Are the “Worth of a College Degree” studies missing an important point?

WSJ today, 9 JAN2014:

“A key measure of the benefits of a degree is the college graduate’s earning potential—and on this score, their advantage over high-school graduates is deteriorating. Since 2006, the gap between what the median college graduate earned compared with the median high-school graduate has narrowed by $1,387 for men over 25 working full time, a 5% fall. Women in the same category have fared worse, losing 7% of their income advantage ($1,496).”

But is this real? Many studies seem to replicate these findings. Perhaps they are not as comprehensive as required to make the statement that a degree no longer in necessary, as many are.

Are those earning a degree less able to quickly recover their costs today than in 1995? Than 1977, when I graduated? You bet.

How many degrees were award in 1977 (or 1995) for Transgender Studies? How many PhDs awarded for “The Impact of Slavery in E Tennessee on the Modern Feminist Movement”? And – regarding the above gender gap –  are women more or less likely to major in “The Impact of Lesbianism on Manifest Destiny” than men? Yep.

If we use the universe of ALL Bachelors degrees as a measure to estimate the value of ANY degree, we are kidding ourselves.

These studies are driven in large part by the huge increase in the cost of a 4-yr degree since the government got involved. Recommendation: NO government loans should be available for ANY degree for any major not represented in the workplace. Until and unless companies are posting hiring needs for “Multiculturalist Translators in the Lesbian Levant,” no subsidies or loans for students pursing that degree. And since there MIGHT be ONE opening annually for The History of Homosexual Art in Classical Rome, perhaps only one degree should be funded every 20 years.

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  1. Arch Hughes

    I think that given loans for worthless degrees is fine. It might not be good business, though, since you have to question the ability of someone with a worthless degree from being able to repay loans for $80K or more.

    I believe that everyone that applies for a loan needs to include the current (or published anticipated) annual income for a person that is awarded that degree the student is studying in on the application. I think there is high value in confronting someone with the value of their degree against the cost and getting them to sign the form with those number present.

    That’s one way to stop the complaining I’ve seen about people that feel trapped by high loan amounts with unemployable degrees.

    The loan application would consider loan amounts against that expected income and either deny the loan or set an appropriate interest rate (if the government would get out of setting those rates).

    An “undeclared major” would be a specially worthless case reflecting the annual income of someone aimless. :)

    Or in short, I fully agree with Alex’s intent here.

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