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(Gawker)   Grad school is a debt machine for our incredibly well-educated retail workers   (gawker.com ) divider line
    More: Obvious, professional degree, doctoral degree, student debt, percentiles, machines, workers  
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5262 clicks; posted to Main » on 25 Mar 2014 at 10:33 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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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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