Comments on: The economics of a college degree A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: MinFL Wed, 14 Jul 2010 18:45:04 +0000 When I was 20, I was a college drop out. In my 20s I worked very hard to become an expert software engineer – mainly self-taught. By 31, I was VP of software engineering and had “made it.” Only after I had a child did I feel the need to formalize my education so that she could aspire to similar success. By 40 I had my master’s and now I teach part-time at a university. Not having a degree hung over me for a long while and now I finally truly feel as if I’ve “Made it.”

By: MinFL Wed, 14 Jul 2010 18:41:15 +0000 eded

By: Chuck1960 Wed, 14 Jul 2010 18:29:03 +0000 The article and it’s ROI honestly does not explain things very well. There are many people that I have hired over the years that had no formal degree, two year, 4 year and MBA’s. The difference was in what they as individuals brought to the “school of life”. Some were more people oriented as well as team players with their own individual and significant contributions.

I will never forget being in a meeting of upper managers for a fortune 1000 company with over 25,000 employees. We were to participate in a roundtable discussion on the following years strategic goals for the company. Most of the managers being the same level were making roughly 185k – 205k per year. Since we were all from different parts of the country, everyone was asked to first introduce themselves. Most people would say, how long they were with the company, what particular city and state they came from as well as what college and degree they had attained. One of the new managers, said all the above as well as how he had a BS in Economics a BS in Pharmacology and finally an MBA in something else.

The next persons turn came up, and he said his name,the city and state where he was a manager for and that he was still getting his degree from the “school of life” but that he had the same title as the guy that just spoke. Some laughed, some did’nt but the fact is he was one of the most succesful people in that room.

So the degree is important,but I am not sure that being in debt with over 100k without some kind of work ethic, vision and specifically desire of whom you want to become or what you want achieve will get you the happiness or “success” you are looking for.

By: skomalley Wed, 14 Jul 2010 18:15:39 +0000 Here’s the value of my English degree from UC-Berkeley: negative $100,000. Yep, it’s worth less than nothing and was a complete waste of my time.

My advice to any humanities/arts major is to get a real major. And don’t listen to your hippy counselors when they tell you to “do what you love b/c it’ll all work out in the end if you’re just passionate enough”. All that is going to get you is a job that you hate more than if you would have just gotten a math/science degree in something that you weren’t passionate about. Well, if you can even get a job.

Lucky for me I got a good job selling cars to idiots who c/not afford them before the market crashed, and our banks stopped giving loans to broke a** losers. Now, at least I can afford to go back and get a masters of science in nursing.

By: anarcurt Wed, 14 Jul 2010 14:34:00 +0000 They forget to include credit card debt. If you are studying in a hard program you really do not have much time for a job. If you have one it is minimum wage for 15 hours a week or so. During the four years you are in school you will likely have a negative earnings number which will then be compoundend with insane interest rates. For someone who does not have cash given to them by parents or some trust/scholarship fund then the ROI is going to be even less as your CC debt will cripple you out of the gate. It has taken me years to get back into the positive. Looking back I should have gotten a job as a teller or such and used tuition assistance from an employer rather than jump right into college. The education system sells you this lie that paying them $30k/year will give you a better life. I’m 29 with an MBA and I would probably been better off being a manager at McDonalds.

By: afarrell Wed, 14 Jul 2010 13:34:48 +0000 Re: DanHess
> “Already technically brilliant”
This varies widely by individual and, within an individual, by subject. I came in knowing a fair bit about physics and very little about programming or computer science. i also know people who have come in already being one of the major contributors to open source software projects. I also know people who haven’t done much of anything besides get good grades in school and a few extracurricular activities.

>”The secret sauce is the selectivity”
No, I have in fact learned a great deal here, both in classes and by hanging out with and working on projects with other smart and accomplished people.

– Andrew Farrell
course VI, 2012

By: ckbryant Tue, 13 Jul 2010 16:04:35 +0000 There are many virtures in your criticism of this survey. This, however, is not one of them:

“Let’s say you go to college and then earn $45,000 a year working in the theater… You’re clearly better off in many different ways than a high-school graduate earning the same amount…”

And that’s as may be, but one of the ways you are emphatically not better off is in terms of the money you’re making. You may well be much worse off–and it’s time to take a hard look at that reality. You can’t really fault an ROI study for measuring what it sets out to measure!

I have two friends, neither with a college degree, who worked their ways up from grocery clerk to store manager. Each of them makes more money than I–college credentialled–do.

Now, of course, money isn’t everything. That person working in theatre may be much happier, and have a “better” life overall, than if she’d gone off to manage a big-box retail store. But you would like to think she was able to make an informed decision about the path of her life, and one thing she’d need to do that is some hard numerical information on what a college education is going to do for her finances. That’s why this study, for all it’s shortcomings, is critically valuable. We need much more of this sort of thing.

By: darbsnave Tue, 13 Jul 2010 02:47:50 +0000 The amazing thing to me was that it seemed that BW assumed each student paid full tuition. The deals get better if you have a scholarship or have a work-study program.

By: BillPetti Tue, 13 Jul 2010 01:16:44 +0000 There are all sorts of problems with the methodology.

First, they rely solely on self-reported income from graduates. I can think of all sorts of selection effects here that could be skewing the data. Second, they do not include individuals that are not full-time hourly or salaried employees. That means project- and contract-based employees are left out of their sample. What’s more, self-employed graduates are also excluded. Third, this simply looks at former students who only received a bachelor’s degree. Those that went on to earn graduate and professional degrees were excluded. I can understand why they did this–makes it easier to draw a line from school invested in to future earnings–but there is something to be said for the effect of one’s undergraduate degree and their likelihood of being accepted into a solid post-graduate program and the future earnings that result.

I played around with the data and created my own rankings ( based on a simplistic composite of the data presented by PayScale. I ended up with Brigham Young as the school providing the best ROI. Bottom line is these types of rankings are tough to get right.

By: TFF Tue, 13 Jul 2010 00:20:42 +0000 Speaking as an Ivy League graduate with too many degrees and a lifetime of experience in education at all levels…

As DanHess says, the students who go to the top schools would be successful anywhere. One study looking at workers five years out of college concluded that students ACCEPTED to top-ranked schools did just as well financially as those who ATTENDED top-ranked schools. Moreover, students who APPLIED top top-ranked schools also did just as well whether or not they were accepted. Within reason, at least, ambition is far more important than the choice of college. The biggest advantage of a top-ranked college is that it improves your chances of getting into a top-ranked PhD program, however that career track is not particularly rewarding financially.

willid3, ALL jobs are now subject to global competition either directly or indirectly. I see no evidence that the value of a useful degree from a good school has been decreased.

davidwe, some degrees explicitly teach you useful skills. Unsurprisingly, those graduates tend to fare the best in the job market. As for the rest, a college degree is nonetheless proof of one’s ability to produce a large quantity of high-quality work while working within a somewhat arbitrary system of rules. It is that self-discipline that (as a group) distinguishes college graduates from those who drop out or do not attend college.

Of course there might be cheaper ways of verifying that an individual possesses those characteristics (as well as the basic literacy that is essential for so many jobs).