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    Is your BA really BS?

    Is your BA really BS?


    I’ve written before about how higher education is the next bubble, and I’m glad that Mark Schneider of AIR has done some research on behalf of AEI to really hit the nail on the head. Here are your talking points, folks:

    average lifetime earnings advantage for college graduates is well below the million-dollar figure when forgone wages and the cost of a college education are factored in.

    • Incorporating those figures and using the Department of Education’s 2003 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, Schneider estimated that the lifetime earnings advantage for college graduates ranges from $150,000 to $500,000.
    • The differences reflect earnings from open admissions schools to selective private schools.

    And of course the premium isn’t consistent across industries or employees:

    • The Census Bureau’s 2009 Current Population Survey shows that 20 percent of individuals making less than $20,000 per year have bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
    • Recent graduates, age 24 and under, are experiencing a jobless rate of nearly 10 percent.

    Even more problematic for future generations is that the gains from college aren’t growing over time.

    • In 1991, young workers with bachelor’s degrees earned, on average, 1.48 times the amount that those with only high school diplomas earned.
    • Young college graduates’ earnings peaked in 2000 at 1.68 times that of diploma-holders, then declined to 1.54 percent in 2009.
    • Keep in mind that the price of tuition increased nearly 300 percent during this same period.

    Right now, a bachelor’s degree is still a good option for many students. However, as prices continue to rise and gains in academic achievement and lifetime earnings stagnate, the bubble — the discrepancy between cost and value — will inflate further.

    I’m dreading the day when it will burst, though.

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    The ludicrous claim that everyone needs a college degree has been echoed by Obama ad nauseam. I think its just his way of saying "go back to school, and stay under the unemployment radar – please!"

    It does make me wonder, however, once everyone has their doctorate, who will pick up the garbage? Or will that Ph.D stand for "post hole digger"?

    So many questions, and May 21st just around the corner…

    College is a big waste of time and money. It is fundamentally immoral to tell young people they must start out life so grossly deep in debt that they are literally owned by the banks for the rest of their lives.

    The college degree myth also demonstrates a certain disdain for the trades common in our pretentious society of elites and elite-wanna-bes.

    While every suburban couple is relieved when the plumber fixes the leak, they are horrified at the thought that junior might end up being a plumber someday. Why? Because they have been sold a lie by colleges and universities and the banks. Junior goes off and wastes four years of his life, flushes thousands of dollars down the tube, and then starts out as an unpaid intern competing with a dozen other unpaid interns for a job that starts out at $25k a year. He does this while trying to pay thousands back in student loans, or Mom and Dad are struggling to pay a second mortgage when they should be putting that money away for their retirement.

    Meanwhile that plumber that fixed Mom and Dad's leak, he's making $40k-$50k a year, has no student loans, and can feel something that junior will never feel after a hard day of shuffling paper and answering endless phone calls… satisfaction in a job well done.

    This is coming from someone with a Master's degree, 42 years old and working for $42k a year at a job that has nothing to do with his degree, is high stress, low satisfaction, and just plain cubicle miserable.

    I wish I had went out to the garage when I was a teenager and learned how to work on cars with my Dad who was a mechanic and millwright, and is now happily retired and satisfied with a job well done.

    The college myth is ruining lives and our culture.

    "This doesn't seem to factor in several other aspects; specifically the enjoyment factor. College is a lot of fun for pretty much everyone that immerses themselves in it. That's at least somewhat of a mitigation factor for the cost of it."

    There's so many things that can be said about that, but I'll leave it with just this one comment:

    You can say the same thing about a casino, but if someone were to spend upwards of $40k a year in a casino, you would have to conclude that that person has a rather serious problem.

    Not that my example is one to go by, but I went to college when writing a term paper meant typing it on a manual typewriter (good for me, a lousy typist, that white-out had just been invented!).

    Anyway, I had a scholarship, and lived at home, so my education for four years cost me only the price of fees and books, but even if I'd paid the the tuition, it would have been about $5000 for all four years.

    I've out-earned that by orders of magnitude. I'm very blessed to work as a technical writer decades after earning a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, English Major. I've always been able to find a job doing SOMETHING.

    How do these stats break out by major? As in, what is the payoff for majoring in engineering or math vs majoring in womyn's studies?

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