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(Gawker)   Grad school is a debt machine for our incredibly well-educated retail workers   (gawker.com) divider line 110
    More: Obvious, professional degree, doctoral degree, student debt, percentiles, machines, workers  
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5234 clicks; posted to Main » on 25 Mar 2014 at 10:33 PM (38 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-03-25 06:49:57 PM  
The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

No, they can't. Whatever the reason is, that's not it.
But I don't think the claim is true in the first place. Don't teaching and research assistantships still exist?
 
2014-03-25 06:58:37 PM  
My friend called his doctorate and pair of post doctoral fellowships a great experience in filling out forms for grants and submitting parts of his papers to hundreds of journals a month. He did a bit of research from time to time but it was mostly forms.

He doesn't do what he was trained for (electrical engineering, cosmology and particle physics)... he talked his way into a systems engineering job and uses his degrees to negotiate raises. Smart people will usually manage to land on their feet.
 
2014-03-25 07:57:40 PM  
I've always let my lack of degree make me feel like a failure in life.

Until I decided there was so much more to my worth than a piece of paper, and I did manage a successful career with out it. And I don't have massive student loan debt.

So, just like with being a single mom most my life, and not having the best car or being a super model, I've decided to say FARK YOU to what society says I should do and measure my life by my own day-to-day happiness.
 
2014-03-25 08:21:33 PM  
CHURCH!
 
2014-03-25 09:16:24 PM  
I have an MA in anthropology/archaeology but working in retail. Lol, I guess this article was about me...
I was under the impression that you needed an advanced degree to do anything with anthropology. Turns out the field is very saturated in both academia and in the private sector. Wish my professors would have been more forthcoming about job prospects instead of sugarcoating it.
 
2014-03-25 09:24:03 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math


I don't think the author has met a business student. Sack of hammers.
 
2014-03-25 10:24:48 PM  
I went through the entire calculus program, linear algebra, number theory, differential equations (granted at a state school, not MIT or anything) and I never used any of that shiat in any of my programming gigs. I make a lot more money from my film school degree and I'm a lot happier than I ever was as a code monkey.
 
2014-03-25 10:39:52 PM  
Most jobs in my field require an advanced degree .  It cost a lot but I am doing what I love.
 
2014-03-25 10:41:17 PM  

Gunny Highway: Most jobs in my field require an advanced degree .  It cost a lot but I am doing what I love.


...highway gunnery?
 
2014-03-25 10:41:37 PM  
The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

That's completely not true and I have a double major in Finance and Econ. I can do math, but the number of people in upper level classes who suck at basic algebra and statistics, much less calculus of resource optimization for limited production curves (we spent a long time on that in my governmental economics class, hard as all hell but unbelievably fun and I learned a LOT).
 
2014-03-25 10:41:47 PM  
One good thing about a graduate degree in the life sciences.  You get paid to go to school.
 
2014-03-25 10:43:17 PM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

That's completely not true and I have a double major in Finance and Econ. I can do math, but the number of people in upper level classes who suck at basic algebra and statistics, much less calculus of resource optimization for limited production curves (we spent a long time on that in my governmental economics class, hard as all hell but unbelievably fun and I learned a LOT).


Dammit, Me gud at math. Not so much Inglush.

"the number of people... would astound you"
 
2014-03-25 10:43:30 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

No, they can't. Whatever the reason is, that's not it.
But I don't think the claim is true in the first place. Don't teaching and research assistantships still exist?


This is confusing. My doctorate was paid for by my teaching and research assistant positions. Why would one have to take out so many loans? I can see for the first year not having anything, but after that I would think some sort of support would be available, or at least to apply to it.
 
2014-03-25 10:44:18 PM  

raerae1980: I have an MA in anthropology/archaeology but working in retail. Lol, I guess this article was about me...
I was under the impression that you needed an advanced degree to do anything with anthropology. Turns out the field is very saturated in both academia and in the private sector. Wish my professors would have been more forthcoming about job prospects instead of sugarcoating it.


There are a bunch of  reserves up here that are looking for peeps like you. They are working on several burial sites and are constantly advertising their positions.
 
2014-03-25 10:48:21 PM  

Bondith: Gunny Highway: Most jobs in my field require an advanced degree .  It cost a lot but I am doing what I love.

...highway gunnery?


Wingo!
 
2014-03-25 10:49:54 PM  

Tr0mBoNe: My friend called his doctorate and pair of post doctoral fellowships a great experience in filling out forms for grants and submitting parts of his papers to hundreds of journals a month. He did a bit of research from time to time but it was mostly forms.

He doesn't do what he was trained for (electrical engineering, cosmology and particle physics)... he talked his way into a systems engineering job and uses his degrees to negotiate raises. Smart people will usually manage to land on their feet.


Having only earned Masters in Engineering, I have the utmost respect for people who've earned their PhD's:  In my book they've demonstrated they can successfully navigate one of the most bureaucratic and political organizations in the world -- academia
 
2014-03-25 10:50:42 PM  
In my anecdotal experience, the only debt I racked up was in grad school.

/paid off ...
 
2014-03-25 10:52:48 PM  

balki1867: Tr0mBoNe: My friend called his doctorate and pair of post doctoral fellowships a great experience in filling out forms for grants and submitting parts of his papers to hundreds of journals a month. He did a bit of research from time to time but it was mostly forms.

He doesn't do what he was trained for (electrical engineering, cosmology and particle physics)... he talked his way into a systems engineering job and uses his degrees to negotiate raises. Smart people will usually manage to land on their feet.

Having only earned Masters in Engineering, I have the utmost respect for people who've earned their PhD's:  In my book they've demonstrated they can successfully navigate one of the most bureaucratic and political organizations in the world -- academia


i184.photobucket.com
 
2014-03-25 10:53:38 PM  
My husband has a Master's in Nuclear Engineering, which the school paid him to get in exchange for working in the department.  His undergrad degree was paid completely by scholarships and we have no debt from either degree.  The job he got starts out pay based on the level of education and experience, so having the extra degree was worth it.

I have a Bachelor's in Japanese and International Business, and I saw absolutely no point in getting a Master's degree.  We have some student loan debt left (about $12k) because I took out very little in loans while working and getting a few supplemental scholarships.  I had several jobs in business and IT before quitting to stay at home with the children, which makes me even more glad that I didn't take on the extra degree.

Sometimes it's worth it (as in my husband's case), and sometimes it's not (as in mine).  It all depends on what you're studying, why you're getting the degree and how much it will cost you.
 
2014-03-25 10:54:56 PM  
There is a future in plastics.
 
2014-03-25 10:55:09 PM  
Health care.
 
2014-03-25 10:55:40 PM  
Got my rtest for Grad school in a couple weeks, found out I was studying the severely advanced test prep. Whoops! Gotta dumb it down before the test on April 5th.
 
2014-03-25 10:55:43 PM  
So what's that mean, only rich kids who already have a job lined up with mum and dad's pals should go into higher education?
 
2014-03-25 10:55:56 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: No, they can't. Whatever the reason is, that's not it.


lol
 
2014-03-25 10:59:06 PM  
Work for a company that will pay for you to get an education.
 
2014-03-25 11:00:21 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: Don't teaching and research assistantships still exist?


Yes, but they're largely dependent on major. Everyone in humanities fights tooth and nail over the few teaching positions available, because they're pretty much the only way to get funded. In science and engineering, if you're not being paid to be there in one way or another you're doing it wrong.
 
2014-03-25 11:01:10 PM  
shiat.. I guess Bukowski was right

Link
 
2014-03-25 11:01:58 PM  

balki1867: Having only earned Masters in Engineering, I have the utmost respect for people who've earned their PhD's:  In my book they've demonstrated they can successfully navigate one of the most bureaucratic and political organizations in the world -- academia


You've nailed it, but it's far worse. I have my BS/CS-ME/ECE. My wife has a PhD in Education and can't get a job to save her life. The PhD is a huge liability for her.
 
2014-03-25 11:02:11 PM  
Beauty part about working under a professor with an NIH grant is that my education was paid for, I got a stipend, and I didn't have to TA or anything like that.
 
2014-03-25 11:03:12 PM  
Much like how we should consider universal health care, perhaps we should consider universal education.
 
2014-03-25 11:03:30 PM  
Maybe I'm a bit dense or something, but I can't understand why the cost of tuition has gotten so high -- especially when back around 1977, my local college had a mix of regular students and 'professional-students' along with a lot of people just taking a class or two for the education.

Like, one of our physicians would take classes in music because he wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Middle aged folks would be taking a few classes in humanities or the arts, just to fill in their knowledge base.

Professional students kept taking classes until they exhausted the limits of the college. Most for no other reason than they liked learning.

In 1971, I took the first year of a two year associate degree in nursing. It cost $600. In 1975 I took several classes to begin a psychology degree. That cost $900. My folks paid for the first stint -- right out of high school. I paid for the second.

I couldn't afford to do it today.
College educations, when I was a young adult, were a bit costly, but affordable. There were grants available and some student loans, but you had to dig around to find them. A lot of students put themselves through college by working.

I did. I changed to the swing shift at work to attend college in the morning. It was tight, but I could do it.

I can't find anything to justify the explosive surge in college tuition, especially when many major colleges appear to have millions in assets and actually don't need to raise their costs.

I haven't been to colleges in years, but I'd wager you'll no longer find the 'professional or casual' students there anymore. I suspect the average middle aged man, with an itch to learn about medieval architecture just to satisfy his curiosity is not willing to fork over $10,000 just to take a few classes for a year.

I'd be interested in any opinions as to why educational costs have soared, especially, since not that long ago, a college education was considered no longer just obtainable by the rich.

The way it's going now, it soon will be.
 
2014-03-25 11:04:08 PM  
Used to work for a company that paid for your education if you did well. We then had a large number of people take their CCIE exams, the compnany paid for them, tghen the left the company. The last company I worked for, paid for your education, but required 2 years service beyond that. Was going for my CCNE, but thought"What's the point?"
 
2014-03-25 11:05:41 PM  

rumpelstiltskin: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

No, they can't. Whatever the reason is, that's not it.
But I don't think the claim is true in the first place. Don't teaching and research assistantships still exist?


My graduate education was entirely funded.  My professor is expected to cover the costs of tuition, as well as a stipend and various benefits.  This is standard in science.  Even if the cost of tuition has technically increased, your hard scientist grad students aren't paying a dime--it's the professors, and their grants, that are covering it.

In professions where we don't really need more workers, sure, the students covers the cost.  With valued degrees?  The school/professors cover it.  With valued students (even though they're pursuing something that doesn't pay)?  Fellowships cover it.  Your average kid who has decided to go into grad school, and study something worthless?  Nope.
 
2014-03-25 11:05:50 PM  
But, but, what about a Masters in Puppetry?  I going to do alright, aren't I?
 
2014-03-25 11:07:58 PM  

bborchar: My husband has a Master's in Nuclear Engineering


That is so cool and I'm glad to hear that degree can pay off. The school I went to for my masters had a functioning nuclear reactor across the street from the building I dwelled in.
 
2014-03-25 11:10:29 PM  

ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha: rumpelstiltskin: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

I don't think the author has met a business student. Sack of hammers.


Like I always say, the MPA is the thinking man's MBA.

/Has MPA, definitely doesn't make MBA money
 
2014-03-25 11:10:54 PM  
We need a system in place like a trade school. Employers could post what sorts of classes they need, like computer skills or unjamming copy machines, and people could take one or two year courses in them.
College is great if you have the time and money, but it really doesn't qualify you for anything.
 
2014-03-25 11:11:39 PM  

Aestatis: rumpelstiltskin: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

No, they can't. Whatever the reason is, that's not it.
But I don't think the claim is true in the first place. Don't teaching and research assistantships still exist?

My graduate education was entirely funded.  My professor is expected to cover the costs of tuition, as well as a stipend and various benefits.  This is standard in science.  Even if the cost of tuition has technically increased, your hard scientist grad students aren't paying a dime--it's the professors, and their grants, that are covering it.

In professions where we don't really need more workers, sure, the students covers the cost.  With valued degrees?  The school/professors cover it.  With valued students (even though they're pursuing something that doesn't pay)?  Fellowships cover it.  Your average kid who has decided to go into grad school, and study something worthless?  Nope.


This. Ph.D. students may have to get by on terrible stipends, and occasionally take second jobs, but they don't pay anything other than opportunity costs. And the unemployment rate for hard science and engineering Ph.D.s is extraordinarily low.

Humanities and Social Sciences, on the other hand...I don't know why people do it. I really don't. But then, I guess I'm lucky enough to actually enjoy the hard sciences.

Oh, and business students can barely do math. Their skill set is dressing well and convincing people that they're indispensable by using jargon to say blindingly obvious things.
 
2014-03-25 11:12:17 PM  

zimbomba63: But, but, what about a Masters in Puppetry?  I going to do alright, aren't I?


You'd do better with puppets than a PhD in Folklore.
 
2014-03-25 11:17:24 PM  

Aestatis: In professions where we don't really need more workers, sure, the students covers the cost.  With valued degrees?  The school/professors cover it.  With valued students (even though they're pursuing something that doesn't pay)?  Fellowships cover it.  Your average kid who has decided to go into grad school, and study something worthless?  Nope.


Yeah I was gonna say, it's different based on need.  In 2009 (last I checked) a PhD in Computer Science was all but paid for at a state school (Kentucky).  Out of something like 410 applicants, 90% were non-US born.  A US citizen with the correct pre-reqs walks in there and gets put at the head of the line, nearly all tuition paid for.

But I'm glad I didn't go that route.  I had multiple job offers before graduation, and was sick of school at that point.
 
2014-03-25 11:17:29 PM  

antidisestablishmentarianism: Work for a company that will pay for you to get an education.


Also, tell them to throw in a free car and a penis enlargement.
OOH! and a pizza! tell them I want some pizza.
 
2014-03-25 11:19:47 PM  
I started working on my PhD in Electrical Engineering. In quickly realized that it wasn't valued at my company as it was considered the equivalent of 2 years of work experience. Why would I waste 4 years getting it?
 
2014-03-25 11:20:26 PM  

Rik01: I'd be interested in any opinions as to why educational costs have soared, especially, since not that long ago, a college education was considered no longer just obtainable by the rich.


The biggest factor is the loss of state funding to universities that correlates strongly with the current 50-60 year olds getting out of university age and a desire for lower taxes.

Schools have to make up the difference and the current goldmine is student living. Build super expensive dorms with all kinds of amenities to bring in students and charge them out the ass for it. Double bonus for courting foreign kids who can't exactly swap housing on a moment's notice.
 
2014-03-25 11:22:29 PM  

Aestatis: rumpelstiltskin: The only graduate degree that has not significantly increased in cost in the past decade: a business degree. Probably because business students can do math

No, they can't. Whatever the reason is, that's not it.
But I don't think the claim is true in the first place. Don't teaching and research assistantships still exist?

My graduate education was entirely funded.  My professor is expected to cover the costs of tuition, as well as a stipend and various benefits.  This is standard in science.  Even if the cost of tuition has technically increased, your hard scientist grad students aren't paying a dime--it's the professors, and their grants, that are covering it.

In professions where we don't really need more workers, sure, the students covers the cost.  With valued degrees?  The school/professors cover it.  With valued students (even though they're pursuing something that doesn't pay)?  Fellowships cover it.  Your average kid who has decided to go into grad school, and study something worthless?  Nope.


Same here.  I've got a PhD and BS in biology.  Times were tough for a while, but I got through both degrees without any debt, and I've now been through 2 relatively well-paying post-docs (and just applied for a third).  Scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships were the key, and each one you get boosts your CV for the next.
 
2014-03-25 11:23:17 PM  
If you are in a MS program for engineering, you should not be paying the university for anything other than books and "technology fees." You should have a fellowship or an assistantship-- minimum. Better yet, you should have an engineering job where your employer reimburses you for tuition.

If you are paying tuition *and* doing MS research or otherwise working as an engineer, you are doing it wrong.
 
2014-03-25 11:30:24 PM  

WhoopAssWayne: My wife has a PhD in Education and can't get a job to save her life. The PhD is a huge liability for her.


This would only be true if she is trying to get a job as a teacher. Administrators in most cases require the PhD. If she has a Phd why isn't she trying to get a job teaching in a teacher prep program in higher ed? If she got the PhD before having any teaching experience, she did it completely wrong.
 
2014-03-25 11:33:35 PM  
PhD in math here.  Job market in academia is pretty darn rough!  I wouldn't recommend anyone pursue a career in academia in ANY subject.  It is very risky and at times not at all enjoyable since there are many many things which suck about it.  I would only recommend the PhD if you really love the subject, get funding, and are willing to accept that it may not be necessary for whatever you do next in life.  In other words, you must be a little crazy (like me).

Luckily I've always loved teaching, so I'm planning on being poor and teaching high schoolers math/physics/comp sci.  To be honest, I think know I will love it.  The next generation needs smart people!  :)

I'm surprised more PhD's don't go into high school teaching, given the sheer amount of them which are working awful adjunct positions and 1 year temporary slave teaching positions.  High schools are so much more stable, sometimes pay more, and the students can actually be better depending on the school.  Just looking at my cohorts and folks that have entered academia from my program recently, many of them seem unhappy and have not-so-desirable temporary jobs at inferior schools and will be searching for jobs again and again before they settle down at likely an even worse school.  I can't handle that!  All the while the colleges have absurd profits and keep making the campuses fancier and more resort-like.  Oh I can't wait for all of these schools to fail!  :)
 
2014-03-25 11:33:55 PM  
Let's keep in mind that the debt cited in the article is for the TOTAL DEBT BURDEN of the student after graduating. That counts their combined undergraduate and graduate debt. I suspect that the lion's share of that is undergraduate debt, carried over since they don't have to pay it back while in school. Many graduate programs -- at least in the STEM fields -- offer graduate teaching or research assistantships, which basically means they pay your tuition and give you a small stipend for living expenses. At many research universities, the stipend can be as much as $20K or so. Still not going to get rich off of it, but enough to get you through the degree with little debt.

The ones taking out debt for graduate degrees are generally studying for a master's or PhD in art history or one of the liberal arts, with little funds for graduate research assistantships.
 
2014-03-25 11:35:16 PM  

Mugato: I went through the entire calculus program, linear algebra, number theory, differential equations (granted at a state school, not MIT or anything) and I never used any of that shiat in any of my programming gigs. I make a lot more money from my film school degree and I'm a lot happier than I ever was as a code monkey.


This is a huge problem in mathematics and mathematics education in general. It is just an endless parade of classes and prerequisites and learning which end up leading to nothing. Very typical complaint in all levels of mathematics is I didn't use any of it.

90% of the calculus that is taught is obsolete. CAS (computer algebra systems) software can solve those pointless chain rule problems, integration by parts, integration and differential equation pattern matching problems. It takes the software fraction of a second to solve it and a human takes 15mins - 30mins to solve one such problem. Calculus just needs to be completely revised but yeah, schools will do it at a snail's pace.

Even if those problems were solved, I don't see the point of teaching number theory, abstract algebra etc. You can argue that you need diffeq and linalg for engineering applications but the mathematics courses are filled with pointless techniques and minutiae that completely obscure the whole point of doing it. Most of those mathematics is only useful if you want to create new mathematics in the future and very few engineers ever plan to do that. With numerical software like Matlab, there is no point in learning many of the techniques that is taught in classes.

If you want to be an inventor then you might have to create new mathematics for your new invention. The problem is that lot of existing mathematics is useless when you are creating new mathematics because one small change in the assumption renders vast amounts of mathematics useless. You spend 100s of hours learning a field of mathematics that is useless because there is a small change in assumption for your invention that makes all you learned useless. It is useful as learning tool on how people do mathematics but not useful as something that is directly used.

So, the point of all this rambling is that students see classes and professors are required to teach classes. So, everything is done to fit that requirement. Not to say that mathematics is not useful but that the current education system of mathematics is faulty.

So, don't expect to learn mathematics by taking a bunch of classes.
If you spend enough time reading mathematics and doing exercises, you get this "mathematical maturity" but that is for research level work. For engineers, there is a lot of pointless bullshiat done in classes that translates to absolutely nothing. There is some useful mathematical knowledge for engineers but that can be taught much easier and in less time than doing pointless problems and should probably be done directly in engineering or science classes as needed.
 
2014-03-25 11:37:01 PM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: The biggest factor is the loss of state funding to universities that correlates strongly with the current 50-60 year olds getting out of university age and a desire for lower taxes.

Schools have to make up the difference and the current goldmine is student living. Build super expensive dorms with all kinds of amenities to bring in students and charge them out the ass for it. Double bonus for courting foreign kids who can't exactly swap housing on a moment's notice.


Yeah its getting to be a highly unsustainable system.  That said, students don't help themselves if/when they decide to go to college "for the experience" rather than for the education.  IMO, although the actual costs of education are indeed skyrocketing, the "lifestyle" students decide to live while in college has as much to do with their debt.  It's amazing to see the stuff (junk mostly), cars, vacations, etc. some of these young people spend their money on.  Not to mention going to every sporting event, party, etc.
 
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