Uncomfortable truths your college won't tell you

Consider the following statistics: More than half of Americans under the age of 25 who have a bachelor’s degree are either unemployed or underemployed.”

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Uncomfortable Truths Your College Won't Tell You - Part II

I tend to agree with the idea that a college degree is a consumer good, not an investment. Colleges are businesses, and it is foolish to implicitly trust the advice and recommendations of college employees- they are going to sell their services and protect their bottom line just like any other business. 

christian cerna's picture

A piece of paper is useless, if there are not enough jobs for half of the population.

Jim's picture

Christian,

For another viewpoint: In June I attended the University of Minnesota graduation ceremony for engineers (my son was one of them). Something like 90% of them had job offers at graduation. My son (mechanical engineering) had a job offer by March. I won't mention his starting salary but you can Google starting salaries for engineers and his was in line

Students (and parents) need to consider the prospective job market for the degree.

There is a demand for the STEM degrees

 

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The article isn't saying that getting a degree is worthless, but that certain kinds of degrees aren't in demand-

...the grim fact is that colleges and universities continue to crank out too many degrees for which there is no need. Every year we award diplomas in economics, sociology, political science, English, history, law, etc., far beyond the market demand for those degrees.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the field of psychology, which is perennially one of the most popular undergraduate majors. In a recent year, over 80,000 Americans received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and slightly over 100,000 received a B.A. in education. Preparing 100,000 new teachers a year seems plausible, but does the U.S. job market really need four people trained in psychology for every five trained to be teachers?

...with few exceptions, a college degree alone is not what employers are looking for. Unless you have a “hard” skill, such as a mastery of accounting, or a vocational certificates (e.g., in teaching) your liberal arts education generally will not equip you with the skill set that an employer will need.

Colleges generally don't inform or counsel students along these lines.

Ron Bean's picture

I had a couple of good conversations with a "head hunter" whose business consists of matching prospective employers with employees. At the time he told me he had a stack of profiles form people with newly attained college degrees, most of them advanced degrees including MBA's and computer sciences, for whom he couldn't find jobs.  He said the biggest obstacle was that none of these applicants had job experience of any kind. They had held no summer jobs, no volunteer work in their fields to practice their vocation, nothing. In a competitive market, it's hard to get hired without a work history.

His advice to college students was to get any kind of job while in school. Yes, even a burger joint. If you can't get a job, volunteer your services to some group that could use your help. That will give you experience and show initiative.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

My dh works at an equipment rental company, and he sees both blue and white collar employers all the time. Their #1 & #2 on the wish list of prospective employees- show up on time every day, and be able to pass a drug test. There are jobs aplenty around here, but not enough sober, responsible people to fill them. 

Ron Bean's picture

My headhunter friend said the same thing. It's hard to tell if someone is dependable if they've never held a job....any job. My friend asked some of the prospective applicants what they'd done over the summers they were in school. "Took a break and relaxed" was the general description of their responses. BTW, most of the applicants he deals with don't have majors in Early American Literature, Aztec Art, or University Studies.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jim's picture

Brief thought on "the trades" and men entering the ministry. By ministry I mean "vocational" ministry (you expect to be paid and earn a living to provide for yourself and your family).

 

For many men in the vocational ministry, the church either is unwilling (shame on them!) or unable (because of insufficient size) to pay a man adequately. 

 

The value of a trade (electrician, craftsman (say wood worker), plumber, etc) is that it is portable, disconnected from a corporation (which often will suck the life-blood out of a person), and can be worked part time. Better way to put it.  A trade can be:

  • Portable: Works in rural areas, can be moved from one place to another
  • Personal (vs corporate): Worker controls his own schedule
  • Scalable (can be done at 10 hours a week to 60 hours a week)
  • Profitable (high margin).

Paul's tentmaking activity was basically trade activity. 

Being a tradesman could enable a man to both fulfill his passion and calling AND enable him to bridge the financial gap to assure all of his financial needs are met. 

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It's one of our family 'rules' that each of our kids learn at least one trade.

Ron Bean's picture

Here are some great trades that require minimal investment, flexible hours and decent income: small engine repair, home repair, painting, and lawn and yard care. These are good sources of income plus providing opportunities to meet people.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Back home in WV there was an older man that supplemented his income quite nicely just sharpening tool blades, ie mower blades, hand saws, chainsaws, etc... a great symbiotic relationship in a rural area. 

A female friend with a beautician's license had a nice thing going by traveling to nursing homes and retirement communities to do hair,  manicures, and pedicures. It was also her ministry of sorts, as she would only charge what the folks could afford. But she had so little overhead, and the demand was so high, she did just fine.

Maybe that's off topic, but it seems that folks don't have any imagination when it comes to finding ways to provide a product or service. Instead of looking around for a need to fill, it's "This is what I want to do and how much I want to earn, so I'm going to sit on my glutes until someone can meet my demands and I will let them hire me."

Oy vey.