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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the getting-your-degree dept.

Education 281

An anonymous reader writes "The wisdom of getting a college degree and saddling yourself with a huge amount of debt has been called into question recently, but not by Eric Schmidt. The Google Chairman says it's still worth it, noting that: 'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.' From the article: 'When asked about the difficulty in paying for college, Schmidt was adamant: "I appreciate it's expensive and we need to fix that," he said, but "figure out a way to do it." One potential problem with Schmidt's statement is that it was an argument for the average student. It may be more advantageous for students at the bottom and top quartiles of the talent distribution to go straight into the workforce (or get vocational training). Case in point, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and I don't think anybody would say he made a mistake.'"

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He didn't make a mistake? (5, Insightful)

Moof123 (1292134) | about 6 months ago | (#46500577)

With hindsight Zuckerberg made no mistake. But for every Zuckerberg who drops out and makes Billions anyway, there many more with equally good ideas that tried a similar path, and through worse luck ended up going bust. Anecdotes are not data.

Going bust not unique to drop-outs (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46500611)

there many more with equally good ideas that tried a similar path, and through worse luck ended up going bust.

But they at least had the experience of running a business. There are PLENTY more people that finished college, amassed crippling debt, and ALSO went bust - only they ended up with a degree that had no value for getting a job, and debt that is impossible to discharge. At least the dropout who failed had a debt that could be shed in bankruptcy, if they even amassed debt to run a business!

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46500779)

All genuine degrees have value in getting a job. Some more than others, for sure. But put a candidate who has a degree up against an otherwise similar one who doesn't and the one with a degree has the advantage.

Not only the advantage of a line on their CV. But the practical advantage of the skills they've gained, and the character that has been built. These will help them with the job search and interview.

Of course if they are applying for a job very much below their level, the degree candidate may be rejected as "over qualified". But that just means they are applying for inappropriate jobs. Or perhaps more likely that they simply didn't interview well and it was an easy excuse for the employer.

Experience running and business and going bankrupt is going to count for far less, when subsequently seeking employment. And may even be a negative.

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (2, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 6 months ago | (#46500827)

Not really.

There are people smarter than myself without degrees. There are morons who have master degrees who I had to let go because they are book smarts but can't do shit in the real world without the deer in the headlights look when independent analysis and goals are needed.

A degree you get an outrageously expensive education yes. You learn some cool things. But in a down economy it means you get that internship or entry level job with the foot in that door. While HR ignores you unless you have many years of experience and letters of recommendation even for the most basic entry level jobs today.

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46500913)

There are people smarter than myself without degrees.

Sure. And in most cases they'd do better than they do with a degree.

There are morons who have master degrees who I had to let go because they are book smarts but can't do shit in the real world without the deer in the headlights look when independent analysis and goals are needed.

Sure, but they wouldn't be better had they not got a degree.

But in a down economy it means you get that internship or entry level job with the foot in that door. While HR ignores you unless you have many years of experience and letters of recommendation even for the most basic entry level jobs today.

Right, there comes a point at which your work experience becomes more important than the degree. But the point is you are at an advantage in getting that necessary experience if you start out with a degree. For people too young to have an outstanding working history, that HR door is solidly closed.

If it's hard right now for young people with degrees to get a worthwhile job, it's massively harder for young people without a degree.

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 6 months ago | (#46501049)

Depends wether you can get a job quickly enough.. If you go straight into work instead of taking out several years studying then you will build experience sooner. Of course the situation is different for everyone.

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46501083)

Work experience at the level of a 18-21 year old is going to be less important than a degree. Especially in the current economy. Flipping burgers, filing or bar work doesn't count for much.

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 6 months ago | (#46501251)

There are people smarter than myself without degrees. There are morons who have master degrees who I had to let go because they are book smarts but can't do shit in the real world without the deer in the headlights look when independent analysis and goals are needed.

You can always find people both better and worse than you at everything, both from the pool of "amateurs" and from supposed experts. Just a fact of life.

I'll take a bold stance and say right up front that you get out of college what you put into it - If you want, you really can get a solid education even from a crap college; and on the flip side of that, you can sleep your way through quite a few majors and still end up with a degree. That said - On average, I would say a college degree proves one, and only one, thing about you - That you had the ability to learn enough, and follow directions enough, to complete the basic requirements of that degree... And that already puts you in the top third of applicants, even if you smoked your way through a humanities major.

Now, as watered down as that may sound, I don't mean it as quite that weak of a stance - In practice, the real world will never require 90% of what you learned in college, and college didn't teach you 90% of what you need for a real job. College does not, and should not, equal vocational training. It (can) give you the foundation you need to excel, and demonstrates to employers that you at least don't count as a complete waste of flesh. Anything more than that - Pure cake.

Over time, not so sure (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46501117)

All genuine degrees have value in getting a job....But the practical advantage of the skills they've gained, and the character that has been built.

I personally think all degrees of any kind can have value in getting a job - but not many have value equal to the expense it took to get the degree.

The problem is that a degree itself matters more to getting a job very short term - say three to five years after the degree. After that point what matters more is skill and "character" as you say.

But both skill and character are easily accumulated without amassing college debt. And lack of debt gives a young person a lot more choice in how they can gain skill and build character, in a lot of cases if someone applied themselves they could easily be in a better position to get a job at the time most people are leaving college, than the college graduate would just after leaving school.

Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | about 6 months ago | (#46501153)

At some point in your career, everyone is their own snowflake. I'm never going to compete against a candidate that is my equal in every other way but has a degree.

I'm fortunate to be a programmer, though, because it's one of the few industries that has woken up and seen what a worthless institution our higher education system has become.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 6 months ago | (#46500619)

Yeah, holding up examples of successful dropouts like Zuckerberg and drawing inferences from that is nothing more than confirmation bias. It's well established that, looking at the overall population, college grads earn more than non-grads. It's probably also true, overall, that college grads are happier with their jobs than non-grads (although I'm too lazy to look that up). I wouldn't be surprised if they live longer as well, given they probably have better health care.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (3, Insightful)

Alorelith (118865) | about 6 months ago | (#46500673)

True, and don't forget, there are still a fair number of affordable schools across the country if one is willing to relocate for it. Not every university in the USA costs $20,000 a year. And I'd imagine that in other countries where higher education is much cheaper or "free" that this whole argument of return on investment is silly.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (3, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about 6 months ago | (#46500907)

All of this is only because employers might be assigning worth to degrees that may not actually be there.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

Alorelith (118865) | about 6 months ago | (#46500653)

Wait a minute, are you implying that because the article gave us an anecdote of a single person who got wealthy after dropping out of university, that that wouldn't necessarily be the case for the vast majority of people? You're implying that for a large portion of the population that a university degree still creates a lot of opportunity? Strange... I think I'll believe the summary over your logic!

I'd say that even for the bottom in the talent category (mind you I'm not talking the REALLY bottom, as those are hopeless cases), a college or university degree from an affordable school is ultimately worthwhile. If it's a degree that can get you somewhere, that is.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46500671)

"With hindsight Zuckerberg made no mistake. But for every Zuckerberg who drops out and makes Billions anyway, there many more with equally good ideas that tried a similar path, and through worse luck ended up going bust. Anecdotes are not data."

And I'm wondering why OP places Zuckerberg in "the top quartile of talent". He's an unscrupulous guy who got lucky and made a fortune from a website made in PHP, built on an idea he stole from someone else.

So what?

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501381)

I agree. And did he dropout before or after he had a successful enterprise going? And did he utilize any of the resources/education available at Harvard to begin said enterprise? The answer to those questions is "yes", so I really don't see how he is an example of successful-but-didnt-go-to-college... because he did.

Mod parent up! (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 6 months ago | (#46500685)

The entire article is stupid. And the Zuckerberg example was just the worst stupidity in it.

"I appreciate it's expensive and we need to fix that," he said, but "figure out a way to do it."

Those two statements have ZERO correlation with each other.

Going into debt for college is EASY. There's no need to "figure out a way to do it". You sign the loan papers and take the classes.

The problem is paying off that loan AFTER you leave college. Whether via graduation or because you cannot get anyone to give you any more debt to finish.

It may be more advantageous for students at the bottom and top quartiles of the talent distribution to go straight into the workforce (or get vocational training).

Again, wrong. Talent only applies to the top percentage. And even then it is VERY risky.

If you don't have the talent then you don't have the talent. That has nothing to do with skipping college.

FUNDING is the reason to skip college and hit votech. If your family cannot afford to pay for college then votech might be your best option. Why start this generation with massive debt that you might not be able to pay off? Start saving for your child's education.

Re:Mod parent up! (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 6 months ago | (#46500873)

Why start this generation with massive debt that you might not be able to pay off?

That was the point of the first statement you were arguing against, the student loan thing in the US is what he wants to "fix". Believe it or not there are countries where you don't need take out a massive loan to get a degree. Here in Oz the government pays 75%, you pay the rest as a small weekly surcharge on your income tax, but only after it reaches a certain level. If you don't gain financially from the degree when you go back into the work force, it costs nothing. Of course if everyone had a degree then they would be worthless, so rather than limit student numbers with the cost of entry, the universities in Oz limit numbers on ability alone.

Re:Mod parent up! (1)

kesuki (321456) | about 6 months ago | (#46501395)

in the corporate federation of America, college loans are government guaranteed but the debt themselves can never be bankrupted on and can be garnished with a few small exceptions. but it doesn't worry the rich, because they have millions of dollars and their kids only go to elite schools and if they have student loans it is because of their parents plan to not give them a free ride.
and in the corporate federation of America as long as the rich are safe and sound there is no reason to worry.

Re:Mod parent up! (3, Interesting)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 6 months ago | (#46501485)

Of course if everyone had a degree then they would be worthless, so rather than limit student numbers with the cost of entry, the universities in Oz limit numbers on ability alone.

This is not true. If everyone had a degree society would be much more efficient and productive. There is never a downside to more education (except maybe the cost). I have a feeling "Oz" is limiting student numbers due to cost as well.

Re:Mod parent up! (4, Informative)

exomondo (1725132) | about 6 months ago | (#46500911)

The problem is paying off that loan AFTER you leave college.

The Australian system seems to work very well. Their degrees are government-funded loans that are only subject to interest based on inflation and I believe you pay it back by your employer deducting repayments from your pre-tax income after you start earning over a specified threshold (which I think is somewhere in the $45k region). The amount of your repayments is calculated and adjusted based on your income but you do get additional discounts for paying off lump sums yourself.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 6 months ago | (#46500817)

If you watched the movie social network his former partner and early CFO stayed in school and did an internship in New York. As a result he was terminated and lost all his shares.

Facebook made no money at all back then so he viewed it as kind of cool, but internships is where I need to be as this thing probably wont take off etc.

What if Facebook ended up like Friendster and the other failures? Maybe the former partner in The Social network would be Zuckerbergs boss as he he would filing paperwork since he lacks a degree for any real job.

It is a risk basically. Play it safe you can loose plat it risky you loose even more! If you are not risk adverse and do not give a shit then go for it but do not be surprised if you end up like many many others who failed.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 6 months ago | (#46500925)

He sued and made more money in the lawsuit than he could spend in a lifetime. He still won.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 6 months ago | (#46500947)

How much would he be worth if he remained onboard and had his shares bought out when Zuckerberg sold his?

The lawsuit was never disclosed. Since he probably did not have tens of millions my guess is he settled for mere 6 figures or maybe a 1 million or 2. Still 30% of 20,000,000,000 is a pittance even if he did actually receive a multi million dollar pay out.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46501227)

The lawsuit was never disclosed. Since he probably did not have tens of millions my guess is he settled for mere 6 figures or maybe a 1 million or 2.

Your guess would be wrong. Eduardo Saverin currently has a net worth of about 2.2 BILLION dollars [wikipedia.org] .

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501247)

If Facebook had ended up like Friendster, Zuckerberg would still be founder of a startup and would still be very likely to end up indpendently wealthy if one of his post-Facebook startups hadn't hit a home run yet. Look up Jonathan Abrams and what he's been doing since Friendster. Founding and running a company like Friendster is a huge feather in your cap even if it fails spectacularly. The major leaguers who have their hits caught in the outfield go on to play another game and eventually score a run. It's only the people who aren't even players that think it's bad.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501127)

In other words: he did make a mistake, it's only he was incredibly lucky.

Don't base your life strategy on sheer luck, you won't be another Zuckerberg.

Re:He didn't make a mistake? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501839)

he WENT to college vs not even going
big difference

Fuck off and die. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500579)

Schmidt needs to fuck off and die. He as fucking annoying as Ballmer. The world would be done a great service if they were to hang them selves. Immediately.

You are not Mark Zuckerberg (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500581)

And not every drop-out is going to build a Facebook/Apple/Microsoft.
They are the exception, so for most people, the best advice is to "stay in school".

Old thinking. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500595)

'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.'

That has been true in the past.

And, let's take the bottom line: let's say it IS true and you have "significant compound greater earnings." - if you are straddled with obscene student debt while working at a shitty retail job, your net is going to be less than if you worked as a plumber [yahoo.com] let's say.

And let's stop this crap about how all unemployed college graduates majored in English or some other liberal or fine arts. EVERY major is having issues with employment in this economy.

Don't think CS grads are having issues (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46500629)

And let's stop this crap about how all unemployed college graduates majored in English or some other liberal or fine arts. EVERY major is having issues with employment in this economy.

From what I can tell that simply is not true. CS majors are not having issues finding jobs. It doesn't seem like engineering majors are either. If you learn a valuable skill you can still find a job.

Re:Don't think CS grads are having issues (2)

Alorelith (118865) | about 6 months ago | (#46500717)

Nope, if one is willing to relocate, engineering jobs are pretty plentiful and well-paying. If you go the route that I did (tech school -> four-year degree), it's in many ways even easier to get a job and much cheaper.

And frankly that's all this topic seems to be about. Cost of college vs return in lifetime wages. If that's the argument, then one should strive to lower the former while still gaining the skills and know-how, and then try to raise the latter. Of course many will argue that that is not the point of higher education, and I would agree to some extent but the reality in many peoples' minds is that school pays off in wealth.

What he's really saying (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 months ago | (#46500603)

If you go to the schools we like, major in what we like and are good enough to work for a company like us, it's still worth it. However, if you are John Smith Liberal Arts major at Typical State University, you've just guaranteed that four to five years of partying will result in at least a decade of misery assuming you can even make enough to pay it off.

Re:What he's really saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500649)

you've just guaranteed that four to five years of partying will result in at least a decade of misery assuming you can even make enough to pay it off.

If you just spend college as four or five years of partying: (a) that's an expensive party to go to; and (b) you aren't learning the stuff you need.

College isn't just "pay us, we'll make you awesome". It's supposed to be hard work. Life is hard. You can do the hard work now, or you can do it later.

Re:What he's really saying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500735)

I went to (at the time) a top 100 school for engineering. I had 200K loans to pay off, but it's still worth it. I'll pay them off ~35 years of age and do OK.

Re:What he's really saying (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500787)

An Ivy League education's greatest value is partying with well-connected rich people who are obviously going to spend their entire lives well-connected and rich. Earning the friendship of these people makes you well-connected, and eventually rich.

Beyond that, the advantage-creating quality of higher education has dissipated as it has become ubiquitous. It has ceased to be a differentiator in the market, meaning ever-increasing numbers of graduates are failing to land those high-paying awesome jobs that higher education used to guarantee. Instead, either the salaries and perks of those jobs has been reduced in response to high labor supply, or the graduates get run over by droves of competitors, and wind up leaving their industry (for mediocre pay, of course).

The high expense of education does not prevent any of this, since student loans just cover it. It actually makes things better for employers all-around, because the labor market winds up saturated with well-educated workers who are desperate to get out of a life-crushing debt that survives bankruptcy.

Re:What he's really saying (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 6 months ago | (#46500881)

An Ivy League education's greatest value is partying with well-connected rich people who are obviously going to spend their entire lives well-connected and rich. Earning the friendship of these people makes you well-connected, and eventually rich.

So George W. Bush was right to spend his time at Yale and Harvard partying, getting drunk, and smoking pot, rather than studying business management and boring old wars.

Re:What he's really saying (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46501063)

Bush was one of the well connected rich people others went to Yale and Harvard to meet, same as the Kennedys and John Kerry; except Bush did better in school.

Re:What he's really saying (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#46501071)

I seem to recall some numbers that the differential value of a college degree is actually highest outside of STEM. Can't seem to find them again, but would be interesting to look at.

It makes sense if you think of it from the "negative" side: how do you fare looking for a job without a degree? If you are looking for tech jobs, a degree is valuable but you can still get a good job without one: CS degrees are not required for all tech jobs, not even all six-figure tech jobs. The incremental value of being a programmer vs. being a programmer with a degree is positive but modest.

But if you are looking for non-tech jobs without even having a liberal-arts degree, then you are effectively hosed. All those mid-five-figure white-collar administrative jobs in a typical Fortune 500 company are filled by people with liberal-arts degrees. Why? Because companies find it a useful filter. Not perfect, but better than nothing: if you want to select for "likely to be a decent employee, show up on time, follow directions, write English sentences coherently", and you have 50 applicants with degrees and 50 without, you just pick someone out of the 50 who have a degree.

Re:What he's really saying (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46501469)

I seem to recall some numbers that the differential value of a college degree is actually highest outside of STEM.

I know of no study that has found that. If you google for "value of college degree by major" you will find plenty of references that show STEM degrees are the best investment. This study [georgetown.edu] found that petroleum engineering is the best paying major, and psychology the worst, with other STEM degrees clustered at the top, and other non-STEM degrees clustered at the bottom. The best non-STEM degree is business.

Re:What he's really saying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501241)

What he really means is: Go to college and saddle yourself with massive debt, so that when you graduate and come to Google looking for a job, you'll be so desperate for income to pay that debt that Google can really low-ball you on salary and you'll be happy about it.

Re:What he's really saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501329)

If you go to the schools we like, major in what we like and are good enough to work for a company like us, it's still worth it. However, if you are John Smith Liberal Arts major at Typical State University, you've just guaranteed that four to five years of partying will result in at least a decade of misery assuming you can even make enough to pay it off.

Holy shit +5 insightful? Slashdot is turning pretty anti-intellectual these days :(

Re:What he's really saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501775)

To be like them you also need to be white and male.

Re:What he's really saying (1)

fermion (181285) | about 6 months ago | (#46501835)

I was listening to a converstaion between aTeach for America and a student teacher at the store the other day. They were talking about how hard it was to teach. One complained that a student walked in when she was student teaching and yelled 'Party!'. This seemed to really make the student teacher think twice about teaching. Seriously, if you are going to be a teacher you need to know these are kids. The don't have a lot of impulse control. That is one of the things you are supposed to be teaching. You need to be at school everyday, if possible. The kids need to set consistent boundaries that only you, not a sub, can set. So here is the problem. Good experienced teachers are being replaced with teachers who are just going to put in their two years and then get free graduate school. These 'teachers' have no incentive to build the trade craft of teaching, to learn how to manage themselves so they can model proper behavior to students. Watching a first year teacher, no matter how good they are, is like watching a train wreck. Watching a teacher who has been at it for 20 or 30 years is usually a thing of beauty. Not to the student who tends to prefer inexperienced teacher who cannot encourage them to do anything meaningful, but to someone who knows what is going on, it is. And realize that many of the people teaching the people like TFA have only a few years experience in the classroom

Quartile is bigger than Zuck (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500615)

The reason even the top quartile needs to stay in school... is because even the top quartile person writing the lead doesn't understand that top quartile and top whatever Zuckerberg would be aren't the same. And not that Zuckerberg isn't smart, but he got insanely lucky with something that dozens or hundreds of other companies tried, but failed to do.... dropping out after you've already had your low probability event is an easy call. Doing it prior isn't supported by any analysis.

Is this why companies like Google go after young e (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500631)

Successful products need not only entrepreneurship but also knowledge to build. Often the kind of knowledge that one needs to invest many years of their lives to acquire.

Both (3, Informative)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 6 months ago | (#46500633)

The best college students are also self educating students. In order to make best use of college training a few students have great histories of forcing all kinds of self education upon themselves. The great scholars can not be stopped. A kid who is a born scholar who is isolated in a tiny village with poor schools will still somehow find a way to learn. These are the personalities that we need the most as a nation.

Re:Both (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 6 months ago | (#46501471)

Probably true, but being successful without a diploma still takes some luck.

A good example might be Josh Parnell, the developer of Limit Theory (URL:http://ltheory.com/).
The guy seems to be quite brilliant, and I believe he is capable of pulling off his plans for a space game with an unprecedented amount of procedural generation. But he still got lucky in finding enough backers for his Kickstarter.

Another thing we can learn from Josh's example is that it may not be necessary to drop out of college. He wrote that he put his studies at Stanford on hold, with the option of continuing later.

Mark and Bill (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | about 6 months ago | (#46500681)

Case in point, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and I don't think anybody would say he made a mistake.

True, but for every Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, there are probably hundreds of others who drop out of college and never make anything of it.

Just because a small few did well out of it, doesn't automatically mean that everyone will.

Re:Mark and Bill (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 6 months ago | (#46501097)

Bill Gates himself even says that he's a dumb example of a college dropout. Not only because the odds of following his trajectory are small, but because he was basically at the point of graduating when Microsoft blew up. Had Microsoft gotten its big break 6 months later, he would've graduated, but it got big and he ran with it. He didn't drop out and then roll the dice.

While IN college.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500699)

Zuckerberg met the group of people that created Facebook, and came up with the idea IN college, to solve a problem they discovered while AT college.....

Case in point is worse than meaningless (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 6 months ago | (#46500701)

Wow, one whole case. How many people are extremely successful that are college educated vs not college educated? One out success out of millions of non-college-educated is utterly meaningless, and to bring it up without additional context is intentionally misleading and deceptive. How about citing the percentage of people making 7 figures or more that are college educated vs. not?

Re:Case in point is worse than meaningless (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46500975)

There are at least three numbers which are critical to the calculation of whether college is worth it or not. One is what percentage of successful people are college-educated, one is what percentage of college-educated people are successful, and the last one is what percentage of college-educated people actually applied their education to their life. I have none of these numbers, and you'd have to rely on survey responses for a study asking these questions, so it would probably be a jerkoff waste of time. But the question is much more complex than you suggest.

Re:Case in point is worse than meaningless (1)

djchristensen (472087) | about 6 months ago | (#46501509)

More importantly, who thinks Zuckerberg would be where he is if he had gone to vocational school or straight to work out of high school? Not finishing college is a very different thing from not going in the first pace. I don't disagree that college is not the best choice for some, but holding up Zuckerberg as an example is just stupid.

Let them eat cake (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 6 months ago | (#46500703)

Billionaire says "figure out a way to" pay for it. Meanwhile, he will be figuring out ways to collude with other companies to keep your salary low [mashable.com] and to bring in thousands of people from Asia [go.com] to compete with you for jobs [entrepreneur.com] .

Re:Let them eat cake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501659)

With all due respect: if you make such argument, you are unlikely to have been affected by said collusion.

Ummmm? (2, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 6 months ago | (#46500705)

" Case in point, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and I don't think anybody would say he made a mistake.'"

This would imply that Facebook is not a mistake...

Lies, damn lies, and statistics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500709)

'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.'

'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime _statistically_ produces significant compound greater earnings.'

There, fixed that for you.

I learned a lot from school (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 6 months ago | (#46500713)

Even though I am in a technical position I decided to major in business. I now know the mindset of accountants, finance, and management. I can speak and understand the language. If I want to progress my small business I know what an asset and a liability is and how to setup books.

For my electives in computer science I learned what object oriented programming truly is outside what I read on slashdot and books. I know what algorithms are and real time means. I may not even have that much as a real computer science major but I recieved an education.

When the economy tanked after I graduated no one would hire me except for one temp contract job. It required a degree and that is how I got it. Without that I would be substitute teaching and working fast food at night to make up for my crappy wages.

Those who argue I DO NOT NEED A DEGREE got in in 1999 when you didn't need one. If you are one of these try being born 15 years later and getting a job today? ... no degree? How does $12/hr aka 20,000 a year sound? Great! Here is a set of headphones and go read this script at the techexpo call center etc. Make sure you mommy reminds you not to be late since we do not pay you enough to move out etc. That my friends is what the economic reality is today regardless of skillsets if you have no experience or education. Programming wont mean shit as HR will throw out your resume if it is not work related somehow.

Point is the degree is required in 2014 to get your foot in the door unless you feel working at techexpo call center can get a you a programming job as that and GeekSquad is all you are going to get.

Re:I learned a lot from school (2)

rampant mac (561036) | about 6 months ago | (#46500847)

Those who argue I DO NOT NEED A DEGREE got in in 1999 when you didn't need one. If you are one of these try being born 15 years later and getting a job today? ... no degree? How does $12/hr aka 20,000 a year sound? Great!

It's funny you broke everything down that way, because that's pretty much my life. Except it's not and I don't have a degree.

See, I joined the military in 1992 and quickly learned the technical side of my vocation since it was always mostly OJT in the first place. In between I took a few college courses here and there, and after I got out of the military I went to college full-time. Back then the GI Bill covered $12,500 for college tuition, which in 1997 was around 3 semesters at the school I attended. I never finished and dropped out while I was just starting my junior year.

After a few temp jobs I found myself landing a position as a civilian with the government! It was structured exactly like the military was, with the lower paid employees being the worker bees, and middle management being your average NCO. The "upper" management staff were your E-7's and above, with CO's managing them all.

I'm a product of the system - If you're young like I was when I started and were able to move around, promotions came quickly. I went from 25k a year in 2001 to 45k a year in 2008. 20k in 7 years isn't too bad! I kept my eye open on places to move to that had low cost of living expenses, and now I'm working at a job that pays me 60k a year when the average family takes home 50k. I bought my house here for 97k and with the monthly payment of $460, I'll have it paid off before I turn 50.

I still haven't gotten my degree yet, but I'm working on it.

You don't need a degree, you just need to be smart.

Re:I learned a lot from school (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 6 months ago | (#46500891)

"Back then the GI Bill covered $12,500 for college tuition, which in 1997 was around 3 semesters at the school I attended. ...You don't need a degree, you just need to be smart."

You just proved my point. The 1990's HR would hire you if you had anything technical on a resume that was 1 page.

Today there are people with 8 years experience who have been out of work for awhile who are desperate to make $30,000 a year since unemployment is about ready to go away.

In a recession/depression you compete for jobs. In a boom of the 1950's/1990's jobs compete for you! I am sure you have headhunters calling you today and the answer to this is you have many years of experience and solid references.

Also I can't buy a house today and even renting an apartment is hard. Why? I owe $40,000 in student loans. FYI I did 2 years at a community college to save momey. College is much much more expensive in today than in the 1990s. Try a good 400% more.

Back in 2002 - 2006 you could get a home easily. Not true today.

I am not whining or complaining as my wages are gradually increasing. But no I do not have it as good and it is requiring a lot more work today. Without a degree working at a call center or stocking electronics at TigerDirect is your only future as no one will take a chance when there are 3 to 4 people with them for ever job opening.

Re:I learned a lot from school (-1, Flamebait)

rampant mac (561036) | about 6 months ago | (#46501513)

"Back then the GI Bill covered $12,500 for college tuition, which in 1997 was around 3 semesters at the school I attended. ...You don't need a degree, you just need to be smart."

You just proved my point. The 1990's HR would hire you if you had anything technical on a resume that was 1 page.

Today there are people with 8 years experience who have been out of work for awhile who are desperate to make $30,000 a year since unemployment is about ready to go away.

In a recession/depression you compete for jobs. In a boom of the 1950's/1990's jobs compete for you! I am sure you have headhunters calling you today and the answer to this is you have many years of experience and solid references.

Also I can't buy a house today and even renting an apartment is hard. Why? I owe $40,000 in student loans. FYI I did 2 years at a community college to save momey. College is much much more expensive in today than in the 1990s. Try a good 400% more.

Back in 2002 - 2006 you could get a home easily. Not true today.

I am not whining or complaining as my wages are gradually increasing. But no I do not have it as good and it is requiring a lot more work today. Without a degree working at a call center or stocking electronics at TigerDirect is your only future as no one will take a chance when there are 3 to 4 people with them for ever job opening.

No retard, no. You stated "Those who argue I DO NOT NEED A DEGREE got in in 1999 when you didn't need one."

I started in civil service in 2001. 2 years after your bold and blanket statement.

I like how you highlighted the fact that I was in college in 1997 though.

Re:I learned a lot from school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501665)

I think you are showing the real reason why you dropped out of college, unless you want us to believe that three semesters of college took you four years to complete. On second thought. I do believe you.

Re:I learned a lot from school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501023)

In most companies, if you get hired into a position within the top 3 levels of management, you'd looking at a few hundred thousand a year (+ perhaps a bonus of mid 6-figures). You don't need "connections" to get to those spots, but in most situations, you do need a degree (and work experience) that will impress folks. The only folks who can get away without having a degree are the founders of said corporations (e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, etc.), or close friends of very upper management---the rest of the high earners get hired via the usual method, based on education/qualifications, etc.

E.g. Facebook is ran by a college dropout. I bet most Facebook officers, early employees, and current employees have degrees, with large proportion in masters and PhD category.

In other words, if you want to get into upper middle class territory, it is much easier with a degree than without.

Re:I learned a lot from school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500859)

Foot in the door to what, a higher tax bracket?

Re:I learned a lot from school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501719)

Still earn more money even if you are in the higher tax bracket.

Re:I learned a lot from school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501569)

$27k, jackass.

Not everyone requires $40k+ to be happy.

watch out when looking at longitudinal stats (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500723)

Also, one can't look at the lifetime earnings of people in their 40s or 50s to do this analysis. the question facing the high school graduate today is a looking forward one, not "what was the effect of choosing college or not in 1970-1980". In 1970 the job market was very different today. Manufacturing and similar jobs which did not require a degree were still a large part of the market. Today, there's many fewer non-degree jobs beyond the "would you like fries with that". (Not that a degree is required for most of those degree required jobs, but it's a easy discriminant for which resumes/applications to throw in the trash).

There is also a HUGE effect on life time earnings from what you made in your very first job, which in turn is very much affected by the overall economy. Be unlucky enough to graduate in a recession when pay is low and you are literally cursed for life. Most companies ignore issues of "internal equity" and pay wages for new hires based on what it costs to get someone today, and do not readjust wages of employees already working there as the market goes up and down. This has the advantage that it tends to damp out wild fluctuations, but it also means that employees aren't really paid "market rate" at any given time. There is also a significant cost for an employee to change employers: that is, if you're doing "ok" at your current employer, you require a substantial increase in pay to change jobs to make up for the overall inconvenience and financial penalty in changing jobs. (Unless you're unlucky enough to change jobs because of a spouse or moving, etc.)

Upshot is that statistics like "college graduates make X million more in their life" are very, very suspect when predicting future market behavior.

Re:watch out when looking at longitudinal stats (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 6 months ago | (#46501047)

Also, one can't look at the lifetime earnings of people in their 40s or 50s to do this analysis. the question facing the high school graduate today is a looking forward one, not "what was the effect of choosing college or not in 1970-1980". In 1970 the job market was very different today. Manufacturing and similar jobs which did not require a degree were still a large part of the market.

That's true. I read a classic analysis of inequality in the U.S. (sorry I can't remember the citation), which concluded that for people from the lower classes, a college degree with any major was a guarantee of a professional job. This was based on data of people who were working when the study was done, which was probably in the 1960s. So it was true in the 1950s.

Another problem is that correlation is not causation. The one factor that most strongly correlates with your income is your father's income. In general, rich kids go to college. Rich kids don't become rich because they went to college. They become rich because their fathers were rich.

top quarter still need to go to college (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500755)

No matter how intelligent you are and how well you learn on your own, nobody can sort through the entire cumulative body of knowledge built up by human civilization and find what's significant and what isn't. No matter how smart you are you still need to learn to formulate your thoughts on a variety of subjects (not just programming) and have those thoughts critiqued by experts and peers. No matter how smart you are, you need other people to show you what intellectual pursuits other people and other cultures find significant, whether that's literature, poetry, philosophy, etc so you can understand civilization better and other people better. You need to be challenged by a variety of subjects other than your core interests to think critically about the world.

You can be smart but still be uneducated. However, when you are uneducated, the danger is you don't realize how little it is you actually know, which is what separates the top quarter from the top 1%.

Re:top quarter still need to go to college (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500793)

nobody can sort through the entire cumulative body of knowledge built up by human civilization and find what's significant and what isn't.

You don't need to, because you can find out what other people have already discovered about this subject with a minimal amount of research. Information doesn't exist in a vacuum. As a self-educated individual who learned many subjects on his own, don't tell *me* what I can or can't do. If you're lazy, then fine, but don't assume everyone is the same.

This "Everybody needs to go to college!" nonsense just makes colleges lower their standards, puts people into unnecessary debt, and wastes the time of people who don't need or want formal education. I'm tired of this silly elitism some people have, where they act superior to people who chose to go down a different path, no matter how educated they are.

Re:top quarter still need to go to college (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500959)

I'm not the GP, but your reply shows that you clearly missed the point of the comment. You're pretty much saying, "I'm smart because I can use google and don't need to interact with other people to receive criticism of my thoughts and ideas".

Re:top quarter still need to go to college (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501629)

I'm not the GP, but your reply shows that you clearly missed the point of the comment.

Nope. If you read what I quoted, you'll note that my reply is perfectly on-topic.

I'm smart because I can use google

Straw man.

and don't need to interact with other people to receive criticism of my thoughts and ideas

Rather, you don't need college or university to get this. I didn't.

Re:top quarter still need to go to college (1)

elbles (516589) | about 6 months ago | (#46501451)

If you think that's what college is to most people who attend, then with all due respect, you're out of your damn mind. I'd say the vast majority of people who attended my school at the time I went were not particularly interested in expanding their minds, and truly benefiting from what college was structured to do. They were interested in passing their classes, drinking and partying, and landing a job after graduation (i.e., a vocational school).

Is there anything wrong with that? I'd say it depends on the cost. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that what you described is what college should be about, but it just isn't. That's the problem.

And, to be fair, this did vary a lot by major, so please don't take it as a blanket assumption about each and every group that attended.

Pays off until you have your job offshored (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 6 months ago | (#46500765)

Increasing the supply of trained workers lowers the cost - economics 101.

Of course tech companies always more workers, even if they are looking to offshore as much as they can, and replace the rest with visa workers. But, just in case, doesn't hurt to lower the cost of domestic workers.

Forget the situation today, look towards the future. There is no way for western workers to compete with third world wages.

Re:Pays off until you have your job offshored (4, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 6 months ago | (#46500865)

Increasing the supply of trained workers lowers the cost - economics 101.

Of course tech companies always more workers, even if they are looking to offshore as much as they can, and replace the rest with visa workers. But, just in case, doesn't hurt to lower the cost of domestic workers.

Forget the situation today, look towards the future. There is no way for western workers to compete with third world wages.

You know I have heard this on slashdot for 10 dang years!

The worst advice I ever took in 2004 was that computer science was a waste of time and so was engineering! They would pay $12/hr by 2014 due to Indians taking jobs etc. Go get that useless business degree.

Let me tell you that was the worst advise I have ever taken.

My friends who graduated even in 2008 all make $70,000. I ended up unemployed, divorced, and moved back into my parents in my 30's as no one would hire people with a business degree.

It took 2 years just to get back into the white collar market. Working 13/hr and then 15/hr then 18/hr and up while I lived at home because I got my degree in the wrong area because people like you said NO TO IT H1B1 will take it all.

I am now starting to make ok in IT again but lost 5 years of my life and marriage since I had to work any call center or low wage job I could find and worked for free paying my student loans.

College is still worth it. (-1)

hackus (159037) | about 6 months ago | (#46500809)

No, it isn't.

#1 It is a bad investment. How bad? REALLY BAD. There is one exception. If you get a degree, speak mandarin fluently and decide to revoke your US citizenship and leave, then it can be a good investment. That way you can move to were good employment, healthcare and cost of living is realistic, preferably in a currency that is not being destroyed like the US dollar is.

A very well PLANNED destruction might I add to steal everything you have, unlike China which is importing MASSIVE quantities of gold to back its currency with, at least partially gold and the other of course HEAVY INDUSTRY.

A perfect spot to move to to start a family.

#2 There is no correlation between academic work and work performance. Likewise, historically there is no correlation between work performance and amademic performance. A part of history you won't learn at a american university, beause it is very bad for the whole industrial complex education thing is, all of the major players of 21st century technology rejected college.

Tesla, for example invented many things...all of which power our data centers, and our mobile app technology. At the time they were considered screwy ideas, and politically very bad ideas.

Tesla would have created new forms of energy, and energy transmission, too...but not only did the academics dislike him, so did the Bankers who found out he was developing a new energy source which would tap into the dynamo which is the earth and provide limitless energy for everyone.

When the JP Morgan banker found that out, he tripled Tresla's funding to one TRILLLLLION Dollars!

No, I am being sarcastic. JP Morgan threatened Tesla, and then immediately told him to stop if you want to live to see tomorrow.

The same F'ing bankers who destroyed our economy and since 2007 have been invading every country they can loot to prop up the American dollar.

Oh, they are running out of goat lov'in camel herding countries to invade so now are going after Nuclear powers, like Russia.

How do you think THAT will end?

Yeah, I bet Tesla, and Einstein while he was working on his theories thought to themselves, if only I could get a degree and be a real person.
(Einstein worked as a patent clerk while developing his theories...because academic institutions poo' poo'ed his ideas.)

LOL!!!!

#3 Do you like $50K in debt, and living in your parents basement AND declaring bankruptcy AND not having a job?

I bet you are just that sort of catch women LOVE!!!

Well, then step right up here folks, you can go to an American crapversity and get a degree in engineering, computer science so you can stay at home and setup your families wireless network (Oh, but at least you will have a degree to be qualified to setup that linksys router!!)

OR

you can fix the washer or dryer for mom and dad with the mechanical engineering degree!
(Maybe even fix the neighbors in return for maybe a subway sandwich!!!)

LOL!!

I have to stop myself now, otherwise I am going to laugh myself into a coma anyone is serious about going to any American University.

Re:College is still worth it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500835)

If you get a degree, speak mandarin fluently and decide to revoke your US citizenship and leave, then it can be a good investment.

Despite your rant (or actually because of it), especially with this line, I imagine that you must be in a rather upper-middle class environment. Learning Chinese to improve job prospects? Um... okay, have fun with that.

Erich Schmidt Has a Vested Interest in Saying That (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500831)

As the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt has a vested interest in promoting college attendance regardless of whether or not the gambit pays off for the individual student. The reason is simple, Google requires a steady supply of talented and well educated employees to continue growing and increasing profits. If some of those students take out loans and fail to graduate it costs Google and Eric Schmidt nothing so why wouldn't they encourage others to take that risk? If they succeed then Google and Erich Schmidt benefit and if they fail then only the ex-student without a degree is left holding the bag. Corporate executives are concerned with maximizing profits and will do or say just about anything to achieve that goal. Anything they say in public about anything must be viewed with a critical eye towards where their true interests are.

knowledge is what matters. (2)

feranick (858651) | about 6 months ago | (#46500833)

The article seem to imply, that real and best enterpreneaurs only make software companies. But actual innovation takes place in many other filelds. My point is that what makes the difference and is precursor to success is knoledge and ingenuity. While you can argue that the latter does not require formal education, for knowledge that might not be true. For a software company once you actually master the tools required, education is probably not always needed (although, it won't hurt or actually may be beneficial, see Jeff Bezos). The "kid coder" prototype is what made Zuckerberg and the likes. Other fields are much much different. How can you run a biotech company based on your own non formal education? Or a nanotech company? All of the companies where knowledge cannot be acquired simply by having a computer at your disposal, require some form of formal education. Look at any biotech management to see what I mean.

Re:knowledge is what matters. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501019)

I never attended college or university.

Started working in IT as soon as I left school and have been doing this job 20+ years.

Problem is now when I apply for a new job I don't generally get to the interview stage, a few of the companies I have asked who responded say this is due to me lack of higher education qualifications. The fact I have 20+ years experience no longer seems to count without the initial paperwork to get through the paper sift.

I am now looking at home study in order to attain the necessary degree otherwise I will become unemployable to many potential employers.

Re:knowledge is what matters. (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about 6 months ago | (#46501741)

I wonder if those are good companies to work at. I understand that they probably use it to filter through applicants quickly, but ignoring a person with 20+ years of experience without even giving them the chance of, I don't know, presenting recommendation letters or even practical tests seems silly. Specially since you were already employed.

we do need more vocational training that can build (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#46500843)

we do need more vocational training that can buildup to some thing as well more being put on 2 year schools.

The Drop Out Wth A Diploma In The Classics (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#46500845)

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and I don't think anybody would say he made a mistake

Zuckerberg may not have graduated from Harvard, but he is the product of a traditional liberal arts education:

He transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy in his junior year in high school, where he won prizes in science (math, astronomy and physics) and classical studies. On his college application, Zuckerberg claimed that he could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek. He was captain of the fencing team. In college, he was known for reciting lines from epic poems such as The Iliad.
Napster co-founder Sean Parker, a close friend, notes that Zuckerberg was "really into Greek odysseys and all that stuff", recalling how he once quoted lines from the Roman epic poem Aeneid, by Virgil, during a Facebook product conference.

Mark Zuckerberg [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Drop Out Wth A Diploma In The Classics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501519)

Wow, he quoted a bunch of entry level Greek shit they used to teach in high school? Well, fuckin' give the man an honorary philology degree already!

implying zuckerberg didn't need harvard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46500969)

OP concludes that because zuckberg didn't graduate from harvard, he didn't need his harvard education. OPs complete lack of logic is fascinating... can you really go through life being such a complete moron?

the only reason zuckerberg invented facebook is because he was a student at harvard...

Who says you need loans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501041)

There are lots of solutions that cost less and dont require loans. For example, go part time, get a 2 year degree a at a community college, etc.

Common Thread...Is it worth it? (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 6 months ago | (#46501081)

The common thread here is that Multinational companies are saying "get a degree" but opportunistically seek the "same work" from international sources instead. How can anyone afford to repay the loans when the cost of life in a metropolitan area is so high?

Here's how to fix "expensive" (3, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 6 months ago | (#46501091)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08... [nytimes.com]
Germany Backtracks on Tuition
By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE
Published: August 25, 2013

(German colleges are now free again, like the Scandinavian countries. Under the German constitution, the 16 state governments control finance and education. A 2005 federal court decision allowed them to charge tuition. 8 states, in former West Germany, did, but it was unpopular and they reversed their policy. Lower Saxony charged €1,000 ($1,300)/year. An economist estimated that tuition caused 20,000 potential students (6.8% of all students) to forgo enrollment in 2007. Denmark, Norway and Sweden have free tuition, although Germany, with 2.5 million students, is the largest. Britain raised its tuition caps to £9,000 ($14,000). In France, most public universities charge a few hundred euros per year, though the grandes écoles are more expensive.)

We don't know that to not be a mistake yet... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 months ago | (#46501101)

Sure Zuckerberg is currently worth billions in theory. But if he were to try to cash out his stock options into actual money on Monday the market would react so swiftly and severely that the last shares he sells would be nearly worthless. And frankly, in another couple years, the company will likely be worthless regardless as they have no long term business plan beyond "acquire and sell users' information" - which is not a meaningful plan for growth.

Re:We don't know that to not be a mistake yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501307)

network effect is a long term business plan

Eric, look... (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | about 6 months ago | (#46501237)

Everyone assumes similarity to themselves and their lives.

This is why rich people look at poor people and don't see how poor people live, but how absolutely lazy or irresponsible someone who grew up rich would have to be to wind up in those straits. They cannot assess the huge differences in opportunity, education, social connection, or positive expectation. They can't imagine seeing the world from a place of limited opportunity. Even the best-hearted of them can take a "poor vacation" and try to live the subsistence life, but growing up feeling you can't just walk away from that is one of the biggest aspects.

So what to Eric is expensive college tuition is ridiculously impossible for many others, especially considering that jobs aren't even available to that many college graduates anymore.

Higher education has been made the tool of class stratification. You're lucky to be born with the funds to have the odds on your side. And even if you give education all you've got, heaven help you if you're one of those who doesn't have health care coverage - recent changes being a bit late for those I know who tried to bootstrap when college was all they could afford.

Economics of education (1)

hessian (467078) | about 6 months ago | (#46501255)

The reason college degrees were valuable: they revealed extraordinary ability on the part of the student.

Why they're worthless now: everyone has them, and they're easy or at least predictable enough that they have little predictive value.

How to fix this: make high school more challenging, and test problem-solving as opposed to recombinant memorization.

Re:Economics of education (1)

metlin (258108) | about 6 months ago | (#46501773)

Why they're worthless now: everyone has them, and they're easy or at least predictable enough that they have little predictive value.

Nope. There is an assumption in your statement -- that all college degrees are created equal.

There is a reason certain schools and certain programs are given preferential treatment. You see, in statistics, there are two types of errors -- Type I and Type II.

Imagine a candidate applies to a top school -- pretty much all highly ranked schools and programs would err on the side of Type II. That is, they would rather reject a good candidate than admit a potentially bad candidate. That is not to say it does not happen, just that that is what they try to do.

The reason MIT or Harvard are prestigious is because of this. As an employer, you can use these schools as a filter. It is not that you learn something extraordinary at MIT's engineering department that you wouldn't at, say, Rutgers. But the point is, MIT has a high enough standard for both admission and graduation that you know someone who graduated from MIT is a rock star. The same goes for business schools, law schools, medical schools and so on.

The only exceptions are doctoral programs -- why? Because PhDs have other factors at play, including your area of research and your thesis advisor.

Just part of a much larger problem (3, Insightful)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 6 months ago | (#46501597)

The world is basically starting to overflow with way more people than positions. As a result, it's dividing into societies with vast gaps between the very few people who control the money, and everyone else just looking for a chance to serve (or be employed). Some societies are further down this line than others, but you can look at China as an example of what the end-game will be like for the rest of the world within the next 100 years. All the nice things in life will become scarce enough that only the wealthiest can afford them. The rest of us will simply work to make them happy. Upward mobility will become as unlikely as jumping across the Grand Canyon, without the middle-class as a bridge.

These weird educational issues are just symptoms of it happening here in America. We're pushing everyone to "go to college" while the businesses here continue to eliminate employment opportunities due to outsourcing and automation. Even the outsourcing strategy is starting to backfire, due to companies realizing that when they aren't employing people in America, then they can't sell stuff to the people in America. It's why most companies right now are looking at China as the next (and final) phase. The "1%" in China is still a huge number of people, so that will work for a while.

I'd be surprised if we don't have an "Arab Spring" or "French Revolution" happening in this country within the next 20 years. The average white conservative male has been able to blame the misfortunes of minorities on rap music, or skin color, or laziness, or whatever, but now that they are starting to share demographics with such "undesirables" shit is going to hit the fan.

College is NOT still worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501603)

You can make MUCH more money as a skilled tradesman right now than you can as an engineer (software or hardware). Plus you don't have a 5-8 year delay in earnings, meaning you can start saving for retirement much sooner, and that compounds.

A skilled machinist can make 150-200k/year in this market, because there is a dire shortage of them.

Articles like this are why I spend time elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46501655)

This is utter bullshit.

Period.

Well, duh (2)

Livius (318358) | about 6 months ago | (#46501863)

1. Go into debt to obtain college degree
2. ...
3. Profit!

So, all this time, step (2) was "figure out a way to do it"!

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