Comments on: The necessity of a college education http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/ A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: dmcantor http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-43167 Sun, 16 Sep 2012 16:03:39 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-43167 It may be true, in the US, that apprenticeship programs are “wholly unproven” (though I am not so certain). However, in Europe they are well established and work extremely well. I am an American living in Switzerland, and the company I ran benefited hugely from the extremely well-trained young people who came out of apprenticeships, especially in technical disciplines. I am the first to encourage young people to attend college, but there can certainly be other paths to satisfying and well-paid careers.

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By: vladimir5 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-43073 Thu, 13 Sep 2012 15:43:25 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-43073 “So when McArdle proposes apprenticeship programs in lieu of college, I worry… In theory, they might work. But in practice, they’re wholly unproven…”

No Felix, they are proven in practice. Have you never worked in Germany? If you had, you’d think differently

Three years of hands-on work experience produce a far better-trained employee than four years of college, except in specialized professions, such as medicine and engineering

The reason corporations demand college degrees is because they think short-term, and don’t want the cost of training apprentices. Paradoxically, they get the cost anyway, because college grads know next to nothing about the job they’re entering. Go figure

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By: SBayer http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-43027 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 19:56:10 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-43027 The colleges’ cost problem is not merely one of “non-academic” amenities. It is, above all, the growth in faculty expense. Teacher/student ratios have increased dramatically without any shrinkage in actual class sizes. Faculties are being paid to teach fewer classes while engaging in more research and attending more academic conferences. The incentive for colleges to pursue this path is clear: US News and World Report uses cost per student (exclusive of amenities) as a factor in determining a college’s ranking, and college administrators, ever in pursuit of prestige, will advisedly become cost-maximizers. The greater prestige of any college is, of course, assumed to benefit its students on the job market, but, alas, prestige is the classic example of a “positional good”, for which an increase in demand produces no increase in supply.

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By: jbw1 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-43026 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 19:49:45 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-43026 The costs of college are not the same as tuition. For public universities, the total cost of college has not risen very much. The big change is cost shifting, from state taxpayer funds to student tuition funds. Public universities have done a good job of controlling total costs. But because state funding has been slashed, they must raise tuition to cover expenses.

“Since the recession of 2001, tuition hikes, as exorbitant as they have been, still haven’t kept pace with the fall in government support.” So the total cost has actually decreased.

Why is this elephant in the room ignored? How can you discuss college costs without talking about the tectonic shift from taxpayer funded to student funded college education?

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By: SBayer http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-43025 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 19:47:54 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-43025 The colleges’ cost problem is not merely one of “non-academic” amenities. It is, above all, the growth in faculty expense. Teacher/student ratios have increased dramatically without any shrinkage in actual class sizes. Faculties are being paid to teach fewer classes while engaging in more research and attending more academic conferences. The incentive for colleges to pursue this path is clear: US News and World Report uses cost per student (exclusive of amenities) as a factor in determining a college’s ranking, and college administrators, ever in pursuit of prestige, will advisedly become cost-maximizers. The greater prestige of any college is, of course, assumed to benefit its students on the job market, but, alas, prestige is the classic example of a “positional good”, for which an increase in demand produces no increase in supply.

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By: Curmudgeon http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-42996 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 13:09:40 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-42996 Is it possible to agree with both of you? McArdle is speaking of an individual decision, while you are talking past her points with broad statistics. Data such as you cite should well be applied to an individual’s decision, but they shouldn’t make that decision, as there are many unique individual circumstances.

Your points are well-taken. In particular, many doors open to degrees, even if they aren’t in a relevant field. However, I would argue that starting off an independent life with $30K in student debt (I’m guessing mean, but at a rough approximation, assume median – 50% have more), plus rent, plus a car loan, plus furniture costs, etc), post-college life becomes a bit more complicated than it was when many of us graduated.

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By: klhoughton http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-42988 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:29:16 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-42988 “It’s very easy to spend four years majoring in English literature and beer pong and come out no more employable than you were before you went in,” McArdle writes

She’s speaking from experience, of course.

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By: fresnodan http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-42987 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 10:47:49 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-42987 What reading your post most reminds me of is another important part of the economy: medical care.
It also can raise prices unhindered, people complain about how much it costs, the relationship between the cost charged, and the output, as well as the quality, are tenuous, but it is still valuable on the whole.

I can imagine that both problems will be handles the same way in the future – going to Thailand or India for an education or surgery.

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By: RicNV http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-42984 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 04:56:48 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-42984 http://www.simplyhired.com/a/salary/sear ch/q-high+school+graduate

Not so fast Felix.
According to the site noted above(the first I could find) high school grads average wage is $41,000 vs $46,000 for a college grad.
Given that college usually eats up four years that’s a $164,000 opportunity cost that would take almost than 33 years to recover. College usually costs something and the present value of that something wouldn’t have to be very high to exceed the present value of the last 17 years of a 50 year working life. In fact the annual cost would have to be under $8,000 a year for each of the four years for there to be any positive payoff from a college education, and that’s using a discount rate of 4%(with any higher rate the payoff is even less).

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By: stat_arb http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/10/the-necessity-of-a-college-education/comment-page-1/#comment-42983 Tue, 11 Sep 2012 04:03:26 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=17453#comment-42983 the only thing which has been rising faster than college tuition costs is the wage premium that college graduates receive over those without a degree.

Crucial question. Is the wage premium awarded to young degree-holders, or old ones? If it’s just a divergence of the already rich (old) degree-holders getting richer, then that doesn’t necessarily imply that young degree-holders will see wage gains relative to the non-pedigreed peer cohort.

A degree is becoming more important, not less, in our digital economy.

Insert snark about all those bloggers who are making out like robber barons. Seriously: in the best paying area of the digital economy that I’m aware of–programming–no one cares if you have a degree, they care if you can ship code.

Both of them are incredibly competent, and would naturally have risen much higher up within their organizations, were it not for the fact that they don’t have degrees. They’ve both been working for many years, to the point at which you’d think that whatever they did or didn’t learn at college would be irrelevant. But it’s not.

The thesis would seem to be “Large organisations are prejudiced in favour of credentialism”. So why not either [a] work for a smaller organisation, if you’re a non-degree-holder, or [b] teach a new approach to those who guard the gates? It doesn’t make sense to spend all these resources on something worthless if the only value comes from getting past stodgy prejudice.

The average amount of student debt per student in this country is large in absolute terms — about $30,000 — but is still a small price to pay for a lifetime of access to jobs and promotions which would otherwise be off-limits.

Just to reiterate my point: macro ≠ micro × 10^6. Is this a wasteful peacock competition or does a degree add to human capital?

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