Is that college education worth it?

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Toolsmith
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Is that college education worth it?

Arguments for and against...

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/456378/higher-education-bryan-capla...

However, I'd argue that some institutions aren't providing education at all. Indoctrination isn't going to produce anything like a productive citizen.

Islander
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Learn a trade, do not waste

Learn a trade, do not waste your money getting a degree in homosexual studies, etc

anonymous_coward
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I'll have to listen to it. I

I'll have to listen to it. I'm a big fan of Econtalk, though sometimes Russ Roberts' interview style is a bit, uh, unpolished.

I think that it really depends on the major. I was a physics major and I can say first hand that I and my fellow physics majors learned a fuck ton of material (both in physics and in math and chemistry). I would also suggest that it's really difficult to get a degree in physics and not learn a lot of material as well.

On the other hand, you could very easily get by with an English degree and just BS your way through the degree.

And finally, it depends on the person. Some people can get through without learning anything and others, at the same institution in the same program can learn a great degree.

Like most things in reality (in contrast to how they are portrayed in the media), it's a lot more complicated when you look at it up close.

I will say that breadth of experience matters a lot, and for many people, college is the best way to push you out into places and people that you wouldn't ordinarily interact with. But you could just as easily get that travelling on your own.

Islander
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I would say college is not

I would say college is not what it used to be, nor is the money spent worth it, in most cases. AA learned a trade, imo. Not sure how many art history majors are needed each year.
Run out of students, create a new degree.

Melvin Udall
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Looks like we need a

Looks like we need a certified Conflict Resolution Major to guide us through the consensus process to a "win-win-win" outcome.

Toolsmith
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AC: "for many people, college

AC: "for many people, college is the best way to push you out into places and people that you wouldn't ordinarily interact with"

That may once have been, but no longer. Now, college is a militant socialist echo chamber that *avoids* going out into places and *silences* people that you wouldn't ordinarily interact with... all the time is spent in safe spaces with all other viewpoints censored. This is a big part of why I view college as basically useless.

johnw
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'The weekend at the college

'The weekend at the college didn't turn out like you planned.The things that pass for knowledge I just don't understand "
Steely Dan.........
It's the difference of whether you end up with a degree in dog phycology, art history ,advanced medieval poetry or a medical degree.....My daughter owes huge money for her college education and medical degree but it will pay off in the end.......There's thousands of liberal art degree holders ,busing tables and clerking at your local c-store....

Melvin Udall
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anonymous_coward
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@Toolsmith: "That may once

@Toolsmith: "That may once have been, but no longer. Now, college is a militant socialist echo chamber that *avoids* going out into places and *silences* people that you wouldn't ordinarily interact with... all the time is spent in safe spaces with all other viewpoints censored. This is a big part of why I view college as basically useless."

The conservative narrative makes it sound like that, but, as a parent with a kid whose a sophomore in college, I assure you that most of the echo chamber stuff that you read about here and other conservative news outlets mostly gets tuned out by actual college students.

(If anything in his case, it's made him more conservative in protest.)

Edit: FWIW, he wants to go into finance, so there's really no other way to get there without going to college & then business school. It's theoretically possible but a lot more difficult.

Melvin Udall
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I don't know where your son

I don't know where your son goes to college, but everything I have learned about Bowdoin College in 20 years of living nearby, and seeing how they interact with the town, convinces me that toolsmith is on the money. Same for my Alma Mater, Rutgers.

johnw
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My significant others son is

My significant others son is attending Colby...he is so far the the left now he can’t make a right hand turn on the highway....

Economike
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For anyone who's interested,

For anyone who's interested, here's a link to Bryan Caplan's own summary of his conclusions about college.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-caplan-education-credentials-...

His point isn't really about idleness and/or indoctrination; his point is that if a college student learns anything useful, that's merely an unintended (on the part of the institution) result of attendance. Colleges sell "certificates of attendance" that signal to potential employers that the student has basic social skills and can pay attention for more than a minute.

Mainelion
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My son recently graduated in

My son recently graduated in marine engineering from Maine Maritime Academy and I can assure you he had to learn a hell of a lot before he graduated or he would NOT have graduated. In addition he had to pass rigorous exams to get his initial license and for each license upgrade. He is very well compensated for what he actually learned in school.

Some schools ARE still worth it.

Melvin Udall
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Congratulations on your son

Congratulations on your son and his good fortune for his hard work.

I'm sure his upbringing is the key. Do you know those responsible?

MMA is anything but a "typical" college.

I stand by my assessment of Bowdoin, which I believe applies to the vast majority of non-specific colleges.

Mainelion
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Unfortunately I believe you

Unfortunately I believe you are correct in your assessment. In my career I have been responsible for hiring for a good number of positions requiring a college degree, and some of the graduates being turned out by our institutions of higher learning defy credulity.

Toolsmith
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AC: my point is that such an

AC: my point is that such an echo chamber should not exist anywhere, least of all in an institution which is supposed to be "broadening horizons".

Technical schools do still seem to be resisting this trend, and I certainly hope that holds.

Matt
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“my point is that such an

“my point is that such an echo chamber should not exist anywhere...”

#irony

Jasper
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Mel's Bowdoin bashing

Mel's Bowdoin bashing displays an underlying resentment stemming from his rejected student application years ago. He has allowed it to fester to the point that he cannot think objectively about the institution. I have a relative who recently graduated from there and was immediately offered a job with a 6 figure income.

Bruce Libby
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Mainelion I agree and share

Mainelion I agree and share a smilier experience with one of my daughters.
She graduated from Simmons College in Boston nursing program.(1999) While a liberal school
that program taught necessary skills along with the critical thinking (indoctrination) to succeed.
It has served her well since .

I disagree with the push to have everyone go to college . That hopefully is changing.
Another problem is the push in certain career field to require a degree.
in the 70's the law enforcement community did this. The best description I heard came from a veteran detective I took classes with.
His assessment was it was wonderful,"we now have cops with 4 year degrees that do not have enough professional judgment to not give
their mother a ticket for jay walking " !

Islander
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MMA, is a trade school, at

MMA, is a trade school, at least it was when I graduated. We had two choices, Deck officer or Engineer, no safe spaces,etc. Yes it has changed but it is still a trade school, imo

Melvin Udall
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yesper's relative immediately

yesper's relative immediately sold out to the 1% lure, abandoning all the principles heshe embraced while on campus. Pointing out there is more than one meaning to "hooking up."

Funny how the lure of the big buck can convert some in an instant. Might have something to do with all those buildings named after hedge fund managers and the like, and all the endowed faculty chairs.

I'll bet yesper's copy of "What does Bowdoin teach" is dog-eared from constant use.

Economike
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Comparisons of the degree and

Comparisons of the degree and nature of indoctrination to be found among colleges is certainly interesting. So is the relative value of their curricula.

But that's not Caplan's thesis.

His point, simplified, is this: a college diploma adds value to a graduate's earning potential, not because of that person's learned skill-set, but merely because he or she has a diploma. Any motivated student can acquire the knowledge to be learned in any college for free.

Employers could use achievement tests to find workers, but they don't.

Roger S
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"Employers could use

"Employers could use achievement tests to find workers, but they don't."

My understanding is that employers once did use tests of prospective employees but the forces of anti-discrimination raised such a stink that the college degree became the de facto test.

Economike
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Roger S -

Roger S -

Yes, the case of Griggs v. Duke Power (1971) made testing by employers de facto illegal.

As I'm sure you'd agree, this tends to confirm, rather than falsify, Caplan's thesis.

mainemom
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I know Bowdoin pretty well.

I know Bowdoin pretty well.
When I hear
I have a relative who recently graduated from there and was immediately offered a job with a 6 figure income.
I think, Wall Street or private equity.

anonymous_coward
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Just finished listening to

Just finished listening to the podcast, I *highly* recommend it:
http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2018/02/bryan_caplan_on_1.html

As Economike posted, he's not saying you shouldn't go to college (you should, if you want to make more money). He's saying you don't actually learn anything there, and the value is mostly in the certification.

Russ doesn't agree with him, which is why the podcast is so good, it's a spirited, nuanced discussion.

Coincidentally, Caplan is a professor at George Mason University - the very same place that my stepson is attending.

Melvin Udall
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"When I hear I have a

"When I hear I have a relative who recently graduated from there and was immediately offered a job with a 6 figure income.
I think, Wall Street or private equity."

And a family or alumni connection.

Al Amoling
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AC I'd be willing to bet that

AC I'd be willing to bet that the last crop of college graduate is not making more money than someone who got a trades-man education.

Islander
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I see more than a few kids

I see more than a few kids with liberal arts degrees working for 10-12/he, kids with an actual skill in a trade are doing well as plumbers, electricians, welders, fiberglass etc not to mention kids who have no degree but who can catch lobsters, scallops etc

anonymous_coward
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@Al: "AC I'd be willing to

@Al: "AC I'd be willing to bet that the last crop of college graduate is not making more money than someone who got a trades-man education."

Well a lot of college graduates that ultimately make a lot of money go to business school or law school first. So you would have to look at how much they make 10 years later.

But, one of the points that Russ makes in the podcast is that they look at the mean salaries, which means that a few students that become lawyers or work on Wall St. can skew the average by a large amount.

Median income would be a better representation of what both groups make. It would be interesting to compare with specific majors and see how they compare to trade school graduates.

anonymous_coward
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“my point is that such an

“my point is that such an echo chamber should not exist anywhere...”

#irony

He pretty much nailed you there.

There are pockets of rational discussion here but if you can't see that the majority of posts are exactly that echo chamber that you claim to abhor, then consider taking a step back and trying to see the bigger picture.

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