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.

124 thoughts on “Major Waste

  1. 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 worthless degrees, are you aware of the ‘Leisure Studies’ degree available at Bowling Green State University? It’s in the School of Human Movement (but of course!)

    Why I just learned there is a GRADUATE program in ‘Leisure & Tourism’! I hope Julie McCoy was so well credentialed!

  2. “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    • 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 and knows her stuff goes a long way, because so many kids fall down in some part of all of it. And the crime is that, culturally and socially, the colleges are encouraging them to fall down. Grievance and extremism prevail on campus.

  6. 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 bankruptcy.

    But alas, the degrees are as worthless as salt. Many of my former finance students are teachers, bus drivers, managers at Starbucks, McDonalds et al.

    The one bright star is some are also entrepreneurs, albeit with varied levels of success, but mostly doing quite well on this path. I would say this is less than 10%.

    I can list on one hand, outside of dull underpaid banking or mortgage jobs how many are working directly in challenging and rewarding high paying finance corporate careers on Wall Street etc………

    Zero, that I am aware of. Perhaps if I taught at Wharton, my experience would be different, but outside of the Ivy level, a business degree is a business degree if not accounting, and even then, a CPA is nearly a must for good sustained earnings.

    Marketing is to finance as finance is to management as management is to hr and all are headed to Starbucks.

    And lets not even the discuss the ones that never finish yet still have 100K in debt……….

  7. 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 classroom. The also got paid steadily increasing wages the entire time There are a lot of trade school classes required along the way, and although calculus isn’t required, you at least need solid math skills up through trigonometry. Obviously it’s not for everyone, and women are making rapid inroads into the industry. Unfortunately they are toxic to crew morale and cohesion, but that’s a whole manifesto.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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”.

  11. “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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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, pursued as education, would result in a thinking person who would happily create their own job in the field. I’m thinking of someone like the late Joseph Campbell, who did just that.

  15. 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 have really any decent insurance, your awareness of how much health care actually costs goes way down. If you have a Stafford loan that you can defer for half a decade, you have very low awareness of how much college actually costs. So, for our teenager, I like to use practical examples of costs.

    “We have a 2011 Subaru Outback. It is worth about $15,000. In order to send you to Out of State School X, that is the equivalent of us buying you THREE Subaru Outbacks of similar mileage/condition. Every year. For four years.”

    “Why is college so expensive, dad?”

    “Look at the facilities next time you’re on a campus tour. It’s like a Club Med or Disney Resort hotel. There are hot tubs and lazy rivers. There are top of the line health clubs on campus. New labs. Fancy gizmos and “free” wifi. Organically grown, gluten free, responsibly harvested meals. Many dozens of utterly useless degrees and majors which are subsidized by your tuition because they have no market value on their own merit. Notice the football stadium. And the unused grass quad taking up 20 acres of the most valuable real estate in the county. Full medical facilities and police forces. That’s why.”

    Visiting the schools in person has helped quite a lot. “You see how nice this is? Nice = expensive. Nice does not = better. We’re sending you to college to get an education in furtherance of a career. If you’re going to college to hang out at a resort for 4-6 years, you mom and I have no money, zero, for that.”

    College is also expensive because absolutely nobody friggin’ negotiates. Everybody just pays the damn sticker price which inflates all the costs. Why? Because they can wrap it up on a government loan that is invisible to you for half a decade…at which point BOOM.

    Finally, college is expensive because when you buy a HOUSE, you have a realtor (buyer and seller), mortgage broker, insurance company, title company, professional home inspectors and assessors, etc. You buy COLLEGE – which in many cases is equal to or more than a house? You get:

    A parent who may or may not be good at math.
    A high school guidance counselor.
    A 17-18 year old kid.

    That is EASY MONEY for the Universities and Uncle Sam.

    Here’s how you fix it:

    1. Universities, not parents, have to co-sign the Stafford loans.
    2. Universities accepting Stafford loans have to certify that no more than 10% of the degree requirements are outside of the core discipline being studied. In other words, if you have to take 50 classes to get a Chemistry degree, no more than 5 can be come from the English, Humanities, Social Sciences, etc. Degrees are bloated with fluff that the kids don’t need.
    3. Stafford loan rates should be progressive based on years spent in college. i.e. you finish a “4 year degree” in 3 years, you get 3% off the rate. 4 in 4? 1-2% off the rate. 4 in 5? +2% added to your loan rate. 4 in 6? +5%.
    4. No deferments. You take out a loan, you start paying just like a mortgage or a car loan.

    And so on. It’s the cheap money that is causing the explosion in costs. Take away the cheap money.

    • 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”.

  16. 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 include the gender/queer/ethnic studies. group as well as classes in civics/culture classes. This group are the “western cultures are all genocidal /horrible guiltfests led by people who think ANTIFA are too dam tolerant. You will find almost all antifa leaders are professors somewhere. the private colleges are as bad as the state schools for this.

    so prepare your kids before you let tem go. They are going t have to lie about their beliefs a lot or they will be failed in these classes.

    engineering , health sciences , and accounting/finance are the only majors that work in the private sector. for gods sake avoid law. the numbers are terrible.

    the cost is barely justified if they are going into one of these fields. The orientation , resident life programs , and other stuff they have to do are full of “privilege Walks” and are run by SJW’s.

    It has been getting worse by the year , for the last 10 years. It really seems to mess with the girls heads more so than the boys.

    technical training at a community college is a great alternative for kids who don’t want to do the STEM- finance stuff. It’s a hard sell because It doesn’t have the cachet of regular college.

    good luck out there, It’s a mine field.

    • 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.

      • 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 scam that is modern college.
        I have a friend who is an engineer who loves math . He has a take studies it on his own , gone to conferences and is socially engaged with other mathematicians. That’s an education.

        The whole college racket at the present time is a Scam to force the upper middle class to pay for the comfortable lives of SJW campus radicals.

        It is naïve to think otherwise.

        • 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-

          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 war.

      • 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?

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

          • 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.

          • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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 to Harry Potter studies.

        the current crop of “teachers” don’t know what they don’t know.

        • 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. (Hint, it is all in which teacher you study under). My alma mater is absolutely struggling with alumni relationships, as most of them have turned their backs and moved on, from what I can see and from alumni weekend conversations. The institution cannot square the circle of its Ivy aspirations and posturing, in which it has largely succeeded, and the world view of its alumni, which has quite different expectations of what the institution should be about.

          Education is like investing (my practice). Some people need help, and others can do quite well on their own. Different strokes for different folks.

  17. 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 wouldn’t pass muster today, the instructors and students were a lot like today’s. They even had hazing at fraternities, and the students put a lot more time and energy into drinking than studying. And you can even find the parents who coughed up the money for tuition complaining that the students would be better off studying something practical like law instead of poets. And yet here we are, with the faculty of arts still in existence more than six hundred years later. Nihil sub sole novi!

    I once took a royalty check from the press of an English university to the bank. The teller asked somewhat suspiciously if I knew the issuer. I said that they’d just celebrated their eight hundredth anniversary and I was pretty sure they could cover the check.

    The race doesn’t always go to the swift of foot nor the longevity to the institution that’s been around for a millennium. But that’s the way to bet.

    • 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 birth, money and connections.

      No doubt, part of the reason for this nearly universal phenomenon is to admit no more than necessary of new, talented, entrants to the elite since their own favored spawn, the upcoming elite incumbents by birth, are, for HBD reasons, more likely than not to be of only average ability. Thus their hereditary privileged cohort members will likely not be talented enough, by themselves, to preserve the dynasty. And, then and now, The Dynasty (TM) *will* be under potentially lethal pressure from foreign (and domestic) competitors.

      But what we are seeing now is the complete debasement of our previous Big U alternative elite admission system with no obvious replacement. And, worse yet, there is no elite self awareness that they are doing this. Such a situation leaves ‘Populism’ and Caesarism as the historically likely alternatives. Our current debased elite hate (Trump) Populism but can’t actually articulate why. They *really* won’t like Caesarism, but that seems to be what’s left on the table.

      • “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 the skin of my teeth, and I was only the point of moving on to other stuff when fate intervened. Life could be a lot worse!

        As for universities having ceased to prepare men for God’s service, they stopped doing that a long, long time ago. As I said, the content has changed but the utility of instruction hasn’t. Fundamentally, a university education has been the ticket to membership in the ruling elite, and it still is. Depending on where you go.

        A lot of the discussion here talks of higher education as monolithic institution, but there’s a big difference between an Ivy League school or the equivalent on the one hand, and some low-ranking state school (not to mention a CC). A lot of what goes on at the lower level is attempting to provide remediation for the failings of high schools, and to that extent, a BA is the new high school diploma. As for the upper-ranking institutions, it remains to be seen what will come of the lowering of standards for various political reasons. But even the most hardcore HBD-er has to admit that whatever the talents of a person like Obama, his admission to Columbia led directly to full membership in the ruling elite.

        Finally, as someone with a fair familiarity with higher education, I’m conflicted when I read the sort of hostility to universities that pervades blogs like this one. From a political point of view, I can only sympathize. Undoubtedly universities have been taken over by the left and become seminaries of indoctrination, and I understand why people with right-wing sensibilities aren’t too fond of what universities do along those lines. But sometimes this politically grounded hostility has produced a sort of visceral aversion that is, at least to some extent, unreasonable. While it may well be true that there’s a lot of rot in the system, I can say from personal experience that a BA education does provide students with skills and knowledge that they are unlikely to get on their own. The idea that people can pick them up by their boot straps on their by reading shit on the internet is simply false. Virtually nobody has the time, motivation and ability to do that sort of in-depth learning on their own.

        The problem is not with the institution as such but with the people who run it and what they choose to teach. Even comparatively recently, there were non-leftist professors (for instance, the amusingly named Revilo Oliver or Enoch Powell). The leftists certainly control the academy now. But they’ve also taken over the corporate world as well. Do we want to destroy the corporate system because of it?

        Whatever else one may think of Adolf Hitler, I think the defeat of Nazi Germany led to the contamination in the popular imagination of anything associated with “fascism,” and the period sense 1945 has seen the gradual take over of the upper reaches of society by leftists and leftist thinking, and the period since 2000 has seen the rapid triumph of the left once they’d assumed control and silenced their opponents. It’s interesting that a lot of the notions that the left used to champion, like free speech and suspicion of the state, have fallen by the wayside now that they’re the one’s in control of the state. By their reckoning, we now all have to bowed down and worship Leviathan because Leviathan is their flunky.

        What the solution is, I dunno. November 2016 seemed to give some hope that change was possible, but how much actually has changed in the last year? No doubt some will chide me for being black-pilled, but reality seems to have a large stock of the things.

        • Finally, as someone with a fair familiarity with higher education, I’m conflicted when I read the sort of hostility to universities that pervades blogs like this one.

          I am outraged! The academy is a critical source of material for my podcast. I would be nothing without the academy!

        • 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 content of his character.

          You made the point yourself: today’s BA is actually yesterday’s high school diploma. In today’s job markets a high school diploma is worthless.

          When the left began the long march through our institutions they could still pretend that they could run them once they controlled them. Today history tells the truth: whenever leftists control an organization they eventually destroy it. Consider: our newspapers can’t sell a subscription for love or money anymore. Our schools are cranking out millennial snowflakes that are offended by thinking and truth. Our intellectuals are laughingstocks that have been educated beyond their intellects. Our courts are held in utter contempt as is our govt and law enforcement.

          Fake education plays into all that. Sure, it might have been around for 800 years…but that doesn’t make it right.

        • 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 for political reasons that even a BA coming from a name institution is questionable on its face. This is because Gresham’s Law** apparently works in academia too: Bad/useless courses seem to have driven out good courses, even at your Alma Mater.

          The current state of being is that Great Big U has collectively proclaimed its hostility to America and is doing its damnedest to destroy it and our progeny with it. And, they expect us to pay for their actual current process of costly-yet-casual indoctrination in their dys-civic (i.e. actually worse than useless) alternative folklore. So, yeah, we’ve noticed the hostility, greed and incompetence and that’s why we’re hostile.

          To find the educational gold you idealize (and, you’re right, it does exist) amid all the dross pumped out everywhere in all but a few of 1200 institutions calling themselves colleges and universities would require, you know, *standards*^. STEM has standards, that’s why its still doing OK as a course of study. But even these are under attack as vestiges of the patriarchy. Good luck fighting that trend.

          STEM will likely cave because the complete non-existence of durable standards is, of course, an Ur-Theme in the alternative folk-religion currently regnant in Great Big U. So, while I wish you and your colleagues well, I don’t like your chances of getting out of the collective box you-all have put yourselves in. For one thing, you have collectively made most anyone (i.e. traditionalists) who might help you in restoring standards into an evil, un-person.

          So, given the likely irreversibility of the flight-from-quality trends and the loan debt bubble*** I don’t see how the Great Big U’s survive in anything like their current form.

          More specifically, their growing unpopularity, as knowledge of their collective scam spreads, plus their lush endowments make nationalizing them to ‘cure’ our looming entitlement bankruptcy an increasingly attractive populist possibility.

          *Certain smug, would-be pure intellectuals actually used to say stuff like this at the U of C where I did grad work 40 odd years ago.
          **Gresham’s Law = Bad money drives out good money. For example, silver currency disappeared from US circulation just as soon as Fed. Banknotes became pure fiat money in the early ’70s.
          ^Learning, understanding and appreciating what the standards were and why they existed *used* to be the core task of BA education.
          *** University costs have grown at 2X the rate of return on anything like a balanced investment portfolio over the last generation. So you actually can’t hope to save up for college any more starting from scratch. Sadly, if you really can’t avoid going, the better bet looks to be taking the student loans and voting for Bernie to liquidate them.

    • 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.

  18. 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 in which animals appear as functional characters, like Reynard the Fox in the middle ages). He eventually got tired of being derided by people like the frequenters of this blog, so he gave it up and switched topic.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

    • 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.

  22. 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 on it, I should have killed them – they trucked out all the pretty lies and platitudes – and I got shouted down.

    5 years later my daughter was gone, replaced by a militant lesbian SJW with some serious daddy issues. She got a degree in Fine Arts, moved to BC where she became a $10.00/hour winner fixing bicycles in a sports shop. We’ve kind of rejected each other (I guess queers are supposed to be our moral and intellectual superiors that can tell us what to say and think – who knew?) We don’t speak to each other.

    For all that’s holy – do NOT send your daughters to liberal arts schools. They will be turned into lesbians, or feminists, or worse. And the next time somebody says all education is GOOD education – kick them in the balls.

    • “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?

      • 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 the wife beaks off – give HER the punt too! As our host demonstrates often… a lot of our women are friggin nuts and they will make you that way too if you lose control of them.

  23. 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?

    • Having administered the Wechsler, Wonderlic and Ravens many times, I’m no longer surprised by the scores. All of us tend to over estimate the intelligence of others. If someone is glib, then we wildly over estimate their IQ. The truth is, most people are average to below average.

      • “most people are average to below average” Well, yes they are. Which is why (for purposes of instruction) pupils should be grouped by ability like they are in sports and music. And nobody with SAT scores in the 400-500 range should be allowed to go into debt for college.

      • “The truth is most people are average”

        hehe. I don’t think I’ve read a truer statement, although it might be a little obvious.

  24. 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.

    • 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 😉

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  27. 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
    “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
    “… after graduation, Shaw will work as a software engineer at Google.”
    [Of course PC Google wants to hire this guy!]

    “On the album, Shaw embodies a different character on each track as he raps about a range of topics including police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and slavery.
    “‘Black people in America are kind of caught between freedom and slavery,’ Shaw told the Harvard Gazette. ‘Each song is an exploration of black liminality, that state between slavery and freedom.'”

    • 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.

  28. ”Nothing so far has topped the Harvard Folklore and Mythology degree.”
    I can top it:
    ”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?
    ”A puppetry class offered in the applied arts department introduced him to the craft and textiles courses in the College of Home economics, and he graduated in 1960 with a BS in home economics.” the difference being in 1960 there was interest in puppeteers on TV.

  29. 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.

    • Finance and accounting are wildly underrated. I’m amazed by the number of C-level people I encounter who have little understanding or corporate finance and accounting. On the surface, that suggests it is not a valuable skill, but in reality the people with those skills tend to rise higher faster.

      If I were ever to dispense advice on college, I’d suggest a solid grounding in accounting and some courses in finance.

      • Yes – that plus Statistics and some Project Management knowledge and you can be useful in any corporate headquarters.

      • I totally agree. I have a CPA and MBA. My undergrad was in finance. I use the hell out of my accounting work, but the MBA and undergrad work was about 80% useless. All the non-business coursework was interesting, but could have been accomplished by reading a few books.

        I pushed my son into college, but he is less STEM oriented, so he pursued marketing. I was really on the fence about funding this, because most of it is too general to be useful. He graduated last month and is still looking for a job while detailing cars for $10/hour. I feel like I was in a no win situation, and worrying about his future keeps me up at night.

        • I heard 2 MBAs mention that after they graduated, they still didn’t know how to plan a (personal) budget, nor were they aware of the need.

  30. 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.

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

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

    • 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.

  31. “…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 hate everybody not of your color/ethnicity/perceived gender.

    • 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?

  32. “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 in college anymore. Those that are truly exceptional, those that choose the STEM route, those that realize the game is rigged and are willing to sell their souls for a “comfortable” living, and those that get technical certifications in 2 years and bypass the SJW route. In fact, I would think that those that become Electricians, Machinists, Mechanics, and the like, show a much more aware perception about the nature of reality. They may never be in the top 1%, but they will make a comfortable living and not have to put up with any SJW bullshit.

    The mass of people that go to college, however, tend to go because they have no idea what they want to do. Many have parents that will foot the ever increasing cost of a college education, as they were programmed in their life to believe the disinformation about how necessary college is for success. The flighty children get 4 to 7 years of subsidized childhood, access to poon and potential mates, and a lifestyle that protects them from realizing they are just slaves. And since they haven’t developed critical thinking skills, they will fall for what ever fad is pushed at the academic brothel.

    I do think we are beginning to see the end of the college for everybody treadmill. It can’t be financially maintained and there are enough people that see how useless it is for most individuals. If the parasitic apparatchiks stop being subsidized on the taxpayer teat and professors are actually held to a higher academic standard, college may again become a useful endeavor for some people. Emphasis on “some”.

  33. 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 I changed jobs, my journalism degree was pretty irrelevant to what I’d actually been doing with my career, but I felt like being able to mark down that I had a Bachelor’s degree was a major checkbox for subsequent jobs. Maybe not, though, as I’ve been recruited and recommended for each subsequent job. I wouldn’t want to have to go into the job market cold these days.

    I have not pushed college for any of my kids. Of my three that are out in the world, two have practical associates degrees — one of those working directly in the field of her degree. The other is career army and got his Bachelor’s in engineering while in the army.

    I have two more approaching that point, and I won’t tell them to go to a four-year college “just because.” One is, in her first year after high school, just working fast food, because we insisted that she needed to know what a crappy job was like. 🙂 It looks like she may join her mom in our rental/property management business. The fifth is just eleven, and we’ll see.

    If any of them actually had a burning desire to do something for which a four-year degree would provide real skills/knowledge, I’d support them. But I’m not paying for some crap History, English or Communications degree, no less “Folklore.”

    • 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.

      • “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.

        • 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 to tell how they feel about him.

  34. 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 will run the board in state elections.

    • 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 size). Practical Communication (show you can write a coherent letter on some selected subject).

        • 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.

          • 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.

  35. 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.

  36. “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 business degree I got 27 years ago I might add, LOL. But I put my degree to good use, so I can’t complain.

    However as you pointed out, its a lot different today than 25-30 years ago. Only with the exception of Ivy League grads, in particular the lawyers. They’re the ones who become our political leaders who have run the country into the ground. But it’s all connections. Without the IL connections, Jebb is a used car dealer in Sarasota for example.

    I’ve already told my kids when its time for college for them, if they are going to school to learn something that might actually get them a good job, I will help pay for it. If they are going to school and decide the want to major in crap like Women’s Liberty or African Cultural studies, they are paying for that on their own. Too many millennials crying at Starbucks that their 5 year degree in Old European Poetry (and other BS B.S. degrees), did not land them a job right out of college earning 6 figures.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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. 🙂

        • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  37. 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)

    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.

    • Schools like Boston College and Notre Dame used to serve smart working class Catholics. Now they compete for kids looking at ivy League schools. I suspect most of this is due to the enrollments of elite schools not changing, while the population has doubled.

      • You had to have an Ivy break out eventually… Duke, Stanford and Claremont all seem to have made it over the bar. I see a lot of other programs run up the rankings for a few years then fall out, probably due to gaming the system. Babson and Santa Clara seem to be showing some staying power.

        • The “new Ivies” thing started with the millennials. My guess is enrollments dropped with Gen X, but then demand rocketed up as the kids of Boomers started applying for college. demand for pats on the head outstripped supply, so the next rung of colleges stepped into fill the gap.

          Lots of guys in my age group went to these schools, not knowing that in a decade or two, they would be high status. In the 80’s and 90’s, they were a bargain. Not so anymore.

    • 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.

    • 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 has practiced law, launched a investment fund, and landed a gig as a Director of Bursima Holdings (Ukraine’s gas company), all allegedly based on merit. (To illustrate the depth of his depravity: he’s now dating his dead brother Beau Biden’s widow. WTF?).

      Family connections matter. I’ve practiced with no small number of lawyers from Harvard and Yale and they were mostly highly intelligent, but terrible lawyers. They practice for a few years then move into the family business, investment banking, or into the revolving door of government service. I’m sure most will end up earning more than I will ever make based on their connections.

      It would be more meaningful to develop some economic mobility parameters. A university that is taking in kids from the bottom 10% of earners and positioning them for mid-career salaries at or above the median is an incredibly effective institution that deserves government support. Ditto for a university that takes kids at the median income and positions them for the upper ranges of income.

      FWIW, I believe the Merchant Marine Academy has the highest mid-career salary of any university in the country. It’s a hard life with a lot of travel, but the money is good.

      • 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.

    • 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 original mission of US higher education, namely training pastors (who are notoriously underpaid).

      It would be very, very interesting to compare the median cost of a degree with the median mid-career salary. Of course value testing US higher ed. would be like showing Dracula a cross. So we should probably not hold our breath waiting for it. US News tried this exactly once in the ’90s, were howled down and never tried it again.

      One thing for sure is that their capsule descriptions are only sorta accurate. For example, anybody that thinks that Duke (the model for Tom Wolf’s ‘I an Charlotte Simmons’ – a documentary on the elite school hookup culture) is a religious school is badly misinformed.

      • 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 who will work hard once their five years of indentured service are up.

        • 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

    • “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!”

  41. 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.

  42. 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…

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