admissions and was able to complete all the projects a wide variety of professors required for their courses. This viewpoint looks at college as an employment screening tool, independent of the content of the courses.

I think the problem with the article you link to is that the college grad is out of the work force 4 years compared to the high school grad, then pays only 5% of his pay towards his loans each year. It takes another 12 years to finish paying for the loans before he starts saving for retirement. Of course, 16 years of compounding for the high school grad will make a huge difference that the college grad can only beat by saving more than 5% or starting earlier than 16 years after the high school grad. But if the college grad lived the life style as the high school grad for a few years (cost-wise) and put his excess pay towards the loans, he would have them paid off in a few years. And there's nothing to stop him from saving for retirement at the same time or saving more than 5%.
User avatar
celia
Posts: 12130
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Post by celia »

This article (Repaying Your Student Loan) says that you should plan on using 8% of your pay to re-pay an undergraduate loan or 15% of your pay for a graduate loan. The difference in percentages is because the post-bachelor degree is assumed to earn more.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 42857
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Post by nisiprius »

When I read a book that cost $30, do I try to estimate how many dollars reading that book is going to add to my lifetime earnings total? No, I say "this looks like an interesting book, I think I'll read it."

When I buy a house, do I calculate a weighted average of the salaries at jobs in my field available within commuting distance from my house, properly discounted for the costs in money and time of the commute? No, I say "I like this house and we can swing it, let's buy it."

When I married my wife, did I evaluate her career potential and the number of dollars she was likely to contribute to the household budget? No, I saw her "across a crowded room" and said "She's smiling back at me!"

I don't know what's going on, but people have become insanely crass and materialistic about these things over the last few decades.

People try to monetize things that shouldn't be monetized. I wonder if the younger forum members can even remember a time when "You can't put a monetary value on a human life" was a truism? I am neither a stock nor a bond, thank you very much. My value is incalculable, and so is yours.

College educations are high on the list of "things that shouldn't be monetized." That they are is to some extent the colleges' own fault--or the fault of whatever national organizations it is that are always coming up with these stupid statistics on relative earnings of degree-holders. Sales pitches. Anything that's expensive, someone is going to pitch it to you as being an "investment." That doesn't make it an investment, it's still just something expensive.

You listen to a symphony, court a prospective life partner, or get an education for their own sake, because they are worthwhile in themselves. You only get a certain amount of life and how you use it is up to you. You get a college education because it is, for most people, one of the most intrinsically worthwhile things you can do with four years of youthful human life.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
schwarm
Posts: 710
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:17 pm
Location: Lower Alabama

Post by schwarm »

Dale_G wrote: The MS guys did better than the PhDs. Most of the PhDs couldn't seem to shake their Ivory Tower illusions - and adapt to the real world of actually getting the job done today, this week, this month or this year.

I loved these guys, but most of them should have been flailing away on a five year program to determine the respiration rate of Boll weevils in Texas during a July thunderstorm.

Dale
Thanks for the reply. It sounds like they were generally in the fields in which they studied, although perhaps not exactly. I think in grad school you tend to beat a problem to death, regardless of the practical application, and most of the time you don't have tight deadlines. Also, it probably tends to attract "thinkers" rather than "doers" (not that these are mutually exclusive, but the emphasis is different in the "real world").

I read somewhere that 3/4 of engineering PhD's end up working in industry. I wonder how many thought they were going into teaching when they started grad school.
User avatar
topper1296
Posts: 753
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:50 pm
Location: Nashville TN

Post by topper1296 »

In the industry I work in a BS is needed to get your foot in the door, but professional certifications are better for career advancement compared to graduate degrees.

On a side note, this thread reminds me of an old joke.

What does a BS, MS, and PhD stand for?

BS - well you know :wink:
MS - more of the same
PhD - pile high deeper
hudson4351
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:30 pm

Post by hudson4351 »

mathwhiz wrote:
Well according to my boss, the total compensation is roughly about $80k for those within my pay grade (mine is the last for IT with overtime); technically your right about overall compensation, but man I would like a higher salary to get out of debt faster. As for your comment about IT employees working for the gov and then go contractor, heh you must have a lot of experience or your wife likes to talk, but you are right about that. Most of the ones I know and know of work until retirement (age 55+) retire with a nice pension and then get hired back as expensive consultants
At least you have a job.

With job security.

Where you work 40 hours a week with generous sick leave and vacation.

Where you have a TSP with the lowest fees anywhere that matches 5%.

Where you have a pension that doesn't really exist anywhere else.

Where you have good health insurance.

Did I mention the job security thing again? Unemployment is going to 10%.

Many people rather have a secure job that pays $50k where you work 40 hours a week than a job that you can get fired anytime for anything. Or a job with no protections where you make $80k a year and you have no pension. And maybe not the best health insurance. And 2 weeks of leave you can never take and a 401k that has outrageous fees where the company just suspended the match because of the economy...

And instead of working 40 hours a week, you are working 50 or 60 or 70 and if you get asked for overtime they will laugh in your face.

Money aint everything.
These are all very good points.
cheddy
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:47 pm

Post by cheddy »

This is a well timed post for me as I am debating going back to school to get a degree. I've been working full time for 7 years since graduating high school, 4 years were dead end jobs where I hardly made enough to get by then in the last 3 I stuck gold and was able to go from zero savings to 70K. Now I look at my accounts and say "that's nice" but at the same time I know if I quit my job (i'm getting burned out to be honest) or fired, in this economy there is a no chance I will see the same job oppourtunity again for a long time. So while my pretax income is in the 70-80K range, I am willing to trade that in for some job security.
User avatar
Schooly D
Posts: 263
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:00 pm
Location: North Carolina

Post by Schooly D »

I went back to grad school not because I thought it would enable me to command a higher salary, but because I was bored to tears in all the jobs I had after finishing undergrad and I craved to be among people who were excited about ideas and learning. I recognize that there probably exist jobs that afford the same intellectual satisfactions as does life in the academy, but I never found them.
Cheers, | | David
mathwhiz
Posts: 867
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:58 pm

Post by mathwhiz »

I don't think a college degree is worthless. Many jobs a person could do by apprenticeship, law used to be this way. However, college is about obtaining independence from your parents. The real "magic" of college is discovering yourself without you parents hovering over you--it is about charting your own path.
I think you make a good point about freedom but I don't think the majority of college students go away to school. Not every kid at 18 is ready or responsible enough for that kind of independence. It's also much more expensive to go away to school than attend a local community college for those first two years.

At the end of the day, the only thing employers see on the resume is the school you graduated from and got the degree. It doesn't matter where you went those first two years.
Last edited by mathwhiz on Sun Jun 21, 2009 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
schwarm
Posts: 710
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:17 pm
Location: Lower Alabama

Post by schwarm »

One other thought in reference to Dale G's post: My wife worked in R&D for a major multinational company. Almost all of the managers in R&D were PhD's.
So while the degree does not guarantee a level of performance, it is almost required for some positions. The trade off is that other positions that don't normally hire PhD's probably see it as unnecessary and possibly even a negative.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 42857
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Post by nisiprius »

schwarm wrote:One other thought in reference to Dale G's post: My wife worked in R&D for a major multinational company. Almost all of the managers in R&D were PhD's.
So while the degree does not guarantee a level of performance, it is almost required for some positions.
Which is pretty weird.

A Ph. D. is awarded for being an individual contributor, so why would it be a relevant qualification for a manager?
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
Beagler
Posts: 3442
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:39 pm

Post by Beagler »

The PhD's in industry with whom I'm acquainted have worked in fields e.g., chemistry, and after a number of years try to get into mgt. for the increased pay, more control over projects, etc. I guess like any organization, some of them want to climb what they perceive to be the ladder.
“The only place where success come before work is in the dictionary.” Abraham Lincoln. This post does not provide advice for specific individual situations and should not be construed as doing so.
schwarm
Posts: 710
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:17 pm
Location: Lower Alabama

Post by schwarm »

nisiprius wrote:
schwarm wrote:One other thought in reference to Dale G's post: My wife worked in R&D for a major multinational company. Almost all of the managers in R&D were PhD's.
So while the degree does not guarantee a level of performance, it is almost required for some positions.
Which is pretty weird.

A Ph. D. is awarded for being an individual contributor, so why would it be a relevant qualification for a manager?
A couple points:

I guess you could ask that question of many non-academic jobs that require academic qualifications. A lot of companies are looking to fill general management positions with persons having a 4 year degree. What specific benefit does the four year degree provide?

Maybe the equivalent in some company's technical departments is having a PhD.

Also I think a lot of the staff engineers are PhD's, so its probably driven by the available pool of potential managers.
User avatar
Karl
Posts: 1074
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 5:52 pm
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Post by Karl »

John Stossel (my favorite TV journalist) looked at the value of a degree. He talked to one economist who described a bachelors degree as "the biggest ripoff in America." This view was supported by some graduates he interviewed who had things like $70K of student loans and were doing jobs that don't require more than a HS education.

Stossel pointed out that plumbers earn more than the national average income, yet they didn't go to college and don't end up under a pile of debt. In America students are sold a lie and they buy right in. Remember the slogan of a The United Negro College Fund that was "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." So if one doesn't go to college they're wasting their mind? I know a guy who's an auto mechanic and it certainly doesn't seem to have wasted his mind. He has a valuable set of skills. He's certified as a Master Mechanic. He works on everything from cars to semi trucks. As long as motor vehicles exist, I don't think he has to worry about job security. It would be pretty hard to outsource his job to India. Imagine calling tech support and have them walk you through how to rebuild your transmission. :lol:
Harold
Posts: 3154
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:50 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by Harold »

nisiprius wrote:
schwarm wrote:One other thought in reference to Dale G's post: My wife worked in R&D for a major multinational company. Almost all of the managers in R&D were PhD's.
So while the degree does not guarantee a level of performance, it is almost required for some positions.
Which is pretty weird.

A Ph. D. is awarded for being an individual contributor, so why would it be a relevant qualification for a manager?
Along similar (though less clear) lines, can anyone give a reasonable explanation for why a PhD has become essentially a requirement for undergraduate teaching jobs at many non-research universities? (My guess is "because they can demand that degree", similarly to why college degrees have become required for many jobs, but I'm hoping for something more reasonable than that.)

There are plenty of people who have excellent teaching skills and a full understanding of the material being taught, yet such schools seem to favor people whose skills lie in researching instead.

(I'm not in the arena, so I may have facts wrong. But that's what it looks like from a distance.)
Steve_Miller
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 10:14 am

Post by Steve_Miller »

Academic achievement has been something that my family has always chaulked up as being a valuable life achievement:

My father was an EE turned surgeon, mother had a PhD, my brothers both have advanced degrees (that interestingly don't correspond to their career paths.)

I never really liked school (until the last few years... night classes), but I've always been enamored with technology. I've spent over the last decade in the work force acquiring well respected IT certifications (CCIE, RHCE, etc.) that in general command great salaries and interesting positions. I currently earn well over $100k/yr and I save virtually everything.

What is the point I am trying to make? It is that by all means I have been able to build a successful career out of what fuels me.... BUT... I still look at how far I have to go and what I would have to sacrifice in order to get just that B.S EECS from the university I want to transfer into so dearly.

Will it increase my earnings potential? Not at all. Will it be an enormous sense of pride? Absolutely. Therein lies the value.

-Steve
Beagler
Posts: 3442
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:39 pm

Post by Beagler »

Karl wrote:John Stossel (my favorite TV journalist) looked at the value of a degree. He talked to one economist who described a bachelors degree as "the biggest ripoff in America." This view was supported by some graduates he interviewed who had things like $70K of student loans and were doing jobs that don't require more than a HS education.

Stossel pointed out that plumbers earn more than the national average income, yet they didn't go to college and don't end up under a pile of debt. In America students are sold a lie and they buy right in. Remember the slogan of a The United Negro College Fund that was "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." So if one doesn't go to college they're wasting their mind? I know a guy who's an auto mechanic and it certainly doesn't seem to have wasted his mind. He has a valuable set of skills. He's certified as a Master Mechanic. He works on everything from cars to semi trucks. As long as motor vehicles exist, I don't think he has to worry about job security. It would be pretty hard to outsource his job to India. Imagine calling tech support and have them walk you through how to rebuild your transmission. :lol:
I wonder how many Sociology, Philosophy, Art History (etc.) majors wish they'd taken the route of your friend the auto mechanic. I suppose it's almost never too late to retrain.
“The only place where success come before work is in the dictionary.” Abraham Lincoln. This post does not provide advice for specific individual situations and should not be construed as doing so.
avalpert
Posts: 6313
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Post by avalpert »

Karl wrote:John Stossel (my favorite TV journalist) looked at the value of a degree. He talked to one economist who described a bachelors degree as "the biggest ripoff in America." This view was supported by some graduates he interviewed who had things like $70K of student loans and were doing jobs that don't require more than a HS education.

Stossel pointed out that plumbers earn more than the national average income, yet they didn't go to college and don't end up under a pile of debt. In America students are sold a lie and they buy right in. Remember the slogan of a The United Negro College Fund that was "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." So if one doesn't go to college they're wasting their mind? I know a guy who's an auto mechanic and it certainly doesn't seem to have wasted his mind. He has a valuable set of skills. He's certified as a Master Mechanic. He works on everything from cars to semi trucks. As long as motor vehicles exist, I don't think he has to worry about job security. It would be pretty hard to outsource his job to India. Imagine calling tech support and have them walk you through how to rebuild your transmission. :lol:
Without getting started on what is wrong with Stossel in general, calling this 'investigative reporting' is quite unfortunate. Tell me, how did he answer the multitude of studies that shows the life time earnings of college graduates well exceed high school graduates?

Sure, a few hand picked professions and individual can support whatever conclusion he wnated to sell - but to call this the biggest lie being sold to Americans is so silly that how anyone can take it seriosly is beyond me.
schwarm
Posts: 710
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:17 pm
Location: Lower Alabama

Post by schwarm »

Steve_Miller wrote:Academic achievement has been something that my family has always chaulked up as being a valuable life achievement:

My father was an EE turned surgeon, mother had a PhD, my brothers both have advanced degrees (that interestingly don't correspond to their career paths.)

I never really liked school (until the last few years... night classes), but I've always been enamored with technology. I've spent over the last decade in the work force acquiring well respected IT certifications (CCIE, RHCE, etc.) that in general command great salaries and interesting positions. I currently earn well over $100k/yr and I save virtually everything.

What is the point I am trying to make? It is that by all means I have been able to build a successful career out of what fuels me.... BUT... I still look at how far I have to go and what I would have to sacrifice in order to get just that B.S EECS from the university I want to transfer into so dearly.

Will it increase my earnings potential? Not at all. Will it be an enormous sense of pride? Absolutely. Therein lies the value.

-Steve
I suspect having a person like yourself in the classroom will be of great value. If education for the young and inexperienced is overvalued, its probably undervalued for the older, more experienced person.
yobria
Posts: 5978
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:58 pm
Location: SF CA USA

Post by yobria »

avalpert wrote:Tell me, how did he answer the multitude of studies that shows the life time earnings of college graduates well exceed high school graduates?
That's a misleading statistic though. Most smart high school kids (that would eventually earn high wages anyway) are pressured by their environment into going to college. And many high paying jobs (doctor/lawyer) require undergraduate degrees. Neither of these facts proves the intrisic worth of a few years of dozing through class, partying, and cramming for exams.

Nick
avalpert
Posts: 6313
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Post by avalpert »

yobria wrote:
avalpert wrote:Tell me, how did he answer the multitude of studies that shows the life time earnings of college graduates well exceed high school graduates?
That's a misleading statistic though. Most smart high school kids (that would eventually earn high wages anyway) are pressured by their environment into going to college. And many high paying jobs (doctor/lawyer) require undergraduate degrees. Neither of these facts proves the intrisic worth of a few years of dozing through class, partying, and cramming for exams.

Nick
Well the second point certainly demonstrates value - certain high paying professions are off limits without a degree, are there any that are off limits if you have one?

The first point is wothy of discussion, but in the end does it matter? If your peers are going to get the degree, and employers value the degree, than from a competitive position alone you will be better off getting the degree.

In the end, we aren't goign to have a real controlled experiment comparing a population identical in every way except for soe goign to college and some not so we have to make due with the best data we have.
User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 19549
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Post by VictoriaF »

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Steve_Miller
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 10:14 am

Post by Steve_Miller »

schwarm wrote:
Steve_Miller wrote:Academic achievement has been something that my family has always chaulked up as being a valuable life achievement:

My father was an EE turned surgeon, mother had a PhD, my brothers both have advanced degrees (that interestingly don't correspond to their career paths.)

I never really liked school (until the last few years... night classes), but I've always been enamored with technology. I've spent over the last decade in the work force acquiring well respected IT certifications (CCIE, RHCE, etc.) that in general command great salaries and interesting positions. I currently earn well over $100k/yr and I save virtually everything.

What is the point I am trying to make? It is that by all means I have been able to build a successful career out of what fuels me.... BUT... I still look at how far I have to go and what I would have to sacrifice in order to get just that B.S EECS from the university I want to transfer into so dearly.

Will it increase my earnings potential? Not at all. Will it be an enormous sense of pride? Absolutely. Therein lies the value.

-Steve
I suspect having a person like yourself in the classroom will be of great value. If education for the young and inexperienced is overvalued, its probably
undervalued for the older, more experienced person.
Tell that admissions :lol: I wish all of this work experience and certification would translate to an invitation into an EE program at Cal or Stanford.
User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 19549
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Post by VictoriaF »

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
AzRunner
Posts: 999
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:18 pm
Location: Phoenix

Post by AzRunner »

I definitely view a college degree as worthwhile. It is more worthwhile if you go to school with a purpose (other than partying). In many professions you need an undergraduate degree in a certain discipline in order to be effective and you can't get into the door without it.

I have degrees from both state schools and private. My employer paid for my MBA that I pursued at night (U of Chicago). That opened the door to a management position in the software engineering field. I don't think I would have paid the tuition if I had to pay it out of my own pocket (I needed to get at least a B for reimbursement).

In my experience, it was difficult to detect a difference in technical performance between engineers that has bachelors vs masters degrees. We didn't employ many PhDs. One advantage that my technical masters provided was that it was a prerequisite for the company to pay for an MBA, so I lucked into that.

Our son graduated from a private university (Northwestern). The advantage he had was that prestigious companies recruited there that did not go to most schools. I think it provides a head start, but certainly your performance becomes more important as you move away from your degree.

Getting back to the main point of the post: if you are mature enough to know why you are at school and how your education will benefit you, then I think you are off to the right start.

I agree that going to an admissions introduction program from the school of interest is valuable. Our son picked up useful information at that meeting. He also took part in a school day where high school seniors could attend classes on campus. That was extremely useful as well.

Norm
Rodc
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:46 am

Post by Rodc »

VictoriaF wrote:
nisiprius wrote:
schwarm wrote:One other thought in reference to Dale G's post: My wife worked in R&D for a major multinational company. Almost all of the managers in R&D were PhD's.
So while the degree does not guarantee a level of performance, it is almost required for some positions.
Which is pretty weird.

A Ph. D. is awarded for being an individual contributor, so why would it be a relevant qualification for a manager?
Managers with PhD were typical in Bell Labs and its spin-offs AT&T Labs and Telcordia.
It helps for managers of research to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. It helps if they know enough to provide meaningful direction and provide useful guidance. It helps if they know enough to be able to meaningfully evaluate the research of the people they manage. They manage not just people, they also manage research.

That does not necessarily require a PhD, but it likely required you can do PhD level work.

At some point some people realize they can get more accomplished by directing others rather than simply working on their own little projects. It is a different type of accomplishment, so not everyone wants to go down that path.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
redlbj01
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:50 pm

Post by redlbj01 »

I've got a BA in Business Administration w/ emphases in HR/Marketing, and a minor in Accounting. Know what I'm doing now? Sales Rep for a manufacturer. My point is, (and this is something my father told w/ his experience as a VP of HR)" you don't always do what you went to school for."

I'm currently debtaing on going for my Master's in Business Management/Sales. I don't know how much a Master's Degree really helps in business, unless your in the upper echelon executive level. What is everyone's thoughts regarding a Bus Admin Masters?
ziggy29
Posts: 925
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:08 pm
Location: Southeast Texas Boonies

Post by ziggy29 »

The bottom line, IMO, is that the more college is seen as little more than a ticket to a higher paying job (i.e. the knowledge and the college experience is itself not what is valued), the more it will be true into the future.

These days colleges are first and foremost being seen as little more than preparation for a particular career.
Analystic
Posts: 224
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 6:35 am

Here are some options:

Post by Analystic »

You could have just joined the Oakland police department right out of high school:

http://www.opdjobs.com/oakland-police-d ... nefits.htm

Then you could retire at age 40 with full benefits and COLA for life.

I think what you are seeing is that a degree is not a ticket to anything.

If you are doing the same job as the person at the next desk you will be paid about the same.

Your best investment of time and money now is to improve your attitude. I highly recommend that you read or listen to some Earl Nightingale or Brian Tracy.

http://www.briantracy.com/catalog/produ ... =231&cid=8

http://www.briantracy.com/catalog/produ ... =531&cid=8

http://www.nightingale.com/prod_detail~ ... ecret.aspx

You can also find titles like this at

audible.com

and Nightingale-Conant

http://www.nightingale.com/?promo=INTGO ... DAodaU6KkA

Maybe others will disagree but these have helped me over the years. You sound like you could benefit from a little coaching and a pep-talk.
Disclaimer: I am making all of this up.
Analystic
Posts: 224
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 6:35 am

Thoughts on MBA

Post by Analystic »

redlbj01 wrote:What is everyone's thoughts regarding a Bus Admin Masters?
Highly relevant to this thread.

MBA's are becoming the proverbial "dime a dozen".

If you have one it is not worth much. If you actually use what you learn it can be worth a great deal. Someone with an MBA should be a more successful manager early on than without one if they use what they learn. They will have to have the personality and aptitude for management, though.

What you learn in MBA school is also very helpful if not essential if you are headed toward a position like CFO.

It will help you handle the mechanics of running a department, or more, like appreciating the fundamentals of allocating resources like money, space, and capital equipment.

It is very a enjoyable and enriching course of study if you have the right attitude.

I would recommend it someone who seems stuck mid-career and who has an aptitude for management.

There are weekend and evening programs in many areas.

An MBA is no longer a ticket to anything.
Disclaimer: I am making all of this up.
Post Reply