Five ways to tell if your kid should go to college

Despite knowing that college is an outdated rip off, I am still stuck on the idea that my kids will go to college. My kids are young enough that I continue to live in a fantasy land that they will go to one of the small handful of colleges that the majority of powerful people attend.

This is a terrible line of thinking for a lot of reasons. For one thing, I love power (as an ENTJ) but my kids could give a crap about power (they are INTJ and ESFP). So that I’m focused on the schools of the power elite is messed up. And I write these posts to convince myself as much as I want to convince you that college is a waste of time and money for most everyone.

1. Is your kid going to be a STEM major?
The only reason you need to go to college is if you are a STEM major (science, technology, engineering, and math). If you can’t handle one of those majors, you don’t need to go to college. Because all the other stuff you need for your work, you learn on the job. (Note, this does not mean you can have a career in academia—because Science Daily reports that the glut of science academics is totally out of control. But you can work in industry for sure.)

2. Is your kid too stupid to pick up interesting material without being told?
And if you want to read the Iliad because you love to learn, then great, you can do it on your own time. But if you didn’t choose to read the Iliad in your free time when you were fifteen, you probably don’t want to do it when you’re eighteen. And if you didn’t do it as a teenager, when you have no other pressing issue in life except to figure out what you like, then it’s a pretty sure bet you’re not going to read the Iliad when you have a spouse and a mortgage and some kids.

So be honest: Your kid doesn’t care about the Iliad or, probably, the rest of that liberal arts education. Does she care about Elizabethan England? Is the French Revolution rocking her world? If you didn’t learn about it before college, you probably have no drive to learn about it.

What this means is that you can forget taking all those tests that put kids on track to go to college. Talented and Gifted tests, AP tests, PSAT, etc.  Because they are all geared toward some mysterious race to college readiness, that is not helping anyone in college.  Most  kids need to learn what interests them, and they can do that on their own, by picking up a book or a hammer, or a flower, since fifty percent of the world learns by doing rather than reading. 

3. Does your child have a trust fund?
Colleges invest more in amenities than academics because amenities are what really attract students and academics are being replaced by MOOCs—courses that enroll thousands of students.

Student debt is destroying the lives of the most recent generation of college graduates and meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor (and Gawker!) reports that nearly half the jobs in our economy don’t even require a college degree.

The best bang for your buck is community college, where the focus is on getting you a job. Or online colleges, that absolutely understand the value of bucking the system. The idea that kids should take out loans so they can get a liberal arts degree is leftover from the days when college was something parents paid for with cash. There is not rational decision-making process that tells you to take out $100K in loans to have four years where you are reading books that will not help you get a job.

4. Did you deprive your child of critical-thinking opportunities by sending him to grade school?
And parents look more and more lame justifying the college expense by saying their kids need to be critical thinkers. Because the kids could have already learned critical thinking at home, on their own, because that’s the core skill one develops in self-directed learning.

Parents think they’re getting a bargain sending their kid to state-funded babysitting programs for eighteen years, but at the end of that, the kid does not have critical thinking skills, because the teachers spoon-fed them test-taking material the whole time. That’s why parents have to take out six-figure loans to pay for college to promote critical thinking skills; because the parents wouldn’t let the kids stay home and develop the skills for free, as children.

Tynan suggests you get a hustler’s education instead, and I like the idea. Read a lot, write a lot, learn to play poker, learn to be social, these are things that will open doors for you. These are the skills of the new millennium. Most predictions are that in the next ten years, people will be hired for their curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. You learn this sort of stuff through self-directed learning.

So the more you brush off the trappings of school, the more employable you become. And, done right, this would mean that when it’s time to go to college, you are already prepared for the workforce, so you can jump right in. So what if you’re only making minimum wage? Getting paid to learn workforce skills is a lot better than paying six-figures to learn stuff that doesn’t apply to the job market.

5. Does your child suffer from your outdated, preconceived notions of who should to go to college?
First thing to do: admit when your kid is not college material. Here’s a case study from a writer at Forbes. His brilliant son is not going to college. College is not right for most kids. The Atlantic has been harping on this topic for years, but unfortunately the Atlantic readers self-select for over-educated to the point of absurdity, so the argument goes nowhere with that crowd.

In the world of trust-fund kids and the over-coddled, college will persist: Tthe fraternity parties and football games and late-night library sessions with the sole purpose of migrating to a hot sticky dorm room. Those people can afford to take four years off from life. And it will show up on their resume as a vacation. Everyone else will recognize that college is for the few people who need to be experts in a STEM subject or need to put off adulthood as long as possible.

For everyone else: adulthood is interesting. It’s the extension of an interesting childhood—if your parents were that forward thinking—a childhood where you constantly experiment with work you choose and teams you choose and subjects that naturally interest you.

40 replies
  1. Steven Davis
    Steven Davis says:

    The other conclusion from the Bureau of Labor Statistics would seem to be that you really need to teach (or encourage your kid’s to learn) how to run their own business because the “jobs” that are going to be out there don’t really pay much (unless you want to be a personal care assistant which is certainly fine, but you are probably better off running a personal care business).

    While college degrees may not be NECESSARY for a lot of jobs, they are used as a filter by lazy HR departments who want to reduce the number of applicants that get reviewed.

  2. Luke Redd
    Luke Redd says:

    Penelope, I agree with a lot of this. But I question the idea that there is actually a STEM shortage. What seems to be happening is that big business is claiming a shortage in the quest to bring in cheaper labor from overseas. Many qualified American STEM workers cannot find work. See this article in the Columbia Journalism Review:

    And check out this YouTube video from a conference revealing how some lawyers legally help their business clients hire foreign workers by disqualifying Americans:

  3. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    “For everyone else: adulthood is interesting. It’s the extension of an interesting childhood—if your parents were that forward thinking—a childhood where you constantly experiment with work you choose and teams you choose and subjects that naturally interest you.”

    Yeah! Exactly! This idea has been mulling in my mind recently. I think the trap that people have fallen into is that parents and schools are treating childhood like some huge preparation for adulthood, when they finally get to demonstrate their training and make the big bucks.

    One problem (among many) with this mentality is that it is materialistic. “Work hard now so you can make lots of money later.” But that’s a horrible message. Nothing wrong with money–it is an indicator that your services are valued–but when people enter the real world and realize that all the work they did and fun they sacrificed in childhood didn’t translate to a high paying job (which wouldn’t have been solely fulfilling anyway), people spend lots of money to get all the stuff they thought they were working for–regardless of whether they can afford it.

    Part of childhood is being okay with not making money because you have minimal external responsibilities. Adulthood should just be an extension of this. Granted, you should move out at some point, or start paying rent–but you might be surprised at how little money you can live off and still be happy and pursue your interests.

    A self-directed childhood leading seemlessly to a self-directed adulthood makes more sense to me than an others-directed childhood leading cankerously to a supposedly self-directed adulthood that more commonly defaults again to being others-directed because of a scramble to find meaning–even if it’s not your own meaning–which often translates to materialism / debt and more working at work you hate to pay it all off.

  4. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I agree with you Penelope for the most part. Although, Steven is right about a college degrees being a filter. It all boils down to the child and what they want to do in life. For some families it’s not a choice, if they want to stay out of debt. They simply don’t have that kind of money. I can’t imagine a child that loves to learn not attending college…..ever. Maybe it’s a question of when to attend. I know if I had waited to go to college I probably have gotten more out of it. Also, maybe a college degree shouldn’t always be the goal, but rather knowledge or helpful skills for your career.

  5. redrock
    redrock says:

    The overwhelming majority of STEM students, both undergraduate and graduate students, do never aim for a position in academia. They plan from the get-go to work in industry, finance or other places. For those students who go to graduate school about 90% never seriously consider academia – but they want to engage in a high level of science or engineering which directly furthers their career in many cases. I realize that getting a graduate degree in English literature is often done with the idea to stay in academia – the STEM disciplines are rather different in this respect.

  6. S A
    S A says:

    Reminds me of a favorite quote from Warren Bennis’ ‘On Becoming a Leader’ :
    “One of the hardest lessons any novice skier has to learn is to
    lean away from the hill and not into it. The natural inclination is
    to stay as close to the slope as possible, because it feels safer and more secure. But only when the skier leans out can he or she begin to move and gain control, rather than being controlled by the slope. The organizational novice does the same thing: leans close to the company’s slope, submerging his or her own identity in that of the corporation. The leader stands tall and leans out, taking charge of his or her own course, with a clear view of where the course is going—at least until the snow starts to fall.”

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen gave a really interesting interview to Peter Day on “innovator’s dilemma” – . One segment of the interview (starting at about the 12 minute mark and ending at the 15 minute mark) was about online education and the challenges that established colleges and universities need to meet. It was interesting to hear him say what the online learners (average age of 36) wanted from the experience and what Harvard educators may think is necessary. The online learner isn’t necessarily concerned with a degree or certificate. They’re there to learn and apply what they’ve learned to get a job or advance their career.
    This model of education – K-12 and then varying levels of university immediately following – I believe to be too rigid and a big reason it isn’t working well. And I believe it will continue to worsen as technology and society continues to change at ever faster rate. All you have to do is look at the type and rate of change of job skill requirements over the past few decades. An education and learning never did stop once you went out into the work force. However, education is even more critical now and a life-long pursuit to just keep your job and stay current. I think education needs to be viewed as a life-long marathon rather than a few hurdles that are completed by your early to mid twenties which then leave you with debt that you’re paying for many years afterwards.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the link, Mark. It’s interesting to think about what people who are doing online education later in life really want from the experience.

      When the education revolution infiltrates all aspects of our life, we’ll be learning in new ways as adults, as well. And I am thinking that unschooling or new schooling or whatever, will take different shapes for different demographics. It’ll be fun to see how that plays out in the adult world.


  8. Mark Kenski
    Mark Kenski says:

    Because of the explosive growth of homeschooling over the past couple decades, there is a steadily growing demographic starting to hit 18. For more and more families, this is now a thing: what do unschooling families do when they finish unschooling?

    And people are just starting to invent the varied answers to that question.

    Our approach, after much consideration, was to go straight from unschooling to a hybrid independent program that is a combination un-college (continued but much deeper studies along the lines of his interests), and a jump-from-the-nest-till-you-learn-to-fly process of budding entrepreneurship.

    My son has wanted to be an entrepreneur in the online/computer game entertainment industry since his first-grade-equivalent homeschooling eval. This field is a moving target; technology for game development and marketing changes by the month. By the time an instructor has developed coursework, it is already outdated.

    Not all fields are this way, I’ll grant that. Maybe few are. But for this field, we think his self-directed approach gives him an advantage. He’s continuing a young lifetime of training to be an innovator and builder of dreams.

    Independent student naturally flows into independent scholar / independent artist / independent businessman. That’s the theory.

    Does that work?

    We don’t know.

    The plan is to invest a fraction of what a college education would cost, and have an initial business on it’s feet and profitable in 4 years. He’s already working on products now, in his “freshman” year. Maybe it will be 6 years, like a grad degree, could be 8, or more. Who cares? It’s a journey of discovery and joy. We’ll see where it takes us.

    If you really want to surf, you have to get on your board, paddle out there, catch the wave and figure out for yourself how to ride it.

    Is that for everyone?

    Nope. But we didn’t raise everyone, we raised our son. At every step our focus was, “what is right for him?” we never even bothered to try and figure out what everyone was doing. This has worked for us, and we believe it will continue to work. Perhaps other unschooling families will come to a similar conclusion.

  9. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    Penelope, I love your posts on how useless formalized education is, but I can’t help but lose all confidence in these ideas when I hit the real world.

    I’m 23 and smart as fuck. I read all the time on a variety of subjects. I can talk coherently on evolutionary biology, economics, cognitive science, learning and education. I’m a classic INTP and for that reason college was hell for me. I wanted to learn what I was interested in when I wanted to, maybe spending 3 straight days reading on one topic then ignoring it for 4 months. That kind of method of learning doesn’t work in college, so I quit when I realized I was teaching myself more efficiently. It didn’t seem worth it.

    I’m trying to be innovative and confident about how I present myself in resumes and cover letters but it’s just not working. I’ve applied for so many jobs, entry level office shit that I have experience in, and no bites. I’m still experimenting and learning though, so maybe I just haven’t hit upon the secret formula. So far it’s been me watching people less creative, knowledgeable and quick but with the right credentials advancing beyond me.

    College is a weeding mechanism for most employers, and they largely don’t seem to have the same insight you have. For them, the absence of a degree is a warning signal, a sign that you couldn’t make the cut.

    I guess I’ll just keep trying.

    • Sam
      Sam says:

      Perhaps part of the problem is that you come off as arrogant. All I know of you is from reading your post, yet I already feel quite confident that I would not want to work with you.

      • Jordan
        Jordan says:

        Haha, yes Sam, this was a good lesson for me in how not to get people to like you. Don’t confidently declare yourself as smart, for instance.
        But I am very likable, and I don’t normally talk about myself in this way, but I was under the impression we were all used to Penelope’s straight talk. I’m self aware and I know my own abilities, I was simply stating them. I can see that I stated them too strongly such that the point was missed. Namely, that despite my talent I am being overlooked because of a college degree.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      Jordan, there seems to be a mismatch between your goals and your abilities.

      As you say, big employers (I spent most of my career in Fortune 500 companies) frequently use possession of a degree as the first cut – some don’t even hire receptionists without a BA. Why do they do this?

      One reason is that they don’t want to hire “a classic INTP” who thinks he’s “smart as fuck,” but only wants to ” learn what he is interested in when he wants to, maybe spending 3 straight days reading on one topic then ignoring it for 4 months.”

      As you say, that kind of method of learning doesn’t work in college. But guess what? It doesn’t work for most employers either.

      It’s not all about being “creative, knowledgeable and quick.” Just as important is being reliable, dedicated, and cooperative. The bigger the organization, the more this is true. Nobody is gong to hire you just to be a cranky super-genius.

      And the older you get, the less it’ll be about what you could do and the more about what you have done.

      If you don’t currently have the abilities you need to fit into the culture at the employers you have set your sights on, either you need to develop those abilities or you need to move your sights.

    • S A
      S A says:

      I know some folks who I consider to be ‘smart as fuck’ (ie started businesses with 50+ employees and 8-figure profits) and have never heard them refer to themselves as smart, much less smart as fuck.

      Ironically I do know someone that was very intellectually gifted but was very free in telling others how smart he was. Currently, he’s 29, living with his parents and just completed his third stint in jail / rehab. His smartness led him to believe the dumb cops wouldn’t figure out he was dealing and then using.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Hi, Jordan. I think you misunderstand what people look for when they hire you: if you are entry level, you have no qualifications, so the person is looking for someone they will like. The purpose of your resume is to make you look interesting and capable. Which is different than smart. And you are asking to be hired for likability.

      Maybe if everyone understood that about entry level positions they would
      a. not be so frustrated entering the workforce and
      b. start applying for entry level jobs when they are 15 because they have all the qualifications they need to start learning by doing – in the workforce.


    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      Jordan, I’m not going to doubt you when you say you’re “smart as fuck”. As other people in this thread have mentioned, there’s more to the equation than I.Q. There’s nothing wrong with considering yourself to be smart. It’s good for self-esteem. However, other people will determine for themselves how smart you are so let it go at that.
      I think many people view a college degree as a rite of passage. If they had to do it then you should have to do it too. As to say, “what makes you so special”? I can’t say I agree with it though. It would depend on the job skills required. Here’s something else, people in an organization may look at you being hired for a job equivalent to their job and then find out that your title and/or pay is equivalent to their own. And they have a college degree and you don’t. And they have college debt and you don’t. See the problem here? The employer has to keep everybody happy and content to some degree. You may be labeled a quitter because you quit college. Maybe you did the right thing. There’s nothing wrong with quitting if you know the reasons why and you have an alternate plan. It sounds like you have many interests which is good. It can also be crippling if you don’t focus on the most important one and stick to it. I would recommend finding your money making passion and then achieving some tangible goals/accomplishments which you can cite on your resume. Good luck to you.

      • Jordan
        Jordan says:

        Hello all,
        Thanks for your input guys, I appreciate it. After I posted that comment I wondered that I might not get the exact kind of response I got, but might as well see what happened. Apparently there is a kind of visceral reaction to someone stating themselves as ‘smart’ rather than using other adjectives like ‘capable’ and ‘resourceful.’ I meant it as a catch-all to describe these traits. I am not a person who goes around thinking the world just doesn’t understand what a genius I am- I was merely stating the truths so that we could get down to what I thought was the most important thing: I can’t seem to get a job despite being capable, because I don’t have a degree. Like I said, I’m learning how to market myself still, so I’m not perfect at it, but there is no denying my lack of degree is a hindrance.
        I am an extremely competent and hard working employee with excellent references; By ‘quick’ I mean I work quickly. I am not blowing smoke out of my ass; my employers have all said I’m a great employee. Those were jobs I got when I was in college, though, when I could create the illusion for people that I was dependable. Now that I dropped out, it’s impossible to get an interview. What would’ve changed?
        I think you’re spot on when you say this “I would recommend finding your money making passion and then achieving some tangible goals/accomplishments ”
        I’ve struggled with that because I can’t pin down one interest.
        I’d been trying out jobs in the education fields, and I think I’m finally getting to a point where the idea of sticking with something doesn’t feel suffocating. This is why college was hard for me. But there’s no way I can succeed in education without credentials- it’s one of the most knee-jerk credential-requiring jobs there is. I think I’m going to get a Montessori certification to teach preschool kids.
        @Penelope, I understand that I need to be likable. I don’t usually have a problem with this once I get to the interview stage, but how do I translate this better in a resume?

        • Jordan
          Jordan says:

          And I know the idea of becoming a teacher here is anathema to this whole blog, but Montessori is not regular school

          Penelope this is actually a topic I’d love for you to address.

          Montessori, Sudbury and other types of alternate schooling where the students have the freedom to learn what they want. There are a lot of public Montessori schools and people are a lot more open to that kind of learning for preschool age kids- this is where I want to make the difference. If they can’t be homeschooled, I think this could be a useful way to reform. Montessori already has a fair amount of recognition and popularity.

          • Becky Castle Miller
            Becky Castle Miller says:

            I’m not sure you’ll be happy in a room full of preschoolers as an INTP. You might try getting a job assisting in a daycare to see if you can cope with that environment. E/ISFJs tend to make the most satisfied care providers/teachers for young children.

            I say this as an INFJ mom of little kids. I need time and quiet to think and process, and I am future-focused, not present-focused like an S, so caring for the immediate needs of little kids is hard work for me. But maybe as a P you will be flexible enough to enjoy it! And maybe the vision for Montessori education will satisfy your N. I would just say, try it out before you get that certification.

          • Jordan
            Jordan says:

            I’ve already spent a year teaching in a Montessori preschool classroom, but thank you for your input. INTP’s aren’t usually who people think would be successful with kids (although I’m pretty in between an I and E), but I think this is because we think of taking care of little ones as a classroom management job. To be honest, working there was the most intellectually challenging position I’ve had. Patience, restraint and thoughtfulness are more important in a Montessori classroom than normal childcare situations, because it’s less about controlling the students and more about creating a prosocial environment where they are free to learn.

  10. channa
    channa says:

    Why would you say that it’s worth it for a parent to forgo working to stay home and homeschool, but it’s not worth it for that same parent to then go back to work and put his or her salary toward paying college tuition so the kid can get a degree?

    College is overpriced, but it’s actually cheaper than homeschooling. Even part-time work or very low paid work earns as much as a year at a good state school. An average white collar paycheck could cover Harvard.

    A kid could end up as an idiot and fail to get anything out of college, but the same is true for homeschooling. Neither is a guarantee of success. But both increase the odds.

    And a homeschooled kid who enters college with critical thinking and self-knowledge already in his or her back pocket shouldn’t be at risk of wasting time like the typical undergrad – they should be able to design an enriching curriculum that meets their goals. Along the way they’ll pick up all kinds of cultural capital. Seems like a great investment to me.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      First of all, you don’t need to work to pay for college if you get into Harvard. Top schools have enormous scholarship programs. So parents are only working hard to put their sub-par kids through sub-par colleges.

      Second, it’s cheaper to homeschool than to put a kid in a decent school. You can live in a very low cost of living place because the only thing wrong with low cost of living places is that the schools are abominable. But that doesn’t matter for homeschooling. And the costs of decent after school care, combined with high housing costs make homeschooling as cheap as putting kids in school. Parents are just scared to do it becusee it’s easier to go to work than be home with kids and it’s easier to have someone else be responsible for taking care of your kids intellectual and emotional development.


  11. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    Coherent, well-researched, and interesting.

    You might add some other professions to STEM. For example, law. Hard to do that without college.

    I know you’re pretty invested in the MBTI. Do you think that certain types would benefit from college more than other types?

  12. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Hi! I agree that you need college for STEM plus other technical subjects like law and accounting. Fortunately for us, we have vocational schools that teach high-demand skills. We also don’t have much student debt here. If you can’t afford college, work first. If you can manage it, be a working student.

    Though education is a priority in my country, I really want to see more of the MOOCs and internet videos being used here for education. Why? Because we are a people who do not like to read. Sure, we have high literacy rates, but people just don’t like reading books. They like to watch TV, listen to the radio, and use Facebook. Just not read a lot. So I welcome this innovation and hope I can help.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I love your last line – “I hope I can help.” This is such a great attitude about reform, and it’s such a brave thing to say. I think most of us talk about intellectual ideas about how things should be but we don’t hold ourselves accountable for helping change happen.


  13. Crimson Wife
    Crimson Wife says:

    I want my kids to go to college in no small part because college and grad school is where many people meet their future spouse. My DH and I, my parents, my aunt & uncle, and my maternal grandparents all met in college or grad school. Ditto for many of our friends. There aren’t that many periods in life where there is such a concentration of bright, hardworking, and ambitious people of marriageable age.

      • Crimson Wife
        Crimson Wife says:

        Possibly, but many folks use having a degree from a good college as a proxy for intelligence when it comes to screening dating partners. I’ve sat in on many conversations with my girlfriends where one friend was trying to set another friend up with some guy, and I can’t think of a time when the guy’s school wasn’t mentioned. So not having a degree would reduce the pool of potential mates, especially in areas where half or more of those in their late 20’s or 30’s are college graduates.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      School as daycare, college as dating service. I like it!

      I met my wife at college too … ten years after I graduated, at a reunion. I was totally wife shopping too.

      Well worth the price of admission, IMHO.

  14. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    I agree that a lot of jobs are ones that for the most part, don’t require a degree, but so many are now making a degree part of the minimal qualifications for most jobs that aren’t retail, food industry, or blue collar jobs that have apprenticeships. I for one, saw college (with a major in the liberal arts, specifically communication) as my best path. I don’t have the aptitude or interest for STEM majors and I’m not good with my hands or mechanical so blue collar/labor jobs were out. I also held no interest in starting and running my own business. To obtain a job other than clerk or retail, college was the way to go. Liberal arts doesn’t just mean literature and philosophy. Media and public relations fall under that category as well and I am using my degree in my current job. I graduated with my BA in the days just before social media took off, so true, with this aspect of my job I’ve learned on the job, but without my degree I wouldn’t have even made it for an interview. I also did learn a lot about things I wouldn’t have thought to read about or look into on my own. I was also in college for the education and degree and not just to party as some others were. I think this is something that’s also been overlooked in this piece and some of your others suggesting that college is a waste. Some want to go to college for the lifestyle. They want to move away from home and have all the social aspects of college. This wasn’t so important to me. I lived at home and went to a community college my first two years to get all my basics completed then transferred to a university where I completed my B.A. I lived at home the entire time, so no money for dorms or an apartment and I had scholarships. What those didn’t cover my family was luckily able to afford since I went to a smaller public university in my hometown. I graduated without having taken out any loans and no student debt. A lot of students don’t want to do that, though. They either live in an area without a nearby college so moving and living on campus is their only option or they want to get far away from their hometown and live the life they’ve seen in movies and tv shows about college.

  15. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    Also to be more simple than my above kind of long winded post: Yeah a college degree may just be a stupid piece of paper, and you’ll learn most of your skills on the job, but these days, you have a hell of a lot more options open to you if you have that stupid piece of paper.

  16. phyllis
    phyllis says:

    Son graduated w/Masters Degree in 2009. Smart as f#*k.
    Worked 3 part-time jobs for over 3 years.
    Just got full-time w/Bennies 2013.
    Working in mailroom, separating mail and pushing cart.
    It’s a start. We’re happy. He can only move up!!
    This generation expects miracles with degree in hand.
    We’re back to the beginning, where you gotta EARN it.
    If you have an IQ over 110, start at Comm. College
    evenings. Work ANY job Anywhere. Ya gotta be hungry.

    • Jordan
      Jordan says:

      I’m not sure what beginning you mean. If you mean a time before 5, 10, 15 years ago, then yeah, we’re back to a place where you have to earn a job relative. The economy was great in the 90s and aughts and umemployment was low. People in their 30s had an easier time of things. My generation isn’t spoiled- we’re depressed because we’re unemployed/working shitty jobs with a huge amount of debt after society told us college was a way past that.

      • Karen Cook
        Karen Cook says:

        Society lied, sadly. What is incredible is STILL parents are not waking up. College enrollments are at an all time high. Parents are putting massive pressure on their kids to get top grades so they can get into college. Everyone is STILL going into massive debt. When will people wake up?

        I agree with Phyllis. Go to community college and get some skills that will pay something now. Get a job now. Don’t spend an eternity in college only to find no job at the end. My husband has a PhD and I have a MS…and we are selling a product that has nothing to do with our degrees. We were told tons of positions for professors would be opening up in the 90s. Ha. What a laugh that was. At least we had no debt from our 10 years in the university!!! And we had some fun.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      There’s an interesting mistake in your presentation, Janet.

      First you state that the proportion of the population gaining a BA rose from 12% to 33% from 73 to 12.

      Then you state that the percentage of employed people with BAs has gone up (by 82% from 89 to 12), and the percentage of employed people with just HS has gone down. Then you claim this demonstrates an increased value of the BA.

      But does it? The percentage of people getting BAs in the US went up by more than 200% from 73 to 12. Should the number of employed people with BAs rising at a similar rate surprise us at all?

      Do you have a graph showing the change over the same period in the percentage of unemployed people with BAs? I bet it would surprise you.

  17. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. If it’s not a STEM major, it’s not worth it. I would also be hesitant to include science. If it’s not necessarily vocational and required by government regulation. It shouldn’t be worth the money spent.

    I understand the whole HR sorting thing but it’s really a gamble. The problem is that kids with student debt from a 4 year degree will need to take that gamble more than anyone else because they need the high paying job from the start to pay off their debt. Someone could have saved the money and started from the bottom, eventually working their way up a company to a higher paying position.

    Smart kids don’t need college because the hard work and determination will get them those types of jobs that the college grads think they deserve.

    My parents emphasized college so much because they bought the hype and they themselves don’t have a 4 year degree to understand its worthlessness. I wished that they would have emphasized the importance of a STEM degree rather than just using my achievements to show off to their equally ignorant friends.

    Bottom line, if you really think that any old degree has some mysterious effect on the HR recruiters, then stick with an Associate’s degree from a community college and save that extra money that would have been spent on upper-level humanities classes.

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