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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.
 
2014-03-25 11:37:12 PM  
With my two bachelor's and a JD, (and a massive student debt) I am eminently qualified to discuss this issue.

Part of the problem is that, in California at least, you don't qualify for any undergraduate grants if you've already got one undergrad degree. So if you have a B.A. in, say, English, and you need a bachelor's in Computer Science to get an advanced degree, you're going to have to either a) take several extra years to get the thing part time, b) get a loan through a bank at a higher interest rate or c) get a student loan to finance that degree.

For your grad degree, grants are as rare as hens' teeth; it's all funded by either scholarships, if you are unusually intelligent, or loans, if you're not. And again, either you do it part time and nearly kill yourself working a full-time job to acquire no debt, or you get a crushing loan and finish a bit sooner. In my case, health issues prevented me from working while going to school, so it was go into debt slavery and get my degree.

The real issue is, or should be, why a graduate degree is so ungodly expensive in the first place. Why DOES a law degree cost upward of $35K per year? (at a 4th tier law school, no less) Why shouldn't it cost a bit less, especially since internships and externships are so hard to get? Answer: Because they can charge that much, that's why. And that's the only reason.
 
2014-03-25 11:43:32 PM  
I have a BS in mech eng, seven years later I'm self employed in something I figured out how to do and paid for my senior year with. I'm bored with it and I'd love to get a masters in something like materials or process control, but first I gotta make my millions.

I tried being clever. After watching a guy sell $6 cans of rubberized undercoating for $20, and some guys on Sharktank with a "new and innovative" prepreg fiberglass cloth product I had used 15 years ago, I figure "fark it, I just need to find an old use for an old product no one else remembers."

Having fun trawling through old DIY magazines. Half of it's dangerously unsafe, a quarter irrelevant, a quarter "you mean they didn't have rubber mallets before 1922". Oh, and I found the Slap Chop and Stevia way back there.
 
2014-03-25 11:43:45 PM  
Actually, I retract my statement somewhat.  The estimated tuition costs at the private school I got my BS at have increased by $6000 per year since I started in 2000.  After taking inflation into account the cost is actually $4000 cheaper than it was then, and housing fees are about the same.
 
2014-03-25 11:45:06 PM  

juvandy: 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.


Three post-docs?  What's the career goal?  Eventually we have to leave post-doc studies behind and get a real job.
 
2014-03-25 11:45:31 PM  
Financed by the Banks, no doubt.
 
2014-03-25 11:46:36 PM  

WhoopAssWayne: 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.


Cant get a job in a union shop.......
 
2014-03-25 11:52:09 PM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: 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).


Yep.  I shouldn't be, but I am constantly surprised by the numbers of students that I have to teach that don't understand how to do basic algebra or fraction simplification.  Makes me a sad panda.
 
2014-03-25 11:54:13 PM  

mr0x: 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 you ...


Good math teachers will teach in a way which helps practice problem solving and critical thinking abilities.  Bad ones will just make you memorize formulas and techniques.  I agree that as an engineer at the end of the day a lot of the details won't be useful.  But, the process of learning these details ideally should be a useful exercise in building the mind of an engineer.  Teaching some one to take derivatives is a simple exercise in thinking a little abstractly (eg identifying function composition, when one should use logarithms, etc) which I think really helps train the brain for doing some computer programming.  Thinking mathematically is the same as thinking like a programmer, which is pretty damn useful these days.
 
2014-03-26 12:01:27 AM  

Aestatis: juvandy: 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.

Three post-docs?  What's the career goal?  Eventually we have to leave post-doc studies behind and get a real job.


Completely agree with the first part of rumple and the entirety of Aestatis. I just finished my PhD (woot) and came out with no additional debt and a good amount saved in a roth (completely from my time in grad school, i live cheaply). While completing my PhD I also had the opportunity to complete an MPH free of charge, which I of course accepted and feel may have an equal role in my income in the future. I do have 16k in undergrad loans but I felt they were well worth it. Graduate degrees can definitely be completed with minimal loans, just decide what you are going to do with it beforehand. Grad school is not a way to avoid real life. If you are going to take on loans, make sure your future career will support them.

On the note of post-docs, while I am interviewing for a first one, I have no plans on doing a second. If I can't get what I need from the first one than I screwed up somewhere. Doing 3 post-docs is just not good from everything I have heard. Two should be your max, I would say get yourself an associate position or go for a research scientist position (aka might not be worth it going for PI/professor position, you might just get strung along). Best of luck though.
 
2014-03-26 12:09:22 AM  

jfbnr24: 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.


In her State, it was not possible to get a PhD without teaching experience - it requires at least 10 years before you could even apply. She had 14 years of high school as an English teacher. Administrator is a career path she had no interest in - she did C&I / English / and whatever you call people who study and promote children books.- I don't remember.
 
2014-03-26 12:11:54 AM  
celebcenter.us

        "Naw, go on!  Really?  Get the f*ck out of here!"
 
2014-03-26 12:13:19 AM  

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.


When I did my bachelors degree in archaeology there was 1500 people in the freshman class and we were considered a small university. It no wonder there are basically no jobs available in the field and most fieldwork seems to be done by unpaid volunteers. Add to that the people who do have positions tend to have had them for decades, you get kind of stuck. I only imagine that situation gets worse in the US where there is far less positions available.

Went into Electrical engineering and computer science eventually. Has a good career now.
 
2014-03-26 12:14:36 AM  

Nutsac_Jim: Cant get a job in a union shop.......


They just aren't hiring, Nutsac.
 
2014-03-26 12:17:52 AM  
Dear people between 55 and 70.

When you've made your mark, your pension and your 401k hasn't been stolen, RETIRE AND GET THE F*CK OUT OF THE WAY.   Don't double dip.  Don't "consult" the new jack kids coming up into poverty, step off, go home and relax and enjoy.

/ yeah I'm in that age group but what I do doesn't have a retirement plan or even steady work.
// would LOVE to retire.
 
2014-03-26 12:43:24 AM  
I work in retail, selling men's suits at a midrange department store.  It's a commissioned job so at least the money is usually okay.  Four of our five full-timers have terminal master's degrees - me and one other guy are Masters of Library Science, and we have two Masters of Fine Arts (painting and theatre).  The other full-timer has a bachelor's degree in marketing, and the two part-timers are a realtor (not sure of his educational qualifications) and a guy with a physical therapy certificate who has also worked as a flight attendant in the past.  At one point we had a Doctor of Medicine - pending residency - working part time in our department too.  It's like a liberal arts college of haberdashery.
 
2014-03-26 01:09:05 AM  

jfbnr24: his would only be true if she is trying to get a job as a teacher.


She IS trying to get a job as a teacher.
 
2014-03-26 01:20:03 AM  
I personally feel extremely fortunate to survive six years of graduate school to earn a PhD in American history with $0.00 in debt. How? Scholarship for undergraduate, savings + small loans + scholarship earned in MA program, and teaching fellowship for the doctorate. Going to only state universities naturally factored into the costs. Not having major medical expenses, a functioning automobile, being frugal, and a workaholic round out the equation.

After finishing the "piled higher and deeper (perhaps derper is ideal for Fark)" stage of education, I intentionally targeted a job in federal history. No, not because I am so pinko liberal who wants to suckle at the teat of the taxpayer, but rather because of a strong loathing I developed in my doctoral program towards the attitude of some faculty. At least my current work gives me joy seeing the general public enjoy their heritage and policymakers something to think about that is cogent and relevant, subjective as the latter word is for the issue at hand. Hearing the stories of my friends in perpetual adjunct land and the struggles with debt only serve to remind me that I am fortunate, and in many ways merely lucky.
 
2014-03-26 01:22:11 AM  
Dammit. I knew I shoulda got a degree in walking through machine shops quickly.
 
2014-03-26 01:27:33 AM  

Aestatis: Three post-docs? What's the career goal? Eventually we have to leave post-doc studies behind and get a real job.


Professorship at a research institution eventually. I should note that the Boobies-doc was for a year and the second was for two years.  The second was on my own grant (as would the third), so its not like I'm doing someone else's work all the time.  Real jobs are great but when a professorship in biology research gets 100+ (sometimes 500+) applications you need to be as competitive as possible.  Most of my peers aren't getting jobs until they are 2-3 post docs in and have 30+ publications and 700+ citations.  It's a lot easier to do that on your own post-doc grants than it is as an assistant professor at a teaching college or master's university.
 
2014-03-26 01:30:51 AM  
/whoops

Professorship at a research institution eventually. I should note that the Boobies-doc was for a year and the second was for two years. The second was on my own grant (as would the third), so its not like I'm doing someone else's work all the time. Real jobs are great but when a professorship in biology research gets 100+ (sometimes 500+) applications you need to be as competitive as possible. Most of my peers aren't getting jobs until they are 2-3 post docs in (usually 6+ years removed from their PhD) and have 30+ publications and 700+ citations. It's a lot easier to do that on your own post-doc grants than it is as an assistant professor at a teaching college or master's university.
 
2014-03-26 01:32:03 AM  
ok, I must be retarded, because every time I write "Boobies-doc", it comes out as "Boobies-doc".  wierd
 
2014-03-26 01:32:38 AM  
Boobies-doc
 
2014-03-26 01:33:16 AM  
(first)
(post-doc)
 
2014-03-26 01:33:44 AM  

TheUltimateFunctor: Good math teachers will teach in a way which helps practice problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Bad ones will just make you memorize formulas and techniques. I agree that as an engineer at the end of the day a lot of the details won't be useful. But, the process of learning these details ideally should be a useful exercise in building the mind of an engineer. Teaching some one to take derivatives is a simple exercise in thinking a little abstractly (eg identifying function composition, when one should use logarithms, etc) which I think really helps train the brain for doing some computer programming. Thinking mathematically is the same as thinking like a programmer, which is pretty damn useful these days.

I just wish employers would see this. I'm starting to feel like it takes one to know one. They don't seem to see any value in a math degree if the job doesn't specifically ask for someone with math skills. I have a BS in applied math and I'm currently unemployed and job searching. I'd love to find a math-related job but I'm applying for general entry level office jobs too. Plenty of ads say they want things like good analytical and problem solving skills. Um, hello? Over here! Trying to find ways to explain in a cover letter why a math degree is advantageous isn't easy. I don't want to directly use most of the math I learned (or attempted to learn). I want to crunch numbers but I don't want to be using advanced calculus and differential equations. I mostly just see it as having critical thinking and problem solving skills that others might not. I learned some basic programming and I was good at it, so I could learn more, but I don't think I want to just do programming. The best I can come up with is that I could work with complex formulas in Excel. (They all want someone who's "proficient with Excel.") I've done plenty of complicated algebra problems; it translates to spreadsheets easily. As I've taught myself to use Excel, I've realized that being good at math makes it a lot easier. I've used some complex nested functions for things like conditional formats and logical statements, not just calculations. If I don't get the answer I expect, I feel like I'm debugging a program and I go about it the same way. I could see someone who's not good at math and/or doesn't know any programming struggling with that. Trying to convey this to employers is a whole other story though. They'd rather hire the business majors who, according to this thread, all suck at math. They want someone experienced to do a straightforward job instead of even considering training someone who appears to be reasonably intelligent. Maybe they think I'm too smart. I'm really not a genius; my grades were average.

/sigh
//better stop wasting time on fark and get back to the job search
 
2014-03-26 01:38:31 AM  

juvandy: ok, I must be retarded, because every time I write "Boobies-doc", it comes out as "Boobies-doc".  wierd


Welcome to fark!
I see you have met our filters.

First followed by post is filtered and time warped to discourage the age old practice.
 
2014-03-26 01:40:19 AM  

Caeldan: juvandy: ok, I must be retarded, because every time I write "Boobies-doc", it comes out as "Boobies-doc".  wierd

Welcome to fark!
I see you have met our filters.

First followed by post is filtered and time warped to discourage the age old practice.


You'd think I would have learned this in the past 7 years...
 
2014-03-26 01:50:26 AM  
Well, I don't know about everyone else's experience with grad school, but I got a lot out of it.

I can prepare a presentation on just about anything in an hour.

Or give one on something I know about with just a whiteboard.  And get applause at the end.

I can communicate at an audience-appropriate level about technical topics and drill down on anything that someone seems like they don't understand, without calling attention to the confused person.

I've had help in lab tests from world-renowned experts, who popped in to explain the nuances of what I was doing, just because they heard I was doing an experiment in their fields.

I work from home now, 6-figure salary with benefits and bonuses.

Grad school seems to have worked out for me.
 
2014-03-26 02:59:53 AM  
In my field, a graduate degree opens up a significant number career opportunities. The issue is that the education itself isn't all that important or relevant, just the piece of paper is.
 
2014-03-26 03:15:29 AM  

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.



That's how it works in my department. They don't let you in unless you have a PI and funding lined up.  In my case, I got a stipend for the first year, and am expected to TA next year for wages (departmental requirement, else they'd lack TAs for the intro classes), and after that - between grants and TA-ing, we're supposed to be funded. Now I won't deny that I might have to take out a loan (grants, though not stipends, are based on estimated cost of attendance, which hasn't taken into account the way rent has been skyrocketing around here, ditto water/electricity, and I have higher than average medical bills), but hopefully it won't be for a while.  Then again, I'm in the hard sciences, in a hot field (sustainable agriculture).  Hopefully the job market will be kind to me when I graduate in 4-5 years or so. *crosses fingers*

\ Bay Area housing prices suck - even fairly far inland
\\ Good thing I love what I do!
\\\ Slashies come in threes
 
2014-03-26 03:36:46 AM  

TheUltimateFunctor: Good math teachers will teach in a way which helps practice problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Bad ones will just make you memorize formulas and techniques. I agree that as an engineer at the end of the day a lot of the details won't be useful. But, the process of learning these details ideally should be a useful exercise in building the mind of an engineer. Teaching some one to take derivatives is a simple exercise in thinking a little abstractly (eg identifying function composition, when one should use logarithms, etc) which I think really helps train the brain for doing some computer programming. Thinking mathematically is the same as thinking like a programmer, which is pretty damn useful these days.


This is an argument I absolutely hate - math makes you think logically (or something equivalent). If you want to think logically then don't take the circuitous path of learning pointless mathematics to get there. Learn what you want directly and save time and money.

There is a lot of mental justification that people make of all the math classes they take. If they do well on math classes, there is this sense of accomplishment. But, it can be an illusion and an actual waste of time if your goals aren't aligned to what the class offers.

BTW, thinking mathematically is NOT the same as thinking like a programmer. Maybe there is a tiny intersection but beyond that they are completely different skill sets.
 
2014-03-26 03:39:07 AM  
Say it isn't so! An MA in the dead languages of ancient Greece and Latin makes one a primary employee for Starbucks and Walmart?

/It's funny because they will know what cum laude meant yet unable to attain it.
//Time to makr the donuts.
 
2014-03-26 03:47:40 AM  

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.


In Canada The Boomers enjoyed the benefits of their parents generation's public funding of higher education, but when it came time for them to pony up for their children's generation they cut their own taxes and ran with the money like the selfish little bastards they are. The universities "off-loaded" this lack of funding onto the students and I experienced tuition go from $75/3-credit class in 1996 to $500/3-credit class in 2003.. damned if I want to Google current costs. Coincidentally at the same time our universities found themselves being cut from the government purse  a corporate culture of profit-motive took over the administration of campuses across the country, gutting arts and culture departments (I saw a linguistics department go from 17 to 3 to 0 Professors in my last three years). I'mstill a little bitter I never got my CompLit minor because they fired everyone who could teach the class, but compared to the screw-job Gen Y got... I got off easy.
 
2014-03-26 03:59:54 AM  

Rik01: 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 go ...


How much of a pain in the ass were college students during vietnam? Now compare that to how obedient and servile the current generations are thanks to being utterly crushed under student loan debt that a majority will likely never pay off for the rest of their lives.

Wage slavery and debt slavery.
 
2014-03-26 04:04:52 AM  

Hiro-ACiD: 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.

In Canada The Boomers enjoyed the benefits of their parents generation's public funding of higher education, but when it came time for them to pony up for their children's generation they cut their own taxes and ran with the money like the selfish little bastards they are. The universities "off-loaded" this lack of funding onto the students and I experienced tuition go from $75/3-credit class in 1996 to $500/3-credit class in 2003.. damned if I want to Google current costs. Coincidentally at the same time our universities found themselves being cut from the government purse  a corporate culture of profit-motive took over the administration of campuses across the country, gutting arts and culture departments (I saw a linguistics department go from 17 to 3 to 0 Professors in my last three years). I'm still a little bitter I never got my CompLit minor because they fired everyone who could teach the class, but compared to the screw-job Gen Y got... I got off easy.


FTFY
Not just in Canada, or just in the US, they are doing the same thing here in France, was a time that going to University was free, with a minor processing fee, and just about everyone was accepted. Now you either have to go to one of the really good schools where there is a hefty entrance fee, and you have to pay rent on an apartment, as there is almost no student housing in this country. There are options where you can get an associates degree where you work for a company and they pay for your education, and most of them you wind up working 50 to 60 hours a week and you only bring home 700€ to 800€ a month. Al this in a country where most studio apartments rent for 600€ a month.
 
2014-03-26 04:13:57 AM  

TenJed_77: FTFY
Not just in Canada, or just in the US, they are doing the same thing here in France..


I could only speak of my country of experience, but it's not a race to the bottom for wages and workers' rights if all the democracies don't play along, so I'm not surprised, but saddened, to hear it is all going the same way in France.. :/
 
2014-03-26 06:15:45 AM  

Rik01: Maybe I'm a bit dense or something, but I can't understand why the cost of tuition has gotten so high...
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.



So much this. I'd love to go take a few classes in literature and languages. It's unrelated to my career, but I find it interesting. But I know for a fact it'll never happen, because it costs so damn much, and I have other priorities.

Academia itself is one of the main causes, I think. A professor can make as much as 3x the median income for my area. I know they have valuable skills, but that's a bit excessive.
Not to mention the fact that universities spend far too much on administration, palatial new buildings that are under-used, and programs that don't contribute to education.

/bitter
 
2014-03-26 06:40:50 AM  

ManateeGag: CHURCH!


s29.postimg.org
 
2014-03-26 07:06:01 AM  

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.


This is really the crux of it all.

If you have half a brain and are motivated you will make it. You may have to start at the bottom, but eventually you'll get there.
 
2014-03-26 07:16:31 AM  
Yeah...if you're not getting paid at least something to get your graduate degree, it probably won't do you much good.

My stipend was $19k/year when I got my MS (geology). I don't use it, but it looks good because everybody's heard of the university, so it does me some good. And my wife made $35k/year then, so we were doing just fine, especially because rent was $600 - thanks Houston.
 
2014-03-26 07:29:16 AM  

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.


When I went to college, if you weren't smart enough to handle engineering studies, you crash-landed in the business school, and those who washed out of the business school ended up with journalism degrees.  It explains a lot, particularly when you consider the qualiy of the average science/tech article.
 
2014-03-26 07:37:34 AM  

Gortex: So much this. I'd love to go take a few classes in literature and languages. It's unrelated to my career, but I find it interesting. But I know for a fact it'll never happen, because it costs so damn much, and I have other priorities.

Academia itself is one of the main causes, I think. A professor can make as much as 3x the median income for my area. I know they have valuable skills, but that's a bit excessive.
Not to mention the fact that universities spend far too much on administration, palatial new buildings that are under-used, and programs that don't contribute to education.

/bitter


When I was in school there were several retired people who audited classes as seniors for free. I know part time students could audit a course for about $500. You can earn credits from those audits and use them if you decide to go full-time within 10 years (for my old school that is). It costs $25 per year to be a part time student.

University gets expensive when you take 5 courses each semester and pay to live there. I met plenty of normal 30-50 year old people taking 1 or 2 courses a semester for 3 or 4 years then taking a year off to finish off the degree.
 
2014-03-26 07:38:26 AM  

Robo Beat: 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.

When I went to college, if you weren't smart enough to handle engineering studies, you crash-landed in the business school, and those who washed out of the business school ended up with journalism degrees.  It explains a lot, particularly when you consider the qualiy of the average science/tech article.


Same in my school except those who fail at business end up in Theater.
 
2014-03-26 09:05:53 AM  
I'll get a graduate degree eventually and my new job will pay for it, and then give me a raise. Otherwise I do not know if I would bother.
 
2014-03-26 09:30:35 AM  
My decision to forgo law school is looking better and better every day.
 
2014-03-26 09:33:20 AM  

juvandy: Aestatis: Three post-docs? What's the career goal? Eventually we have to leave post-doc studies behind and get a real job.

Professorship at a research institution eventually. I should note that the Boobies-doc was for a year and the second was for two years.  The second was on my own grant (as would the third), so its not like I'm doing someone else's work all the time.  Real jobs are great but when a professorship in biology research gets 100+ (sometimes 500+) applications you need to be as competitive as possible.  Most of my peers aren't getting jobs until they are 2-3 post docs in and have 30+ publications and 700+ citations.  It's a lot easier to do that on your own post-doc grants than it is as an assistant professor at a teaching college or master's university.


And to think, it used to be that no post-doc was needed; then just one, then two.  I'm still being told two, and I've seen success at one (though not at a research institution; liberal arts).  I think we had about 950 applications for the last two openings in our department.  I spoke with applicants who applied to over a hundred locations.

It isn't just the number of publications, either.  Better get them in those sexy journals.  I can't believe you want to stay in such a broken field.
 
2014-03-26 10:07:05 AM  
Rik01 - I'd be interested in any opinions as to why educational costs have soared...

Three words: academic sports programs

When any two bit college has a $100 million dollar stadium, that should give you a good idea right there.

Hell, there is a high school in Texas with a stadium that makes my college alma mater's look like a muddy practice field. But of course, the students that are not BDFJs have to hold fundraisers for anything they want to do.

ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha - I don't think the author has met a business student. Sack of hammers.

I think I am in love...

/like myself, has been around enough business grads to make me hate even simple addition
 
2014-03-26 10:12:42 AM  

Aestatis: And to think, it used to be that no post-doc was needed; then just one, then two. I'm still being told two, and I've seen success at one (though not at a research institution; liberal arts). I think we had about 950 applications for the last two openings in our department. I spoke with applicants who applied to over a hundred locations.

It isn't just the number of publications, either. Better get them in those sexy journals. I can't believe you want to stay in such a broken field.


Working on my Boobies doc now (PhD in Biomedical Engineering).  Actually took me over a year after graduating to even find an open post doc.  Had been looking both in industry and academia, but it was just a horrible time to graduate.  Applying to jobs with hundreds of other PhD applicants, many who had been in the field for a decade.  I'm not too thrilled about the prospect of being back in academia, but the post doc is a job, and it should (hopefully) be a springboard to something better.
 
2014-03-26 10:30:22 AM  

mr0x: TheUltimateFunctor: Good math teachers will teach in a way which helps practice problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Bad ones will just make you memorize formulas and techniques. I agree that as an engineer at the end of the day a lot of the details won't be useful. But, the process of learning these details ideally should be a useful exercise in building the mind of an engineer. Teaching some one to take derivatives is a simple exercise in thinking a little abstractly (eg identifying function composition, when one should use logarithms, etc) which I think really helps train the brain for doing some computer programming. Thinking mathematically is the same as thinking like a programmer, which is pretty damn useful these days.

This is an argument I absolutely hate - math makes you think logically (or something equivalent). If you want to think logically then don't take the circuitous path of learning pointless mathematics to get there. Learn what you want directly and save time and money.

There is a lot of mental justification that people make of all the math classes they take. If they do well on math classes, there is this sense of accomplishment. But, it can be an illusion and an actual waste of time if your goals aren't aligned to what the class offers.

BTW, thinking mathematically is NOT the same as thinking like a programmer. Maybe there is a tiny intersection but beyond that they are completely different skill sets.


Thinking mathematically for me means justifying statements with step-by-step logical proofs.  One needs to think abstractly, notice patterns and formulate them rigorously in terms of equations (so even a computer could understand it...), deduce one step from the next justifying each (so a computer could verify it...), etc.  Doing math exercises practices thinking logically, carefully, and dealing with a situation where one tiny error will screw everything up, kind of exactly like writing a computer program.  Finding your mathematical error is a skill just like debugging.  One can also structure your approach to problems in a way that makes debugging much easier.  Take notice that this previous sentence is intentionally ambiguous as to make my point more clear.  You have no idea what you're talking about.
 
2014-03-26 10:36:03 AM  

TheSopwithTurtle: Humanities and Social Sciences, on the other hand...I don't know why people do it. I really don't.


When I was in college and considering graduate school in English Literature, my professors were assuring me that the post-WWII professors and Baby Boomers were going to retire in the near future, and this would open up lots of tenure-track positions.  As we now know, 1) lots of these professors stayed on beyond the traditional retirement age, and 2) universities began to shamelessly cut back on tenure-track jobs and bring in adjunct professors to fill the gap.

I decided that I couldn't (or more likely, didn't want to try to) teach people who weren't as gung ho on a subject as me (i.e., undergraduate students who were taking literature courses only to fill their humanities quota). Because of this, I didn't go to grad school (I'm a technical writer now). But I assume a lot of my peers took out loans to do graduate work because they believed their professors when they assured them that the jobs would be there.
 
2014-03-26 12:24:10 PM  

WhoopAssWayne: 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.


He hadn't planned on going to grad school, but he got the opportunity and it just worked out better for our situation at the time.  He now works for a defense contractor that designs nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers for the Navy.  It doesn't pay as well as a job from the private sector, but it's one of those rare jobs where people actually work there their entire lives and retire with a pension.  He's already worked there for 10 years and really likes his job.  Having the graduate degree put him on a higher pay level than those people who came in with Bachelor's degrees, so it was definitely worth it for him.
 
2014-03-26 12:28:21 PM  

Rik01: 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.


The folks I know in academics tend to point toward burgeoning admin costs.  More "executive assistant dean"-type crap positions bloating the payroll.  It sure isn't academic salaries; most schools are going to the adjunct professor model, which is basically migrant labor.  $1500 per class, no benefits.  If you have a PhD in the subject.

Meanwhile, the big university capital fundraising project has failed spectacularly, and didn't even cover its own costs... so the obvious solution...is to hire more fundraisers.  And more admin types to watch over them.

/last bit is a true example, but I'm not outing the poor guy who told it to me...he's gotta work there, and doesn't have tenure yet.
 
2014-03-26 01:32:53 PM  

Bith Set Me Up: Much like how we should consider universal health care, perhaps we should consider universal education.


Seriously, if you aren't getting a post-secondary education, it shouldn't be because you can't afford it.
 
2014-03-26 02:14:06 PM  

burncheese: TheUltimateFunctor: Good math teachers will teach in a way which helps practice problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Bad ones will just make you memorize formulas and techniques. I agree that as an engineer at the end of the day a lot of the details won't be useful. But, the process of learning these details ideally should be a useful exercise in building the mind of an engineer. Teaching some one to take derivatives is a simple exercise in thinking a little abstractly (eg identifying function composition, when one should use logarithms, etc) which I think really helps train the brain for doing some computer programming. Thinking mathematically is the same as thinking like a programmer, which is pretty damn useful these days.
I just wish employers would see this. I'm starting to feel like it takes one to know one. They don't seem to see any value in a math degree if the job doesn't specifically ask for someone with math skills. I have a BS in applied math and I'm currently unemployed and job searching. I'd love to find a math-related job but I'm applying for general entry level office jobs too. Plenty of ads say they want things like good analytical and problem solving skills. Um, hello? Over here! Trying to find ways to explain in a cover letter why a math degree is advantageous isn't easy. I don't want to directly use most of the math I learned (or attempted to learn). I want to crunch numbers but I don't want to be using advanced calculus and differential equations. I mostly just see it as having critical thinking and problem solving skills that others might not. I learned some basic programming and I was good at it, so I could learn more, but I don't think I want to just do programming. The best I can come up with is that I could work with complex formulas in Excel. (They all want someone who's "proficient with Excel.") I've done plenty of complicated algebra problems; it translates to spreadsheets easily. As I've taught myself to use Excel, I've rea ...


It sounds like you have the skills I'm looking for in a research analyst. Essentially, the job is epidemiologist. Government has lots of jobs for people with solid data analysis skills, and they usually don't overlook people based on paperwork. As long as you filled out every line on the application.
 
2014-03-26 02:21:07 PM  
I feel pretty fortunate that I stumbled across a paid Masters program that was designed for working professionals. Not only do I have zero debt, but I was able to keep my job while I did my studies. Of course, the current job didn't give me any kind of raise, but now I can shop my new CV around and see if there's something better.
 
2014-03-26 03:05:50 PM  

Hiro-ACiD: In Canada The Boomers enjoyed the benefits of their parents generation's public funding of higher education, but when it came time for them to pony up for their children's generation they cut their own taxes and ran with the money like the selfish little bastards they are.


Same thing happened here in the U.S. of A. When I started working on my Associates/Bachelors back in 1992 the lower AS units were only $9 ($27 for a 3 unit class) at the community college, and the upper BA units were less than $1k for 12 unit+ semester at the state school.
By the time I finished in 2012 the CC was $47 a unit, and the state school was over $3k a semester, with most of that increase coming within the last 5 years. It's over $4k now, probably will cross $5k by fall 2014. Still cheap compared to some places, but a huge increase in a very short time.

The cause? Huge cuts in funding from the state and the feds. Just as in Canadia, the boomers (I'm a tail end boomer/lead Xer, '62) sucked up all that nearly free education (in this state community college was actually FREE until 1978, until Proposition 13 was enacted) and told their progeny "tough sh*t, kid" when they came to the table and found nothing but crumbs.
 
2014-03-26 04:03:10 PM  

Dwindle: 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.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Schweizer_Bildungssystem.svg
 
2014-03-26 04:46:27 PM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: 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.


So right!  I retired recently from Loyola University Maryland.  It was no secret that LUM set its rates by looking at what five "comparable institutions" charged, plus a small premium.  Rates were funded by unlimited student loans (unlimited because the lender took no risk---debt can't be discharged through bankruptcy).  The money went to slick garden apartment dorms, purchase of high rise apartments for more dorms, construction of a state-of-the-art Fitness and Aquatic Center, and construction of a stadium complex, for which usage fees are built into rates.

Amusing side effect: students are sometimes punished for infractions by being kicked out of the dorms.  When they appeal the sanction, they invariably plead that they couldn't afford to live in the community and stay at the school.  The appeals committee always has the stock answer ready, "You do realize, don't you, that community accommodations are considerably cheaper than dorm accommodation?"
 
2014-03-26 04:58:47 PM  

Aestatis: And to think, it used to be that no post-doc was needed; then just one, then two. I'm still being told two, and I've seen success at one (though not at a research institution; liberal arts). I think we had about 950 applications for the last two openings in our department. I spoke with applicants who applied to over a hundred locations.

It isn't just the number of publications, either. Better get them in those sexy journals. I can't believe you want to stay in such a broken field.


There's another aspect here too- I've been applying for jobs since I finished, with no bites.  It's far better to stay employed as a post-doc or research associate than to just drop out of it if you don't get the professor job.  The flip side is I know several folks who took teaching jobs at backwater schools in the middle of nowhere straight out of their PhD because they needed jobs, and now they hate their jobs but don't have the time to write the pubs to get them competitive enough for a better job.

You're absolutely right that the quality of journal also matters greatly.  A friend of mine works at one of the schools that advertised a job I applied for, and though it turned out they interviewed folks slightly outside of my field, it was illuminating that most had fewer first-author papers than I, but all were co-authors of at least two in nature, science, pnas, etc.  Good for them but it's pretty tough to do that.

As for staying in the field, what can I say?  This career so far has let me essentially play with some really cool animals, work on answering questions that interest me, travel around the world, meet and work with some fantastic people, live in Australia for 2 years so far, and get paid to do so.  I really can't complain at this point.  It sure beats the fark out of sitting in an office cubicle, flipping burgers, or working on a farm.
 
2014-03-26 06:29:17 PM  

juvandy: Aestatis: And to think, it used to be that no post-doc was needed; then just one, then two. I'm still being told two, and I've seen success at one (though not at a research institution; liberal arts). I think we had about 950 applications for the last two openings in our department. I spoke with applicants who applied to over a hundred locations.

It isn't just the number of publications, either. Better get them in those sexy journals. I can't believe you want to stay in such a broken field.

There's another aspect here too- I've been applying for jobs since I finished, with no bites.  It's far better to stay employed as a post-doc or research associate than to just drop out of it if you don't get the professor job.  The flip side is I know several folks who took teaching jobs at backwater schools in the middle of nowhere straight out of their PhD because they needed jobs, and now they hate their jobs but don't have the time to write the pubs to get them competitive enough for a better job.

You're absolutely right that the quality of journal also matters greatly.  A friend of mine works at one of the schools that advertised a job I applied for, and though it turned out they interviewed folks slightly outside of my field, it was illuminating that most had fewer first-author papers than I, but all were co-authors of at least two in nature, science, pnas, etc.  Good for them but it's pretty tough to do that.

As for staying in the field, what can I say?  This career so far has let me essentially play with some really cool animals, work on answering questions that interest me, travel around the world, meet and work with some fantastic people, live in Australia for 2 years so far, and get paid to do so.  I really can't complain at this point.  It sure beats the fark out of sitting in an office cubicle, flipping burgers, or working on a farm.


I didn't say quality--I said sexiness.  If my field is any indication, the papers in Science (in particular), Nature, and Cell are just higher profile.  Many are missing critical controls, and don't pan out when it comes to reproducibility; some turn out to be plain wrong, and I like to give the authors the benefit of the doubt and believe that they would have noticed these errors if they hadn't been forced to rush to publication.  Some of the good ones are, in reality, multiple papers crammed together, resulting in an endless author list.  I've often wondered how many of those authors are grad students and post docs who really need first author papers of their own, but whose work got pulled into someone else's to reach a higher profile journal for their PI's tenure attempt.

While you do need quality papers, you also need papers in sexy journals.  Two entirely different things.
 
2014-03-27 01:56:05 AM  

stewbert: It sounds like you have the skills I'm looking for in a research analyst. Essentially, the job is epidemiologist. Government has lots of jobs for people with solid data analysis skills, and they usually don't overlook people based on paperwork. As long as you filled out every line on the application.


My program did include a lot of stats. As far as I know, jobs as an epidemiologist or biostatistician typically require a master's though and I'm not willing to go through that. I would like some sort of a data analyst type job. I think I'd really enjoy market research, but I'm not picky about the field. I could probably learn to do that sort of job with the right training, but I don't have the hands-on experience to be able to just walk into a job and know what to do.
 
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