Americans Losing Faith In College Degrees, Poll Finds

https://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-losing-faith-in-college-degrees-poll-finds-1504776601

 

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Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost...

 

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Big shifts occurred within several groups. While women by a large margin still have faith in a four-year degree, opinion among men swung significantly. Four years ago, men by a 12-point margin saw college as worth the cost. Now, they say it is not worth it, by a 10-point margin.

 

Likewise, among Americans 18 to 34 years old, skeptics outnumber believers 57% to 39%, almost a mirror image from four years earlier.

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Jeff McKenna, a 32-year-old from Loveland, Colo., said he doesn’t believe college is worth the cost. Mr. McKenna went to a trade school, earning a certificate as a mechanic, and now earns a base salary of about $50,000 a year. He said he’s never gone three weeks without a job, including during the recession.

“I have friends from high school that are making half what I’m making, and they went and got a four-year degree or better, and they’re still $50-, $60-, $70,000 dollars in debt,” Mr. McKenna said. “There’s a huge need for skilled labor in his country.”

 

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Student debt has surged to $1.3 trillion, and millions of Americans have fallen behind on student-loan payments.

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Today, Democrats, urban residents and Americans who consider themselves middle- and upper-class generally believe college is worth it; Republicans, rural residents and people who identify themselves as poor or working-class Americans don’t.

 

 

What do you think? Do you still have faith in the American college system? Is it worth the debt? Is a trade school better in the long run than going to a college?

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Considering that your wages with a degree are estimated at 84% higher, I'd say college is worth it. 

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2 hours ago, Mr. Freeze said:

Considering that your wages with a degree are estimated at 84% higher, I'd say college is worth it. 

To be fair, that was in 2012, and a lot has changed in 5 years. The article I linked mentions this, as there was a huge difference from the poll conducted 4 years ago compared to the current one. Remember to "adjust for inflation".

 

According to Fox Business, millennials made up about 5.3 million of the nearly 17 million U.S. households considered to be living below the poverty line in 2016

 

Also


Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder.Overall, 71 percent of all U.S. workers said they're now in debt, up from 68 percent a year ago, CareerBuilder said.

 

See a lot has changed just in ONE year alone. People are generally poorer than their baby boomer counter parts, and it's not just because of college debt. They still have to pay rent, utilities, food, car insurance, gas, etc etc etc. It all adds up, so no wonder people can't even afford to pay off their student debts. 

Edited by Neurosis

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The degree is still useful, but it's not like what baby boomers think, "Smoke some peyote, Find Yourself, get whatever degree you want in an endless array of choices"

 

It's, "Get employed somewhere. If you are good at it and if it has some depth beyond stacking boxes, get a related degree" 

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It is possible to "profit" from a college degree, if you're smart about it. Degrees in engineering, computer science, mathematics, etc. usually pay off because you can land high-paying jobs out of college that wouldn't be an option without the degree. However, putting yourself $100,000 in debt for a degree in "Art History" or "Gender Studies" is probably throwing money away that you'll never see again.

 

Also, "living paycheck to paycheck" doesn't really mean much in the U.S. There are people living below the poverty line who are able to put away a bit of savings each month because they choose to live within their means. Meanwhile, there are corporate executives who are bajillions of dollars in debt because they don't. If someone's living paycheck-to-paycheck, but lives in a big house, owns 3 or more vehicles, vacations every year, has cable & high-speed internet, etc., etc., then I say their economic struggles are self-imposed.

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21 minutes ago, 42PercentHealth said:

Degrees in engineering, computer science, mathematics, etc. usually pay off because you can land high-paying jobs out of college that wouldn't be an option without the degree.

 

That's not true, chemical/biological lab technicians for example don't need a degree, not even certifications (they will, eventually, as a result of increasing responsibilities on the job). Programmers are not hired based on a degree either, but on contributions to an opensource project or by an app they completed and published.

 

The only job I can think of where a degree and not a certification is like an absolute requirement is, ironically, college professor.

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1 minute ago, Vorpal said:

That's not true, chemical/biological lab technicians for example don't need a degree, not even certifications (they will, eventually, as a result of increasing responsibilities on the job). Programmers are not hired based on a degree either, but on contributions to an opensource project or by an app they completed and published.

I didn't say that there were no technical jobs available without a degree -- I said that there were some that are not available without a degree. Also, "availability" doesn't have to refer strictly to job qualifications listed. If twenty or thirty people apply for the same job, a person with a degree is (I think) most likely to get it. So the competition will rule out a lot of high-paying positions for people without degrees.

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5 minutes ago, 42PercentHealth said:

I didn't say that there were no technical jobs available without a degree -- I said that there were some that are not available without a degree. Also, "availability" doesn't have to refer strictly to job qualifications listed. If twenty or thirty people apply for the same job, a person with a degree is (I think) most likely to get it. So the competition will rule out a lot of high-paying positions for people without degrees.

If I'm an employer and I see two very similar applicants, but one has a degree, I'd lean towards the one without the degree. The degree applicant will probably demand a higher salary, and probably have various bad habits learned at university. ESPECIALLY if we are talking about a technical field, where most of what you learn in college is 5+ years behind what is industry standard today, so your 5 year old methods with 20 year old university equipment will be an extra step that an employer needs to exorcise from your brain.

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13 minutes ago, 42PercentHealth said:

I didn't say that there were no technical jobs available without a degree -- I said that there were some that are not available without a degree. Also, "availability" doesn't have to refer strictly to job qualifications listed. If twenty or thirty people apply for the same job, a person with a degree is (I think) most likely to get it. So the competition will rule out a lot of high-paying positions for people without degrees.

i have no education worth speaking off, yet i consider my self rather successful. and 30 applications? double that especially for graduate positions, and how many grads will be applying for that job?

 

most grads i know ( i call then uni folk) have no real world education and are for lack of a better word. geeks, not all but most, the ones that i know - still have no drivers licence, smoke weed with colossal dept from up going to university. but hey! they have a piece of paper telling them they are worth more because they can retain information from books and regurgitate it.

a degree is worth fuck all imho 

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Higher education itself is not the issue- it's the colleges and the way they are run. They're caught up in politics, schmoozing corporations, sports, and how much they can grow their campus. I go to a relatively cheap, public college, but I don't live there. And it's absurd the shit that they spend money on, not to mention they are practically cannibalizing the city.
I remember distinctly a conversation I had with my mom- the college wants diversity so badly, but they want more and more exotic, instead of looking in their own backyard. The city public primary and secondary schools are getting shut down or unaccredited, so the kids living in the city will never get to the college they have to walk past every day on the way. 

There needs to be reform on college spending, period. Tuition rates have skyrocketed because of colleges' wastefulness.

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Went to college for a Bachelor's in Computer Science.  I currently work for a food truck.

 

Yeah.  Totally not worth it.

 

Then again, I did learn how to code, which I put to use in GZDoom.  So I guess there's that.

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3 minutes ago, Vorpal said:

If I'm an employer and I see two very similar applicants, but one has a degree, I'd lean towards the one without the degree. The degree applicant will probably demand a higher salary, and probably have various bad habits learned at university. ESPECIALLY if we are talking about a technical field, where most of what you learn in college is 5+ years behind what is industry standard today, so your 5 year old methods with 20 year old university equipment will be an extra step that an employer needs to exorcise from your brain.

Good points. But is your logic representative of "most employers"?

 

In my mind, the college experience is not about "learning to do the job" but "learning how stuff works." I don't know whether the tools and equipment I used in college were outdated or not. I do know that when I got into my first job, I had to learn Unix because college taught me everything in Windows. I also had to learn git, because all my previous experience had been in GUI-based source control mechanisms. But it wasn't hard to learn the new tools, since I had already learned to use similar tools.

 

Ironically, the tools used by my employer are more out-of-date than the ones used in my college. I don't know whether this is the exception or the rule, but that's my experience.

 

Like @Major Arlene said... the biggest problem with colleges is the messed-up politics and ridiculous spending practices. If colleges would quit falling all over themselves for the sake of "diversity" and "inclusion" and "safe spaces", and actually focus on the freaking education, we might all be a lot better off.

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24 minutes ago, Vorpal said:

If I'm an employer and I see two very similar applicants, but one has a degree, I'd lean towards the one without the degree. The degree applicant will probably demand a higher salary, and probably have various bad habits learned at university.

Sorry but this stupid. You realize grad students can -And get encouraged to- have a part-time job in their field while studying? Now fearing they'd demand a raise\leave for better jobs the moment they graduate are legit.

 

Edited by Pegg

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Plan for success, V3.1 (updated 2017):

 

1. Go to trade school.

2. Take HVAC.

3. ???

4. Profit!

 

In all seriousness though, this profession makes insane money these days. There is a serious lack of experience in the field, at least where I'm from (Canada).

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A college verifies that you know what you're doing and have years of discipline to actually stick with something. If you're willing to spend that money and go to class for 2 - 4 - 8!!! years then you're willing to work the job and or career. If college isn't for you, there are apprenticeships or trades that can yield big money, but its still time and effort.

Edited by geo

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I did the University thing, I took a vague general program after High School that covered a wide spectrum of topics. Needless to say it didn't pan out for me after graduation. So I went back to College and took up a trade and now am in the process of paying back my University debts using the skills from College. Unless you know exactly what you want to specialize in when going to University, more often than not it can turn into obscene amounts of debt with little payout.

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1 minute ago, Pegg said:

Sorry but this is really freaking stupid. You realize grad students can -And get encouraged to- have a part-time job in their field while studying? Now fearing they'd demand a raise\leave for better jobs the moment they graduate are legit.

 

This discussion is about associate/bachelor degree, almost nobody goes for graduate/doctorate just for the chance to start a career (aside from doctor/lawyer). Also this doesn't sound like you're talking about America, in America grad students are encouraged to work in their department within the university in some capacity, most often as a teacher's aide.

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Oh well am sorry, I forgot how messed up some systems are in the US :P.

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Doomworld unites to completely destroy these capitalistic dogmas in the world's education systems that do nothing but be directly responsible for the ever growing divides between societal classes that are established and reinforced by them.

Edited by Red
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Much like silentzorah, I too have a degree I do not use. What it is in is totally unimportant; for all intents and purposes I have an associate's is basket weaving and I work as a butcher... maybe some of the bio/anatomy classes provided me with some good background info on general things, but the thousands spent on the degree do not net me even close to a dollar an hour over a peer; in fact having slightly more experience than me will still get another a higher wage.

 

While there is something to be said for having a degree and it can make you look better, or sell yourself to an employer better, if it's unrelated to the job at hand that time to get the degree would have literally been better spent just doing the damn job you wind up with. Which brings me to the overall point of my experiences with college: 1 pick a degree which is applicable in the real world, not in your head and not in academia world, and 2, pick a degree you know you can finish. My degree would be more useful if I didn't run across financial burdens which prevented me from continuing my education, though I am thankful I applied for the associate's when I qualified given what happened, at least I have something (equivalent to nothing perhaps, but it makes me feel good-ish then bad so maybe it truly does mean nothing more than just memories and time at this point), but life happens and it cannot always be planned for, so it's important to understand the extra risk that goes into shooting for the higher degrees and for whatever reason not being able to finish what you had planned on. It may also be more worth it to take a few extra classes to differentiate your associate's from your bachelor's/etc. So a bachelors/etc in the science field might look good but that associate's in science don't mean shit, go business or medical/trade/etc for the first two years' degree then take a couple extra classes on the path above that so worst case if you don't finish that associate's will still be meaningful. 

 

Also, definitely do apply for each degree you pass, you never know what will happen in life and no matter how dark my view on my basket weaving degree gets, ultimately I am thankful to have gotten it and when I do make my way back into a classroom, Rodney Dangerfield -style most likely, at least i won't have to start at square one. Still tho, I could have gotten this job path much earlier in life and I'd be making more money now and have much better benefits if I hadn't wasted my time getting a degree i cannot use anywhere but in a college towards another degree. I know that may not fit the flowery bullshit academia will feed the young, but American academia has widely known problems teaching the application portion of learning, so is it much of a surprise the "college" message is missing certain portions of the application step? Hehe

 

Ggs universities; stop paying yourselves so much while robbing the wages from the hands of the future who has risky chances of paying for it even later on down the road, to the point where our previous administration had to address the issue and put in place forgiveness programs specifically for college debt. Also around that time Mike Rowe gave a great speech in front of Congress on this subject.

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Living in California, Sacramento to be specific, housing has skyrocketed, college is expensive, minimum wage is now going to balloon up to 15 an hour within a very short time which will eventually cause other issues, and there's a huge homeless population that is ever increasing because of a variety of issues. The odds are also stacked against you to open a business.

 

I have friends in their late 20's/early 30's who still rent a house with 3 other people or some that still live with their parents because it's just that hard right now. It doesn't matter if they've gone to college and got a degree or worked retail the entire time since graduating high school, we are all able to barely survive comfortably and I see this just getting harder and harder for newer generations graduating high school. It's fucking depressing how many people have killed themselves over the last year or two.

 

At least marijuana was made legal so everyone can cope.

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@wheresthebeef Aye. I lived there for 19 years and I saw both my life, family and everything around me fall apart in the end. Cue homelessness out of my control from Nov 5 2012 to Nov 5 2013 once I settled down in Oregon and I managed to survive impossible odds. Never again.

Edited by cyan0s1s
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Just now, cyan0s1s said:

@wheresthebeef Aye. I lived there for 19 years and I saw both my life and everything around me fall apart in the end. Cue homelessness out of my control from Nov 5 2012 to Nov 5 2013 once I settled down in Oregon and I managed to survive impossible odds. Never again.

My wife and I are very much considering moving out of state. Lots of friends and family here, but I think in the long run it might be better to get out, especially if we eventually have a kid. I mean with the same cost of a house here you can buy one in another state for twice the size and bigger property.

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Don't even bother with college until you have a plan or direction for the future and stick to it. Don't waste time and money on worthless degrees either. Those X Studies and Arts degrees aren't worth more than toilet paper except in certain cases. Make sure to pick a school that will align with your goals and take summer courses; don't drag out the degree any longer than it is. Go in with 2 fields in mind that you can dedicate yourself to just in case you find out 1 of them sucks.

 

Most importantly, manage your time and money well.

 

As for trade school, that is also a viable path to take. There's always a need for plumbers, electricians, HVAC techs, welders, etc. There's lots of money to be made and just like most things, you get out it what you put into it effort wise.

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@wheresthebeef Is it true that you have to make a minimum of $220,000 a year in California in order to live comfortably? I heard that from someone and I'm inclined to believe it. That state's fucked up.

Edited by cyan0s1s
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It's possible to live here by yourself with a full time job if you make a couple bucks above the minimum and you have no debt or anything and you live in a not amazing area of the city. Housing cost is still rising though as well as minimum wage (which will increase prices of everything despite what the state wants to claim) so I don't know how viable this will be anymore; like I said you almost need a partner to live a somewhat comfortable life here.

 

And to get back to college degrees, I can't tell you how many college graduates have applied to work at my family's grocery store with some super fancy degree but they are willing to bag groceries. They are way overqualified and it's just sad, but it is the way it is.

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high school students should stop being pressured to enroll directly into post secondary school. they are not ready for it and it doesn't help them.

 

Post secondary institutions are merely businesses; like any training program, they give you the credentials, but only want the money from you. you need to make sure you have a path, can make the connections between your training and credentials to the job. Also important to research the state of the job market. not much point in being trained for a job that is hardly available, resulting in no employment or unrelated field employment.

 

trade schools and professional programs are a good investment, but you still need to make that job connection from start to finish.

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I know many people that have degrees and make more money as supervisors at Walmart than they would with their degrees. I know some others that have degrees but can't find jobs, and will spend most, if not all, of their lives paying off the debt.

 

Trade School is certainly the more worthwhile option at this point.

Edited by Flesh420

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