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Is College Worth the Cost?
August 29, 2007 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Is College Worth the Cost? In strict dollar terms, is that degree going to be worth the parchment it's printed on?
posted by blue_beetle (134 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess it all depends on what you think an education is worth. Or maybe better still what the purpose of college is?
posted by ozomatli at 10:19 AM on August 29, 2007


2. Don't pay top dollar to go to a private college no one's ever heard of. Prestige is part of the value of private education. is a remark which I took a bit of issue with, since I am doing more or less just that and perfectly happy about it. But then a few lines later:

So if you want to be a social worker, don't borrow the full cost of attendance at Hampshire College

Does this mean hampshire has prestige now? Or at least infamy?
posted by Arturus at 10:21 AM on August 29, 2007


Does this mean hampshire has prestige now?

Either that or the opposite...
posted by dersins at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2007


In strict dollar terms, is that degree going to be worth the parchment it's printed on?


This sentence has a lot of problems.

However, I'm going to say it probably depends on your chosen career field. For me (audio engineer) it's mostly worthless.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:29 AM on August 29, 2007


Depends on the college.
posted by wfc123 at 10:33 AM on August 29, 2007


I dunno, but my degree is printed on fancy paper, not parchment...
posted by blue_beetle at 10:35 AM on August 29, 2007



Does this mean hampshire has prestige now?


Hampshire is frequently used as an example of an extremely expensive private education of dubious value.

The analogy was that if you borrow the full tuition of over $45,000, you're going to need to seek more lucrative employment than social worker.

In truth, Hampshire is an excellent school for the right people, when you learn to pick them out among the trustifarians. Sure, there are a lot of burned-out wealthy slackers there -- but that astronomical tuition has managed to draw some first rate instructors to their program. It probably deserves quite a bit more prestige than it has.

It deserves the cheap shots aimed at the high cost of a liberal arts education, too.
posted by toxic at 10:35 AM on August 29, 2007


I've definitely made my money back on my degree.
posted by smackwich at 10:35 AM on August 29, 2007


In strict dollar terms, is it better to eat steak or nutripaste?
In strict dollar terms, is life itself worth living?
posted by DU at 10:39 AM on August 29, 2007 [16 favorites]


This is the shallowest piece of fluff that I read today
posted by atrazine at 10:42 AM on August 29, 2007


I was prepared to snark too but this article does a decent job of telling it like it is.
posted by vacapinta at 10:43 AM on August 29, 2007


Dancer, stylist, or makeup artist; real estate agent; retail manager; club, bar, or restaurant worker; event planner; web and graphic designer, tattoo artist, and so on. So, if a job like this calls to you, don't be afraid to sidestep college.

I'm not sure what the article intended, but this is going to rally a lot of readers to attend college.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2007


For the haters, why does this piece offend you? It's not telling you that you have to think about your education in terms of dollars,.

Economic considerations are very important when considering whether and where to go to college. That they aren't the only important thing to everyone doesn't diminish that fact.
posted by gurple at 10:46 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


In Canada, StatsCan has done some follow-up work on student debt loads and rates of repayment. It shows an average debt load of $12,800 for graduates in 2000, across all programs. I haven't been able to find anything similar for the US or Europe - I think that might be some interesting data for this discussion, as there are many factors to consider here - public versus private, type of degree earned, level of government support for tuition costs, etc., which will vary by country, province, and possibly state. In short, while the point of the post and the article is to look at things in strict dollar terms, I guess I'm feeling the math is more complex than as its been presented in the article.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:48 AM on August 29, 2007


It depends on the field, but I think anybody job hunting in the IT industry is much better armed with a slew of industry certifications (Cisco/MSCE/etc.) than a 4 year computer science/engineering degree. Factor in the added cost and time (lost salary adds up quick!) of school, not to mention the absent job experience, and it just doesn't make a lot of sense in this field.

That said, there are companies out there that won't hire (or promote) people without X degree, so you'll have a slightly lower target audience. I still list my degrees on my resume, but it's way down there at the bottom...
posted by LordSludge at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2007


I considered college to be worthwhile insofar as it made it much easier to meet girls.

Yay, girls!

Given that, I (still fondly) regard it as time and money well spent.
posted by Haruspex at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2007


I'd like to see a slice on is it worth it to blow the wad on undergrad or just get undergrad done and save the wad for graduate level education.
posted by ao4047 at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2007


First line:

Many readers have suggested that I tackle a thorny question: Is college worth the cost?

Second line:

Obviously, I went to college.

Kinda answers itself right away, doesn't it? "Obviously, I went to college...do you think you'd be reading this if I hadn't?"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:52 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, I like how "strict dollar terms" always just applies shallowly and individually. Like, a burger flipper doesn't make any more money if s/he has an education, so the education must not bring anything to the table economically, right?

WRONG

Imagine two nations. One where only 10% are college educated (the professors, CEOs, etc) and the other where 100% are college educated. Which nation is going to do better economically overall? Where do the new ideas come from? Who is catching costly mistakes or creating new solutions?

Rising tide, people. We all do better when we each do better. This is exactly why free college education isn't an entitlement but a requirement.
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on August 29, 2007 [9 favorites]


I have a huge problem with this type of bottom line net analysis used on something like education. Is there a value to a college education beyond what your earning potential is after college? It's a pretty shallow view on things, but typical for American society.
posted by Eekacat at 10:55 AM on August 29, 2007


A real comparison would count the return you could get from $133,204 in other investments. College gets you 1.2 million over a lifetime. Say a lifetime is 40 working years, 5% on a savings account at HSBC gets you 1.0 million.
posted by Nothing at 10:56 AM on August 29, 2007


It's a pretty shallow view on things, but typical for American society.

Folks, it's an article from the Yahoo Finance section.
posted by vacapinta at 10:57 AM on August 29, 2007


Which is entirely beside the point, I know. Count me with the "worth far more than dollars" crowd. I just thought it should be noted.
posted by Nothing at 10:58 AM on August 29, 2007


This is exactly why free college education isn't an entitlement but a requirement.
Or, at the very least, affordable.
Handing college financing over to the private sector has done nothing to make a college education more accessible. Unless, by "more accessible" you merely mean "infinite choices of lenders offering you high-variable-rate loans".
posted by Thorzdad at 10:59 AM on August 29, 2007


Guys. OBVIOUS POINT: college degrees don't correlate all that well to education. I mean, when we talk about ye average college, we're not talking about people going to Oxford and passing stuff based on personal syllabi etc. We're talking Econ 102 and Intro to Psychology. I guess the fact that you get a degree means you spent time learning about something, so I can see the other side of this—but I'm unconvinced that a person is more likely to be 'educated' by virtue of being put through college. Ah, I dunno. Yeah I can see both sides of this issue.
posted by Firas at 11:01 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a pretty shallow view on things, but typical for American society.

Right, the reason India and China etc. are nations of parents telling their kids to go be Engineers, Doctors or Lawyers is because they have an innate appreciation of the civic value of cosines, tumorous tissue and latin.
posted by Firas at 11:03 AM on August 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


DU: I think a good data point in this discussion is the University of California.

It's a political minefield to praise the UC, (I fondly remember all the horrible things people substituted for "UC Regents" on their checks, only to see if they could still be cashed) but the combined affordable cost of a BA with in-state tuition, access to effective financial aid, (I've got ~$22K owed for my BA) level of systemwide quality and earnest attempts at inclusivity (the top 10% of graduating high schoolers, is it?) really make it an exemplar of public education. California's economy owes a lot to the UC, and if it grows to meet our population, even greater things may be in store. I wish such good public institutions were available nationwide. I would never pay the ticket price for a private school, but given the UC options, why would I?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:06 AM on August 29, 2007


I dislike the idea of evaluating college's worth on strict dollar terms. Every job I've had since graduating, and I've had a string of jobs that I wouldn't trade for the world, has been through people I became friends with at college. College is also worth it if for no other reason than simply to give idiot teenagers a chance to grow into reasonable human beings without forcing them on the rest of the world while they do so. at least for 9 months of the year.
posted by shmegegge at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Unless you go to LSU, of course.
posted by shmegegge at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


We all do better when we each do better.

On a similar theme - I've been pushing the idea that we all do better when we all do each other.
But, to be honest, it hasn't really gotten much traction yet.
posted by Tbola at 11:12 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


...also, I haven't figured out how it will help the economy.
But, I keep hope.
posted by Tbola at 11:13 AM on August 29, 2007


I was going to bring up Berkeley too and the other UCs. For the quality of education they provide and the strong brand they have they are remarkably affordable and inclusive (for state residents of course)

Regarding private colleges, yes they are expensive but the hardest hit are not the poor but the middle class. If you're really poor there are a surplus of grants and easy loans available. (And if you can get into Harvard, they'll let you in free.) So its not quite egalitarian but not in the way most people think.
posted by vacapinta at 11:14 AM on August 29, 2007


This is a broader lessen: in absolute dollar terms money is not an indication of value for goods and services and should not be seen as an indication of the value no matter what that value might be (e.g., compensation in the future, happiness, education quality).

Without getting into a larger sociological debate, Americans view college as some sort of great egalitarian black box. No matter what your class, race, religion, etc. if you go to college everyone comes out equal in the eyes of the word. Colleges have, for the most part, done a great part in perpetuating this. The realized nearly 100 years ago that if only Park Avenue peerage goes to your college people will begin to regard it as nothing more special than a house in Connecticut. Suddenly colleges faced the prospect of losing their brand prestige. So they created a qualitative admission process, which allowed qualified, upstanding families and a variety of kids who did not come from these families but possessed their qualities -- not to mention smart.

This worked too well. Suddenly to keep up with the image they created admissions quickly spiraled into ultra-competitiveness not seen previously in anything but political families. You began to admit kids who looked like caricatures of what the school was trying to represent itself. How many kids growing up in the Waldorf would want to spend their summers helping build houses? Or work on a science project.

Not many, but a lot of these kids had to go to school somewhere. Thus you get the schools which are not prestigious but well known (perhaps dubiously in Bennington's case) as being expensive. I mean you can't expect these kids to go to state school.

It also happened in England where OxCam started becoming actually hard to get into, and a whole mess of schools began to be popular among Sloane Rangers. Of course over there they don't have the delusions we have. They at least realize that these schools might not be that great of a value, just the place where the rich kids go.

Anytime you have an upmarket, imitators will crop up. Everyone sort of agrees their value is somewhat dubious compared to their price, but people get sucked in by clever marketing.

So the story here is that some colleges have great marketing departments and are able to charge more? Or is it how someone is shocked, simply shocked, that some educational institutions isn't a giant meritocracy and going to the college of your choice isn't some societal right?

In other words: MIT tuition is high, but more in line to the quality of their education. Hampshire is not. That's not necessarily inherently bad or good, they simply charge a higher admission.
posted by geoff. at 11:19 AM on August 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kamanetz's "generation debt" stuff has been pretty thin, but this article contained some pretty good and thoughtful points: that there are many fields where an ambitious person can make money without a college degree and that masses of people undertake the unmitigated financial disaster of going to college and not graduating.

DU -- I think you're quite wrong. The 10% college educated society is going to be economically better off than the 100% college educated society. Even today, when we offshore a large share of the unskilled labor required to support our consumption, it's hard to see that more than 10% of our jobs legitimately require a college degree. Bullshit credentialism and defense against devalued high school diplomas explains the rest. 100% (or anything close to that) would also cost untold billions in tuition and lost labor contribution, offset to only the most trivial extent by improved productivity of graduates who otherwise would haven't gone to school.
posted by MattD at 11:20 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I went to college to learn and think more critically and it was money well spent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:23 AM on August 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


Toxic wrote: Hampshire is frequently used as an example of an extremely expensive private education of dubious value.

I know, I was just (apparently poorly) attempting to snark. Because frankly, if I cared about the kinds of arguments being articulated in that article, I wouldn't be going to hampshire, and I wouldn't be studying a relatively obscure and technical science (astrophysics). So whenever an article like this comes along, which paints it as self-evident that the only purpose to college is to make more money in the long run, it really rubs me the wrong way.

The value I get from this school versus say, what I'd get going to UMass down the street, is entirely independent of the monetary value which I'll get as a result of my education. Div III is going to give me a slight advantage moving into grad school/professional contexts, as I'm basically getting to do early what I'd be doing in those context soon enough anyway, and if I pushed enough in another school, I'd be able to do more or less the same thing there.

In short, I am here because this is where I am best able to be happy in my social and academic lives, and not because I expect to be richer now, and for a relatively small academic benefit.

This is much more real and concrete to me than abstract financial analysis. The writer in the article has it backwards in saying that the money is the concrete cost/benefit and the rest abstract.
posted by Arturus at 11:25 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


A real comparison would count the return you could get from $133,204 in other investments. College gets you 1.2 million over a lifetime. Say a lifetime is 40 working years, 5% on a savings account at HSBC gets you 1.0 million.

Yes, but a bunch of that $1.2 comes while you're young, and can invest it, so you'll end up with more than an extra $1.2 million at the end, as long as you don't go spending all your money like a fool.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2007


Yeah, but where/when else are you able to act like a carefree celebrity?

Endless sex, no job, money from parents for rent and drugs. . .

It's hard to put a price on a learning experience like that.

When you've graduated you can name drop the school like you accomplished something. When really it's all just pay to play.
posted by four panels at 11:27 AM on August 29, 2007


These kinds of articles are facile and pointless, not because you can't value a college education in terms of return-on-investment, but because the studies they rely on do no such thing. You can't simply look at the fact that college graduates earn X more over a lifetime and decide that any given person is likely to earn X more after attending college; I might as well decide the way to make money is to change my name to Rockefeller. A real attempt at discerning the value of a college education would need to control for at least socioeconomic background and intelligence. Do college graduates earn more because they went to college, or because they are the sort of people who can get into college? Or because they come from families who have the means to pay for college, and thus presumably provide other advantages as well?

It's also pretty hard to take an article like this seriously when it completely ignores the time value of money and the existence of other kinds of investments and assumes that the only alternative to spending your money on an expensive education is to put it in a shoebox for 40 years.
posted by enn at 11:27 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The concept that DU articulated is an accurate and underappreciated one, as well as a generalizable one. When we all have better transportation, we all do better. When we all have better health care, we all do better. When we all have better nutrition, we all do better.

The implication of this that is often missed by those who consider each individual's experience independent of anothers is that when we finance such things as a society, they are investments, not costs. Paying for health care, transportation, education, and housing always pays society back for the expenditure. And, for those of you concerned about the wealthy, those with a lot already get even more than those who directly benefit. Consider a simple case. How likely is it that a company like Dell or Intel would grow up in, say, Cameroon, where the roads are awful and transportation of products is expensive, where highly educated employees are hard to find, and where many people are afflicted and unable to work? Where people cannot afford to buy computers, and where consumers couldn't take advantage of them if they were free? For capitalism to flourish maximally, we need some degree of "socialism."

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:31 AM on August 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


Matt D: "I think you're quite wrong. The 10% college educated society is going to be economically better off than the 100% college educated society."

What about the 10% high school educated society? Do they do better than the 100% high school educated society? Why not?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:36 AM on August 29, 2007


yeah, and then inflation hits, and your question becomes, "Was a college education worth the hamburger that $40,000 would buy me today?"
posted by mano at 11:39 AM on August 29, 2007


I'd like to see a slice on is it worth it to blow the wad on undergrad or just get undergrad done and save the wad for graduate level education.

Unless the graduate level education is free or highly subsidized, as is usually the case if you have a research or teaching assistantship.
posted by zsazsa at 11:40 AM on August 29, 2007


...it's hard to see that more than 10% of our jobs legitimately require a college degree.

You are just reiterating the assumption I'm arguing against. A burger flipper has more impact on society than just the burgers they flip. They also purchase products, make choices that affect their own health and that of others, choose entertainment, commit crimes, think up inventions both on and off the job, create art, etc, etc, etc.

Is the burger flipping any better when you have a degree? Probably not. Are the choices and decisions better, the crimes fewer, the creations more frequent and of better quality? Probably yes.

If all a society cares about is getting its burgers flipped, then it should go ahead and fail to educate.
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


If all a society cares about is getting its burgers flipped, then it should go ahead and fail to educate.
posted by DU at 2:45 PM on August 29 [+] [!]


In Europe you can walk around and talk to anyone, and it's almost as if anyone you just buttonhole on the street (western europe) will have enough knowledge to carry on a conversation about architecture, politics, art, culture or finance.

Stop any American, and you're likely to either get shot, or an answer that could be classified as "dumbass."
posted by four panels at 11:53 AM on August 29, 2007


I'd just like to say that I'm a college dropout, and I've never had trouble beating out college grads to get the jobs I've gotten. Or beating up. One of those.
posted by katillathehun at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2007


In Europe you can walk around and talk to anyone, and it's almost as if anyone you just buttonhole on the street (western europe) will have enough knowledge to carry on a conversation about architecture, politics, art, culture or finance.

I noticed this when I live in Bellingham, WA too. It's a college town and had been rated as a good place for "young people" to live, so it was brimming with students. Checkout clerks had degrees and boy, did it show.
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on August 29, 2007


If college had been free, I probably would have graduated (with, in all likelihood, a "worthless" unrelated degree--I doubt it would have had any affect on my ability to earn money in the field I'm in). As it was, I did not. Not everyone comes from a (relatively) wealthy family able to underwrite a four-year degree.
posted by maxwelton at 11:59 AM on August 29, 2007


Don't forget all the lower tier jobs out there, what GWB called "jobs that Americans are not willing to do." If you don't want one of those jobs, American, you better go to college, because the way things are going, pretty soon we'll have guest workers who will be happy to do them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2007


The concept that DU articulated is an accurate and underappreciated one, as well as a generalizable one. When we all have better transportation, we all do better. When we all have better health care, we all do better. When we all have better nutrition, we all do better.

You apparently inhabit a world without opportunity costs.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:01 PM on August 29, 2007


It's a pretty shallow view on things, but typical for American society.

Right, the reason India and China etc. are nations of parents telling their kids to go be Engineers, Doctors or Lawyers is because they have an innate appreciation of the civic value of cosines, tumorous tissue and latin.
posted by Firas at 12:03 PM on August 29


I think you're confusing vocational training with education. A common mistake, and what I consider the problem with articles like in the FPP, and the attitude in America towards College. The mechanic my parents used to take their car to has a PhD in Spanish literature. If his goal in life was simply to be a car mechanic, then yeah, he wasted a bunch of time and money. If you talk to him though, you'll find a different answer.
posted by Eekacat at 12:07 PM on August 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


You apparently inhabit a world without opportunity costs.

Exactly! How are we going to pay $N billion/month in Iraq if we are paying to make kids smarter and healthier? It just doesn't make economic sense.
posted by DU at 12:08 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stop any American, and you're likely to either get shot, or an answer that could be classified as "dumbass."

Not to mention the likelyhood of being the victim of an egregiously hyperbolic generalization.

You've cleverly hidden a kernel of truth in the rotten fruit of exaggeration there.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2007


Another thing this overlooks is career satisfaction. I'd rather teach than hang drywall, no matter what the two jobs paid. Forget earning potential — I'd be willing to blow a decent wad of money just to ensure that I'd get to teach instead of hanging drywall.

I suspect that most people who go to college these days aren't doing it just for the money or just for high-minded reasons like the love of pure learning. They're just trying to buy entrance into a field they'll enjoy — or even a sort of general exemption from manual labor.

I see nothing wrong with that — who wouldn't pay for a shot at their dream job, or an escape from one they hate? — but it means that a lot of people on all sides of the issue are missing the point of college. The ones who think it's just about money are ignoring the importance of quality of life; the ones who think it's about contemplation and self-improvement are forgetting how much our quality of life is determined by the little daily details.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:14 PM on August 29, 2007


DU: Imagine two nations. One where only 10% are college educated (the professors, CEOs, etc) and the other where 100% are college educated. Which nation is going to do better economically overall? Where do the new ideas come from? Who is catching costly mistakes or creating new solutions?

I agree, but the problem isn't only that education isn't universally available - certainly, that's part of it. I'd argue that we're living in a time when institutional barriers to information (the Ivory Tower metephor) are becoming obsolete, and when most any information is there for the plucking at 56k. I think we've approached (if not passed) the point where the equivalent of a Masters degree in Mathematics or Computer Science can be gleaned off of Wikipedia, Wolfram, Google Scholar, and various forums and online sources. I argue this anecdotally, because I've compared online publications to grad textbooks I own, and overall found the internet to be by and large better written.

The real problem, I think, is that we live under a cloud of American anti-intellectualism, where people's comfortable tastes and attitudes, rather than institutions and costs, prevent them from enjoying the banquet that's been set before them. Indeed, the only thing more pervasive than information today is the attitude of passive, cheerless entitlement with which we receive it.

In the sense, I see it as analogous to our habits of consumption. Going to the supermarket and buying green vegetables is not expensive. (No, I'm not talking about yuppified orgo-joints like WholeFoods, I'm talking about grocers that serve normal people.) I can buy several days worth of frozen or canned vegetables for less than it costs to go to McDonalds. In fact, at no other time in history have urbanites had such year-round access to vegetables, fruits, and other healthy food, and at such prices. But is that really what most people buy, rich and poor? In large part, no - our eating habits are most often defined by what's quick and what tastes good, rather than the widespread availability of what's good for us.

Make no mistake, availability is still part of the problem. If you're on the food-stamps diet of a 3$/day, you're going to work very hard to eat well. We can do better than that. But people who spend hundreds a week still eat badly, and it's for the same reason that people with access to a richer informational commons than any in human history could starve themselves of it.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


save the wad for graduate level education.

I'd like to take this opportunity to make a public service announcement for all the undergraduates. I read advice like the following many times before I started my graduate career, but for some reason it went in one ear and out the other. With luck, it might sink in for you. I expect and hope that Part II of this column is equally gloomy on the prospects of grad school.

People should know that even if your graduate education is free and you are paid a stipend, it is most likely that a graduate degree is a losing proposition monetarily. And many people with completed or attempted Ph.D.s consider it a losing proposition spiritually. Never, ever, ever, ever start a Ph.D. unless you will have guaranteed funding. Do not even consider getting a graduate degree because you think it will help you earn more money. Only get a graduate degree because you have a specific job or career path in mind, and that job or career is unattainable without a Ph.D., and you are willing to make sacrifices for that goal. If you are getting a graduate degree because you just love the subject so much and want nothing else from life, realize that there is a risk that you will end up despising what you love now.

The prospects are slightly better science and engineering fields than in humanities, but even in those fields there are far too many Ph.D.s being granted. Masters degrees can be worth it if done quickly, particularly if you enter on a subsidized Ph.D. track. Professional schools, like law school and med school, are entirely different from grad school.
posted by Llama-Lime at 12:16 PM on August 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


...the problem isn't only that education isn't universally available...

Oh most definitely. Anti-intellectualism is a *huge* problem in the US, which is part of the reason why people are deciding whether to go to college purely on how much money it's going to bring them on the day after they graduate.
posted by DU at 12:21 PM on August 29, 2007


In Europe you can walk around and talk to anyone, and it's almost as if anyone you just buttonhole on the street (western europe) will have enough knowledge to carry on a conversation about architecture, politics, art, culture or finance.

Speaking as a Western European, I'm here to tell you that this is a load of shite.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 12:36 PM on August 29, 2007


Related.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:41 PM on August 29, 2007


I have to remind my employers that I have a bachelor's degree in the field in which I work. That's how much they care about it.
posted by Foosnark at 12:43 PM on August 29, 2007


People should know that even if your graduate education is free and you are paid a stipend, it is most likely that a graduate degree is a losing proposition monetarily.

It's not so much the tuition costs of a graduate education that kill you, it's the opportunity cost of spending some prime earning (and especially savings!) years making peanuts.

Of course, once you're a few years into it most people will struggle to stay and finish even if it's killing them spiritually. Why? Because they've invested so much into it already and it's hard to drop out gracefully without feeling like you've failed yourself, your family and your supervisor.

I liked grad school. I just wish I had finished sooner. I figure my opportunity cost was probably close to a quarter million dollars.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:47 PM on August 29, 2007


Eekacat, as a generalist by nature I'm sympathetic to the distinction you're making. My point was just that (a) this isn't just an American problem—all over the world people see college as a career path rather than some humanistic place of refinement (b) if it wasn't a career path then there would be way less people seeking to go into college. Not so many people actually value 'education'—definitely not to the tune of four+ years and all that money.

It is my belief that colleges aren't the optimal way to gain humanistic education for the costs. Think about your college courses; the main 'learning' take-away is summaries of the textbooks! As for in-class interaction—it's not as if the real world of letters is actually lacking opportunity to discuss and debate.

I'll have to investigate this more before being too wedded to the notion but I rather strongly suspect that if being a more educated person were your goal you could spend those four years and all that money differently—better.
posted by Firas at 12:47 PM on August 29, 2007


Imagine two nations. One where only 10% are college educated (the professors, CEOs, etc) and the other where 100% are college educated. Which nation is going to do better economically overall?

Depends a hell of a lot on what subjects they studied. A country where 100% of the populace has degrees in postmodernist literary theory is going to starve.

A bachelor's degree in science, engineering, business, and law generally is a good investment. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money. They don't prepare you for any kind of career, and you'd become a much more well rounded person by spending those years working in a restaurant or a factory. (One of the best experiences of my early life was the year I spent working in a warehouse between high school and college. I have never worked a blue collar job since, but I'm glad to have had that one.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:50 PM on August 29, 2007


In Europe [...] anyone will have enough knowledge to carry on a conversation about architecture, politics, art, culture or finance.

Aloysius Bear: Speaking as a Western European, I'm here to tell you that this is a load of shite.

* Offer not valid in Ireland ("What's architecture?")
* Offer not valid in France ("What's conversation?")

:P
posted by kid ichorous at 12:51 PM on August 29, 2007


In a one sentence FPP so much of what I find hateful about modern society is summed up...
posted by Artw at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2007


This is exactly why free college education isn't an entitlement but a requirement.

And why Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are such centers of high-tech innovation, brimming with philosophers and problem-solvers.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:56 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I went back to college later in life, after a few false attempts. It's still too soon to know if it was worth it, but I strongly suspect it was. There is a caveat though. I returned to school using some loans and a lot of "self-funding." By "self-funding" I mean I worked all the way through school. This had its advantages, financial independence and a sense of self-reliance, but in other ways this hurt me. I couldn't participate in the internships and other extra-curricular activities that college has to offer, much less much binge drinking or general fun-having. While I did finish my degree, I sometimes regret not taking more loans and having more time to enjoy the experience.

And now, now I'm working the same job that put me through school. I actually have trouble competing in the job market because of my lack of real world experience, which I find ironic to say the least. To that end I am planning on returning to work on a masters with the specific intent of placing myself in an industry.

Will that be worth it? I'm betting so, but I will have to be conscious of why I'm there. To make college "pay" I'll need to engage my professors, take internships and work twice as hard as those with better funding.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interesting, if lightweight, article - thanks for posting it. Can't see what's wrong with looking at the $$$ involved in degrees. True it's probably not the most critical aspect of a college degree but why would one choose to be ignorant of the economics?
One concept in the article I can't buy into however:
What if you have no idea what you want to do? While this would probably put you in the majority of traditional-age freshmen, it's a big mistake to go to college.

Hmm... Some truth to that - but in reality there are few better places to select a field of endeavor than college where everything is accessible and laid out before you. Worked for me anyway.
Like elwoodwiles I worked my way through and while it gave me plenty of factory experience (which came in handy later on) I share his reservations. Developing social skills and enjoying life might have been a better choice...
posted by speug at 1:15 PM on August 29, 2007


This is exactly why free college education isn't an entitlement but a requirement.
And why Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are such centers of high-tech innovation, brimming with philosophers and problem-solvers.


Yes, because the clear hypothesis is that education will overcome all other deficits in natural resources, infrastructure, history, and culture. Not a straw man at all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:28 PM on August 29, 2007


It's not a strawman unless you misrepresent the arguer's position, Mental Wimp. Eponysterical, btw.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:33 PM on August 29, 2007


that's not even remotely true. it's a strawman if you attack a position related to theirs but not theirs and pretend that you've defeated their position. in this case, acting like saudi arabia's and bahrain's tech innovations (or lack thereof) and philosophical preeminance (or lack thereof) is a condemnation of free college education. also, stop insulting people.
posted by shmegegge at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2007


You could put Edward Woodward in it and set it on fire, it's such a great big strawman.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Steven C. Den Beste, as a blue collar worker, and having a college education (in science no less, something you consider valuable), I'd say you are full of shit. Sure it's quaint to hear about your little blue collar experience. I'm sure it gives you authority to speak about such things at cocktail parties. Of course, I think you're missing the point of education since apparently you think it must mean job training, and getting dollars for your "investment". Yours is simple minded, short sighted bottom line mentality that there's no other value than dollars in the end. Fine for you, just don't apply your values to everyone. There's more to life than making a buck.

Firas, I don't disagree with you. There's nothing that replaces real experience. What a formal education does is provide a foundation, and in my case, a chance to study with world experts in my field. My education was balanced with internships so I was able to have both the formal education with the real life experience. I was also able to take courses in other areas, like an undergraduate course in sculpture with Manual Neri, or a basic art course taught by Wayne Thiebaud. So really mine was a broad education. While much of my lower division work in my major were as you describe, my upper division work was much different. Having said that, without practical experience I was ill prepared for working in my field. I did end up with a stronger ability to learn. While what I do for a living now is completely unrelated to my education, I still find my college education valuable not only for my work, but more importantly to my life outside work.
posted by Eekacat at 1:45 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks, shmegegge, for the vote of confidence, but if you check solid-one-love's info, you'll see he's only in it for the trolling. Not really interested in any response to him as he has admitted his irrelevance.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2007


I would have gone to a Ninja college. Flipping out and all that junk with a degree to boot. That's Shasta, Baby!
posted by doctorschlock at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2007


Oh, and he really likes himself:

I do the New York Times weekend crosswords in pen. I've written FAQs on selling things on the Internet and was the first Canadian to retail products on the Net, before the Web even existed. I think I'm terribly clever, but I mitigate that with self-deprecation. I usually don't come off as arrogant. Usually.

By the way, I do the NYT weekend crosswords in my head, have an IQ of 187, and was the first person to ever prove the four color map theorem. I'm pretty much a genius, but my obvious modesty redeems me over and over again.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:57 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


A bachelor's degree in science, engineering, business, and law generally is a good investment. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money. They don't prepare you for any kind of career, and you'd become a much more well rounded person by spending those years working in a restaurant or a factory.

You know, I laughed when I saw the below in MetaTalk, but suddenly...

AskMe should have some kind of "flag" for when an answer given is dangerous. Not simply ill advised, irrational, immature, subject to different discretion, or bad, but simply so wrong it could hurt, in a legal, medical, etc. way, the OP who asked for the advice.

...Man, I would thusly flag the SHIT out of this if I could, just on the off-chance that it even might remotely influence anyone trying to decide whether college was for him/her. Great googly moogly.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:02 PM on August 29, 2007


A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money.

Yes, but those classes made me happiest. If everything was so utilitarian, you'd be a bus driver, and I'd be fucking around with some gears in a gray underground tunnel.
posted by four panels at 2:03 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Endless sex, no job, money from parents for rent and drugs. . .

What a complete dick comment. Almost all of my students have jobs, many of them full-time, and not all college students are or were lucky enough to have idiot parents who threw money at their babies. So your parents wiped your ass for you in college. Congrats.

Christ. It's one thing to be a rich and entitled little asshole; it's another thing to assume that everybody else is.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:03 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


actually, a literature degree is one of the most mutable job prospects after college. plenty of literature majors go on to do things other than literature with their degree. that and history.
posted by shmegegge at 2:06 PM on August 29, 2007


that's not even remotely true. it's a strawman if you attack a position related to theirs but not theirs and pretend that you've defeated their position. in this case, acting like saudi arabia's and bahrain's tech innovations (or lack thereof) and philosophical preeminance (or lack thereof) is a condemnation of free college education.

It's definitely a refutation that it is not merely an entitlement, but a requirement, as DU said. How is something required if it may not pay benefits?

The thing is, I actually support universal advanced education. My support of it doesn't mean that I consider it necessary. Sometimes a universal good pays dividends, and sometimes it doesn't.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:08 PM on August 29, 2007


Thanks, shmegegge, for the vote of confidence, but if you check solid-one-love's info, you'll see he's only in it for the trolling...

solid-one-love:
"Hey, sure, I'm a dick. And you're probably choked because I don't consider MeFi to be a community and don't have any interest in 'making friends' here, as if that's even possible online....I'm here to be entertained, and my reason for being here is no more or less valid than yours. And, frankly, I think my contributions -- even when I occasionally stoop to trolling -- are more valuable than those of most MeFites...When it comes down to it, I acknowledge that you have an opinion, but I don't really care that you have it. And nothing you post is going to engage me emotionally. You're not going to make me mad with your carefully worded flame, but I'm going to respond in a way that'll put me on your shitlist for a long while. Not because you've wounded me deeply and I want retribution, but because I think it's fun."*
Sure makes his intentions clear.
posted by ericb at 2:12 PM on August 29, 2007


Another thing this overlooks is career satisfaction. I'd rather teach than hang drywall, no matter what the two jobs paid. Forget earning potential — I'd be willing to blow a decent wad of money just to ensure that I'd get to teach instead of hanging drywall.

This is why we are able to staff our classrooms with poorly paid adjuncts.
posted by craniac at 2:13 PM on August 29, 2007


Data point:

My wife -- one of the most competent people I've met -- was basically trapped into a series of low-paying jobs because she didn't have a college degree. There wasn't a question whether she could do the jobs that required a college degree; it's that HR departments decided that a college degree was a requirement.

When she got to her current place of employment, the company decided that she would be great for a particular position, so they paid for her to go to college and get a degree. At which point they hired her for the job they wanted her to have, and her personal income doubled.

Was my wife any smarter, having gotten her degree? No. Was she more qualified? Possibly, but the majority of that qualification came through simply working at that company while she got her degree. Could the company have just decided to hire her for the job without the degree? Probably, but for some reason it was important to them to have that job filled by someone with a college degree, even if they paid for that degree themselves.

The practical reason for most people to get college degrees: Because HR departments say they need them.
posted by jscalzi at 2:20 PM on August 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money.

Yes, but those classes made me happiest. If everything was so utilitarian, you'd be a bus driver, and I'd be fucking around with some gears in a gray underground tunnel.


Perhaps if people looked at college with the same sense of civic duty as the original remark, we'd have robot bus drivers and it would be an underground tunnel on the mars you'd be fucking around with nano-gears by now.

I do think 'waste of money' is a poor choice of phrasing since it's perfectly plausible that anyone with any degree can at the very least write about their field and profit. Parasitic is how I'd phrase it. And it's not just an engineering vs liberal arts battle. There's a wealth of value to classically liberal arts fields such as study of other languages. Similarly psychology/sociology have a direct benefit to society. However, degrees in the arts, philosophy, literature, etc. however fun the may be for the individual, do little in and of themselves to help anyone else yet are applauded as some more noble humanistic pursuit as if these are needed to be a truly educated individual. Of course they're more fun as well than the grueling work needed to become, oh a doctor perhaps.

These are fields where college is unnecessary as a means to learn aside from the access (which there wouldn't be the exclusivity of access if it wasn't profitable for elites to keep it that way since knowledge in the digital age isn't a scarce resource). Moreover college is heavily subsidized and where not, generally paid for by ancestral privilege. So, unless you've paid your dues to society already, able to personally fund studies in the fields of leisure, or have some kind of goal of how to use them to give back to society, it's obnoxious to exclusively do so.
posted by kigpig at 2:37 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


A bachelor's degree in science, engineering, business, and law generally is a good investment. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money.

Utter crap. (can you even get a law degree as an undergrad in the U.S.?)

Most of the people I knew in college who majored in things like history, comp. lit., English, Classics (I think there were five Classics grads my senior year) went off and got jobs at banks or on Wall Street or Fortune 500 companies. Those companies all seem to figure that college seniors with majors in the humanities or social sciences have the ability to think critically and communicate well (among other things). Reading my alumni mag, I see that all of those folks are now CEO of this or president of that, or founder of blah-blah. Or they're just happy raising their kids, or whatever. I've never understood why the idea that learning about something other than how to be an engineering/law/medicine drone is such an awful thing.
posted by rtha at 2:38 PM on August 29, 2007


Gee, interesting to have this post pop up just when I'm contemplating whether university was really worth it for me.

I'm in the middle of my second year of a three-year course. Creative Industries. It's my second stint in uni - I started a Mass Comm degree elsewhere but left after (a) the uni screwed me over and (b) I found better opportunities elsewhere.

Honestly, I'm only in here because my parents want me to get a degree. Everyone else has one except me. And it's killing me. Whenever I'm in university, I'm depressed or bored or exhausted. I'm going to lectures about Asian culture and see how super-Westernized it is. I'm going to classes about "innovation in this" or "life in that" and none of it applies to me because I'm not Australian and don't have the same context. I'm looking for practical experience and so far only one (or two) class/es out of 12 have given me that. The rest have been total wankery about what So and So Academic said about Stuff, or How To Make Your Work Publishable. Never mind creativity! My love for creative writing has been killed because I wasn't publishable enough. I hate academic writing. I love learning, but I want more freedom in what I learn.

I can already get the jobs I'm after with or without a degree. It's not really relevant. What they're looking for is experience and determination. More importantly, time - time I don't have because I'm stuck in university doing this degree that's making me cry every goddamn day. I feel most alive when I'm off at a youth conference, or doing a project, or travelling, or essentially doing something where I am still learning, where there is still a bit of structure, but where I'm very free to explore and learn and be inspired and inspire people. I'm not getting that at university and I suspect I never will.

Perhaps university as a whole isn't a good fit for me. I'm not very academic; I'm more experiential. I was reading Colleges That Change Lives and nearly cried - I WANT that. I WANT the personal attention, the evaluations, the freedom to learn what you want to learn, do what you want to do, present it however you want to (academic paper or not). I was wondering whether I should quit this now and move over. But I don't want to spend more years in uni. I don't want to break my parents' hearts. They've spent so much. I'm on a partial scholarship and it was the ONLY thing I could apply for.

Articles like this just...puzzle me. Is the point of university only to get a job? Who gets a job related to their degree anymore? My sister did a Ph.D. in Biochemistry but after working a few years in cancer research she found that research wasn't her thing. She loves academia and school, though, and now she's back in art school, being the happiest she's ever been to learn illustration. Here I am, being one of the biggest advocates for living your dream and learning your own way...and I'm stuck doing something so UNLIKE me because it's what my parents (NOT ME) want.

Why do you go to university? For a job? For a degree? To make friends? To learn? To be happy? What is its ultimate value? Can you find that value outside university?

(sorry, but this article/discussion struck a raw nerve.)
posted by divabat at 2:46 PM on August 29, 2007


A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money.

Amazingly, even with my BA in English I understand what's going on with the Oregon Mystery Spot.
posted by COBRA! at 2:48 PM on August 29, 2007


$133,204 at 9 percent. Over 20 years, you'd pay back almost $300,000

I sure am glad I went to free college and now I'm going to they-pay-me college.

Of course, I should have calculated the earning potential and opportunity costs of all these things to maximize my final score, but when I started doing that I realized I actually already fucked up long ago when I wasn't born into the Hilton family, money doesn't make you happy as long as you have enough for bills and food, and sure I could right now have 3x the annual income if I wanted to sit at a desk and suck corporate cock all day long, but fuck that.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:53 PM on August 29, 2007


Christ. It's one thing to be a rich and entitled little asshole; it's another thing to assume that everybody else is.

Well, in defense of four panel's comments, I had a similar reaction coming from a working-class upbringing.

Depending on which college you go to, it's very easy to conclude that the entire world (except yourself) is rich and entitled. Freshman year I nearly whiplashed from double-takes at spruce new BMWs. And it wasn't just students driving them - it was professors, too. My classmates wore designer clothes, and I'm not talking about Adidas. To Orgo lab, of all places. You must understand that where I (and probably you, and many other urban, working-class families) hail from, this sort of brand pageantry characterizes drug dealers, not scholars, if it's seen at all.

The environs of most college campuses are not only a cartoonish economic anomaly (rich schools in poor neighborhoods), they strike me as the perfect sandbox for the fermentation of a Marxist political Weltanschau. "Money isn't earned, it's inherited" I was told, flatly, by someone who assumed that my white skin would betoken understanding, or guilt, or some kind of recognition - no, dear, I imagine that's just how things worked out for you. And to be lectured on the P-word by "Eurotrash"/"Asiatrash" trust-fund students? Well, by golly, that experience is a privilege in itself, and makes all those trips to the financial aid office worthwhile.

If I had to reside in that world every day, I'd probably succumb to confirmation bias and skewed samples too, like the goldfish who finally gives in and makes an ocean out of the tank. But it's not "the real world" any more than the eponymous MTV franchise is.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:56 PM on August 29, 2007


[degrees in the arts] are more fun as well than the grueling work needed to become, oh a doctor perhaps.

While some arts professors are more tolerant of slackers, I can personally attest to the gruelling nature of quality study in the arts and humanities.

I would also like to point out that many medic, computer science, engineering, and maths friends are studying their subject because they love it.

I won't even bother to address the statement that the arts have no relevance for society, on this day that the British Government unveilled a statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.
posted by honest knave at 2:58 PM on August 29, 2007


.These are fields where college is unnecessary as a means to learn aside from the access..since knowledge in the digital age isn't a scarce resource...

Have you never been fortunate enough to sit in a classroom with bright, engaged people, with a teacher who is smart and passionate? Because sitting at home reading Wikipedia articles is not the same thing.

However, degrees in the arts, philosophy, literature, etc. however fun the may be for the individual, do little in and of themselves to help anyone else

So the only reason to go to college is to learn how to become a cog in the wheel that serves Society? That should be the sole purpose of education? No thanks.

Also, data point: several of my slacker humanities-majoring friends became (gasp!) doctors! Yes! An English major got into med school! When will the madness end?
posted by rtha at 3:06 PM on August 29, 2007


A bachelor's degree in science, engineering, business, and law generally is a good investment. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money.

Utter crap. (can you even get a law degree as an undergrad in the U.S.?)


Yeah, that was a really odd comment. Most lawyers I know did something like history or philosophy as undergraduates. The skillset is similar I suppose. Banker friends have done mathematics, economics and literature as undergraduates.

I majored in physics because thats what I enjoyed even though I suspected I wouldnt end up doing physics. That undergraduate education was extremely valuable and I haven't learned as much since. Not only the textbooks and lectures on stuff such as classical mechanics, EM, relativity, basic quantum, field theory, particle physics but also intense problem sets and discussions with others as to how things behaved in these cases or that case and stumbling through long mathematical derivations.

It was deep knowledge, gained through years of sweat and concentration and as such has given me a bit of disdain for those who have read a few articles on the internet and claim to know as much. Yes, the textbooks are on the web but especially in technical fields you need someone to drive you through them with the threat of grades and colleagues to engage in rambling discussions with, who point out flaws in your thinking.

I guess I'm not talking about education as the lowest common denominator here but education and learning in the grand old sense - young bright students paired with older wiser professors engaged in a mentorship.
posted by vacapinta at 3:10 PM on August 29, 2007


It all depends. I mean, I double majored, then picked up a couple of MA degrees. Now, I could have made more with just a diploma (or not even) than I do now as a secondary school teacher. On the other hand, I could not work in the field I love if I did not have those degrees. (well, a couple of them, at least.)
posted by absalom at 3:16 PM on August 29, 2007


A bachelor's degree in science, engineering, business, and law generally is a good investment. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies is a waste of money. They don't prepare you for any kind of career

This is asinine nonsense. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies or psychology or even, God help you, political science doesn't prepare you for any kind of career... except for all of those kinds of career that involve digesting information and communicating with other people. I hear tell that there are a few jobs like that now.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:17 PM on August 29, 2007


I'm currently working on a BA in History. I intend to teach History at the high-school level when I'm done, and eventually get an MA and start teaching at the JC level.

Even if I didn't have this career in mind, a degree in the humanities (or "even" a hard science) is still valuable. Having a BA (in anything) means that you can:

1) Read and understand directions, a book, a lab manual, a calendar, etc.
2) Complete assignments on or ahead of deadlines
3) Parse a sentence
4) Construct and defend logical arguments
5) Deconstruct illogical or fallacious arguments
6) Learn to interact with people of different beliefs, backgrounds and creeds.
7) Have a broad understanding of the human condition: our art, our history, our achievements, our failures and the ability to structure our lives in light of the things we've learned.

In a previous era, all of the above goals might have been achieved in High School. For whatever reason, this usually isn't the case anymore. But it's silly to say that the only purpose of a degree is to make money. If everyone in life just wanted to "MAKE MOR MONEYZ" then we'd all be lawyers, and then we'd really starve, both literally and intellectually.
posted by Avenger at 3:51 PM on August 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


On the class front I agree with kid icharus that being on a college campus can create a skewed view of who goes to college and how they pay for it. Even at my state school there were plenty of children with brand new cars, clothes ipods &c and no job what so ever. I just took it for granted that many college students come from the privileged class. Later I would realize that many of these students, while supported by parents, also rang up insane amounts of credit debt. Perhaps the disparities are not so much driven by trust funds, but by values. Some people value being productive, others value products.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:04 PM on August 29, 2007


I also think a lot of the problem is that college seems to have become this huge caretaker. I was lucky to avoid a lot of this - my college had no dining hall, only a cafeteria open for lunch, so for the most part you cooked your own meals or went to the pizza place like real people, instead of having a meal plan already planned out for you. The place sponsored 2 parties a year, where everyone, 21 or not, drank the school's beer. (Not condoned, but it happened, no problems.) My brother going to a regular big school apparently has 2 sponsored parties a week, but of course they're very safe about keeping alcohol out of them, so naturally there's no alcohol use on campus whatsoever. (Sarcasm.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:12 PM on August 29, 2007


My friends who are earning the most money are the ones who didn't go to college. I am working in a field that I was not educated to do and I am earning as much most of the people here who are trying to pay off their master's degree education. I also would be a backwoods yurt-dweller had I not gone to college and been exposed to something other than my pig-farmin' upbringing.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:42 PM on August 29, 2007


Have you never been fortunate enough to sit in a classroom with bright, engaged people, with a teacher who is smart and passionate? Because sitting at home reading Wikipedia articles is not the same thing.

Yes those were the style of many of my courses. I've also sat in on discussions like those that happen outside of college. For instance there's a local freethinkers group that I'm in that has a reasonably large membership of people with higher education, some even as professors. There's nothing intrinsically stopping this type of scholarship as a hobby outside of college. However those terrible cog in the machine jobs that make us all empty consumer drones aren't to the best of my knowledge easily done outside of a college atmosphere due to the need for specific resources.

While some arts professors are more tolerant of slackers, I can personally attest to the gruelling nature of quality study in the arts and humanities.

I would also like to point out that many medic, computer science, engineering, and maths friends are studying their subject because they love it.

I won't even bother to address the statement that the arts have no relevance for society, on this day that the British Government unveilled a statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.


As have I and all my friends. But we put our dues in to being able to produce some output for society as well. I can't imagine caring if there was but a small population of college attendees devoted to these exclusively rather than a glorification that this is somehow better than going into a field that directly develops a skill set or one that helps someone become financially independent (directly). The Nelson Mandela remark is relevant because the statue directly benefits society somehow?

This is asinine nonsense. A bachelor's degree in literature or ethnic studies or psychology or even, God help you, political science doesn't prepare you for any kind of career... except for all of those kinds of career that involve digesting information and communicating with other people.

Indicative of something much more rotten in society that any degree is needed for such skills. That being said, any college degree should be fostering these. It's just some you have an actual skill along with it or functional knowledge set to pass along (psychology is an obvious exception, and so could be political science though I'm under the impression that it fails fairly miserably to do so).

My friends who are earning the most money are the ones who didn't go to college. I am working in a field that I was not educated to do and I am earning as much most of the people here who are trying to pay off their master's degree education. I also would be a backwoods yurt-dweller had I not gone to college and been exposed to something other than my pig-farmin' upbringing.

Now exposure to the things that middle and upper class america has readily available, to those for whom it was scarce is something I can get behind.
posted by kigpig at 5:15 PM on August 29, 2007


However those terrible cog in the machine jobs that make us all empty consumer drones aren't to the best of my knowledge easily done outside of a college atmosphere due to the need for specific resources.

I have no idea what this means. Can you please explain?

But we put our dues in to being able to produce some output for society as well.

Also, this. What do you mean by "output"? (and "dues"?) You built something, or discovered something, or cured someone's cancer or appendicitis? Is that "output for society" inherently more valuable than contributions by people like Shakespeare - or, for that matter, the scholars who study him?
posted by rtha at 5:43 PM on August 29, 2007


kid ichorous, I like your analogy about the food and peoples informational habits being a bit lax. But nonetheless I'm going to use your words to prove a point: I think we've approached (if not passed) the point where the equivalent of a Masters degree in Mathematics or Computer Science can be gleaned off of Wikipedia, Wolfram, Google Scholar, and various forums and online sources. I argue this anecdotally, because I've compared online publications to grad textbooks I own, and overall found the internet to be by and large better written. First of all, I have found textbooks are always worse than the real thing, so that's not saying much. Actual non-textbook scholarly works written by academics are often awesome, though. The reason that there is so much great information out there is because of the huge number of people involved in higher education. Without that huge number, we wouldn't have the technology outlay. We wouldn't have the podcasts, the OpenCourses, the online databases of knowledge.

For all of you throwing around economic terms like opportunity cost, allow me to throw one right back atcha: positive externalities. There's no question that the influx of thousands of students' tuitions (including those of wholly unremarkable students who will go on to do things that don't need the degrees) is wholly responsible for the current strength of academia. Because there are so many students, professors can publish books that are read. Because there are so many universities and colleges, smart people don't have to travel thousands of miles to find someplace to take a course. Because so many students are trained to read literature, there is actually a market for literature, one that probably would not be supported by what we learned in 11th grade English.

And what about this: how are we supposed to do research without good people, people who have gone through the education that is indeed needed to be, say, a rocket scientist (I'm fairly sure you'd need at *least* a bachelor's to be a rocket scientist, right). You need to have too many people, so the top ten percent can go on and do great things. If you *only* have the 10%, then there's no leeway to get rid of the dumb ones.

The bottom 90%, into which I certainly belong, benefit indirectly by the glow of higher education and directly from the accomplishments of those who really do need those universities and colleges to exist.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:47 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I was neither one of those students with a flashy car and an ipod running up insane debt, nor was I one of those on a scholarship and working evenings to pay for my way.

My grandfather, bless him, squeezed his nickels till the buffaloes squealed. This is totally apocryphal, since I didn't know him or know the details of this, but apparently he'd drive across town if prune juice was 5c cheaper in another store (this is back when gas was cheaper, I guess?) Anyway, on a fair to middlin' salary he scrimped and saved and when he died he left a trust fund for all of his grandkids. This has gone towards paying my education. I'm incredibly grateful of his sacrifice and in awe of it, and I'm also aware that I am not that kind of person. I don't splurge on clothing, toys, cars, music, or traditional entertainment (don't go to movies, don't drink, don't party) but I love to eat and I love to travel, so I basically cannot save like he did -- at least, not now. I'm pretty sure he didn't go to college, but his son (my dad) did and became a doctor. And I'm glad that my dad supported my educational decisions even though they were clearly at odds with the apparent goal of getting a well-paying job and setting forth on a prestigious and lucrative career. I'm incredibly, incredibly lucky and thankful for the life I've been able to have. I only hope that I can figure out a way to make this possible for my own children when (if) I finally decide to raise some.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:59 PM on August 29, 2007


You know who yearned to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, but was rejected twice?

Liberal Arts...[definitely-not] Schindler Arts.

It's not what you study. It's what you become!
posted by ericb at 6:27 PM on August 29, 2007


I'd be for free college education only if we could shoot those students who performed badly or didn't finish. It sounds a bit extreme, I admit, but people should realize how detrimental it is to others when a classroom is full of fools who all sincerely believe they have better things to do. So, granted there's the proper incentives and disincentives in place, free college education makes a lot of sense.
posted by nixerman at 6:37 PM on August 29, 2007


However those terrible cog in the machine jobs that make us all empty consumer drones aren't to the best of my knowledge easily done outside of a college atmosphere due to the need for specific resources.

I have no idea what this means. Can you please explain?


The obvious part is in the technologies and sciences where the equipment needed for an effective education is not in the least bit feasible for a student to get their hands on.

But even in the 'soft' sciences (I don't agree with the idea that there are soft and hard sciences but I think everyone knows what this refers to) the ability to get a reasonable sample set and the travel are not feasible. I've tried even with personal funding to embark upon some sociological or psychological studies I thought of interest but often fail to get participants or have to realize there's little control and it's far from science.

On a counter point, study of literature takes access to a quality library and a network of peers with the same interest.

This however was in response to the remark that studying these things makes one a cog in the machine.

But we put our dues in to being able to produce some output for society as well.

Also, this. What do you mean by "output"? (and "dues"?) You built something, or discovered something, or cured someone's cancer or appendicitis? Is that "output for society" inherently more valuable than contributions by people like Shakespeare - or, for that matter, the scholars who study him?


Yes, someone who cured someone's cancer has done something more valuable than a scholar who studied shakespeare. Whether it's more valuable than what shakespeare himself did is unlikely. Though you're comparing someone who is largely considered as the premier playwright with what thousands if not millions of doctors have done.

I'm presuming you can see the intrinsic value to curing someone's diseases. And I'm certain that the shakespeare scholar has relied on doctors along with a list of technological advancements throughout history. How does the doctor in turn benefit from the scholar? Perhaps if the scholar in turn wrote plays that the doctor enjoyed (or could potentially enjoy if ve were so inclined)? But this would miss the point entirely since that would still mean the scholar studied in an effort to produce something.
posted by kigpig at 6:44 PM on August 29, 2007


The autodidact has always been a rogue force in academia, but even they exist within the context of the university. Everyone wants to be the next Einstein. I mean, never mind that Einstein was only a patent clerk because he couldn't find the job he wanted: in academia.

There is a reason many, if not most, of the world's oldest institutions are universities.
posted by absalom at 7:24 PM on August 29, 2007


Deathalicious: The reason that there is so much great information out there is because of the huge number of people involved in higher education. Without that huge number, we wouldn't have the technology outlay. We wouldn't have the podcasts, the OpenCourses, the online databases of knowledge.

No doubt. But it's also because of those people who - through non-profit foundations, companies, or other private actions - foster the culture of education beyond the university gates. This is hugely important, because an anti-intellectual culture views education as something that happens only in a school, in an involuntary and possibly state-run context. So it's important not only to share knowledge, but also to expand the social environments in which hands-on learning and exploration can thrive - museums, libraries, clubs, community websites, science competitions, good media (PBS, usually), and so on. Otherwise you arrive at the same "starving at the feast" state, where knowledge abounds, but few choose (or feel welcome) to partake. I think kigpig put it very well:

I've also sat in on discussions like those that happen outside of college. For instance there's a local freethinkers group that I'm in that has a reasonably large membership of people with higher education, some even as professors. There's nothing intrinsically stopping this type of scholarship as a hobby outside of college.

Avenger: If everyone in life just wanted to "MAKE MOR MONEYZ" then we'd all be lawyers, and then we'd really starve, both literally and intellectually.

It's okay, we can just sue the Earth for more crops! Sue the Earth!

(Earth files a motion to dismiss under Rule 12.)
posted by kid ichorous at 7:57 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Having a BA (in anything) means that you can:

1) Read and understand directions, a book, a lab manual, a calendar, etc.
2) Complete assignments on or ahead of deadlines
3) Parse a sentence
4) Construct and defend logical arguments
5) Deconstruct illogical or fallacious arguments
6) Learn to interact with people of different beliefs, backgrounds and creeds.
7) Have a broad understanding of the human condition: our art, our history, our achievements, our failures and the ability to structure our lives in light of the things we've learned.


Surely you can achieve all that without a degree? Do you only learn how to parse a sentence or interact with people of different beliefs in university?

1) You don't learn to read only at university level.

2) Again, you don't only get assignments at university level. Actually I've found university to be more forgiving with deadlines than school, mainly because they realize people can be busy/be sick/have things happen.

3) A lot of the students here are terrible at parsing and constructing a simple grammatical sentence - and these are NATIVE speakers I'm talking about. I'm not a "native" speaker (well, it's debatable) and I often find myself correcting their English or making things comprehensible for them. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

4) Same as above. Arguments aren't really logical; they tend to often be ad hominem attacks, or plate-of-beans overthinking which obviously means they're trying to look smarter than they really are. There are often holes but because it *sounds* intellectual, it's fine.

5) See above. Lots of groupthink.

6) I grew up in such an environment. My current university environment isn't quite as diverse - a lot of nationalities tend to sit with their own kind. Often the only reason my classes can be considered "diverse" is because I'm the sole foreigner. And this is in a university with a high international student population.

7) How much of that is retained and how much of that goes out of the window once an assignment is handed in?
posted by divabat at 8:09 PM on August 29, 2007


This thread seems to have devolved into college good/college bad argument, or maybe it's "learning how to make something or save someone is good; learning about things that don't contribute to society is wasteful."

That art, poetry, music, and storytelling have been with our species from the beginning, that they are shared and practiced by every culture on the planet, and that they are the root from which all else (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) has grown seems obvious to me, and studying these things can tell us a about who we have been, are, and might become just as biology can.

But what do I know. I only went to college.
posted by rtha at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


divabat, you're confusing the concepts of sufficient and necessary here.

A college degree is sufficient to demonstrate that somebody has at least some modicum of the skills and experience mentioned above, with the quality of transcripts and achievements.

It is not a necessary condition.
posted by onalark at 9:09 PM on August 29, 2007


DU writes "This is exactly why free college education isn't an entitlement but a requirement."

Problem is even in our pay for access system there are students who should not be there and are only going because mommy is forcing them. They tend to be disruptive and they lower the value of the education for the people who want to be there.

DU writes "You are just reiterating the assumption I'm arguing against. A burger flipper has more impact on society than just the burgers they flip. They also purchase products, make choices that affect their own health and that of others, choose entertainment, commit crimes, think up inventions both on and off the job, create art, etc, etc, etc. "

Exactly, all the complaining we see here about the ignorance of the red states and astonishment that they could vote for so and so is a direct reflection on the average education of the populous. Society wants people to be educated, voters especially.

nebulawindphone writes "Another thing this overlooks is career satisfaction. I'd rather teach than hang drywall, no matter what the two jobs paid. Forget earning potential — I'd be willing to blow a decent wad of money just to ensure that I'd get to teach instead of hanging drywall."

Exactly. I know a trade and could probably qualify for several others in short order. All of which pay more than what I'm doing now. No way I'm picking up a wrench for a living though.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 PM on August 29, 2007


Metafilter: Steven C. Den Beste, . . . , I'd say you are full of shit.

Anyhoo, I was lucky to have my cake and eat it too.

Spent 7 years as an undergrad, nearly minoring in Japanese, History of Technology, Anthropology, International Relations, Math, Physics, in addition to the BS (CS) that is still paying the bills.

Annual cost started at $1300/yr and ended at ~$2000/yr.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:11 PM on August 29, 2007


The problem is not American anti-intellectualism but the American habit of evaluating people based on their yearly income. I don't think anyone who has fallen in love with a novel or been moved by a piece of music can deny that the humanities have value. Educating in the humanities creates a society that is able to appreciate these things and, in turn, more capable of producing them.

Do people only go off to college to learn something that will earn them more money? If that were the case, we should all be following the model of the trades and apprenticing ourselves. It would be a lot more efficient.

In strict dollar terms, is it better to eat steak or nutripaste?
In strict dollar terms, is life itself worth living?


I think DU said it best.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:00 AM on August 30, 2007


It's depressing that this thread went where it did. I was all set to have an interesting conversation about how our society overvalues the dreaded BA, but apparently it's Metafilter's sacred cow (surprise surprise).

Having a BA (in anything) means that you can:

No, it doesn't mean any of those things. It means that you are supposed to have knowledge of whatever you studied. Presumably you demonstrated that through argument or papers or something, but ultimately the demonstration of the knowledge earns you the degree. All the things you list are asides, bonuses, surely not the object of the degree. Otherwise we'd offer certification courses in Rational Thought and we wouldn't have to waste years of our lives reading Victorian novels.

If someone is already capable of #1 through #7, should they then go to college anyway? Do they need that BA to demonstrate they're not a Joe Schmoe? Sadly, at this point in our history, they do. All sorts of jobs require "a university education" but not an education of any particular sort. Employers slap that requirement onto job postings to filter out the "bottomfeeders" (ie. lower classes) and to save time having to interview people that might not be qualified for cubicle jockey. What are the chances the knowledge you gained doing your BA in Queer Theory will actually be applicable to your future job? Approximately zero, but it might help you get laid.

This is not to say that college is useless; far from it. I simply object to the BA. Either you go to grad school, or you get a completely unrelated-to-your-field job and put it in a box to gather dust. I'm sure you got a great and inspiring liberal arts education for $40k/yr, but what kind of education do you think it would have been if it was free and available to everyone?
posted by mek at 12:33 AM on August 30, 2007


mek: don't you like smart movie directors? Film school is awesome. A good foundation in critical studies makes our art better.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:41 AM on August 30, 2007


In terms of job satisfaction, I wonder if I'd've been better off apprenticing as a plumber or tool-and-die maker, then taking violin lessons.
posted by pax digita at 2:50 AM on August 30, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur: If you're hoping to get into the film or media industry, having a degree hinders you. No matter your qualifications, you have to work at the bottom first, and directors really hate people who assume that because they have a degree they know all. A lot of the best work comes from people without degrees, who gained their knowledge through experience.

onalark: Considering the quality of students nowadays (regardless of university), I'd say that a degree is no guarantee of sufficiency in ANY of those areas.

mex: I'll have that conversation with you if you want (though my beef is with degrees in general rather than just BAs). Glad to see I'm not the only one who's not so impressed by this degree malarkey!
posted by divabat at 5:16 AM on August 30, 2007


That art, poetry, music, and storytelling have been with our species from the beginning, that they are shared and practiced by every culture on the planet, and that they are the root from which all else (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) has grown seems obvious to me, and studying these things can tell us a about who we have been, are, and might become just as biology can.

Sounds like what you're referring to is actually called anthropology though I'm not trying to put words on your screen if truly you meant something more subtle here.
posted by kigpig at 6:44 AM on August 30, 2007


I imagine he means 'studying these things that have been with our species from the beginning': art, poetry, music and storytelling.
posted by jacalata at 7:49 AM on August 30, 2007


right, and studying them to tell 'who we have been, are, and might become' is to the best of my knowledge part of anthropology or perhaps sociology if you examine them for the who we are part.
posted by kigpig at 8:17 AM on August 30, 2007


Anthropology is a great field, and can tell us a lot about who we are/have been/might become.

But I did mean something more subtle than that, and perhaps something larger, as well.

For instance: Until very recently, neither history nor anthropology has done a great job at transmitting certain kinds of knowledge, or knowledge about certain kinds of people. They can tell us about battles, or what kinds of pots people used, or why one group might have triumphed over another. You can read any number of definitive texts about, say, England in the 18th century and learn all kinds of things - political fights, military fights, technological advances, scientific discoveries, etc. You might miss out on some important perspectives, though (like that of women, for instance). Where to find some of that perspective? Hmmm. Maybe reading some Jane Austen might provide it.

In a way, it's funny that I'm all "Literature! Music! Poetry!", because I was a history major in college, and barely took an English class. But one of the best history profs I had taught a class on the Golden Age of Spain. I took it because I'd heard he was a great teacher, and not because I had any particular interest in the period. In the class, he used a huge range of materials to open a window into a a past world - history texts, to be sure, but also poetry, which gave us a glimpse into the heart of the culture itself, and which in turn fed my desire to know more about the period.

If I want to learn about the Vietnam war, I might pick up Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" (disclaimer: I haven't read this, and don't know any more about how "good" or "accurate" it is than what the reviews told me); I might also pick up Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and "Going After Cacciato", which can only deepen my understanding of the period, and can allow me to identify with the actual people involved in it in a way that most straight history books don't. World War II? How about Slaughterhouse-Five, or Catch-22?

I'm not arguing that Literature! Dance! Poetry! is more important than the study of the human genome or a historical treatment of the Battle of the Bulge. But neither exists in a vacuum or in isolation from the other, and I don't see how it furthers our ability or desire to study who we were/are/might become to pretend that they do.
posted by rtha at 9:10 AM on August 30, 2007


divabat: please, I've heard enough lectures from people informed and otherwise about "the industry" and the getting into of it or whatever. Gawd, try growing up in Southern California and going into Film. It's all you hear. It's never, ever been my intention to work Hollywood; I'm a born academic. But uh, indie movies still exist, and I know people who've really put their film study to good use making solid, provocative pictures to take to Sundance, etc. A BA and the networking provided in the attainment of it are as good for a filmmaker as anything, if you're looking at the right kind of filmmaker.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:28 AM on August 30, 2007


Considering the quality of students nowadays (regardless of university), I'd say that a degree is no guarantee of sufficiency in ANY of those areas.

From my experiences (coursework at 3 schools), there is a significant difference in the level of quality of students at universities. Generally, the more selective a school, the more motivated and capable its student body. And yes, there are 'bad eggs' at every school, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to treat a job candidate from Po-Dunk Technical Institute on the same level as a candidate from MIT.

I stand by my earlier statement, I'm willing to give somebody with a BA the benefit of the doubt, and somebody with a PhD even more.

But I agree that you shouldn't go to school for the degree, it's just a nice by-product of your time spent in studies.
posted by onalark at 10:57 AM on August 30, 2007


If you're hoping to get into the film or media industry, having a degree hinders you.

this is only partially true, and only a small part. It can hinder you, depending on where you went and what attitude you show at an interview, but for the most part people like to think you actually know what you're doing. I got started in film and television with a BA in lit, but what got me the job was that my friends who had BAs in film got me the job because they knew I could do the work and learn the craft. but they got the job because they already had experience with Avid machines in school, and the degree showed that. However, they weren't the kind of people who went into an interview and acted like they were god's gift to film making, which was important.

Now, I've also worked with experienced pros who swear up and down that they will never work with a straight out of school NYU Tisch grad. They say the chip-on-the-shoulder comes with the diploma and they don't want that in an employee. So you're right in that respect. But film degrees in GENERAL can show that you know the hardware and workflow, and if you're willing to work on the cheap too then you've got your first job with no problem. Without a degree you need to know someone there who'll explain that you can do the work, and you still need to be willing to work on the cheap.
posted by shmegegge at 11:36 AM on August 30, 2007


In strict dollar terms it means that the return on investment in the education is viable. Several things come to mind. A college or university education is not just about money. Provided you can get into a quality university it should change you in training your mind to think. This will be advantageous to you throughout your life not just in earning money but in a huge number of areas.

Secondly, you have to go to a good college otherwise you are wasting your time and money.

Thirdly, university has to suit you. If you have a well developed skill and know where you want to be (career wise) and are committed and uni can't add then don't go.

Statistically university grads earn more.
posted by broadsurf at 11:46 AM on August 30, 2007


Ambrosia: sorry, I didn't mean to lecture. I'm speaking more out of experience. I worked in TV for a while and I managed to earn more as a drop-out than most fresh graduates - they were willing to pay me more because I'd shown experience, skill, and creativity (none of that from uni, more from other personal experience). Everyone I know who's in the film/TV industry doesn't have a related degree, or even a degree at all! The top filmmakers here didn't have film degrees, and no one cares; they're just good story tellers.

onalark: Is it fair to hire people just on the basis on where they went to school? Just because they went to somewhere more selective doesn't necessarily mean they're great - I've been in selective schools and it really is just hype. Different universities are great for different people; Ivys aren't always good for all, and the Po Dunk uni might actually be a totally underrated but amazing experience, at least for your applicant.
posted by divabat at 1:47 PM on August 30, 2007


divabat: It's okay, I know that what you said is generally true for "the industry," but I don't think kids who elect to pursue film study want to just get their foot in the door and make media, they want to do it with understanding of the classics and the theory. Or they're paying to rent equipment, practice and make contacts with the former sort.

I also know that what you've said about storytelling is perhaps most true of Australian national cinema than any other western country. Ever since Lucas/Coppola/Scorcese/Spielberg, there's been a significant film school influenced streak in USian cinema. Justin Lin is a good recent exemplar of this.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:06 PM on August 30, 2007


Ambrosia: That's cool. I'm actually referring to Malaysian film - I've no idea how Australia film works, I've only been here a year!

It's funny in Malaysia, because there are academics that write scripts, and they're absolutely TERRIBLE. Chauvinistic moralistic garbage. The real talent somehow get their education elsewhere.
posted by divabat at 2:31 PM on August 30, 2007


To follow up on shmegegge, as someone who works in Hollywood, I'd say that there are pros and cons to film school. I know successful people out here who both have and haven't gone to film school.

Much of what we do is essentially a trade, and can be learned on the job. But the underlying theoretical approach to the craft and art really can be taught, and the film makers I know who went to a good film school (USC, for example) are better film makers because of it. They simply know what they're doing better. They move up the ranks quicker. They may be able to skip the assistant and apprentice jobs at the beginning.

But having a bad attitude or thinking you know more than your boss doesn't help in any career. If you're a PA, and you try to tell the director what to do, you'll find yourself without a job very quickly.

Plus, film school is the start of networking, which is critical in this industry.

The other side is that if you skip film school, you're 4 years further along in your career than others your age, and that makes a difference.

As to actors, however, I'd say move to Hollywood right out of high school, and study in acting classes while auditioning every day. There really is a window for actors to break into the industry, and the older you are, the harder it is.
posted by MythMaker at 3:10 PM on August 30, 2007


MythMaker: yup, yup, yup.

Film Craft, Film Art, Film History, and Film Theory. Sometimes it seems like everybody has to pick two they love and two they hate.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:47 PM on August 30, 2007


Related to this topic, the College Board releases a study called Education Pays every year. Linked is the 2006 study.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 8:30 PM on August 31, 2007


I enjoyed reading the linked article.

It's now been two weeks and part 2 is out, which asks the same question of graduate programs.
posted by philomathoholic at 1:08 AM on September 13, 2007


College (undergrad) isn't only about the degree, it's also about the personal growth that one achieves during their time at school. So yes, while the degree may not be a persons eventual line of work, the interpersonal and problem solving skills that one gains during those 4 years are priceless.
posted by FinanceGuy8 at 10:03 AM on September 28, 2007


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