Monday, April 15, 2013

College Is Mostly Useless Waste of Money (unless you're the sciences, engineering, or mathematics)

Why a liberal arts degree is a waste. It starts out with the premise of's profile of two hipsters buying their precious food with food stamps. Other reasons why I loved this post is that it refers to Russians Asians which I thought was a term only I used in my head. Sweeeet. The whole post is brilliant.
First, the obvious: what's wrong with hipsters on food stamps is that these are college educated people who should be able to get jobs, not live off the state.   They're not black, after all.  Hell, one of the two in the article is even Asian.  "What, like Russian Asian?"  No, like Asian Asian.  "Whaaaaaaat?"
"It's the economy, stupid!"  Thanks guy from 1992, but the economy did not tell you to go to college for something you knew in advance would make you unemployable, especially when that unemployable choice cost exactly the same as the employable choice, i.e. too much.  Lesson one at the academia should be the importance of separating vocation from avocation, as character actor Fred Thompson and electrical contractor Benjamin Franklin both understood. When I was six I wanted to be in Playboy.  Just because it's your dream, doesn't mean you should pursue it.   
So what makes them hatable is the seeming choice they have made: they could work, yes at jobs they don't like but hey, that's America; but instead they choose to feel entitled to  $200/month from the rest of us salarymen. 
However, secondly:
Before we blame them for their choice, we should ask why they felt they could make that choice.  I'm not trying to start trouble, but let's choose something I'm familiar with, i.e. women: why would a smart high school junior, 4.0 and AP Everything, think that going to Hampshire College for English Literature was a good idea?  Why would her parents allow this madness, other than the fact that they were divorcing?  What did she think would happen given that she knew in advance there were no jobs for English majors?  Serious answers, please, I'll offer four I had personal experience with: law school; academia; non-profits; marriage.  Don't roll your eyes at me, young lady: let's say you are the daughter of a lawyer and you major in English.  When you were 17 and you imagined your life at your Dad's age-- not the starving poetess fantasy you wrote about in your spiral notebook, but a glimpse of the bourgeois future you then thought you didn't want-- what kind of a house did you imagine in the "if that happens to me I'll Anne Sexton myself" scenario?  A lawyer's house or an English major's house? In other words, the choice to major in English was predicated on information she received from multiple sources like schools and TV-- sources I will collectively call the Matrix--  that every generation does better than the last, that there was a safety net of sorts, a bailout at the end, that future happiness was inevitable, and so we return to economics: the general name for that safety net is credit.  America was the land of the minimum monthly payment.  And if this analogy isn't clear enough for you, let me reverse it: the ability of the economy to offer English as a major required a massive subsidy to make you feel like $20k/yr was the same as free.  If you had to pay it up front, you'd either be an engineer or $80k richer.  That subsidy is now worthless, not because the money doesn't exist but because the bailout at the end, e.g the four options I suggested were operational 1977-1999 which guaranteed the payments would be made, won't help.
Read the whole thing.

I'm kind of stealing this from Peter but I'm of the long held belief that not everyone needs a 4 year degree. In fact before planning on getting a MSW, I was seriously considering going to a trade school because I was desperate to do something useful.

I remember Betka (older physicisit sister) (and my mother) urging me to not get an English degree right before I went and got an English (granted I actually thought I would be a librarian/archivist) a completely useless piece of paper that cost me dearly (more emotionally than monetarily). Because even though a BA means nothing, it's still a prerequisite to be secretary I mean, office assistant. Ugh.

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