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Old 07-23-2014, 02:58 PM   #21
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I'd say a college degree is more important than the past in terms of avoiding poverty. Unfortunately I'd also say it is also less valuable remuneratively.

The bar has been raised while the rewards have been lowered.
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Old 07-23-2014, 08:09 PM   #22
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I forget which academic produced it, but I read a paper that compared a plumber to a doctor, with the result of how old they would be when the doctor overtook the plumber. By "overtook", I mean, the doctor spent money for longer in education, so took some time to get that back. I checked the assumptions on the research pretty closely, and I was generally hoping what he said wasn't true, but I didn't see any big flaws in the analysis.

The bottom line was that the plumber was "ahead" until something like 50 years of age! The plumber started work right after high school and started earning a pretty good wage that increased as he gained experience. Meanwhile, the doctor is putting a bunch of money and years into education.

In another study (also that I wish wasn't true), the extra expense of going to an ivy league school was deemed "not worth it" except for disadvantaged students. The support for the arguement seemed pretty strong and was based on the fact that once you get into the corporate world, your raises depend on how you do there, and it's not about how you did in school, or where you went to school. The exception for disadvantaged students was thought to originate from the social dynamic of not being around your usual crowd. In other words, if you are truely disadvantaged at an ivy league school, you're not going to hang around with your usual "peeps"...You'll be "forced" to hang around with a higher class crowd. Whereas if that same disadvantaged person went to the state school, well, you probably would find people that are more comfortable for you to hang with, and so not get pulled up very much, socially.
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Old 07-23-2014, 08:46 PM   #23
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I agree in general, but it's not always the state college that is cheaper. I know a girl who will begin at Princeton University in the fall...one of the very best universities in the world, and she will go for no cost due to her family's income. Ivy League schools do not give athletic or academic scholarships...only based on income, and if you make less than about $60,000, you go for free if you get in...free including room and board. It would cost her money to go to most state schools.
Here is a fellow with an entirely different take on whether one should go to an Ivy League university, and whether someone like your young friend will find happiness there. As one of the poorest (financially) students in my very selective college and Ivy League law school, I must say the article resonated with me.

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:05 PM   #24
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I've always wondered about this also. Even back in the 50's when I was going to college, trying to earn my degree in engineering, I wondered if I had been better off going into skilled trades, like tool and die making. Now that I am retired as an engineer I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I had a defined benefit plan and a 401K. I'm sitting good having been retired for 23 years. Then I look at my son, a firefighter with 23 years in the program. Making $100K a year with a retirement plan that brings tears to my eyes. He can retire in two years and get about $80/year. Makes me wonder if I chose the right career.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:16 PM   #25
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Here is a fellow with an entirely different take on whether one should go to an Ivy League university, and whether someone like your young friend will find happiness there. As one of the poorest (financially) students in my very selective college and Ivy League law school, I must say the article resonated with me.

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic
Thanks for the link. That's an interesting read.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:26 AM   #26
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College seems like it will have a very good ROI for our kids so far. Between community college credits, internships, and a public four year school in a major with good job prospects, our oldest should have a college cost payback period of well under a year.

I am not sure why so many families we know took out loans to send their kids to expensive private schools they could not afford for degrees in majors where they could not find work, but unfortunately that does seem to happen. All the data to pick a good ROI school and major is published on the web these days.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:31 AM   #27
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I forget which academic produced it, but I read a paper that compared a plumber to a doctor, with the result of how old they would be when the doctor overtook the plumber. By "overtook", I mean, the doctor spent money for longer in education, so took some time to get that back. I checked the assumptions on the research pretty closely, and I was generally hoping what he said wasn't true, but I didn't see any big flaws in the analysis.
Maybe this was the article you read -

Study This to See Whether Harvard Pays Off: Laurence Kotlikoff - Bloomberg
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:22 AM   #28
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There is not causation between income and degrees, only correlation. Smarter people make more money, degree or no degree. It just so happens most smart people are funneled into college.


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Old 07-26-2014, 09:58 AM   #29
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I received much more from my post secondary educational experiences than a higher level of income. And those benefits, for me, were at least equal to or greater than the increased income. It was much more than money and financial return on the education investment dollar.

It changed and broadened my perspective. It provide me with opportunities for personal growth that I might not otherwise have had. I certainly earned more money. Not necessarily because of the education itself but because of the opportunities that it presented. I still had to work very hard and prove my worth every day.

And when I was hiring, degree was often a sign to us that someone could finish what they started. The degree may not have been relevant but if they person had skills, and had proven that they could learn and adapt that was often the 'hire' ticket.
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Old 07-26-2014, 10:25 AM   #30
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I forgot to add college tax credits to my post above. Plus in California the income limits are pretty high for grant money which covers full tuition and fees, and this year year families earning under $150K may be eligible for middle class scholarships. Then there's all sorts of other options for students to help reduce or defray costs, like zero or low interest loans, merit scholarships, fulfilling some electives with low cost online courses, AP classes, living at home some or all the years and CLEP tests.

The community colleges have transfer degrees where students following the program are guaranteed their CC classes will all be accepted at the 4 years and if they fulfill the transfer degree requirements, they are guaranteed to graduate in 2 more years at the public four years.

College costs can be quite reasonable here with excellent payback periods. So for sure it can be worth worth it, but it depends on the school and the major.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:20 PM   #31
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I received much more from my post secondary educational experiences than a higher level of income. And those benefits, for me, were at least equal to or greater than the increased income. It was much more than money and financial return on the education investment dollar.

It changed and broadened my perspective. It provide me with opportunities for personal growth that I might not otherwise have had. I certainly earned more money. Not necessarily because of the education itself but because of the opportunities that it presented. I still had to work very hard and prove my worth every day.

And when I was hiring, degree was often a sign to us that someone could finish what they started. The degree may not have been relevant but if they person had skills, and had proven that they could learn and adapt that was often the 'hire' ticket.
+1 It is not all about the money. From my experience people who have finished college in general have a broader outlook on the world and a better perspective on divergent views. It changes the variety of people you can associate with (tolerate?) and gives you more confidence.

In addition very simple tasks for a college student, writing up the results of an experiment, or explaining a sales idea seems to be much easier for those who have been to college and had to write papers before. I have seen non-college people just completely stumped at having to write up even a very simple report.

Now about the money, you get more money the more of a monopoly you have on something that is needed. The barriers to entry. If the barriers to entry are very low, there is no way you will make a good wage ever. If you choose a field for which there is little demand, even if the barriers of entry are high, you will never make a good wage.

Even in non-college areas there are good professions. There is some barrier to entry for plumbers and there will always be a need for them, so they will be able to command a degree of monopoly on their services. For firemen and policemen and women there are similar barriers to entry and consistent need.

For doctors, engineers and those in technical and scientific fields, they all have high barriers to entry and, picking the right field, high demand.

Picking the right degree (especially but not exclusively STEM) at the right price can position you where the barriers of entry are high. Case in point, I would guess that the ratio of college grads to non grads is higher on this forum than in the general population.

College gives you the chance to broaden your perspective on the world, associate with a broader scope of people, enjoy more of life because you understand more, and in addition get the chance at a high barrier of entry field. And heck, it can be fun too!
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:38 PM   #32
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Cost of college has made ROI a big issue. As tuition has outpaced inflation for years, it's become a significant investment.

Parents have always pushed kids towards majors with better job prospects but it seems there's less margin for graduates of areas other than STEM or business of some kind.

When students pick a "money" major, do they and their families approach college more pragmatically, specifically as avenues to enter lucrative careers?

And when they are so bottom-line inclined, are they more likely to miss out on the college experience, the broadening of perspectives?
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:56 PM   #33
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College degree is to individual career as capital investment is to business.
For a very large number of jobs you must have the paper to get in the door for an interview. There are exceptions, though.
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Old 07-26-2014, 01:15 PM   #34
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College degree is to individual career as capital investment is to business.
For a very large number of jobs you must have the paper to get in the door for an interview. There are exceptions, though.
In my experience as a hiring manager at a megacorp manufacturing company that had well paying union jobs, a college degree is a good investment. When we were hiring for entry level assembly line jobs, we required at least a 2 year associates degree before we'd talk to a person. The 2 year degree wasn't necessarily needed to do the work, but the requirement made it more likely that we'd be talking to people who had a good work ethic and who could learn the skills necessary to do the job. We had plenty of people in the hiring pool so had no need to lower the requirements and talk to people who didn't have degrees.

For anyone who was interested in getting promoted into management, a 4 year degree was an unwritten requirement. I had discussions with several managers about very capable staff who we all agreed were qualified for a promotion when an opening came up. In the end we gave the person the promotion but it was a near thing. We new he could do the work but we were very concerned about what would happen 4-8 years down the road. We didn't want to set this person up to be locked in to a job that he couldn't transfer or get promoted out of. We new that people who didn't know him would be highly reluctant to consider someone without a B.S. for even a lateral move. One of the considerations for a promotion was that we as managers had to feel that the person being promoted had the potential for another promotion as he/she got more experience. The lack of a B.S. was a serious negative when we went through that discussion. Unfortunately, in any big company, things change and we needed to consider the risk that the job he had would be eliminated and make sure that he had the qualifications to do something else if that happened.
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Old 07-26-2014, 01:30 PM   #35
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Google has started hiring more people without degrees:

"One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.

What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college."


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/bu...l?pagewanted=2
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Old 07-26-2014, 03:22 PM   #36
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What made a college degree worthwhile in the past, was that a relatively small portion of the population had one. If an employer had an entry level position available, and 10 people applied, and only one had a degree, that person got the job. It doesn't work that way anymore. Now, so many people have degrees, the paper is meaningless for any job not requiring a professional certification achieved through academia.

There are some positions that require a degree as a pre-employment screening tool. But all that does is put one in a smaller , but still substantial pool of applicants, where there will be intangibles involved in determining the select few who get hired.

The educational system has preached the college degree thing for so long, that we have many young people believing a degree guarantees success. Too many go in debt, to "follow their dreams", and then are disappointed that the degree produces a $25K a year salary, and $100K of student loans that can't be eliminated through bankruptcy.
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Old 07-26-2014, 04:48 PM   #37
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That wasn't it, exactly, but the sentiment was exactly the same...the doc and plumber ended up about the same. I contend, too, that it might be easier for the plumber to start his own business and get way ahead of the doctor.
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Old 07-26-2014, 05:27 PM   #38
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College (Masters degree even Phd) is excellent investment if you select a right major.
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:24 AM   #39
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Plumber's risk of being sued - and thus the burden of malpractice insurance - likely would be much lower than doctor's. (Not saying plumbers don't get sued - I'm sure some do).

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That wasn't it, exactly, but the sentiment was exactly the same...the doc and plumber ended up about the same. I contend, too, that it might be easier for the plumber to start his own business and get way ahead of the doctor.
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Old 07-27-2014, 07:10 AM   #40
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That wasn't it, exactly, but the sentiment was exactly the same...the doc and plumber ended up about the same. I contend, too, that it might be easier for the plumber to start his own business and get way ahead of the doctor.

Just goes to show you that the trades are still a very viable option - even if you are "college material". In fact, why not combine both? Business degree + trade school = profit?


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