Is Getting a College Degree worth it? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Is it worth going into debt to get a four year degree?

Yes, it is worth it.
6
23%
No, it is not.
2
8%
Maybe depending on the major or field.
15
58%
Other.
3
12%
#15175358
My vote was maybe, depending on the field of study. Given that most people have to pay for a college education themselves, it has to be an investment that not only pays for itself but also makes more money afterwards (and after paying for itself) than what you otherwise would have made had you not gotten a college education. There is a business side to college you have to contend with and seriously consider when it comes to getting a college education and you have to want it and want it bad. If you don't want it, don't waste your money and time. Not only do you have to put in serious money, but you have to put in serious time, work and effort to earn a college education.
#15175361
It depends on what you mean by "worth it". I don't directly use my degree (biochemistry) in my current job, but I wouldn't trade my university experience, and what I learned there, for anything.

Granted, I'm saying that as someone who studied in the UK, where a university education is - at least for the time being - significantly more affordable than the US. Over here, higher education is just a racket, and I wouldn't blame anyone for thinking it isn't worth being saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
#15175362
I loved college, but it has gotten seriously expensive.

There are places you can go where they don't charge tuition. You may have to learn some Eastern European language, but some of these schools are pretty good, and they love getting Americans.

I did a semester abroad, 8 would be pretty nifty, and you could finish each with a trip to a different country and fly out of Paris, London, Vienna, or wherever.
#15175363
@Heisenberg @late

Yes, but money talks and if you want to attract the best and brightest minds in the world to teach students, your university has to be profitable to pay big salaries and provide job security to those best and brightest minds in the world if you want them to teach your students. Nothing in this world is free, not even getting the best and brightest minds in the world to come to your university to teach. That means, you have to run a university as a business so that you can get those best and brightest minds over to teach at your university.
#15175365
Politics_Observer wrote:
@Heisenberg @late

Yes, but money talks and if you want to attract the best and brightest minds in the world to teach students, your university has to be profitable to pay big salaries and provide job security to those best and brightest minds in the world if you want them to teach your students. Nothing in this world is free, not even getting the best and brightest minds in the world to come to your university to teach. That means, you have to run a university as a business so that you can get those best and brightest minds over to teach at your university.



You can easily take that too far, compromising your original purpose of education. Many schools have.
#15175369
@late

True, you can't just always throw money at a problem and think that will solve it. But money and pay is important nonetheless. The best and brightest minds have to feel appreciated where they teach and valued not just in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of respect and esteem and given some status and some sense of self actualization. They have to be happy where they teach and find meaning behind it. So, all those factors combined are important. But you still can't neglect the business aspect to keeping both the doors open at a university and the best and brightest minds teaching students there.

Just as students need to be aware of the business aspect when choosing a field to study given they will be the ones who pay for it themselves here in the United States. So, students have to ensure their degrees pay for themselves and generate a return on investment while on the same token, these students enjoy the fields they will work in and find them meaningful.
#15175387
Many students now attend public universities to reduce the cost of higher education. The average cost of in-state tuition at a public institution is $6,752, which is affordable for most American families. Some graduate will not be able to land a job upon graduation. Around 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed in the US. But it is still worth it as a life experience.
#15175397
Depends on the degree. If it's for a field required to have it, then it's absolutely worth it. If it's for what is essentially a hobby (art, music, history, etc.) then no.

Education reform should be changing the requirements to be given scholarship/grant money. It has to be for a worthwhile endeavor.

But don't take my word for it. Just ask Jason Bourne.

#15175445
Politics_Observer wrote:My vote was maybe, depending on the field of study. Given that most people have to pay for a college education themselves, it has to be an investment that not only pays for itself but also makes more money afterwards (and after paying for itself) than what you otherwise would have made had you not gotten a college education. There is a business side to college you have to contend with and seriously consider when it comes to getting a college education and you have to want it and want it bad. If you don't want it, don't waste your money and time. Not only do you have to put in serious money, but you have to put in serious time, work and effort to earn a college education.


I vote a solid no. Here is why:

Several years ago on Thanksgiving a lawyer friend of mine had a party at his house and ended up having to call a plumber. After receiving the bill, my lawyer friend, who is quite successful, bought two vans, rented a building, hired plumbers and got out of the legal business. He learned plumbing from the plumbers he hired within two years of on the job training.

Yesterday, I signed a contract with a painter to do exterior painting. I worked out the math. This guy said he was doing me a favor since I'm a friend of a relative. He will charge $800 in labor and it will take him approximately 10 hours to do the job. He says he is busy 7 days a week 10 to 12 hours a day. He works alone. Based on a 40 hour work week, that works out to $200,000 a year... and he claims he's working 60 t0 80 hours a week. What other job can you get where you can become a pro with on the job training and make that kind of money? AND he is self employed (no boss except the customer to answer to).

I asked another guy if he could pour a 10' x 15' slab of concrete for me a the rear of the house for under $1200 (the price quoted to put up a deck of the same size). He laughed at me. According to Home Depot, the bags of concrete required would cost just over $300 and then there is a few dollars for 2 x 4s, leaving you with more than $850 for a job that two men can do in six hours with a cement mixer.

A college degree is good for lawyers, doctors, etc. but, then while you're making the big bucks, there are ongoing classes to stay updated. Malpractice insurance is REAL expensive. Then you have to figure a lot of money for a good wardrobe. You don't show up in court or a doctor's office in jeans and a t shirt. Lawyers have to pay to subscribe to Lexis and Westlaw so that they can research and update the law. That's just the start.

If had to live my life over, I'd have become a handyman. These jack of all trades work when they want to work, go on vacation when they want to go on vacation - no courtroom dates to tie them down and no clients to meet with at a specific time. Compared to a doctor who must perform emergency surgery and interrupt his Christmas, child's recital, or a birthday, the handyman has it made. AND, if they have any motivation at all, they make more than the guy with 6 years of full time college and training under his belt.
#15175466
I voted maybe as well.

Amongst other things, I'm a Registered Nurse Teacher and worked for six years as a senior lecturer in UK universities, so for my students getting their first degree is not merely 'worth it', it's essential for them to register as nurses.

For other subjects however, it can be a lot less clear cut.

Here in the UK, we went from 5% of school leavers going on to university under Thatcher, to (a target of) 50% under Blair. All that has achieved in functional terms has been to devalue a bachelors' degree and render it the default, 'bog standard', with a knock-on effect on the relative value of postgraduate awards.

When I was a student nurse (late 80s), all my tutors were educated to (first) degree level. Hardly anyone in nurse teaching had a masters and a doctorate was alomst unheard of except within elite research institutions.

Today, a doctorate is close to becoming the minimum required for even entry-level nurse lecturer posts. One could say that's evidence of my profession raising its game and that's partly true, but at the same time it has made a doctorate the 'bog standard' for nurse teaching and thus functionally devalued the award, turning it from the pinnacle of one's academic education to a mere tick-box exercise, necessary to gain employment.

Politics_Observer wrote:...you have to run a university as a business so that you can get those best and brightest minds over to teach at your university.

My first three years in higher education were spent whilst I was also in the military, but I still remember my first substantive conversation with my new boss at my first civilian job. I anticipated that we would talk about things like course design, curriculum development, research and teaching, but the entire conversation was all about income generation. His opening gambit was that the entire budget for the masters programme I had been recruited to run had been spent on my salary, so he needed to know what I could do to bring more money in.

That was eight years ago and I often reflect that I wish I had just stood up and walked away but at the time I needed the job so I bit my lip.

However it's clear that this commercialisation of education runs far deeper. Now that my academic focus is on research rather than teaching, it's also become apparent that funding for research is contingent upon the subject of any proposed research being something someone is willing to fund. Ergo, many things fail to benefit from research because no-one's interested - or at least interested in funding it. And though it seems obvious to me now, I hadn't previously appreciated that because you can only get funding for research that someone else wants you to do, there's an immediate, inherent bias to that research because the funder is going to want you to find what they want you to find.

I'd far prefer all universities to be run as charitable, not-for-profit organisations rather than pseudo-commercial businesses but we're too far down the road to change course.

The knock-on effect to the 'worth' of a college degree then is that universities are only interested in fee-paying, 'bums on seats', so they don't give much of a toss as to whether their graduates will be flipping burgers afterwards. I know all universities send out follow-up questionnaires to graduates, to gauge their employability, so it would be interesting to see what data has been generated by those.
#15175471
I selected other.
My perspective is the following.
The vast majority of what I learned in highschool, university and even medical school is knowledge that i don't use at all on my profession. In fact, I have forgotten 90%++ of what I have learned.
Who uses trigonometry other than a handful of engineers?
What is the point of quadratic equations?
My premed requirements forced me to take organic chemistry, physics, calculus. I have never had to use the knowledge of electron orbitals, resonant bonds, mechanism of attack, pK values, differential equations, integrals, newton's first, second or third law a single time in my medical practice. During my first and 2nd year of medical school all my time was spent learning what part of the bacterial ribosome or cell wall antibiotic X or Y inactivates to kill the bacteria. I also spent time memorizing the equations for starling forces, or the molecular theory of how action potentials propagate through an axon. Not a single one of these things have ever been useful for me. The vast majority of the "shit" we learned is "fluff".
However, despite my criticism, I do see the value. I value knowledge, and not just that knowledge that is immediately useful.
The cynic in me also realizes that without the "paper credentials" in many fields, you might as well be a monkey and the paper is just as important as the skills/knowledge. There is also a social benefit of this, if any charlatan can present themselves as a "lawyer", "doctor", "scientist", "plumber", "electrician", etc without the appropriate skillset and/or knowledge, we would be buried in 12 feet of trouble.

It's complicated.

The prices of college are fucking ridiculous though. They are not teaching some copyrighted or top-secret shit... 100% of the knowledge is easily accessible to anyone with a curious mind and an internet connection. Youtube university is freeware, you just have to watch the adds 8) .
#15175479
@Cartertonian

I didn't say money was everything when hiring professors but it's important. You have to pay these people well and offer them job security. On top of that, they have to ensure that the professor find their jobs truly meaningful and enjoy the job. So, part of that is talking course design to ensure the students get a solid education. All too often, I see people either throwing money at a problem hoping it solves the problem which is one extreme, to not paying professors enough like adjunct professors and providing no job security. But people have to learn you can't go back and forth between extremes to solve problems. You have to find that happy middle ground. A university is a business and has to be profitable to keep it's doors open and the best and brightest minds teaching there. But that business aspect is just ONLY ONE ASPECT to the university and not the only aspect to a university.
#15175480
XogGyux wrote:I selected other.
My perspective is the following.
The vast majority of what I learned in highschool, university and even medical school is knowledge that i don't use at all on my profession. In fact, I have forgotten 90%++ of what I have learned.
Who uses trigonometry other than a handful of engineers?
What is the point of quadratic equations?
My premed requirements forced me to take organic chemistry, physics, calculus. I have never had to use the knowledge of electron orbitals, resonant bonds, mechanism of attack, pK values, differential equations, integrals, newton's first, second or third law a single time in my medical practice. During my first and 2nd year of medical school all my time was spent learning what part of the bacterial ribosome or cell wall antibiotic X or Y inactivates to kill the bacteria. I also spent time memorizing the equations for starling forces, or the molecular theory of how action potentials propagate through an axon. Not a single one of these things have ever been useful for me. The vast majority of the "shit" we learned is "fluff".
However, despite my criticism, I do see the value. I value knowledge, and not just that knowledge that is immediately useful.
The cynic in me also realizes that without the "paper credentials" in many fields, you might as well be a monkey and the paper is just as important as the skills/knowledge. There is also a social benefit of this, if any charlatan can present themselves as a "lawyer", "doctor", "scientist", "plumber", "electrician", etc without the appropriate skillset and/or knowledge, we would be buried in 12 feet of trouble.

It's complicated.

The prices of college are fucking ridiculous though. They are not teaching some copyrighted or top-secret shit... 100% of the knowledge is easily accessible to anyone with a curious mind and an internet connection. Youtube university is freeware, you just have to watch the adds 8) .


I essentially agree! In the old days a university education meant an education that was not always instruction on how to practice a profession. I would not want to see a doctor that never heard of Newton or one that had a poor knowledge of basic biology. All that time spent in the basics creates a solid platform where the professional enters into self learning mode. A good education allows people to have interesting conversations while having a cocktail in a social gathering.

The main difference between an average nurse practitioner and a physician is that the latter had to be good enough to fully understand the basics. Otherwise, a nurse practitioner is as good as a doctor in taking blood pressures or defibrillating a patient. The other purpose of basic rigorous education is to separate the chaff from the wheat regarding admission to higher education.
Last edited by Julian658 on 03 Jun 2021 15:16, edited 1 time in total.
#15175483
Politics_Observer wrote:@Cartertonian

I didn't say money was everything...

Neither did I. ;)

And specific to hiring academic staff (Americans are rather more liberal than we are at throwing the title 'professor' around) there is a lot of truth in talent gravitating to where the money is. I can't comment on the US, but in the UK in lots of cases the money follows the talent, rather than the talent chasing the money.

That's not adequately reflected in how universities are seen here, though. I'm sure the same is true all over the world, but from my experience there are individual faculties employing highly talented academics, doing world-leading research...but if their faculty happens to be in a less well regarded institution, they are tarred with that institution's brush.

By the same token, in my field there are faculties within the prominent, leading 'red brick' universities that perform way below their peers in institutions that are lower down the notional (for lay consumption) pecking order, but they are assumed to be superior simply by association with the wider university's reputation.

In short, places that are internationally recognised for physics, or philosophy, or economics are often rubbish at teaching nursing...and vice versa. I got my second nursing qualification (in mental health) from a UK, 'red brick', but in comparison with the courses I've taught on in superficially provincial, 'second-string' universities the course I did was poor.
#15175487
Cartertonian wrote:
In short, places that are internationally recognised for physics, or philosophy, or economics are often rubbish at teaching nursing...and vice versa. I got my second nursing qualification (in mental health) from a UK, 'red brick', but in comparison with the courses I've taught on in superficially provincial, 'second-string' universities the course I did was poor.



Love the post, nicely done.

I would only add to it, just a bit. Tying up personnel and resources in their fields of strength can easily wind up shortchanging their students. Some classes that are important just don't happen.
#15175488
Politics_Observer wrote:Yes, but money talks and if you want to attract the best and brightest minds in the world to teach students, your university has to be profitable to pay big salaries and provide job security to those best and brightest minds in the world if you want them to teach your students. Nothing in this world is free, not even getting the best and brightest minds in the world to come to your university to teach. That means, you have to run a university as a business so that you can get those best and brightest minds over to teach at your university.

I'm not at all convinced that the higher-education-as-a-business model has materially improved the standard of teaching, to be honest. There seems to be a pretty good case that it has led to grade inflation on a large scale (I know in the UK, universities actually market themselves to international students based on how many first class and 2:1 degrees they give out!), because students are now "customers" and feel entitled to a "return on investment" in the form of higher grades.

Besides, most of the big salaries you are talking about actually go to administrators, rather than lecturers (or, even worse, college football and basketball coaches - at Michigan, for example, Jim Harbaugh is paid $9m a year!). Most teachers at American universities live pretty insecure, pinched lives, until they eventually win the tenure lottery.
#15175494
Politics_Observer wrote:@Heisenberg @late

Yes, but money talks and if you want to attract the best and brightest minds in the world to teach students, your university has to be profitable to pay big salaries and provide job security to those best and brightest minds in the world if you want them to teach your students. Nothing in this world is free, not even getting the best and brightest minds in the world to come to your university to teach. That means, you have to run a university as a business so that you can get those best and brightest minds over to teach at your university.


For me Politics, this is what is wrong with how the USA runs things. For me a university should never be run like a business. In the past it was run by the state. The state would set aside ample funds for their universities.

How would they fund them? Let me give you an example of the University of Puerto Rico where my mother graduated from in 1970. Back then students paid zero. Zero for tuition, zero for books, zero for cultural and sports activities etc. How did they do this? The Puerto Rican government taxed the casinos and many other large and wealthy corporations for sponsoring higher education in Puerto Rico. UPR was a very large university and the biggest public uni on the island. It had a tropical medicine school, law school, engineering school, business school, etc etc. You got completely sponsored by the state education. No one would leave with mountains of student debt.

When did this start to change? When banks in the USA and in Puerto Rico saw that most poor people wanted their kids to go to the university and get a profession that paid more than farm labor, or factory work. They wanted social mobility and having that possibility was important to them. How willing would they be to do that for their children? So they wanted to make going to college a privilege for the poor. So they would be in debt to the banks for the many decades a young person's most productive years of work would be for. They lobbied the politicians to change things about public education and publicly funded universities and also vocational schools and trade schools. Being a barber or a beautician in the past was affordable and free many times. You got your barber's license or mechanic's certification in high school in the past and it was free of cost for the student. The banks did not want that. So they lobbied the politicians to accommodate them. And people had to pay $50,000 dollars to become a hairdresser for example.

Having people in debt for decades and not qualifying for a loan to buy their own apartments or homes? Buy their own furniture, and transportation? It created a debtor class what was very educated or instructed and could produce reasonable wages but the biggest chunk of the wages would be going into the growth of the banks. IN interest payments. In the past? Pell grants, and Perkins loans that had a cap of 5% interest on borrowing for tuition or books? Was not offered as much as the bank student loans who averaged 17% to 27% interest rates. That is credit card interest rates Politics Observer. If you took out $100k for a four year degree? By the time you pay it off? A long time and most of it is interest. Banks grow rich.

This was allowed because the banks and the for profit industries were allowed to foothold into what was a state run institution. Like Health Care for me? Education is essential. It is not an optional thing. All people should have the freedom of developing themselves intellectually and that is my next point.

For me universities should not be about how you get a good job or become rich or be employed and well paid. It should be about teaching students to be good thinkers, analyze their society well and make changes. Be movers and shakers in their own nations and societies. Not be conformists and not be drones and well brain washed spouters of the larger society. It is about being critical thinkers and critics of society. Their own and the world at large. It also should be about the original meaning of education, the root is e-du-ca-re which is to form in Latin. To fully form a human being into someone who can think for him or herself and be open to analyzing the information one receives for veracity and for meaningful avenues of changing what is slow, doesn't work or is impeding improvement.

For me? That meant? Having people take a broad spectrum of classes. And foreign languages. No one would graduate from the University of Puerto Rico being able to speak only one language. The norm back in my time? Was three. Spanish, English and French. Mainly because the Caribbean islands had tourism and people who came from islands speaking those three. But they also offered Japanese, Chek, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, and other languages to learn. But no one left with a diploma with English only or Spanish only.

The USA has other standards that I find interesting. They want really vigorous and rigorous educations for the richest Americans and really shitty ones for the poorest.

I find it terrible. And unfair.

In the end having well educated people who are critical thinkers in the millions entering your society? Will make it a much better society. One not vulnerable to dumb politics.
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