generation limbo: 20-somethings today, debt, unemployment, the questionable value of a college education

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i think i do miss not being able to hang around old-money types by not going to a private school. that's a magical opportunity lost to me, like having a unicorn for a roommate, so maybe harry potter is to blame for this aura around private school?

Philip Nunez, Friday, 2 September 2011 20:54 (six years ago) Permalink

horseshoe: yes, that's who it was.

sarahel, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:27 (six years ago) Permalink

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-innovations/president-obama-there-is-no-engineer-shortage/2011/09/01/gIQADpmpuJ_story.html

this is a big problem

And, sadly, our top engineering graduates don’t always become engineers. They move into finance or management consulting — both of which pay far higher salaries than engineering. I have seen the dilemma that my engineering students at at Duke University have faced. Do they take a job in civil engineering that pays $70,000, or join big Wall Street financial firm and make $120,000? With the hefty student loans that hang over their heads, most have made the financially sensible decision. In some years, half of our graduates have ended up taking jobs outside of engineering. Instead of developing new types of medical devices, renewable energy sources and ways to sustain the environment, my most brilliant students are designing new ways to help our investment banks engineer the financial system.

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:30 (six years ago) Permalink

"Run the World (Goldman Sachs)"

J0rdan S., Friday, 2 September 2011 22:33 (six years ago) Permalink

my college was basically a feeder school for goldman sachs

remy bean, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:34 (six years ago) Permalink

I think every college is a feeder school for goldman sachs

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:35 (six years ago) Permalink

it isn't gonna win me any friends, i know, but i've gotta admit that i actually have major thorny ethical issues w/ a lot of MBAs going to work for these big bank/finance firms, even in lowly "respectable" capacities.

remy bean, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:38 (six years ago) Permalink

it's not just MBAs that go to work for big bank/finance firms! lots of undergrads go straight from college. it kinda sucks but big banks/finance firms are probably one of the last 'meritocratic' hirers left in America. fuckers

dayo, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:41 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, true. communications/political science majors were the first ones drafted from my undergrad.

remy bean, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:43 (six years ago) Permalink

horseshoe: yes, that's who it was.

― sarahel, Friday, September 2, 2011 6:27 PM (18 minutes ago) Bookmark

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh what is she like i am mildly obsessed with her

horseshoe, Friday, 2 September 2011 22:46 (six years ago) Permalink

as somebody who knew that getting the degrees i did wasn't going to make me a millionaire or anything, i still think that i learned quite a bit and gained a fair amount of insight/entre into certain worlds— most are arts-related, but that's what i dig, so whatever.

what i resent is that no one will hire me. at this point, i'm working on a business plan with a lawyer who wants to start this unique research agglomeration site for other lawyers, as i have worked as a paralegal in the past, and can zoom around WestLaw and LexisNexis etc. also, duh, i know the internet better than most lawyers above the age of 35.

(BTW— having training and experience as a paralegal and legal researcher means nothing if you did it on the other side of the country, as i have found out the hard way :( )

jizz inside of your nose (the table is the table), Saturday, 3 September 2011 00:08 (six years ago) Permalink

i guess my point is: i dont think going to u michigan or uva or any other well regarded state school makes it impossible to work on wall street or at a top law firm or management consulting firm or think tank or entertainment conglomerate or talent agency or government agency but i think it makes it harder? and maybe its a good trade to simply pay less tuition and have to shine a little brighter and work a little harder than a harvard alumni would? but i think the problem is the perception that things are made easier and that makes it harder to make the best choice as a 17 yo?

I feel like mich/uva are exceptions - they're generally considered 'better' than all but a handful of private schools and their student body composition is pretty similar to those private schools. but I think focusing too much on them is misleading too, cause these days all the schools 'better' than them offer substantial aid. most 18 y/o's aren't blessed w/ that kinda decision to begin with - they have to make much more subtle calculations. harvard vs. umich is easy - howbout, idk, rutgers vs. bard? for someone 100% intent on going into certain fields, grad school, med school, the private school is generally a safer decision, even if it means massive debt. for someone who just wants to work an office job, the marginal gain might not be worth it. but most people don't know what they want to do w/ the rest of their lives at 18, and these calculations can get pretty complex.

why we allow 18 y/os make complex financial analysis w/ 100s of thousands of dollars, idk.

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 00:57 (six years ago) Permalink

er, why we allow them to do complex financial analysis*

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 00:58 (six years ago) Permalink

^^ otm

If a kid right out of high school up and decided to buy a house (expensive car, condo, whatever is comparable) people would be puzzled, but commit to likely borrow that much cash for school and it's like "oh, that's cool."

unwarranted display names of ilx (mh), Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:00 (six years ago) Permalink

well, an expensive car is a horrible investment

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:01 (six years ago) Permalink

you can't sell your degree back

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:01 (six years ago) Permalink

a BA from somewhere is almost always 'worth it' but there are no shortage of graduate degrees - many from 'top colleges' - that are worse investments than an expensive car

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:02 (six years ago) Permalink

i dunno i think you can come up w/ a better example. a car is pretty much the worst expensive investment you can make

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:03 (six years ago) Permalink

as soon as you drive off the lot etc etc

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:03 (six years ago) Permalink

well yes, also morally

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:04 (six years ago) Permalink

but I mean if you live in sprawlsville and need to get to your job, a cheap car is an investment that allows you to get to your job, the actual value of the car is going to go down but that's not the reason you bought it

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:05 (six years ago) Permalink

and if you buy an expensive car, it's also not because you think it's going to increase in value. you buy it for social reasons, personal reasons, display name reasons, also to get places. but if you lose your job you can sell it. it's worth something as an object.

whereas college degrees - many of which cost as much as expensive cars - *are* generally considered financial investments. I buy degree X because it will increase my earnings potential in the long-run. (also cause it's fun to go to college, I want to meet girls, whatever, but if the investment factor wasn't there it'd be hard to justify the price. whereas expensive cars are veblen goods - people want them because of what they represent, not because a 100k car is gonna get you to work better than a 20k car)

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:13 (six years ago) Permalink

well i just mean the resale value on cars is much worse than like any other product.

my technics have if anything gone up since i bought them, in contrast

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:14 (six years ago) Permalink

I was going to say mortgage but the original nytimes thread reminded me real estate is way more expensive than $100-200k in a lot of places

unwarranted display names of ilx (mh), Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:14 (six years ago) Permalink

whereas college degrees - many of which cost as much as expensive cars - *are* generally considered financial investments. I buy degree X because it will increase my earnings potential in the long-run. (also cause it's fun to go to college, I want to meet girls, whatever, but if the investment factor wasn't there it'd be hard to justify the price. whereas expensive cars are veblen goods - people want them because of what they represent, not because a 100k car is gonna get you to work better than a 20k car)

― iatee, Friday, September 2, 2011 8:13 PM (1 minute ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

i think id argue ppl go to college for similar reasons as buying a car -- what a degree represents, the status it confers, etc

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:15 (six years ago) Permalink

(in addition to the investment)

D-40, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:15 (six years ago) Permalink

I think that's true, but removing that factor from the 'financial investment' factor is difficult because they're related - do you want to go to college to fit in w/ the educated / upper middle class, or because it's historically the way people end up educated and upper middle class?

I mean, how much does a dartmouth degree impress people if you're 40 and you make minimum wage?

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:23 (six years ago) Permalink

posts that hit a little too close to home

horseshoe, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:24 (six years ago) Permalink

:( sorry I was trying to pick someplace nobody here went

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:26 (six years ago) Permalink

haha i didn't go there also this thread is otm

horseshoe, Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:26 (six years ago) Permalink

I went to a tier 9 public school and I have a good job and all this shit about my generation being broke and unemployed/underemployed makes me feel guilty in one part, and in three parts just incredibly incredibly fortunate

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:56 (six years ago) Permalink

I say good job in the sense that I make a living and I love what I do, I'm not pulling engineer or Goldman sax money by any means

ima.tumblr.com (@imsothin) (m bison), Saturday, 3 September 2011 01:56 (six years ago) Permalink

fyi i am a college dropout livin the dream of a stable, reasonably paid (i live fine in brooklyn) job in retail.

one dis leads to another (ian), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:23 (six years ago) Permalink

also imo college was the biggest waste of time/money ever.

one dis leads to another (ian), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:23 (six years ago) Permalink

and i learned way more abt myself & how to interface with the world thru day-to-day living in nyc than i did in the classroom.

one dis leads to another (ian), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:24 (six years ago) Permalink

(i learned very little in terms of 'knowledge' at school outside of a few classes--one on science & ethics and another on middle eastern music.)

one dis leads to another (ian), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:24 (six years ago) Permalink

people should get a degree just for surviving in nyc imo

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:25 (six years ago) Permalink

also otm in that i do feel incredibly fortunate that i have a job i don't hate in a field that interests me, when tons of the folks i went to school with remain unemployed or employed in positions they loathe. xpppppp

one dis leads to another (ian), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:26 (six years ago) Permalink

(i learned very little in terms of 'knowledge' at school outside of a few classes--one on science & ethics and another on middle eastern music.)

I learned a lot in college, in terms of knowledge. but i learn most by talking/discussing, and i was blindly fortunate to choose a school that made chatter the dominant form of instruction. But ... I learned a lot more from the social experience than the academic, and a lot of it was kind of ugly growing up and making mistakes. And I got very bad grades, mostly. But I don't regret it. I wouldn't have survived in a city, not at 18, not at 19...

remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:28 (six years ago) Permalink

I guess I'm saying 'different strokes' with a lot more words.

remy bean, Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:29 (six years ago) Permalink

I posted this in the other thread but I think it's good so everyone shoudl read it cause it dispels the myth of 'you get a BA to learn valuable knowledge and skills': http://www.quickanded.com/2011/05/is-higher-education-a-bubble-fraud-conspiracy-ponzi-scheme-part-ii.html

it's all signals man. well, not all, and not for everyone. but mostly.

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:33 (six years ago) Permalink

Yeah, another flavor to all of this is that since, what, world war II, stating the obvious truth that "college isn't for everybody" has had a sort of reactionary and anti-democratic flavor; untold effort has been expended by K-12 educators to get kids from underrepresented backgrounds into college. None of those folks are going to talk to you about why college might turn out to be a waste of time and money.

Do not go gentle into that good frogbs (silby), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:33 (six years ago) Permalink

well sure. i think a lot of my college experience was impacted by my fairly negative attitude & overall disappointment with the way things actually were--mandatory critical writing classes at a 10th grade level, professors more interested in teaching you ~how to approach things~ than the specifics of those things, etc. idk, weird time in my life.xp 2 remy re: diff strokes

one dis leads to another (ian), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:34 (six years ago) Permalink

Finance interns make an average of about $13,000 for their ~10 week summer program. And they still complain about having to sometimes file.

Yerac, Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:36 (six years ago) Permalink

I think what we're getting at here is that college can be good for signaling and can also even be good for the idealistic hippie academic reasons that some of us still like to believe in, but a lot of 18 year olds don't know what they want out of the process and aren't provided with information that might help them make the most of their time and their or their parents' money.

Do not go gentle into that good frogbs (silby), Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:41 (six years ago) Permalink

I'm an example--I've dropped (or been thrown) out of higher ed four times starting when I was 19.

Christine Green Leafy Dragon Indigo, Saturday, 3 September 2011 02:49 (six years ago) Permalink

harvard vs. umich is easy - howbout, idk, rutgers vs. bard? for someone 100% intent on going into certain fields, grad school, med school, the private school is generally a safer decision, even if it means massive debt. for someone who just wants to work an office job, the marginal gain might not be worth it. but most people don't know what they want to do w/ the rest of their lives at 18, and these calculations can get pretty complex.

― iatee, Friday, September 2, 2011 8:57 PM Bookmark

I'm pretty sure this is just not true, i.e. you would probably stand just as good a chance for law school/MBA/med school/PhD programs and most fields coming out of Rutgers as Bard. I could see Bard maybe giving you an edge in some field like media or the arts, where cultural capital is highly valued, but those fields pay jack anyway.

Helping 3 (Hurting 2), Saturday, 3 September 2011 04:16 (six years ago) Permalink

bard was a bad example, I was just trying to think of a regional 'decent' liberal arts school

anything on bottom half of this list would be better: http://www.wsjclassroomedition.com/pdfs/wsj_college_092503.pdf

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 04:24 (six years ago) Permalink

anyway talking to one of my friends who (after months of desperation) just yesterday got a pretty good gov't job. was the peace corps job fair and not her elite university that got her a job, in the end.

iatee, Saturday, 3 September 2011 04:33 (six years ago) Permalink

btw something worth considering is that people with BAs or higher have an unemployment rate of 4.3

max, Saturday, 3 September 2011 12:18 (six years ago) Permalink


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