Major Waste

Way back in the tyranny of Bush the Minor, I read a funny article in one of the news magazines, while waiting for a haircut. This was in the early days of his administration when the accounting scandals hit and the tech bubble burst tanked the economy. The liberal media was sure it was all the result of the gods being angry over Bush getting elected over Gore, so they filled their pages with horror stories about the economy. The story was a tale of woe about Ivy League grads unable to find work.

The one example I always remember was about a girl who had graduated from Harvard and was unable to find a job she deserved. Instead she was reduced to waiting tables (gasp!) and doing temp work in offices. The story went through her struggles to get interviews and her process of considering alternative career options. Finally she landed a job as a social worker for the city. The piece wrapped up with a quick summary of her story and it was revealed that she had majored in folklore at Harvard.

Whenever the topic of college majors comes up, I always think of that story. I’ve made a hobby of rooting around in the course catalogs of liberal arts colleges, looking for bizarre classes and majors. Nothing so far has topped the Harvard Folklore and Mythology degree. Our colleges are full of lunatics doing useless work, of course, but there is some effort to dress it up as legitimate academic work. There’s no way to dress up a major in folklore. Exactly no one has ever said in an emergency, “We need a folklorist!”

Anyway, this post on Greg Cochran’s site brought all that to mind. His post links to this cool graphic put together by NPR displaying the majors over time, relative to other majors and college graduates as a whole. It’s one of those things that could be done with charts or traditional graphs, but it is a lot more fun hovering over that thing. I learned that there is such a thing as a fitness major, which sounds a lot like gym, but my bet is it has lots of “queering” and race stuff to it. Pointless majors tend to go hard for the crazy.

Another interesting tidbit is the fact that zoology has just about disappeared as a college major. It looks like the annual numbers are in the hundreds now. Maybe colleges have re-branded it as something cooler. Biology has not had a ton of growth over the last few decades either, so maybe not. It does suggest that young people no longer have an interest in the natural world. My guess is the number of young people experiencing the natural world is at an all-time low. Kids are not into hunting, fishing or farming.

The volume of business majors is the eye opener. Greg asked in his post what readers thought was the least valuable degree. That’s a loaded question, but objectively business has to be on the list. Most of the course work is stuff you never need in the business world. Accounting courses are useful, but few kids retain any of it. The math courses should be helpful, but many business majors never take more than the minimum of math required for graduation. The SAT scores for business majors explain the popularity.

The truth is, college is a major waste of time and money for most of the students. Only 59% of students graduate from college in six years. Some fraction of the rest go back and get their credential, but by that point it has lost its market value. This assumes it has a market value. A Ivy League diploma still carries weight. A Stanford degree opens secret doors that most don’t know exist, but in the case of the elite, it is not the degree so much as the connections. Mixing with tomorrow’s rulers is the real value of the degree.

Outside of STEM fields, it is hard to judge the value of a college degree. The constant refrain from the college industrial complex is that college graduates earn eleventy billion more in their lifetime, compared to non-graduates. There a lot of fun with numbers in those studies. People with “some college” tend to earn about the same as people with four-year degrees, suggesting IQ is the real issue here. If you are bright enough to get into college, you are as bright as the people who get out of college with a degree.

The only way to measure the value of a diploma is on a case by case situation. If your goal is to be an engineer, then you need the paper. On the other hand, if you are walking out of college with $80,000 in debt, by the time you pay off the loans, the real cost is 30% more in interest and opportunity cost. Your lifetime earnings probably justify that initial investment. On the other hand, if your goal is to be a medieval folklorist, you’re probably better off playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons or World of Warcraft.

All that aside, the college rackets are another example of how social trust has declined in America over the generations. There’s little doubt now that colleges prey on the angst of middle-class families. The declining value of a college diploma corresponds with the skyrocketing cost of getting it. It is a bust out, the sort of thing predators do to people they view as strangers. Just as the college campus is a collection of grifters pretending to be colleagues and academics, America is a land of strangers pretending to be citizens.

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brierrabbit3030
Guest

Expensive Folklore Degree? The folklore researcher in the Old Days was typically somebody like a local retired professor, or teacher with an interest in the odd corners of the culture. If you ever read HP Lovecraft horror stories, its almost always some professor with an interest in the Odd, who gets himself in trouble poking around where he shouldn’t…

Member

Out of fear for their children’s future a lot of people still believe in the old college fund. Might as well give the money for a business start up, or here’s an idea, a trade school.

The future of the college institutions is about to change, at least for some. People have to wake up. It’s amazing how many people I know debate and question whether they need their $150 cable bill and are afraid to make the change. That thinking (or lack of) is what the challenge is to get them to access accurately the college scam system.

GU1
Guest

My goal is to give my children rental properties. They can decide what to do from there.

Severian
Guest

It’s not JUST politics. Maybe ten percent of college students are actually qualified to be there and can handle the work. As a professor, what is one to do with a class full of kids who can’t write, can in some cases barely read, and have zero knowledge base? If you’re 22 years old and haven’t learned this stuff yet, I can’t teach it to you in a semester (and certainly not on top of the class’s regular work). If I teach a class on Game of Thrones, at least they’ll do the assignments.

Corn
Guest

“Maybe ten percent of college students are actually qualified to be there and can handle the work.”

I think Charles Murray said or wrote once something to the effect that if your IQ is below 110 you don’t belong in college.

Of course that blunt truth is anathema to Mr. and Mrs. Middleclass:
“Of course our kids are going to college! We’re not white trash!”

bobmark
Guest

Zoology used to be a degree for pre-med students, maybe something else is filling that niche.

In a four year degree, three years are your degree plus one years worth is electives for ’rounding out your education’ – that is subsidizing all the programs that can’t attract enough students to support themselves.

thekrustykurmudgeon
Guest

once the traditional institutions have collapsed – it tends to lead to a proliferation of con men. What is the academia or the media but a place full of con men? Same thing for a lot of megachurches.The mainline institutions have declined, so now we have self-help style pastors.

Member

More and more of the college rankings have started looking at mid-career pay as a way of separating the wheat from the chaff. Three clusters emerge:

The Ivies (and Ivy wannabees)
The top tier engineering schools
The military academies (which are really engineering schools with leadership and management added in)

http://www.businessinsider.com/private-colleges-with-the-highest-mid-career-salaries-2016-9/#-11

http://www.businessinsider.com/public-colleges-with-the-highest-mid-career-salaries-2016-9

So you’re dead on. Interesting how schools like the Claremont Colleges and Duke have infiltrated the ranks of the Ivies while the Browns and Cornells have slid down the ladder.

Al from da Nort
Guest
el B; Fascinating link. Catnip for data mavens if you look at the whole list. Thanks. Who knew that there are over 1,200 degree-conferring institutions in the US_? To no-one’s great surprise, it appears that there is a strong eyeball correlation between % STEM degrees and median (a better statistic for this purpose) mid-career pay. Surprisingly, there is no obvious eyeball correlation between subjective satisfaction (% High Meaning) and anything obvious such as prestige, type of school or the objective measure of mid-career salary. This may, in part, be driven by the many small schools who still adhere to the… Read more »
Member
Very true. I’ve been wondering how long the mid-career salary data will be published before the alumni networks come down hard on the websites. I’m not pushing the academies, but they generally do very well in college rankings… for a couple of years. Then the Ivies and new Ivies and high-rated state schools raise holy hell and they get pulled out of the rankings and get a “special page” in the print version of the rankings. The academies aren’t great research schools. They don’t have outstanding faculty. But they do hold kids to standards and produce a fairly well-educated grad… Read more »
Lorenzo
Guest

The XO in my Vietnam artillery battery said that at West Point he got a million dollar education crammed up his arse a nickel at a time.

Guest
Guest
I’m not convinced med-career pay is particularly meaningful either. Let’s face it, if your last name is Kennedy, Bush, Clinton, or Trump your mid-career pay is going to be up there even if you’re a moron who struggled to get into one of the Midwest Ivies. On a lesser scale, if one of your parents is an investment banker, member of Congress, hedge fund manager, or the like, you are probably going to have a respectable mid-career salary even if you’re a dolt. Joe Biden’s son Hunter is a complete train wreck and probably should be in prison, yet he… Read more »
Member

Your argument works for the Ivy-ish school cluster. Generally though, the Hunter Bidens of the world aren’t going to bust their ass in the lab or leading joes in the field. I submit that the engineering school cluster and military academy cluster (including the maritime academies) still do a pretty good job of taking smart lower middle class kids and promoting them into the upper middle class.

Guest
Guest

Agreed. That’s the path I took.

Dutch
Guest

The Claremont Colleges have been Ivy wannabies for decades. Ironically, the hard sciences taught at Harvey Mudd, the supply side Laffer Curve stuff that came out of CMC in the 70s and 80s, and the Claremont Institute, all of which are the real reasons Claremont is on the map, are repudiations of the soft Ivy culture that Claremont seeks for itself.

D&D Dave in the Bubble
Guest
D&D Dave in the Bubble
“On the other hand, if your goal is to be a medieval folklorist, you’re probably better off playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons or World of Warcraft.” Actually, a folklorist with a degree would be a pain in the ass for D&D because I could see them wasting half of the gaming session comparing the folklore they studied to the folklore of an invented game. I still play D&D at least once a week at the ripe old age of 50, though half of our game is about drinking beer, eating pizza and having a good time. With a… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

Don’t knock sales jobs. They are a crucible. Success and failure are all on your shoulders. Good salesmen are the surviving cockroaches of a failed culture. Most Ivy Leaguers couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag.

Al from da Nort
Guest

Dutch;

True. Based on my biz life, I always told my kids that if they can sell, they’ll always eat well. Sadly none of them had the knack.

Lorenzo
Guest

I never knock sales people because they do a necesary job impossible for me. I don’t think I could sell a bucket of water to a guy with his pants on fire.

D&D Dave in the Bubble
Guest
D&D Dave in the Bubble

Oh I didn’t mean to give the impression I was knocking a sales job. I realize now that was insult by throwing Yebb in there. But he does look like a used car salesman. 🙂

Member

Besmirching the good name of used car salesmen by comparison with Jeb Bush. I can understand why they’d be miffed.

Especially since Jeb couldn’t close the sale.

Bunny
Guest

Jeb Bush has a B.A. In Latin American Studies from UT Austin. His IL connections had to come from Andover or his family, but can we see how he used his degree to scale the heights of banking, real estate and politics, heh. It’s a good thing there was no degree in Folklore and Mythology during my college days or I might have gone for it. What difference, at this point, does it make? Back in the day, we coeds used to joke we were pursuing our MRS. degrees.

Simon
Guest

We have the same useless courses in the UK, Media, Tourism degrees etc. They are just another scam to turn the least intelligent in to lifelong tax slaves saddled with huge debt to the system.
I used my personal network and placed one of my boys in Electrical Engineering and the other in Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineering.

As apprentices, they are already earning more that most Grads will receive once they enter the workplace with their huge debts. They can also avoid tax and starve the system by working for cash.

Member

Excellent choices.

Guest
Guest
The disaster that is higher education in America is perhaps the largest political opportunity for Red state governors today. Every Republican Governor should give their state university systems one year to implement a plan which offers online Bachelors degrees in meaningful programs for less than $20,000. It should be made clear to the Boards of Regents and the University Administration that this is the primary mission of the University and that failure will result in immediate termination. This issue places Republicans squarely on the side of middle-class and working-class citizens. If Republicans can find the gonads to do this they… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest
Guest; Another good alternative would be legislating voluntary on-line certification tests for relatively narrowly defined critical life and business skills, complete with a recommended reading list (or problem sets) and available practice tests. Operational Concept: Change the hiring signaling system from having a BA in whatever to being able to demonstrate proficiency in the bundle of skills that any particular institution decides they require in new hires. You could take classes or learn on your own. Make HR actually earn their pay by defining needed skills and testing hires ex post. E.g. Practical Algebra (know enough to cut lumber to… Read more »
Guest
Guest

That’s the way the world used to work. Here’s a fascinating article on why Griggs v Duke Power changed the old world order, giving rise to credentialism, massive HR departments, and the explosion of the education-industrial complex and student load debt. Worth reading in its entirety.

https://spectator.org/60741_how-supreme-court-created-student-loan-bubble/

Al from da Nort
Guest

Guest;
Yeah, I’m aware of this decision and its pernicious impacts everywhere. My idea is that the red states combine in a consortium to perform this service for all employers, public and private on a level playing field basis.

Could it survive a challenge directed to our nine black-robed rulers_? Hope so, can’t say for sure.

Alzaebo
Guest

Oh man. Countering the judicial tyranny. You are on to something bigly here.

It would probably become a licensing racket like state insurance commissioners, but it would work according to to Constitutional special interests, just as health insurance did before the botched ACA nationalization.

Crossing state lines would counter the accreditation monopoly (which is similar to Obamacare in its public-private stricture).
The cost of getting wealthy powers on your side is better than the current judicial power grab.

Member
I’m surprised to see that communications and journalism majors have increased since the heyday of the profession in the 80s. It’s really a terrible time to try to find a paying job as a reporter or editor. As for the value of a college degree, the problem is that a college degree is, in many professions, the new high school diploma. I was fortunate in the 80s to land a full-time IT job at a major newspaper while I was still a senior in college, no degree required, and I stayed at that newspaper for 14 years. By the time… Read more »
JohnTyler
Guest

How about Persian Poetry?

Member

Sounds like a hobby.

D&D Dave in the Bubble
Guest
D&D Dave in the Bubble
My wife has a cousin that graduated a few years ago with a communications degree and she’s been bouncing around small city radio stations for the past few years doing menial work and picking up a few tidbits here and there. Still deep in debt, maybe she will get lucky with a resume and get into a larger market station. As for journalists, I would hate to see what the communist professors are brainwashing their classes with today. I can’t even read the local newspapers anymore here in NJ because they are all opinion pieces disguised as journalism.
Dutch
Guest

“Opinion pieces disguised as journalism”. We have a Bloomberg TV feed here at work. Michael Bloomberg despises Trump, but the overt Trump bashing has gone away, perhaps because most of the (few) viewers are Trump supporters? The Trump hate remains, but is is of the subtle sort, not the carpet chewing of CNN/MSNBC. It is interesting to watch them thread the needle on the trashing of Trump without being too overt about it.

Kendoka
Guest
I noticed the same trend on Bloomberg over the course of the last year. At the beginning of Trump’s administration, they were as anti-Trump and strident as CNN and MSNBC. But I noticed that the comments section of many of their articles showed far more of their consumers/customers voicing support for Trump than those who voiced hatred of the man, or the readers voiced at least “a wait and see” attitude. Bloomberg picked up on that early and started shifting their language and tone, while keeping themselves in the anti-Trump camp. Now when you watch them, it’s a lot harder… Read more »
Anonymous White Male
Guest
“If you are bright enough to get into college, you are as bright as the people who get out of college with a degree.” Is “brightness” even necessary for entry into college anymore? With affirmative action, the need to enslave…..I mean the necessity of pimping out student loans, and the capitation funds for those that fill classroom seats, college is just another money-making scam. Almost anyone can get into a Jr. or Community college. Put in your time there, come out with a B average and you can transfer almost anywhere. I think there are four types of “bright” students… Read more »
JohnTyler
Guest
“…looking for bizarre classes and majors….” How about Persian Poetry. Read an article about this American professor of Persian Poetry at some some US college insisting that the taxpayers should subsidize his work in this field. No thanks (but I was not asked). As for biology, well, these majors have to take organic and bio chemistry – real science courses – which may explain fewer students in this field aside from those in pre-med/vet/pharma majors. IMHO, black/womens/hispanic/LGBQT studies are more harmful for the individual and for society than folklore studies. At least in folklore studies you are not indoctrinated to… Read more »
LFMayor
Guest

There once was an Iman from Reddikwatartucket,
Who threw up his hands and said…

Alzaebo
Guest

Now that was LOL funny

(Rumi and Omar, gay as a French bicycle)

Dutch
Guest

Persian poetry—there is Rumi, he goes way back, and free on the internet or a buck or two at the used book store. Interesting stuff for the 13th century. Do we need more?

Drake
Guest
Al from da Nort
Guest

Drake;
Like Vince (?) I agree. Fred hits it ottah da park in dis one. I completely lived this transition. Freshman year: Ozzy & Harriet ’50s world. Senior year: Summer of Love baby_!

If you were elite connected: Didn’t matter. If you weren’t: Vast, unknowable consequences to which way you came down. And no actually effective guidance from our supposed betters in Establishment Faculty World.

Member

Fred Reed tends to either piss me off completely or hit it out of the park. This was one of his latter efforts. 🙂

TomA
Guest

Universities are mostly just babysitting institutions used to warehouse adolescents during their hormone years. And most of these inmates pass the time binge drinking and attending political indoctrination lectures. The end result is that these neophytes waste 4+ years that could be used apprenticing for a useful skill. The tuition overcharging and debt racket is really just a sneaky version of indentured servitude. Prog politicians buy votes by offering these debt slaves better terms on repayment.

Someone
Guest

The sad truth is that bus drivers and garbage truck drivers make as much or more than most university graduates.

Drake
Guest

My experience hiring college grads:
– any hint of the current pc nonsense talk is a disqualifier
– I’m more interested in ability and willingness to do the work than the pedigree of the school
– Business majors (including finance and accounting) are willing workers – as are engineers
– I’m not interested in a liberal arts majors (unless they have another degree) – despite my own undergrad degree in History.
– It can be tough to find decent young people who are minimally qualified and willing. We’ve often ended up interviewing a string of foreign students and wondering where the American kids are.

YIH
Guest
”Nothing so far has topped the Harvard Folklore and Mythology degree.” I can top it: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2011/11/society-that-deserves-to-die.html ”A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama teacher at a public elementary school in New York City. Frustrated by huge class sizes, sparse resources and a disorganized bureaucracy, he set off to the University of Connecticut to get an MFA in his passion—puppetry.” You read that right, he studied and got a Master’s in PUPPETRY. The only guy who actually got successful in that field? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Henson ”A puppetry class offered in… Read more »
Ursula
Guest
Hopefully soon people will wake up to the fact that Ivy League schools are not what they used to be. What a joke. Total racket. America really has become Idiocracy. Harvard student submits rap album as final year thesis http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/20/harvard-student-submits-rap-album-final-year-thesis/ “On one of his tracks, Open Your Eyes, Mr Shaw raps: ‘Just watch the thrones, our people are known. For making history of the impossible. From rap to White House, we unstoppable. Jumping Jim Crow to playing Oscar roles.'” Harvard student graduates with honours after submitting rap album as final year thesis http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/harvard-student-rap-album-final-year-thesis-passes-second-highest-grade-ivy-league-obasi-shaw-a7747371.html “… after graduation, Shaw will work as… Read more »
james+wilson
Guest

It’s hard to get in the Ivy League but once you are in it’s hard to drop out. Average grade at Harvard in 1950, C+, currently, A-. Lots of room for mischief.

Dutch
Guest

It’s kind of odd, here in Southern California I see a lot of alumni license plate frames. Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Harvard, Yale. All on expensive Bimmers and Mercedes, driven by people in their 50s and 60s. Boomers gotta signal. Makes me think of those Springsteen or Mellenkamp songs about the middle age guy reliving the high school days—but the white collar Boomer version.

Kendoka
Guest

People all too easily forget, the Boomers were the original “me” generation. That’s one big reason, though not the only one, why their kids from late in life marriages or grandkids are do self-absorbed.

Alzaebo
Guest

We were the first generation in human history that didn’t have to store food for the winter.

Of course we were going to screw it up.

LFMayor
Guest

I’ll just have to procure one of those IT Masters degrees from boutique shops in India. Where the professor lives upstairs and the whole family shits out front.
Bonus points as worldly world traveler, especially if I interview wearing a sari.

Slovenian Guest
Guest

A Folklore degree may be the best to fake tho, it’s stupid enough that nobody would double check it! It’s like having a fat imaginary girlfriend.

Nobody would make up a fat imaginary girlfriend, it can’t be.

LFMayor
Guest

Whew, for a minute I thought you discovered that thing I had for Romeo Voids lead singer

Al from da Nort
Guest

But taking a folklore course to cover a distribution requirement is golden_! Lots of girls attend and you can do your fieldwork gathering bar stories 😉

Member

I am surprised by how low some of the average SAT scores are. The test’s difficulty has been reduced twice since 1994 and you’re now allowed to use a calculator on the math portion. I don’t see how the math scores of students applying for STEM could be so low?

Gerard Van der Leun
Member

When you say “bust out” you need to embed this classic clip from Goodfellas….. exactly what’s happening in the academic mafia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeK9e07Y65o

Glen Filthie
Guest
I will remember it always: my daughter – she was beautiful then – came home with the long face and told me she was dropping out of the sciences at the U, and taking Fine Arts from No-Name College. Before I could have my stroke the doorbell went, and in walked my in-laws. While I tried to re-start my heart, they leapt to the defense of their precious princess of a granddaughter: “All education is GOOD education!!!! She has to follow her dreams and the money will follow that…!!!! Hush, Filthie! Kids have to find their own way…!!!” Looking back… Read more »
GU1
Guest

Very sorry to hear that.

Glen Filthie
Guest
This was all years ago, fellas. Back then, nobody had even heard terms like ‘Cry Bully’ or ‘Millennial Snowflake’ or ‘SJW’. All these behaviours were perplexing as hell and nobody knew what drove them. My proggie in-laws just saw it all as a novel new way to rub my nose in it and meddle in our family. I should have kicked them out long ago. I will say this also – if you are a father – ACT like one. If the in laws come into your family and start meddling in your dirty laundry you kick them out! If… Read more »
Anonymous White Male
Guest

“Looking back on it, I should have killed them.”

Well, unless they are already dead, its never too late! Have you at least insulted their intelligence in the most contemptible ways possible?

Steven G Johnson
Guest

Hey, when Cthulhu comes, you’re gonna wish you had a good folklorist on hand!

Bunny
Guest

Excellent point! Other than that, folklore and mythology can form and sustain the collective identity of a people and their values. Man does not live by bread alone.

fredcdobbs
Guest

Observation: Jeez, Z…don’t you EVER make a bad post? 21st Century Bard of Baltimore for sure. If there’s a better blog on the interwebs I’ve yet to find it.

Alzaebo
Guest

Since uni’s main job is to sell more lemon loans than that used car salesman, are they bundled into CDOs?

Where do I trade this market?
How to play it?

Can’t trade the patronage aspect, I know, that’s a different economy.

And, Obama’s Sallie Mae hostile takeover seized another large chunk of the national economy, same as Obamacare, Green Energy, and Cash-for-Clunkers.

So, trade the institutionals themselves?

Member

I read an interesting theory that I believe may be true. It stated that massive amounts of student loan debt was straggling innovation and small business creation. Because the average graduate was saddled with school debt during the time frame in life when they would be most likely to take the risk to start a small business, but once they had gotten the debt paid they had a family, kids and a mortgage and were now too risk adverse. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

Member
Oddly enough, when I was a graduate student at Harvard lo these many years ago, I knew a few people involved in the Folklore program. Some of them were important scholars. I know nothing about the current crop (and yes, those courses do sound kind of flaky). I’ve actually set foot in the program’s office (for reasons I no longer remember). Was in a shabby old house just off Mt. Auburn St. if memory serves. It wasn’t exactly a high-profile unit back then. One professor used to teach a course in the Harvard core curriculum about “beast literature” (meaning, literature… Read more »
Member
As for this idea that universities will somehow wither away because some people don’t like what’s taught there, that’s just wishful thinking. The origins of universities go back to eleventh-century Italy, and the next two centuries saw the beginnings of some of the major universities of western Europe, with a large wave of royal foundations across central Europe following in the fourteenth century. The structure of today’s universities is surprisingly similar (colleges, faculties, deans, provosts and the like go back to the middle ages). I can show you texts showing that while a fifteenth-century university may have taught subjects that… Read more »
Severian
Guest

As a part-time prof myself I have some thoughts on this issue, but rather than clog up Z’s comment section I put them down here, if anyone is interested. The tl;dr is, maybe the truly elite colleges will continue to exist, and maybe they somehow still fulfill the traditional functions of the university, but the American system is well and truly FUBAR.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Sauron; Congrats on your life outcome, and I mean it. But as to Big U’s survival, consider that universities have in recent history completely alienated themselves from their original purpose over almost all of the years you cite, namely to prepare exceptional men for for God’s service in this world: Not least from learning Cannon Law which then required great facility in dead languages in the late middle ages. Every elite in every age has had (a very few) additional integrative avenues for admission besides just ancestry and connections: E.g the stringent Roman Cursus Honorum was an added requirement to… Read more »
Member
“Congrats on your life outcome, and I mean it.” Thanks. I must say I can’t think of a better job. I basically get paid to study what interests me, I teach enthusiastic young people who (more or less) share my interests, and while I work for a huge institution that’s unlikely to go belly up, it largely leaves me alone to do what seems right to me. The pay isn’t astronomical but it’s not shabby either, and it suffices for all my needs. The academic job market is very tight, and I made it to a tenure-track job only by… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest
Sauron; Re hostility to Great Big U: For those few students whose parents can afford it, who desire to burn with a hard, gem-like intellectual flame* and have the connections to get ahead anyway, elite BA educational processes can function just as you say. This is the ideal. But the reality is that Great Big U has collectively sold itself as the ticket to a middle class life while hinting at admission to the elite as a tease that will likely never happen. At the same time, the currency that it issues, the BA degree, has been so badly debased… Read more »
Glenfilthie
Guest
You made the point yourself, Sauron; throughout history the Mickey Mouse programs were there merely for the noble class to dress their kids up as educated men. The problem today is that the lower and middle classes are doing it too – and they certainly CAN’T afford it. Try paying off such an ‘education’ while working for Starbucks. It’s a scam. Even when the outcome of that is good, it’s actually bad. Obutthole was conceivably one of the worst presidents in US history. I personally think that man got elected based on the colour of his skin rather than the… Read more »
miforest
Guest
this is right in my wheelhouse. my daughter graduated in nursing in 2014, my middle son in chem. engineering in December , and my youngest is half way through his junior year in Electrical engineering. I have been dealing with colleges for 8 years now. The lone exception to this is Hillsdale college. They really are better. The networking from there is almost as good as an Ivy league school. one thing to understand out of the box is that EVERY major has to take a certain number of core classes in the “humanities.” . everywhere , no exceptions. they… Read more »
Bunny
Guest

Isn’t an education about more than employment opportunities? I mean, yes, economic survival is tough, but isn’t there something more to life? Do the humanities not matter at all? Have we so devalued our cultural inheritance that nobody cares to transmit it properly to the next generation? Is the bottom line the be all and end all of everything? This is an issue apart from what we should reasonably expect to pay for said cultural transmission.

Occassional Commenter
Guest
Occassional Commenter
“Have we so devalued our cultural inheritance that nobody cares to transmit it properly to the next generation?” And therein is a major problem. Entire swaths of traditional curricula have, I fear, been lost, because of cultural Marxism and PC nonsense. Take western civilization for example. It has been shut out of most colleges for so long, the current crop of history teachers haven’t been exposed to it. So we likely couldn’t recreate it if we wanted to. Entire traditional disciplines have been lost, since they’ve been out of fashion for so long. Much of Western culture has been lost… Read more »
Dutch
Guest
I always understood that college or university was supposed to educate the student in the Western intellectual and cultural heritage (failing), teach people how to live together and practice the social graces and habits that make good citizens (failing), and not only arm the student with an education, but teach him how to learn (failing). As a student almost 40 years ago at an Ivy wannabe, the slippery slope in all of these areas was already underway. My most meaningful educational experiences were as a graduate student at lowbrow Cal State Long Beach, and on-line in recent years through Kaplan.… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

Education is more than job opportunities, but the humanities, even as I learned them in the 70s/80s, was an exercise in explaining how evil and discriminatory our Western culture has been. The whole “women and people of color not represented in the Western canon” thing was just beginning to really take off. Reagan’s election in the middle of it set people off, just as Trump sets them off today (academics like their conservatives to be harmless, like the Bushes). Thanks to libraries, used bookstores, and the Internet, independent study is the way to go.

zreader
Guest

Do the humanities not matter at all?

Sure they matter. Just not worth $80k or more in debt.

As for devaluing our cultural inheritance, well, you should talk to the professors of those humanities classes. They hate our cultural inheritance. Where do you think this SJW nonsense started?

Bunny
Guest

Exactly what I’m saying. If only the alumni and parents had withheld some checks starting about fifty years ago…

zreader
Guest

But when everybody here talks about withholding checks from said humanity departments (by only paying for their kids to study STEM fields) you admonish them for ignoring the humanities.

The fetishization of the high-minded “Education”, divorced from anything practical, has to be one of the greatest marketing coups of all time; up there with engagement rings. What made sense for the scions of aristocratic families in the 18th century may not actually make sense for those of middle class families in a degree-saturated declining empire.

Alzaebo
Guest

Five percent of the population went to higher ed in the 1920s.
The big stuff- dams, roads, skyscrapers, this country- were built by guys with 8th to 12th grade educations. Or less.

Dutch
Guest

The checks were a hell of a lot smaller back then.

miforest
Guest
Bunny , you make the mistake going to college for education. I love history, I have engaged in “independent study ” of history for 50 years now . My daughter has a friend from high school who got an ” Education ” in history . Her bachelors degree in history with a specialization in Stuart England. She has only superficial knowledge of the rest of history. I was appalled when I talked to her. for this ” education” she is $70 k in debt at 8% interest. and works as a waitress. Her life is made immeasurably harder by the… Read more »
Bunny
Guest
Yes, I’m sure some things have changed in education and the degree is just a starting point in lifelong learning. Nevertheless, anyone majoring in history has got to know that, without further education, there is virtually no career path in a history major. Caveat emptor. Same goes for the “proper” transmission of culture. There is a probably a big difference in being taught by these guys in 1970- https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2014/04/06/the-cistercians-are-back-at-zirc/ and what you find at university, even Catholic university, today. You wonder how we got from there to here, but it’s really no mystery. We allowed it. We lost the culture… Read more »
PropagandistHacker
Guest

Bust this nation UP….tear it apart….

DLS
Guest

Still very funny:
Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO8x8eoU3L4

Member
This is a frequent topic of discussion as my 17 year old is a HS junior this year. Our main point to her is the extreme cost of a college degree. How important it is to go in with a plan, a timeline, a budget, and cash-money from a motivated investor (e.g. merit scholarship). Her mom and I get the final vote because she doesn’t have to pay for it. Part of the reason college is so expensive is the same reason health care is so expensive: the separation of the payer from the consequences of their choices. If you… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest

I’ve thought the same of hospital.
Uni and hospital should have thousands of steady, low-cost loan payments coming directly to the institution, as they used to.

Banks too, as things were predictable and stable when they owned their loans instead of bundling and reselling them.

For example, General Motors wasn’t a car company, it was an excuse for GMAC, the financing arm. “As GM goes, so goes America”.

cruithni
Guest
I have no problem with those pursuing a degree in folklore (but perhaps not at taxpayer expense). Education is a commodity. The problem arises when job training is confused with education. The goal of an education, at least the classical liberal arts kind I would pursue, was once to teach one how to think, how to understand, how to live a good, fulfilling life. It wasn’t ‘job training’. Somebody (I think it was Heinlein) once said that job training was education for slaves. The folklorist obviously pursued that degree as job training. I can’t help thinking that the same degree,… Read more »
Occassional Commenter
Guest
Occassional Commenter

A little while back I was reading a recent graduate’s tale of woe, about how she couldn’t find a decent job. Her degree? Eco-feminism.

Robert What?
Guest

Great article. I was speaking to my college age niece who told me that the new scam in college circles is STEAM – Science Technology Engineering ARTS and Math. Of course I call it a scam, she doesn’t. Clearly it a new fraud perpetrated by college administrators to dress up worthless degrees.

Alzaebo
Guest

Queer Math, eh?

Ben
Guest

“Just as the college campus is a collection of grifters pretending to be colleagues and academics, America is a land of strangers pretending to be citizens.”

Heavy stuff, but true.

zreader
Guest

Another interesting tidbit is the fact that zoology has just about disappeared as a college major… Maybe colleges have re-branded it as something cooler.

At the Reeducation Camp university in which I’m currently serving studying, the major which appears to cover the ground a zoology degree would have covered is called “Ecology and Evolutionary Biology”.

L Garou
Guest

Silk purses for everyone!

Issac
Guest

The hard truth is that the millennial generation is the true “lost generation.” Stunted family formation, few personal connections, virtually worthless education, scarce marketable career skills, and fierce foreign competition for all jobs desirable and otherwise.

CaptainMike
Guest

This one is great! I will be spending the week trying to mentally game scenarios where a professional, graduate-degreed Folklorist would be urgently called upon to save the day. Fantastic screenplay idea.
Thanks for all you do Zman.

Member

When the fae folk return to claim their due, we’ll be begging for a folklorist to guide us.

CaptainMike
Guest
I see some discussion of the Maritime Academies. If you don’t get into the full-ride Federal school at Kings Point, they are pretty pricey. You can pursue the same license “through the hawsepipe” by shipping out as an Ordinary Seaman at 18 (for around $30-40K a year to start). I went into the MM at 26 after 4 years at State U and 4 in the USN. I know two guys who worked for me in offshore O&G who went from OS to Unlimited Master making $250K+ a year in under 10 years without ever setting foot in a college… Read more »
Member
As a former college professor, teaching finance and some accounting, I was telling students almost 20 years ago if your were not getting a CPA you were wasting valuable time, and money. Get out of the business school and get into healthcare or engineering. Finance itself died a miserable death in 2009 and has not recovered, so that advice goes double since then. The school I was teaching at had neither engineering nor medical except for nursing. The college of business was and is a cash flow goldmine. It put this private Tampa school back on the map after near… Read more »
Someone
Guest

I can’t say STEM fields are really worth all that much anymore given what it cost. The engineering consulting are trying to outsource drafting and design at the expense of American workers so they can up their percent profit a point or two.

Dutch
Guest
My daughter just graduated STEM last spring, and landed a fantastic job in the biology field. The keys were to finish in four years (it required summer school), nail the subject matter (even many of the STEM students are lazy and/or not-too-bright), get out there and apply for work right out of school (no travel “gap year” stuff), and dress and act like a normal person. The job interview required explaining all the lab procedures she had learned and practiced, which she nailed. I’m sure being female did not hurt. But simply being a bright, responsible person who works hard… Read more »
Duane
Guest

Did anyone with a college degree pick up on the typo?
–“A Ivy League diploma”–
While I only have a STEM degree and I am not an English major, I am pretty sure that is supposed to be AN Ivy League diploma.

P. POSSUM
Guest

Two kids, both 3 years out if college ( both finished in 4 years, one did a 5th to get a teaching credential). Both did degrees I questioned ( music and english). The teacher goes to school each day excited to be there and vaues making a differnce in childrens lives and the English major is in business and just got a $40,000 a year raise.The degrees did not make the difference. What is different is that they were raised to be adults, not grown children. They value hard smart work.

Mike Anderson
Guest

“A Stanford degree opens secret doors that most don’t know exist…”

Amen, brother! I stumbled into a graduate program at Stanford courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Air Force, and that degree was a golden ticket. It’s not just connections; it’s that the mere word “Stanford” makes otherwise-sensible folks minds go numb, and you’re immediately assumed to have Magic Genius powers. It’s almost embarassing, but, hey, it’s money in the bank.

DrTorch
Guest
Finance also seems to be a major that has a good ROI. I think accounting does ok for itself (one would hope). And for teaching, a college degree is requisite. If you keep costs low, that’s not a terrible approach. Even in STEM you need to be careful. A BS in Physics only gets you so far. And undergrad degrees in Chem or Bio can get you that lab tech job, but the pay isn’t exceptional. On the whole, engineering fields are the most lucrative. If you consider nursing as STEM, it’s hard work, but always in demand. As for… Read more »