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Old 11-08-2011, 10:11 AM   #21
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No problem fuego..I was just curious. My daughter is making $40K in a southeastern Virginia public elementary school. It's her 2nd year. When she gets her masters it can go up $3K to $5K. The thing about teaching salaries is they do not have the possible appreciation of salaries other careers have. But...they can elect to get in on the administration side...say Vice Principle and Principle and the salaries are very good....upwards of $75K plus.
Been trying to get my daughter to think in those terms...but so far ..no luck.

Is it worth $25K in student loan debt...to secure a job? I believe it is provided the student is smart about what they major in. That debt can be paid off. Hopefully the degree or job will provide the foundation for the rest of their lives.
I have teachers in my family (one of which will soon retire with a nice pension). The deal in our state is similar to what your daughter has. Never a huge salary, but you won't be in the breadlines either. And there are rewards for professional development and taking on more responsibility like you point out.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:31 AM   #22
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My problem with the high cost of college today is that too many people are going to college who are not prepared for or capable of college level work. They are spending a lot of money for the first year or two and then dropping out with a lot of debt. So not only do you have to consider your earning potential after graduation but you have to weigh the risks of not graduating at all. We need to develop a vocational education system in this country.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:06 AM   #23
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If the median earnings for all the people in the labor force with college degrees is $54K, median starting salaries must be substantially below that. The average debt is close to the median starting salary for a considerable percentage of new college grads.

10% of college grads with debt fall into arrears when the first payment comes due.

The real median wage has been flat for college grads for 10 years. Average debt per college grad is growing, so this is getting worse. Total outstanding student debt has increased 60% in 4 years. This is going to get much worse, and soon.

Graduates with debt in the 70s and 80s were very lucky. Most of the interest was subsidized until after graduation, and then we all had our loans inflated away repayment was relatively easy.

High debt levels combined with stagnating salaries are a bad combination. The real impact here will be in housing, because college grads with too much student debt take longer to buy their first house. Employment growth relies on new housing construction. This

My conclusion is too many people are attending college. The colleges themselves have no interest or incentive to filter, so they don't, and they are disconnected from the outcome of their product. They have a vested interest in financing but no liability when default occurs.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:41 PM   #24
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While, I still percieve the value is there in having some debt to have a career, in relative terms in my area, the cost is significantly higher than 25 years ago. There are still ways to make it affordable, though such as JUCO for 2 years then transferring. The one thing that lower to middle class kids cant do now that they could 25 years ago is head off to a four university with no plan, and " find their way" after 5 years of schooling. You need to have a plan so the credit hour costs are minimized instead of changing careers multiple times and racking up the credit hour costs. Smart students, like me , in the early eighties were able to game the student loan program. I took out student loans for 3 years and put them in CD's earning 11-14% and made enough on the interest to pay for my 4th year free! Ahh, the good old days, I guess a 1% CD wont do the same for this generation.
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:32 PM   #25
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If the median earnings for all the people in the labor force with college degrees is $54K, median starting salaries must be substantially below that. The average debt is close to the median starting salary for a considerable percentage of new college grads.

10% of college grads with debt fall into arrears when the first payment comes due.

The real median wage has been flat for college grads for 10 years. Average debt per college grad is growing, so this is getting worse. Total outstanding student debt has increased 60% in 4 years. This is going to get much worse, and soon.

Graduates with debt in the 70’s and 80’s were very lucky. Most of the interest was subsidized until after graduation, and then we all had our loans inflated away – repayment was relatively easy.

High debt levels combined with stagnating salaries are a bad combination. The real impact here will be in housing, because college grads with too much student debt take longer to buy their first house. Employment growth relies on new housing construction. This

My conclusion is too many people are attending college. The colleges themselves have no interest or incentive to filter, so they don't, and they are disconnected from the outcome of their product. They have a vested interest in financing but no liability when default occurs.
I definitely agree with this. Kind of like the housing bubble mantra. "Everyone should own a home". (not) Everyone should have a college education (not). For each...the way was paved with easy to get money and not so great results.
Student loan crisis is because the salaries and lack of jobs don't support paying off the debt. Don't think I like this analogy.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:58 PM   #26
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I definitely agree with this. Kind of like the housing bubble mantra. "Everyone should own a home". (not) Everyone should have a college education (not). For each...the way was paved with easy to get money and not so great results.
I think there is a lot of truth to the analogy you make. Student loan money is indeed easy to come by with the schools themselves facilitating. The very fact that the first advise given to people struggling with their loans is to go online and find out just what you owe indicates those people weren't really evaluating the loans at the time they took them. As I think back to the days in the 60's when DW was borrowing $2.5k/yr to attend college (a fortune back then!), we knew exactly what was happening and had a plan for a speedy pay back.
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Student loan crisis is because the salaries and lack of jobs don't support paying off the debt. Don't think I like this analogy.
SOME salaries and the lack of jobs in SOME fields don't support paying off the debt. But remember, unemployment for people with four year degrees is fairly low right now. Most graduates are finding jobs. $25k vs. a starting salary as low as, say, $35k doesn't sound like a crisis to me. I think lots of youngsters are bitter that they're going to have to buckle down and do without new cars, etc., after graduation and instead focus of loan repayment for several years.

It's not an issue that all people with student loans are struggling to pay. It's an issue that people with the higher levels of student loans and also having no job or a low paying job are struggling.

I agree with MichaelB that too many people are attending college these days. We need to provide training for our workforce, but sending everyone off to a four year college isn't the answer. Students aren't listening to the market or demonstrating that they understand the cost/benefit tradeoffs. Gov't programs which encourage easy money to students need to be reconsidered.
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:10 PM   #27
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I see a lot of posts saying that the cost etc. is worth it based on potential salary etc... but the original post was about debt, not the actual cost of that education...

So, if you determine the actual COST of an education including opportunity costs of having a job maybe a couple of extra years... the benefits might not be as good as it seems..

Intrinsically I think it is worth the cost if you go to a State U. or some other subsidized university and get a degree in a business or engineering field... maybe not so for an Lit or History major....
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:21 PM   #28
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Intrinsically I think it is worth the cost if you go to a State U. or some other subsidized university and get a degree in a business or engineering field... maybe not so for an Lit or History major....
Uh oooooh......... About half our budget is supported by DW's pension and my SS. She's an English major who attended a small, private liberal arts college and a card carrying member of POEM. We think the cost of her degree was worth it, but apparently not.

Do we have to give up our FIRE status and go back to w*rk? I'd hate that! In fact, I think I've forgotten how to w*rk.
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:44 PM   #29
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I see a lot of posts saying that the cost etc. is worth it based on potential salary etc... but the original post was about debt, not the actual cost of that education...

So, if you determine the actual COST of an education including opportunity costs of having a job maybe a couple of extra years... the benefits might not be as good as it seems..

Intrinsically I think it is worth the cost if you go to a State U. or some other subsidized university and get a degree in a business or engineering field... maybe not so for an Lit or History major....
You really have to look at the present value of a lifetime of higher earning potential vs. the opportunity cost of foregoing full time work for ~4 years and paying for school (whether funded out of pocket or by loans).

I have seen estimates that college equals $600k to a million in increased earning potential.
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Old 11-08-2011, 06:06 PM   #30
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SOME salaries and the lack of jobs in SOME fields don't support paying off the debt. But remember, unemployment for people with four year degrees is fairly low right now. Most graduates are finding jobs. $25k vs. a starting salary as low as, say, $35k doesn't sound like a crisis to me. I think lots of youngsters are bitter that they're going to have to buckle down and do without new cars, etc., after graduation and instead focus of loan repayment for several years.

It's not an issue that all people with student loans are struggling to pay. It's an issue that people with the higher levels of student loans and also having no job or a low paying job are struggling.
[/QUOTE]

True. I have talked to so many of my daughters friends who were history, english or social work majors...that are not finding jobs...that their plight just sticks in my mind.
Some did and do have a plan and a degree that easily converted to a job.
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Old 11-08-2011, 06:22 PM   #31
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True. I have talked to so many of my daughters friends who were history, english or social work majors...that are not finding jobs...that their plight just sticks in my mind.
Some did and do have a plan and a degree that easily converted to a job.
In many cases you'll find that it's not so much the major as it is the person or the understanding of the total degree requirements for employment in the field.

If a streetsmart, career savvy, aggressive person decides to major in social work and fully understands that a Masters is absolutely required for a reasonable chance at employment, that person will probably wind up employed. The pay is low, but if that's what they want to do and are OK with the pay, so be it. But you can't major in social work (probably a psych major at the undergrad level) and stop with a BA. And if you're a passive person and not really on top of what it takes to get and sustain employment in the field of social work, then even the appropriate Masters degree probably won't help.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:49 AM   #32
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Uh oooooh......... About half our budget is supported by DW's pension and my SS. She's an English major who attended a small, private liberal arts college and a card carrying member of POEM. We think the cost of her degree was worth it, but apparently not.

Do we have to give up our FIRE status and go back to w*rk? I'd hate that! In fact, I think I've forgotten how to w*rk.
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True. I have talked to so many of my daughters friends who were history, english or social work majors...that are not finding jobs...that their plight just sticks in my mind.
Some did and do have a plan and a degree that easily converted to a job.

Youbet.... no, you don't have to go back to work... but look at what sheehs says...

Those majors do not have a lot of jobs just waiting for them to be filled at a high salary... sure, there are jobs out there and some will get paid a lot..

But let me ask... what degree does your DH have? Where did she work to get that pension? If she was in education, then things are changing in that field... if something else... well, can't comment without knowledge...


And as you pointed out in your last post.... the person themselves have a lot to do with success no matter what degree they have... I have met people who were managers or in some decent paying jobs with history degree.... but it was not in a history field... I asked one guy about it (when I was still in HS) and he said 'a college degree is just the cost to get in, it does not matter what it is'...
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:28 PM   #33
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And as you pointed out in your last post.... the person themselves have a lot to do with success no matter what degree they have....
Exactly. My comments were only poking fun because you called out Lit and History as career dooming majors. As we seem to agree, it's more the person.

One of the recruitment and talent utilization mistakes I observed happening while I was w*orking was when MegaCorp demanded very specific degrees in filling jobs. I fought this a number of times and had some success in getting people with non-traditional degrees or no degree into positions which staffing had identified as calling for very specific degrees.

One of the brightest and most successful engineers I worked with had a BSEET from a for profit school. At our MegaCorp, the "t" at the end of the degree frequently doomed the person to a technician role, seldom advancing to engineering. Despite the non-traditional degree, this person's accomplishments in both technical feats and leadership brought me significant rewards as his manager and he made millions and millions for MegaCorp. Yet, HR scoulded me for allowing a non BSEE to be promoted to his level (Engineering Manager).

Our economy and our country would benefit from a more flexible attitude in recruiting and promoting people who are smart, hard working and have the necessary skills even if they don't hold exactly the right sheepskin.
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:54 PM   #34
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This hardly qualifies as news but it is in the Wall Street Journal.

Generation Jobless: Students Pick Easier Majors Despite Less Pay

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Biyan Zhou wanted to major in engineering. Her mother and her academic adviser also wanted her to major in it, given the apparent career opportunities for engineers in a tough job market.

But during her sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University, Ms. Zhou switched her major from electrical and computer engineering to a double major in psychology and policy management. Workers who majored in psychology have median earnings that are $38,000 below those of computer engineering majors, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by Georgetown University.

Time will tell if the poor job market persuaded more students to push into disciplines such as engineering and science. Although the number of college graduates increased about 29% between 2001 and 2009, the number graduating with engineering degrees only increased 19%, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Education. The number with computer and information-sciences degrees decreased 14%. Since students typically set their majors during their sophomore year, the first class that chose their major in the midst of the recession graduated this year.
This is always discouraging to see the number of CS major continues to fall each year, and bet if you eliminate foreign students, and children of immigrants it looks even worse.

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For 22-year-old Ms. Zhou, from Miami, the last straw was a project for one of her second-year courses that kept her and her partner in the lab well past midnight for several days. Their task was to program a soda machine. Though she and her partner managed to make it dispense the right items, they couldn't get it to give the correct change. To avoid getting an "incomplete" for the course, Ms. Zhou withdrew before the lab ended. Since switching majors she has earned almost straight A's instead of the B's and C's she took home in engineering.



Science classes may also require more time—something U.S. college students may not be willing to commit. In a recent study, sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia found that the average U.S. student in their sample spent only about 12 to 13 hours a week studying, about half the time spent by students in 1960. They found that math and science—though not engineering—students study on average about three hours more per week than their non-science-major counterparts.
I know this sounds like get off my lawn, but I really have zero sympathy for students. Gee past midnight for several days, one of my upper division Computer Science class required us signing paper that this course would require at least 20 hours of homework a week and that the final project would might require 200 hours (fortunately it was only 100 hours). 12-13 hours of studying/week is just crazy, the kids are only in class for what 3 or 4 hours a day. I always thought that every hour of lecture should have 2 hours of homework associated with it and typically 3 for STEM course.
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:24 PM   #35
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It's hard to predict how things will turn out: sometimes dumb choices lead to good outcomes. For example, I went to a pricey liberal arts college, and majored in philosophy. I didn't give a lot of thought to career at the time (obviously), but just followed my interests and hoped for the best. Eventually, as life caught up with me, I did start to care about money and career and all those practical aspects of life. Fortunately, I was able to transition to software development within a couple years, without any formal training or additional tuition.

As I look back on my undergraduate education, I actually feel very lucky that I chose in the irresponsible way that I did. I know a lot of people in my current field who never got the chance to explore what interested them. They did what they were supposed to do, but now feel trapped and frustrated.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:21 PM   #36
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You really have to look at the present value of a lifetime of higher earning potential vs. the opportunity cost of foregoing full time work for ~4 years and paying for school (whether funded out of pocket or by loans).

I have seen estimates that college equals $600k to a million in increased earning potential.
I've seen similar estimates, and to me they don't do much good. We know that college grads make more than HS grads. We don't know how much of the difference comes from what they learned in college vs. the personal characteristics they had before they started (brains, ambition). Would those characteristics lead to good results without the expense of a degree?

It's easy for me to say a kid who can get an engineering degree from MIT should go to college. But most kids in that position don't spend much time fretting about whether they should to go.

I'm thinking about the average student that never enjoyed school that much and who can't get accepted at a selective school. Would that person do better financially someplace else? That's a much harder and more important question to me.

AFAIK, nobody has done the research that looks at mediocre students, corrects for as many non-school factors as possible, then compares financial results as they take different paths. It's surprising to me that I can't find it. Maybe somebody here has seen that type of research.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:57 PM   #37
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I've seen similar estimates, and to me they don't do much good. We know that college grads make more than HS grads. We don't know how much of the difference comes from what they learned in college vs. the personal characteristics they had before they started (brains, ambition). Would those characteristics lead to good results without the expense of a degree?
Ok, I see what you are saying now. Controlling for all those factors, does college still pay off? I don't really have a good answer and it seems like a very complicated study. Would be a good read though.

I guess a college degree is sort of like an insurance policy for some. It is the key to a half way decent office job of some sort, one that usually has benefits. Sure, some will say a college degree doesn't guarantee a job any more these days. But I see plenty of entry level jobs that seem like drudge work to me, but come with a decent pay check and benefits. Often, a college degree is required. It can be 2 years at a community college doing college transfer credits and 2 more years at Podunk East West South State University majoring in Film Studies. But it has to be a bachelor's degree. One particular area this is prevalent is government employment.

In addition, so many hiring departments are inundated with resumes such that even if a BS or BA isn't required, they may filter out non college grads when they start reviewing resumes to have a more manageable number to review.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:07 PM   #38
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Honestly...

I'm so tired of the level of whining and lack of responsibility of the current generation.

I'm 29 so I feel like I have a pretty good perspective to be able to say way too many people under 25 are useless whiny future dead weights of society.

If you pick a useless major and live off loans for 4 years while you "experience college life" well accept the consequences.

$25k avg debt isn't anything if the median starting income is $53k...

If idiots stop paying $50k for art degrees they won't cost $50k...
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:35 PM   #39
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I was an engineering manager at a megacorp before I retired last year. I hired several engineers over the years and also had many conversations with hiring managers for other positions.

The consensus was that a college degree was a requirement to be considered for any entry level manager position. The general feeling was that the more highly qualified people (with high initative, work ethic, and ability to learn new skills) would find a way to get a degree.

We all knew that there were qualified people without degrees. However, the feeling was that we would find more qualified people in a pool of degreed candidates than in the same number of people who didn't have degrees. A lot of this was self selection. Highly motivated, high initiative, smart people will find a way to get a degree.

Lorne
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:32 PM   #40
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I was an engineering manager at a megacorp before I retired last year. I hired several engineers over the years and also had many conversations with hiring managers for other positions.

The consensus was that a college degree was a requirement to be considered for any entry level manager position. The general feeling was that the more highly qualified people (with high initative, work ethic, and ability to learn new skills) would find a way to get a degree.

We all knew that there were qualified people without degrees. However, the feeling was that we would find more qualified people in a pool of degreed candidates than in the same number of people who didn't have degrees. A lot of this was self selection. Highly motivated, high initiative, smart people will find a way to get a degree.

Lorne
I have to mostly agree with this. The degree typically was/is the 1st leg to getting the interview for most "salaried/exempt jobs with certain industries.
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