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  1. Seattle Outcast

    Cripes – that Horsey cartoon originally ran in the Seattle PI about a decade ago or more. The current sudden awareness that a degree in English, History, Theater, etc is a waste of time in an era in which employers are looking for specific skills and abilities and not something that would have dumped them into a management training program in past decades, isn’t new.

    That universities are just fine with telling lies to students (and the parents footing the bill) about how a degree in reading Dickens and Shakespeare, or knowing who the great impressionists were, will magically find them a career that not only pays well but also be personally meaningful to them is a huge problem. I’ve met far too many people running forklifts and stocking shelves while also having degrees in Political Science or Art History to put any faith in that educational career path.

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  2. AlexInCT *

    Cripes – that Horsey cartoon originally ran in the Seattle PI about a decade ago or more. The current sudden awareness that a degree in English, History, Theater, etc is a waste of time in an era in which employers are looking for specific skills and abilities and not something that would have dumped them into a management training program in past decades, isn’t new.

    I have for over a decade told younger people that were college bound, in college, or just out of college that if they paid the same amount for one of those arts degrees that students in STEMS, Economics, or premed/prelaw did, without a guarantee of a high paying job waiting for them at the end of that crucible, they had been or were going to be had.

    Nothing is IMO more idiotic than lies we tell people about a college degree today. They are “NOT” all equal or guarantors of future earnings, and I am not talking about the value of a degree from different institutions, but the value of degrees based on the field of study. The worst thing that could have happened is this incestuous relationship between government and academia where government just shovels cash at them and sets up the poor shlobs they pretend to be helping out for a life of servitude to pay off the one debt that’s not dischargeable. If you want to understand why the cost of higher education has grown so ridiculously out of proportion to any measure of real inflation, while the value of said education, both as a measure of career perspective and as what one learns, has drastically decreased, look at the whole student loan fiasco.

    Seriously, we need to make these schools responsible for allowing these young kids to ruin their lives and end up beholden to Sally Mae. Tie their future earnings and the cost of the degree to what the student gets out of it, and I guarantee you all those overprices degrees will suddenly cost about 1/10 of what you would pay for a degree in a field where people actually bring some real skills to their employers and then get to earn from it. Or the degrees might even become free, like in the case practically all the ridiculous “Studies” type degrees.

    College has become a way to indoctrinate the bulk of idiots that spend too much to get worthless paper and, like this cartoon shows, end up asking you if you want fries with that.

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  3. AlexInCT *

    Heh, looks like the artsy types are pissed someone is pointing out they got had by all those down votes I see. Click away, but the facts are the facts.

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    Perhaps because pursuing your MRS degree in Literature is still an accepted career path?

    Not as common as it used to be, but there are still plenty of Microsoft managers looking for a cute girl with a good education and zero motivation to work other than wrapping up their plastic D-cups in a short black dress.

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  5. Argive

    I have for over a decade told younger people that were college bound, in college, or just out of college that if they paid the same amount for one of those arts degrees that students in STEMS, Economics, or premed/prelaw did, without a guarantee of a high paying job waiting for them at the end of that crucible, they had been or were going to be had.

    I’m not as familiar with the prospects for STEM and Econ majors, but studying pre-law and pre-med don’t guarantee much of anything. Studying pre-law basically just prepares you for law school, and going to law school is a huge gamble. The job market for lawyers SUCKS, and shows no signs of getting better. Plenty of people graduate from law school with six-figure debt and no way to pay it back. Pre-med is fine … if you want to go to medical school. Because the AMA regulates the number of available med student seats, med school graduates don’t lack for jobs. But getting into and graduating from med school is absurdly difficult and also means crushing debt.

    It’s way too simplistic to say that students just need to study “practical” majors and they’ll get jobs. If students flood into STEM fields, we’ll wind up with a glut of people with STEM degrees. Back in the 1980s, the MBA was seen as a “practical” degree. So we wound up with a glut of MBAs. Before the recession hit, the job market for lawyers was just fine. Now, not so much. It might be an OK decision on an individual level to study STEM, but it’s not something everyone can do, and it’s not a long term solution to youth unemployment.

    Honestly, I think that part of the problem is the idea that a college degree functions as a guarantee that the recipient will find a job, or that everyone should go get a job in their degree field. Degrees are supposed to give you the skills to go out and find employment. Interpersonal skills, family connections, and other forms of social capital are more important than ever. How you market yourself has a lot to do with it.

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  6. Seattle Outcast

    It’s way too simplistic to say that students just need to study “practical” majors and they’ll get jobs. If students flood into STEM fields, we’ll wind up with a glut of people with STEM degrees. Back in the 1980s, the MBA was seen as a “practical” degree. So we wound up with a glut of MBAs. Before the recession hit, the job market for lawyers was just fine. Now, not so much. It might be an OK decision on an individual level to study STEM, but it’s not something everyone can do, and it’s not a long term solution to youth unemployment.

    You can’t swing a dead cat these days without finding an MBA working a cubicle job. I think that the primary issue is more one of “let’s not take a look at the current situation and make a rational decision because grandpa did just fine with his degree in (fill in type of liberal arts degree here).” There is way too much follow-the-herd mentality in education, and the people that should be encouraging new students to pay attention to the job market and where it is headed are too invested in selling the same old shit that they bought in 1968.

    I would think that perhaps the best indication of what people should study would be what returning adults students are taking. These tend to be people that are targeting what classes are going to be the most benefit to them at work. Generally speaking, they are part time students that are fully employed and need what is being taught for work purposes.

    Another route would be for kids to start talking to people that actually have jobs (this does not include people working at the university) for what classes are needed immediately after they graduate. The number of kids that show up looking for work in our engineering departments that don’t know how to use CAD programs is astounding. Likewise, there is a woman I know that does data entry for our inspection group that somehow forgot to take classes in Photoshop when she got her art degree. All these people assumed that these critical skills would be taught to them by their new employers, and end up working a lower-level job to pay the bills, sometimes permanently.

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  7. hist_ed

    I think the bigger problem is that we are sending too many kids to college period. Y’all know the history:employers stopped using basic intelligence tests for screening employees because that was RAAAACCCIIISSSTTT!!!! and thus started using a BA as a proxy. This isn’t a new problem. When I got my BA in the mid 90s (in history, that you very much Alex and SO) my first job was at a call center for a big wireless company. A BA was required to answer the phones about pager and cell phone bills. I got tracked pretty quickly into IT-learning the techie stuff and programming on the fly (Alas, our system was based in Open VMS-not terribly common when the next job search came along).

    Anyhoots, my school district, along most, likes to think that every one of its graduates should go off to college. There are pressures large and small to high school kids. No one celebrates a kid getting an apprenticeship or joining the Army like the kids who get into college. In my middle school hallway we have posters of a bunch of ex students who got into name universities but no one who enrolled at a tech school or got a decent job. Our last high school auto shop program closed a few years ago, my school’s shop teacher mainly teaches computer applications and robotics (she has one period a day teaching actual shop classes). The message going out from every level of education is that if you don’t get a degree you are a loser.

    Even STEM stuff is oversold. From Obama on down, the idea that graduating more STEM graduates will magically make more jobs appear is the reigning ideology (my district just opened a STEM focused high school). Just like the MBA glut mentioned above, in ten years or so we will have a surplus of STEM folks.

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  8. Seattle Outcast

    At most, 25% of high school-grads should be college bound for a 4-year degree. The abhorred and mostly extinct “trade school” where you could learn such trades as electrician, mechanic, plumber, construction, etc should be brought back with additional skills like “electronics repair”, “computer tech” and other areas that are in demand and pay better than “burger flipper”….

    And if they stopped dumbing down a high-school education to formerly 7th or 8th grade levels of scholastic achievement, things would be better still. Of course, that means about 1/3 of kids won’t graduate high school, but that’s how things are in the real world…

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  9. salinger

    Well I just heard the education minister of Singapore (one of the school systems that are always called for emulation by those who malign the US) say that students can expect to use maybe 10 percent of the math and science they learn in school in their real world professions and that communication skills and humanities education are the most transferable assets that a school can impart their students.

    So ten years from now when the glut of STEM trained hit the markets we’ll be looking East again…

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  10. AlexInCT *

    When I got my BA in the mid 90s (in history, that you very much Alex and SO) my first job was at a call center for a big wireless company

    Hey hist_ed, while even in the 90s there was a considerable difference in employability and earnings potyential based on your type of degree, nobody then would have told you that you had wasted your time getting a college degree. And most would not argue that you had paid to much for it either. In the 80s when I got mine that was certainly so, and as an engineering student I saw how much more free time those not having to spend 4 hours every night, including weekends, on homework like I needed to, because they were doing easy BA degrees had. When I did my MS and TAed a bit it was even more pronounced. I had a roomie that only did work the night before an exam or a paper was due, and spent the rest of the time sleeping and partying. But just 20 years later, these BA degrees now seem to cost way too much, and the value is so low it is criminal that they hand people diplomas after wasting 4 years of their lives.

    I am not knocking your degree: I am pointing out how much less value people get, especially these days, for the same amount of money as someone that wasn’t sold on the bullshit that any college degree was a ticket to milk & honey. Our problem, as you stated is that employers now demand the 4 years for entry, even for jobs that do not require any college at all, because the usual fucking social engineering from the left fucked things up. Frankly, I feel that half of the people that try college, and most fail, should have been discouraged. Not enocouraged to lose a year or more, rack up insnae debt, and then not even get the fucking piece of worthless paper.

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  11. AlexInCT *

    Well I just heard the education minister of Singapore (one of the school systems that are always called for emulation by those who malign the US) say that students can expect to use maybe 10 percent of the math and science they learn in school in their real world professions and that communication skills and humanities education are the most transferable assets that a school can impart their students.

    What skills are those they learn from humanities courses? Partying hard? Binge drinking? Hooking up? Because I seriously hope you are not telling me they learn any critical thinking from the leftrarded brainwashing, immersed in pseudo-marxist, nanny state, PC bullshit, that passes for knowledge these days. Most college grads I have interacted with were dumber than a rock and if they actually believed the nonsense they had their heads filled with, worthless as employees for at least 5 to 10 years, until reality could hit them hard enough with a clue bat to knock some sense into them.

    I do not believe more STEM educated people will make any difference at all, at least not until we can jettison the insane and idiotic PC bullshit that has permeated our society for the last 2 decades, but at least those people will get their money’s worth and be better off when they do get employed both in the sense that they will earn enough to pay off their debt and live decently, and that they have less of a chance to be fucked over by the system. But I certainly believe that anyone that wastes 4 years getting a studies degree or learning “French poetry of the 13th century” should not be surprised that they end up serving fries to others. Those degrees are a waste of money and time, and unless you have a rich mommy & daddy paying for it, you should know better. Don’t cry foul after the fact.

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  12. salinger

    Most college grads I have interacted with were dumber than a rock

    Perhaps this Is more a reflection of the caliber of those who would spend time interacting with you. I already regret responding.

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  13. AlexInCT *

    Perhaps this Is more a reflection of the caliber of those who would spend time interacting with you. I already regret responding.

    In your case that is a given Sally. And you are the typical college grad.

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  14. hist_ed

    Hey hist_ed, while even in the 90s there was a considerable difference in employability and earnings potyential based on your type of degree, nobody then would have told you that you had wasted your time getting a college degree. And most would not argue that you had paid to much for it either.

    Wasn’t trying to knock you Alex, just wanted to mention it. In fact, unless you are teaching it, a history degree is pretty useless for job prospects. Used to be you could say a person with a BA in history at least had something above the comparative lit or anything studies crowd, but there are plenty of post-modern muddle heads in history departments these days too. Took a class from one (required, alas for the degree) and was really pissed off at the waste of time. One of the reasons I abandoned grad school for history was a palace coup that made a women’s history prof the head of the department I was in.

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