17,000,000 Americans Have College Degrees For No Reason

  you want fries with that?

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?Here is a Paradox, if you like such things: America is a Nation of Semi-Literate Buffoons, but America is also a Nation of Over-Educated (but still dumb) service workers. What? “In all, about 17 million people in this country have completed college only to end up working jobs that require a skill level below that of a bachelors degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” That includes 5,057 janitors with Ph.Ds. What is so wrong with being a “maintenance engineer,” we ask? At least it’s a job, right? There’s nothing wrong with it at all, it’s just that you don’t really need eight years of college and a hundred grand in student loan debt to mop up shit and blood in the emergency room, at night.

AlterNet reports:

Richard Vedder of the Chronicle of Higher Education argues that this is one sign the U.S. has over-invested in higher education. He points to a new National Bureau of Economic Research report written by three acclaimed economists, which concludes, “In general, marginal and average returns to college are not the same.” In layman’s terms, that means that even if our investment in higher education is yielding a decent return on average, efforts to build on that investment might yield a less-good return. Or, even more simply put, there is a point of diminishing returns in higher education. And, according to these indicators at least, we appear to have reached it.

Yes and no. America remains pathetically short on graduates with useful advanced degrees, the kind of people who have marketable knowledge and skill sets, such as computer engineers and scientists — the kind of people Google and Apple and Microsoft have to import from India and China.

But the vague, pointless liberal arts degree and its more expensive but equally worthless cousin — the doctorate degree in such mushy “disciplines” as education, physical education or social work — we’ve obviously got way too many people holding those pricey pieces of paper. Anyone who needs seven years of university to master P.E. is a moron.

Still, going to college is better for America than having its bored, unemployed youth join crime gangs or religious cults. That’s why, presumably, the Obama Administration is pushing more than 40 federal programs to expand the number of college graduates in all sorts of useless fields.

(Haha, the percentage of Wonkette readers with graduate degrees is obscene, so this post will be utterly without controversy.) [Alternet via Cryptogon]

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

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275 comments

    1. ph7

      meteamarcisf, despite your college education, your P score reveals you're working in areas that require a skill level below that of a bachelors degree, e.g. the Breitbart.com comments section.

      1. Radiotherapy

        Double secret probation for you — get it?? probeation.
        Now where did I put that stupid diploma anyway….

    1. prommie

      Well, thats how it appeared at the time, but look how far Senator Blutarsky managed to get, you know?

  1. Troubledog

    Also, how's that student loan thing working for you? Hopefully your tip jar can cover your interest-only payments.

    1. mumbly_joe

      Yeah, if OBAMAR really cared about real working Americans, he'd get a law passed that did something about student loans and Pell grants.

      What? He did, it was part of the same bill as Obamacare? I stand truly chastened by this realization, and there are really only two words with which I can express how it feels to have missed that bit:

      MULSIN SOCIALIST!!1!!

    2. zhubajie

      Well, if you're really, really, poor, they can't do much to you. Repossess your old jeans and second hand Army boots? Hahaha!

      1. MsQuasimodo

        Um, they can withhold defaulted student loan payments from your social security check. The feds don't care if this causes you to live in your car and eat cat food. This shit can't be snarked.

  2. Doglessliberal

    We have far, far too many JDs (and I have one). Also, seriously, degrees in creative writing? How about just living life? That's a far better teacher on how to write fiction.

    1. Not_So_Much

      We need the creative writing folks to support the political spin industry. Like how that threatening, godless whore at the Rand Paul debate injured that poor man's back by viciously ramming her head into the bottom of his shoe.

      1. Doglessliberal

        OK, so how about PhDs in philosophy? I would rather we had people who could fix furnaces or bathroom tile or my stupid leaky shower. You cannot call a philosophy doctor to heal your plumbing.

          1. Doglessliberal

            I was an anthro major, now I do real property law. I deal in what is there, in front of me. I have leaky plumbing, not existential crises. If I were to have one, I would deal with it, most likely, with sex or a good, long run. Or both.

          2. JoeMamased

            I would deal with it, most likely, with sex or a good, long run. Or both.

            Shows lack of imagination. Unless you meant having sex while running?

          3. jus_wonderin

            Christine has convinced me to give up my masturbatory morning cycling. Of course, that was for the best. I have an Art Degree, btw.

          4. jus_wonderin

            "Art degrees are important. They keep people from growing up to be fascist dictators."

            Doggoneit!! I guess I gotta get my minion to scratch that off my master list.

          5. BarryOPotter

            But, JMPEsq, what if I AM the plumber who can no longer find meaning amongst the elbow joints, monkey wrenches and other plumbing-related crap that surrounds me and must turn to The Other plumber to figure it all out. What's it all about, Alfie?

            Je me sens isolé
            Entouré par un tas d'amerloques qui puent d'une puanteur épouvantable (avec juste un soupçon de Drakar Noire)
            C'est crise? C'est la mienne, mon fardeau

          6. Doglessliberal

            Man, we are on this afternoon. This is one funny comment section. Must be the existential angst spilling over.

        1. HELisforHEL

          I keep hoping my nephews–the not-so-genuisey ones–go to a tech school or apprentice to learn a trade. At least that gives them a fighting chance at having some sort of useful 'career'.

          BTW, DL–Now I'm envisioning a plumber coming to my home and trying to 'heal' my tub: RISE! RISE UP I SAY AND HEAL THY DEVILISH CLOG!!!
          (Yeah, more preacher than Philosophy major, but that's what I'm seeing in my JD soaked brain). Thank you for that!

          1. loquacioustunes

            One of my cousins decided to spend two years in a vocational school in order to become an electrician and then to finish out his education in a state school in order to become a history teacher. He figured that, by doing so, he would at least have a well-paying job as an electrician to fall back on.

            Everyone in my family gave him shit for going to vocational school, but I think he's the smartest dude in our family.

          2. bitchincamaro2

            I had a painting teacher in college who passed out a local plumber's business card to his worst students, promising them steady income if they'd just get out of the art school. Me? I build houses now. Or, at least I used to.

          3. Lascauxcaveman

            I'm a hotel manager by trade, but my hobby and avocation is neurosurgery.

            (Funny thing, but with a BA in Communications, they won't let you practice neurosurgery for money.)

          4. MsQuasimodo

            I betcha the Paul Rand Board of Ophthamology could show you how to become a board-certified neurosurgeon.

    2. Weenus299

      You sedd it, bro! I'm a former soldier, newspaper reporter, assistant sports editor, communications specialist, and published poet.

      All with a teeny litle history degree. Even creative writing people dis MFAs. They're worthless unless you want to be a cheeseball.

      1. DoktorZoom

        but how will you ever publish poetry without the invaluable personal contacts one makes in an MFA program?

        (Repeat after me: "It doesn't feel earned")

      2. finallyhappy

        What is a cheeseball- I mean besides the real orangey cheese rolled in crushed walnuts- or are you suggesting this as an option?

    3. PresBeeblebrox

      Not only do we have too many JDs – of which I am one too – but it's too damn expensive and takes too damn long to get one. The third year of law school is practically useless, kind of like the fourth year of college. And there's no reason a JD from a third-tier toilet school (HA, David Lat lives!) should cost $100 grand.

      1. JMPEsq

        Oh god, I know. Hell, I just finished paying my undergrad loans a few months ago, and still owe over $40K for law school, which would be a lot more if I hadn't gone to a state school in-state and lived with my parents while there.

      2. Winnie_Cooper

        If they are going to have a third year, it should be some kind of apprentice situation. But then the schools would have a hard time making money off of it, so that's never going to happen.

    1. Doglessliberal

      Me, too, and then I brilliantly went to law school, and paid out-of-state tuition. Factoring in what I actually paid back (including the interest), I could have had a very nice house instead.

  3. jus_wonderin

    Just about the time you get your own tution fees paid off (working a middle class job) your only daugther is ready for college.

    "Sure Honey, Dad will help you out with that. If, of course, you will take care of him when he is still working at 95."

    1. HistoriCat

      Haha – sucka! Good odds that you'll have dementia by 95 and won't remember that little agreement.

  4. Tengu

    Wake up America, other countries are beating us, last night I saw on a commercial that our Olive Garden has a cooking school… in Italy!

    1. Dashboard_Jesus

      yeah well it seems those SOCIALISTS in Denmark are the happiest fuckers in the world, cuz FREE HEALTHCARE! oh and their govt actually VALUES a well-educated (and debt-free) citizenry so much that they actually PAY them to go to university! COMMUNISTS! NAZIS! (and of course the women folks are totally hot, which helps a LOT!) also :)

      'In Denmark, citizens actually get paid to attend universities, which is a far cry from the debt a typical U.S. citizen accumulates while attending college.'
      http://www.huliq.com/9204/90203/oprah-visits-denm
      Denmark: The Happiest Place on Earth http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=4086092&p

    1. Giveusabob

      Please drop me a line when you need to swab the toilets. My BA, 2 BS's, and MS are getting bored with all this menial coding work.

  5. PhilippePetain

    On the bright side, we have tons of ditzy blonde psychology graduates that keep the key performance indicators of This Great Republic's sex industry on target each and every year.

  6. prommie

    The world needs ditch-diggers, too. Instead of telling everyone "your nothing without a college degree," resulting in colleges filled with functional illiterates, we should maybe allow for some pride and human dignity and a living wage for all people, is this thing on, is this making any sense?

    We'd all be dying of cholera in a week if the garbagemen stopped working, whereas if and I all my colleagues, the lawyers, disappeared, somehow I think the world would be a brighter place.

    1. GunTotingProgressive

      Actually, it should be "you'RE nothing without a college degree…"

      Don't blame me, I'm a graduate school dropout.

    2. BerkeleyBear

      I've long said that we need to be more realistic to kids about school – what is it for, why is it important, etc. Instead, college is a status label rather than something for people who really want to learn a complex skill set or engage in academic growth.

      My brother had been teased about his intelligence growing up, so he insisted on going to college even though he didn't like school and could have used skill training. The result was he got a shitty Agribusiness degree and wound up running a small business using exactly zero of what he learned.

      I'm hoping my son will be open to tech/culinary school, since he's not likely to make it through college english and doesn't like school very much.

      1. Ducksworthy

        My 22 year old son just leveraged his GED into getting a job in the diamond business. I'm hoping he'll be able to support me with my MS in my old age.

    3. zhubajie

      You're probably going to die of cholera or malaria anyway, 'cuz the T-tards won't pay to keep the treatment plants or the anti-mosquito programs going. Faith-healers! That's the T-tard way!

  7. SayItWithWookies

    And yet critical thinking — distinguishing fact from bullshit, for example — seems to be seriously missing from our populace. It should be the one thing everybody with a liberal arts education is able to master, and yet many Americans forego it in favor of religious, hermetic and insular approaches to acquiring knowledge and making decisions. So yeah, what we learn is dangerously askew from what we do in life — but I don't think less education is actually the answer.

      1. Doglessliberal

        I think the Teamorons missed the section where women can't vote. Or maybe they didn't and even women Teabaggers don't think they deserve the franchise. At least that would show some self-knowledge on their part.

        1. V572625694

          To paraphrase the guy in "Office Space," I'm not sure the teabaggers missed that (no voting for the Poors or the Vagino-Americans) at all.

    1. jus_wonderin

      "And yet critical thinking — distinguishing fact from bullshit…"

      SO TRUE!!! My mom (80 years) got one of those "ObamaCare is Gonna Tax our Real Estate" emails. She had the presence of mind to not forward and then ask me about it.

      So aside from critical thinking…I wish some would just quite bullshitting.

    2. BerkeleyBear

      The trouble is that critical thinking isn't encouraged at many institutions of "higher" learning and is often resented by students. So it becomes at best a skill you have but don't use unless forced, rather than a cornerstone of an intellectual life.

      Of course, for humans to survive we do need a critical mass of unthinking drones, so maybe we shouldn't be trying to change their thought patterns.

    3. loquacioustunes

      I had a relatively famous public radio commentator visit my sixth-grade class yesterday. He was amazed at the ways in which my students dealt with complicated, abstract topics. I told him not to get used to it.

      1. SayItWithWookies

        Cool — maybe I can have a college named after me, like Glenn Beck does. Or that president, Thomas Uva.

    4. bitchincamaro2

      As annoying as his "radio voice" can be, I enjoy listening to Brian Dunning's http://skeptoid.com/#. He's managed to bring the concept of critical thinking to podcast fans, but something tells me that if you know what a podcast is, you
      already engage in the sport.

    5. DoktorZoom

      I am reminded of the fundie in the Analytical Writing class I taught at _______ Technical Institute. Near the end of a class where we were discussing what counts as "evidence" in the sciences, he loudly complained that since this was not a biology class, I was violating his freedom by talking about evolution.

      Sigh.

    6. zhubajie

      Critical thinking is a great thing, but I was never formally taught it in all my years in academe. The electricians I worked with in the summer time were more skeptical than all my history profs.

    7. OhNoGuy

      Thanks Wookies, voc ed goes in & out of fashion.

      Just in case nobody's noticed, for most, blue collar America's lot in life is not getting better. Get a vocational education, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a boat, a new car every couple years – that's long gone for most folks. If you don't have enough education to juke when the job market is ready to hammer you, be ready to move under a bridge.
      Most of your fellow citizens think that's what you deserve for not being one of the elect anyway.

    1. OneDollarJuana

      And you know what degree needs to be outlawed under pain of eternal imprisonment? Doctors of Divinity! Why does every god-damned (and I wish He would) evangelical church seem to have one of these "Doctors" preaching his pyramid scheme to the ignorant sheep? The only thing these "doctors" ever cured was their thin wallets.

      1. zhubajie

        Last I knew, the Universal Life Church would *sell* you a ThD! They even have 2 for 1 sales, if you don't mind waiting!

      1. Kitty_Sanchez

        Aww, cheer up, Radio. Maybe you'll get lucky and a speeding car will plow into you as you try to leave your home.

  8. Failed_2_Menace

    "Fine. Have it your way. Can you please get a freaking mop out in the lobby and take care of that spilled McFlurry, DOCTOR?"

    1. Doglessliberal

      Probably lower, actually, because his philosophical bent causes him to stop mopping and ponder whether the mop is real every few minutes. He never gets anything done.

    1. SayItWithWookies

      If you're leading up to telling me that 50% of Americans are not actually hot busty chicks named Raven then I'm just gonna stop paying attention right now.

      1. jus_wonderin

        LOL. "If you'd like to have text sex with me, press 1. If you'd like to talk dirty to me, press 2. If you'd like to just hear me read the phonebook, press 3……"

    2. Rarian Rakista

      Great way to milk money out of idiots on those sex lines is to tell them to do stupid stuff like take their clothes off and stick a turkey baster up their butt. Always takes forever to find the turkey baster.

  9. OneDollarJuana

    This is one of the few areas where I have an issue with the "liberal elite", their constant pressure to get every goddam kid into a four-year college. To what end? We have all these people who have huge loans with few employment prospects in white-collar jobs, and where are we going to get all the people who know how to actually make and repair stuff? I think we would be in much less hurt economically due to outsourcing if we had a large workforce skilled in manual labor, willing and able to start small businesses to compete with the foreign companies. Instead, what we get is a surplus of Wally World greeters. Shoot, at the minimum, the small manufacturers could be happier being broke doing something they love and are good at instead of being broke doing something demeaning and hateful. And being a greeter is a hateful job; their only purpose is security, not friendliness.

    Sorry, not too snarky, just grumpy.

    1. Doglessliberal

      I agree, especially since a large number of those who attend the "best" colleges piss away their college experience drunk off their ass and not really learning anything. Then they take that degree and use it, and family connections, to get jobs that lead to being in power. It is amazingly bassackwards.

      1. prommie

        Sirrah, being constantly drunk off your ass is not in any way incompatible with learning! You seem to think its all beer-bongs and beer pong and shots, and there is so much more, there are random drunken hookups and fucking in the library, too!

        1. bitchincamaro2

          Nothing more poignant that the random NYU student, swan-diving from the stacks on the 6th floor of the Bobst Library during mid-terms or finals. This happened regularly during the go-go years; a little less frequently now that kids know better than to enroll in college, by default, after squeezing through high school.

    2. CapnFatback

      Because nothing enchants an eighteen-year-old as much as the prospect of a life of manual labor.

      Not to mention that "outsourcing," downsizing," and all of the other euphemisms for screwing labor have taken away the jobs. Do you honestly believe that companies switch jobs overseas because they can't find any Americans to fill them?

      Are universities complicit in selling a bill of goods to young men and women by making them feel as if they need a college degree to be valid in the workforce? Absolutely, but the blame must be shared with those who have whittled the jobs away to where they can afford to be so choosy as to not accept anyone without a B.A. to be a manager of a fast food restaurant.

    3. sezme

      Well yes, but since we've made unions the enemy, there is no longer any perceived dignity in a job making and repairing stuff. Thus one must do whatever it takes to ensure that one's spawn joins the bourgeoisie rather than the proletariat.

      1. slappypaddy

        the bourgeoisie is the new proletariat. and the oligarchs don't care what we call ourselves, so long as we keep our heads down and remember to suck their cocks on command.

    4. BarryOPotter

      While it is true that America needs ditch diggers, you know what else America needs? Automatons, wage-slaves and various and sundry other occupants for corporate veal-fattening pens (cubicles). What better way to tie the over-educated to menial jobs than by loading them up with crushing financial burdens that can only be relieved by the timely submission of properly completed TPS reports?' Mmmmmkay? Thaaanks.

    5. lumpenprole

      That idea that all kids must go to college helps out the student loan vampires (now larger than credit card debt). You're a loser if you don't bury yourself in debt by you mid-20s.

    6. PsycWench

      I get to deal with students who see the four-year degree as necessary for getting a job and are not interested in hearing that a liberal arts degree isn't vocational school. It's about having a well-rounded knowledge base and knowing that there are other ways of thinking and values. Drinking and sex also. Then I am reminded that they are paying $$$ to be here and they'd like to have jobs to at least pay that off.
      Really, my stepmom was talking to me about my niece's college plans and emphasized that she didn't want my niece "taking any classes that she didn't really need". I bit my tongue very hard. God forbid the child learn something that wasn't required for her diploma.

  10. Giveusabob

    With this article, our society is now demonstrably closer to opening the Costco University from Idiocracy, meaning "Subway Sandwich Artist" will soon be an option for MFAs.

  11. Come here a minute

    You don't really need eight years of college and a hundred grand in student loan debt to mop up shit and blood in the emergency room, at night.

    But it helps when you want to pull a "Good Will Hunting" and diagnose some poor sap's erythropoetic protoporphyria.

      1. prommie

        You know, the movie's title, in England, was "The Madness of King George III," but they changed it for release in amurrica, and made it simply "The Madness of King George." This is very relevant to the current discussion, you see, they were afraid amurricans would see that "III," and say to themselves "Well, I didn't see "I" and "II", so there is no use going to this one."

        True story.

        1. kenlayisalive

          ah….hah haah haaa….

          But to be honest here, that's actually why I never saw Leonard Part 6.

          1. Weenus299

            Or "History of the World Part One,"
            Or "Two of a Kind,"
            Or "Close Encounters of the Third Kind,"
            Or "The Fourth Kind,"
            Or "The Fifth Element,"
            Or "The Sixth Sense,"
            Or "Se7en,"
            Or "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag,"
            Or "Nine,"
            Or "10,"
            Or "Ocean's Eleven,"
            Or Cheaper by the Dozen," …

        2. BarryOPotter

          It's kind of a neat feeling to giggle while you're mind is simultaneously getting blown by unfortunate factoids about your country. Oh check it out! now i'm sad…

    1. Doglessliberal

      Hey, whatever job you do, if you do it with pride and well, is just as good as any other job. Except janitors are a milliony ten times better than lobbyists.

    1. guangho

      For some reason, posting hateful screeds anonymously on websites is not a career path. I don't know why this is. If corporate America was smart they would select a few Wonketters- myself among them of course- and nominate them to be the "voice of the people", funding them as they go from town to town proclaiming that their way is the only way and if you're a real America you'd be willing to invest in special Koran burning grills and a nice house and a car on credit and away from the dusky skinned folk.

      Oh wait, Sarah Palin has the gig already.
      Sorry kids. We'll just have to sniff our underarms while writing hateful screeds online and dodging phone calls from bill collectors.

      1. Kitty_Sanchez

        I can't speak to the underarm sniffing (that's just fucked up), but this screed stuff sounds like way more fun than the Palin gig, anyway.

        Understand: I hope everyone eventually lands on a more prosperous and fulfilling career path, but until then, I'm going to enjoy reading Wonketteer wankery.

  12. magic_titty

    This is why I tell every eighteen year-old man or woman I meet to become tall and play basketball in the NBA.

  13. HurricaneAli

    You know, fuck you – I'm learning the youngs to write pretty words so they can get their engineering degrees and not look like a complete imbecile when they write a goddamn memo – sure, I'm only making 7.80 an hour but it's good, honest work. Oh hell, the deep fryer alarm just went off — dinner rush!

  14. Mindblank

    Fuck that ROI shit. If all you use as a measure of success in life is your annual salary, ur doin it rong.

    1. prommie

      Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy hookers and blow and corvettes and champaigne, which is pretty close! And those tall, thin, elegant blonde women? They are trained from birth to seek it out and marry it, even if it belongs to some Danny Devito-looking little bridge-troll.

      1. BarryOPotter

        True, money can't buy happiness, but it can make angst-filled misery pretty goddamn comfortable. And food. It can buy food too (and by "food," I mean hookers and blow, natch.)

    2. BeWoot

      Truth. There is no such thing as overeducated.

      On the other hand, education has precious little to do with college credits, and annual income has nothing to do with either one.

      1. Lascauxcaveman

        Well, there aren't. But lets not overlook the fact that she's making waaaay more than you. And making people happy!

  15. seppdecker

    Not to sound anti-intellectual, but I didn't need a study to tell me that there were a hell of a lot people at my college who didn't belong there, professors included. It's just another angle on that crazy belief Americans have drilled into them that we're all going to become millionaires. Bullshit.

    1. Redhead

      When the professor in an upper-level English editing course has to stop class to explain to the juniors and seniors, all English majors or minors, the difference between a noun and a verb, something's wrong.

    1. Kitty_Sanchez

      All the economists?? I don't believe it. I've seen those people. Only a few of 'em get laid.

  16. PublicLuxury

    Goddamn teatards have made ignorance fashionable. Sons-of-bitches corporate asswipes sending my job to India. Its no wonder that all PhD's are posting on Wonkette. They're the only ones that understand what a wonk is must less a wonkette and they're jobless to boot. Lazy bastards.

    I suppose Barry wants me to be a Constitutional Law Professor. What next? Teatards beating women in the streets?

    I blame .. . John McCain.

  17. Weenus299

    In the end, the Eloi need the Morelocks, an the Morelocks need the Eloi. Keeping them separate just made the Morelocks into ferocious beasts and the Eloi into lazy food.

    1. jus_wonderin

      And then, Marty pushes the Delorean behind the billboard advertising the subdivided development of his future home.

    1. fuflans

      my BA in poli sci is why i got an MA in early modern european history and then went on to be an actor.

    2. BeWoot

      My BA in poli sci and I have been looking for work for 1.5 years now. If i had it all to do over again I'd major in "Or Related Field."

    3. Bonzos_Bed_Time

      Damn, I loved my Poli Sci program. All we did was bullshit about politics for two years. Kinda' like Wonkette!

      1. Kitty_Sanchez

        Hmmm. I wonder if some Catholic priests had been free to go ahead and do some healthy fudge packing, they might not have deteriorated into the twisted, abusive, child-molesting goblins they became.

  18. samsuncle

    I started to go to grad school but decided that after going to college for 5 1/2 years to get a 4 year degree that enough was enough.

  19. Monsieur_Grumpe

    So her argument is that as more people are educated the return on this investment becomes less, in other words, the curve is not linear. It starts to level out at some point. Very few curves are linear when it comes to people Laura. Sounds to me like your really scraping at the bottom when, for the sake of belittling the current administration, you are arguing for the limitation of one of the few things low life scum, such as myself, can do to get themselves out of the slum and provide themselves a decent living. Education should be available for everyone with the balls to stick it out but I’m all for rescinding anyone’s degree who writes shit like your tripe.

    I hate you Laura for making me write something serious.

    1. HistoriCat

      If we let the poor and downtrodden advance through higher education, how will well-bred and/or rich dimwits make it in this world? Well-connected idiots deserve to be over the peasants/cubicle workers.

    2. guangho

      I do think education=opportunity
      I DON"T think education=guarantee.
      And the millions of mouthbreathing morons being exploited by their modern day masters who do deserve to have their financial nuts cut.

    3. OhNoGuy

      The reactionaries who say most people should rent and go to vocational school always own McMansions and send their kids to private school. Follow their advice.

  20. Lazy Media

    People with $100k in undergraduate debt are retarded, unless they have some kind of legacy deal going that transports them straight from their Ivy League dorm to Daddy's firm. I spent seven years screwing around to get a good public university bachelor's (and got the Navy Reserve to pay for most of it), and I had @ $3k in student debt when I got out. Even a newspaper reporter can pay that off.

  21. bagofmice

    I actually had to use my high school diploma for the first time ever, for a contract at Microsoft. It had been gathering dust for 13 years…

  22. HELisforHEL

    LOL and my after-work Art Trade School sheepskin. Still not cheap, but better than the costs associated with a college degree. And payable on my sh*tty factory salary at the time.
    It looks like my parents had the right idea when they basically told us 'Yeah–we're not footing any college bills, so don't look to us for that.' when we graduated from High School a million years ago, when parents could actually say that to their kids and not be chastised for it.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Heh. I was the fifth of seven children, and by the time I was ready for college, it was "Sorry, kid. We're pretty much broke." So I did the summer-and-after-school jobs thing. I rank this as a positive, since one of the jobs I found was as a live-in sorority houseboy. For a couple hours labor per day, I got housing 1 block from campus, I got room, board, laundry down the hall and … well, lets just call them 'perks.'

      Probably the best 3 years of my life.

      1. Kitty_Sanchez

        A live-in sorority houseboy?? Oh, wow! I had no interest in sororities when I was in school, but live-in houseboys…that could've made joining a sorority much more appealing. But hell would freeze over before that sort of thing were permitted in my part of the world.

        Where did you go to school??

      2. MoeDeLawn

        Did Bob Guccione's recent passing release you from the anonymity clause of that letter that got published a few years ago?

        "Dear Penthouse: I never thought I'd be writing this letter…"

  23. KevoTron

    I'm the worst kind of over-educated bartender. The kind whose parents paid for his education. But I make more money than most people my age. Besides, I went to college for the Experience (!) not the employment opportunities – that's what I tell myself when I'm breaking up bar fights and cleaning up vomit in the bathroom.

    1. slappypaddy

      i was bartender when i went to college, and i went to college so i wouldn't have to be a bartender the rest of my goddamned life. and now i'm not. that cleaning up puke in the bathroom gets old, and breaking up fights is for large young people who are paid to break up fights. it's all long behind me and i don't miss it one fucking bit.

  24. kenlayisalive

    Can anyone tell me why it costs so much to go to school? CUNY costs like…$4700 a year I think?

    So what exactly are they doing with the $100,000 a year at Harvard? Is it just a huge money making venture, or do you get a free mercedes with every class you enroll in?

    All snark aside – I'm really asking. What is the excuse? State subsidies cannot possibly account for a $95,000 per student difference. I just feel like it must be the same reason a roll of toilet paper costs $150 in a hospital.

    1. Weenus299

      No joke: In-state tuition at South Carolina public colleges averages at upwards of $9,000 per year. Just for the classes. Books and dorm cost more.

      In 10 years at this rate, will cost my kids upwards of $80 grand for four years.

      In contrast, It cost me a grand total of $10,000 to go to college in SC for five years.

      In the recession, idiotic states are slashing college funding. Colleges make it up by charging students out the ass.

    2. loquacioustunes

      I went to a small liberal arts college in Maine. Current tuition, including room and board, is upwards of $50,000. When I graduated ten years ago, it was near $32,000.

      I love my alma mater, but that is fucking ridiculous. You could buy four elitist Audi S4s with the "Prestige Package" for that amount of money.

    3. metamarcisf

      Sorry for the obscene remark. I just can't face the fact that I really don't want to know how much it's costing to send my daughter to the University of New Mexico. I write my ex-wife a check the first of each month, then go refill my prescription for the benzodiazapines.

      1. kenlayisalive

        Please sir, You don't have anything to apologize for. Its not like Rand Paul's bodyguards stomped on your head or something.

        Unrelated, I'm personally hoping your prodigious pee score will allow you to be adopted as some kind of internet folk hero. Metamarcisf, the teabagger-fighting, bennie-popping, democrat. Somewhere in there is a folk song.

        1. metamarcisf

          Let me ask you real quick, 'cause I'm losing my sense of reality. Today, Breitbart posted another Krauthammer story and all I could come up with is: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Lou Gehrig!" Needless to say, their campaign to drive me off that site suddenly has legs.

      2. zhubajie

        Send her to a university in China. If nothing else, she'll learn to read, write, speak Chinese. She'll make useful personal connections, too.

    4. superdave

      Yeah, I've wondered about that. As near as I can tell there are two things going on. For one we've become insensitive to the cost. We've been trained to believe a big name school is worth the cost, so we're willing to pay it. After all, you have to have a college degree, right? And an Ivy will set you for life, right?

      There was an article in the Post a while back about GW being the most expensive school in the country. G Freaking Double U? It sure as hell ain't to Ivy League school. But they found they could raise the price without affecting the number of applications. And the fact that it's the most expensive gives it a certain cache. Also the easy of getting student loans makes students more insensitive to price.

      The second things is that schools are spending more on administration and facilities than they used to. The ratio of administrators to teachers has gone up, and schools are building fancier dorms and cafeterias and gyms to entice students. It has become a bidding war, building cushier facilities to attract the affluent, coddled students. Used to be they'd cram 2 or 3 kids on a dorm room. Now more kids get singles.

      But what do I know. I've bought into the over-educated mythos.

      1. zhubajie

        Do they spend more on libraries? Harvard does at least have one of the largest libraries in the world.

    5. PsycWench

      One reason is that to appeal to students, there is constant pressure to provide services and facilities that tend to amaze anyone who graduated before the 1990's. Computer labs, fitness facilities, well-decorated interiors, etc. At a lot of schools it's like any company: the higher-ups in administration are pulling down the real cash. God knows the faculty aren't, for the most part. You should be able to look up salaries at a state school; it's public information.
      I'll note that you see very few college professors obsessing about getting their own kids into a prestigious school.

  25. V572625694

    '“1. In general, marginal and average returns to college are not the same.”

    2. In layman’s terms, that means that even if our investment in higher education is yielding a decent return on average, efforts to build on that investment might yield a less-good return.

    3. Or, even more simply put, there is a point of diminishing returns in higher education.'

    No wait, try one more time to dumb it down. You lost me at "less-good."

  26. SnarkoMarx

    Seems to me the way it works is that a capitalist tells you you need a college degree to make a good living. So you get accepted at a school that is run for profit by capitalists and other (or maybe the same) capitalists loan you money at interest to pay the fees. Then you get out of school with your fancy degree and go to work for a capitalist corporation that knows you'll do anything to keep your job because you have those loans to pay off along with your mortgage, healthcare bills, credit card interest, etc. The American dream. DOWN WITH SOSHALISUM!!1!

  27. slappypaddy

    i was the only kitten in my litter to get one of those fancy universitated edjumacations, and i am damn glad i did, even if i didn't let it make me rich in monies. i'm part of that middle class that's been constantly pressed further and further down by the oligarchs, but if i hadn't been able to study on, i'd have ended up some trailer trash teabagger somewhere, having no clue about my troubles or the world and blaming everyone else about it but myself, if i hadn't ended up as the first cat in the "faces of meth" profile.

    if your average high school education in the public schools in this country were worth a half a crap, if it actually gave solid vocational training such as apprenticeships do, if it actually had rigorous, exacting standards that demanded increasing levels of excellence at more than test-taking, if it actually got the still largely idealistic young'uns out in the world learning how to work and contribute and be part of a larger community, if it actually expanded and exercised and strengthened their minds with science and art and music and literature and history and economics and philosophy and languages and serious mathematics, instead of being a namby-pamby holding tank run by mealy-mouthed bureaucrats afraid of every passing political shadow, maybe we wouldn't be getting our ass kicked as a nation due to our own ignorance and shallowness. maybe millions of people wouldn't have to go on to college to get the sort of decent educations they should have received in the schooling they're forced to obtain. and if we didn't waste so much of our national treasure on war machines we don't need and will never use while the oligarchs continue to plunder our treasuries while we sit and watch them with our eyes wide shut, maybe we could find a way to make better use of and find more fulfilling roles for the millions of us who held up our end of the bargain and put in the extra effort to educate ourselves. but whiskey tango foxtrot do i know, i'm just a cat.

    1. PhilippePetain

      And I certainly agree with pushing vocational training to those who wish to take that route. Regardless of the reasons for the decline in productive/industrial/whatever jobs, I can't help but think that the country might have a more stable working class and fewer public expenditures with a little pro-labor vocational push. But, of course, this is all part of the political decision to undermine the unions in this country.

  28. nicnack74

    Okay on the serious, there is something to be said for getting a terminal degree (ie. a degree that prepares you for something) This includes, your MBA's, MPP's, MSW's and MSN's. These all help AND WILL GET YOU A JOB upon graduation. Those rediculous fluffy degrees like masters in Psychology, Sociaology, History and Art, only prepare you to go back to school. They don't help AT ALL. If you're a person of color, suck it up and get that second piece of paper. You'll need it to get you in the door.

    1. JMPEsq

      Now, those other Masters help you make more money if you're a grade or high school teacher; they don't actually make you a better teacher, but that's beside the point. Also MBAs (not the others though) tend to turn people into raging douchebags.

      1. nicnack74

        I wasn't looking at how high your douche baggery quotient went up in proportion to your advanced degree level. That's a whole different conversation. Jeeze, have you been in a room full of doctors and lawyers? I'm just talking about the ability to make a living wage.

    2. zhubajie

      With an MBA and a rich family and a father who had been President, George W. Bush was able to become President of the USA.

  29. Rotundo_

    It is a typical conservative argument: discussing the value of an education in terms of financial reward for money invested. No mention of any value other than cold hard cash. Is it any wonder that most creative people aren't conservative? Using money as the sole arbiter of worth is a pathetic way of viewing the world. Using the fact that 5 thousand of the millions of people who have college degrees wound up working as janitors as an excuse to deny the opportunity for learning to people is just someone yearning for those days of yore when we didn't have "those people" on our college campuses. A load of shit from a former (?) young republican, or as I refer to the breed, an asshole.

  30. vulpes82

    I was an English major, so I definitely contribute to the glut of useless degrees, but I'm gainfully employed (though with enough time on my hands to read the Wonkettes throughout the day), and I was a lucky bastard who didn't have to pay a cent for college, so I guess it works out sometimes.

    Really, though, our problem isn't that we're educating (or "educating" as the case may be) too many people, it's that any entry-level crap job nowadays requires a bachelor's, thus forcing people who shouldn't have to to get degrees they're not terribly interested in.

    Then there is the distinction between "education" and "training," which Americans, in their usual utilitarian brilliance, conflate and distort in modern higher education. There's no reason why a liberal arts degree should "prepare" you for anything other than to be a more well-rounded human being. But since that doesn't make you any money, we feel we, individually and collectively, have to justify anything that isn't engineering or welding with bullshit about "developing critical thinking." Yeah, if you're educated well, you should get critical thinking skills, but, really, it's not a "job skill."

    And, of course, there's an argument that our primary and secondary school systems have largely degenerated to the point where people need higher education just to get the basic skills, from reading to basic algebra, that they should already have gotten but didn't. One thing an English major does help with is writing; it's amazing how illiterate most students, from engineering nerds to even other bullshit degrees like PR, are.

    Plus, there's all kinds of class and racial issues to consider, as well. Middle class people go to college, so since everyone thinks they're middle class, off they send their kids to college.

    Also, college has become a rite of passage and stage of life as much as an educational vehicle. People want to get four (or five… or six…) years of partying and boinking and not having adult responsibilities before the decades of soul-crushing cube-farming that stretch before them kicks in.

    So, basically, I guess what I'm saying is: kiss my English BA degree, Ken!

    1. zhubajie

      It's the same for a history degree. You certainly have to able to read and write at a high level. Probably you get some informal instruction in critical thinking. If you go beyond the minimum, you have to learn foreign languages. What you do with those skills depends on other things, including Fortune.

  31. Billmatic

    I can't wait for the next budget crisis when all the student loan payments aren't rolling in as quickly as they thought they would.

  32. loquacioustunes

    I am currently getting my master's degree in "American Studies" at a nationally-recognized university (not "…of Phoenix"). Right now, I'm taking a course entitled "The Big Mac: What It Means for America's Waistline," and I plan to spend next semester taking "Credit Card Debt: Once You Check In, You Can't Check Out."

    (Actually, I'm taking "American Foreign Policy, 1776 to the Present," but the "Big Mac" course would probably be more useful.)

    1. OCKerouac

      As someone with the ability to form words into sentences to express opinions, you are the kind of person who SHOULD be getting a college education. Students who can study 4 hours a night but still can't conjugate a verb to save their mortal souls shouldn't feel like failures for becoming mechanics. Mostly because I don't know shit about cars.

    2. Bonzos_Bed_Time

      I took a couple American Studies classes for undergrad, and they were great. One was basically a film studies class. Just tons of fun!

  33. ChatteringClass

    Bluto's right! Psychotic, but right. …. This situation really requires that a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

  34. bitchincamaro2

    The irony is that three "acclaimed economists" were probably overpaid to write this stupid no-brainer report in the first place. See? College works!

  35. metamarcisf

    Off-topic? Not so fast. After a campaign event at a coffee shop ended with a democratic supporter being thrown to the ground and arrested for causing a disturbance, it was explained that Eric Cantor has refused to debate his opponents, claiming that he is either too busy in Washington to do so or doesn't want to give the other candidates "a platform for a food fight."

    1. DoktorZoom

      Cool! My late mother was quite certain that going to college was what caused me to stop being Catholic (it wasn't, but it did give me more reasons to confirm my lack of belief). A month before she died, I showed her my then-freshly-minted diploma, and she said, "Master of Arts in English, huh? You'll probably just write a bunch of dirty novels."

  36. DoktorZoom

    Oh, what a charmer….could we please sic the Gay Librul Elite Bullying squad on this guy, stat?

  37. OCKerouac

    How many more Sarah Palins do we need before we as a society stop confusing education with intelligence?

    I'm all for funding the hell out of higher education so that the size of your inheritance no longer dictates your ability to go to a four year school, but at the same time, we need to stop using 'a college education' as the dividing line between the 'qualified' and 'un-qualified'.

    Not going to college shouldn't resign you to a life of ditch-digging any more than purchasing a degree should qualify you for a job in the Senate.

  38. lochnessmonster

    I'm all for following your passion but really, teaching schools need to steer people away from Social Studies instruction. There are so many of them with advanced degrees, lucky if they can find a job as a classroom assistant.

  39. Mumbletypeg

    I'm entertained by various back-&-forth whether education is meant to instill love of learning vs. prepare one to get a job. Where's the school, degree, or education in general that prepares you to be without a job? It's the most fundamental life survival skill I can think of at this point.

    1. zhubajie

      Who knows what will be useful for a job in the future? I was prevented from studying French in high school, sent into "Business Math," instead. It was supposed to be more" practical." I wasted semesters learning to operate an electric adding machine which I've never seen since, and how to do book-keeping in a series of books. (That doesn't exist anymore, either.) I use French every day, now. If I'd started at age 13 instead of 23, I'd've been better off.

  40. zhubajie

    I got a PhD in ancient history, Middle East archaeology, about 20 years ago. I don't regret it, although I paid for it with 4 years in the Navy (enlisted, not ROTC), as well as vast sums of $$$. I now earn my living teaching English in China. (Let me tell you, a good understanding of how the Roman Empire worked has been invaluable!)

    One problem with actually understanding something is getting others to believe you. I could have told a certain Harvard MBA that conquering Mesopotamia is harder than it looks and that Afghanistan is impossible. However, his prophets and haruspices and court eunuchs told him other things.

    Zhu Bajie, alive in the bitter sea

    1. Ken Layne

      That is *exactly* the kind of degree I would've pursued, had I managed to actually go to university. And, in a way, I guess I have pursued those areas of study. Once I shut off the Wonkette machine, my head is usually buried in ancient history texts. I'm on a post-Justinian Byzantine emperors kick right now. (Did you know they had Muslins then, too?)

      1. zhubajie

        Yes, I like them, too. Tiberius II, what a guy! Late Antiquity ingeneral is as colorful as one of their mosaics.

  41. Bonzos_Bed_Time

    Mix-Master of Education, thank you very much. WTF, it moves me over to the right on the pay scale.

    Someday I hope to be a Doctor of Divinity.

  42. finallyhappy

    I'm sorry- is someone here suggesting that my undergraduate degree in Ancient Near Eastern history and Archaeology followed by a masters in Museum Studies wasn't useful. Just because after 6 months, I never worked in a museum again- it doesn't mean that having learned the Assyrian king list doesn't come in handy every single day. And you can always work the polychrome glazed brick of the Ishtar gate(no, not the movie!) into most job interviews for budget analysis or program management for DOD contracts.

  43. Whatever

    Ok, only read half the comments so I don't know if someone told this Joke yet…

    Kid gets his edumacation (where isn't important as they all end up being different versions of the same thing) and finally gets a job.

    His boss tells him to go mop the floor, to which our hero responds "But, But, I have a college degree!!"

    His long suffering boss reply's "Oh, I'm sorry, let me show you how to do that then."

    Sorry, I love to tell that joke to all the "highly" edumacated peoples here in DC.

  44. imissopus

    If I had to do it all over again I'd have taken a year or two off before I went to college. As it was I got a film degree because I didn't really know what the hell else to do with myself. That was good for a few years doing computer geek work for one of the studios but really, the most useful piece of information I probably learned in four years was how to make a bong out of a Coke can. That impresses employers a lot less than you might think.

    1. slappypaddy

      one of the most wrongheaded aspects of our current system of higher education is that the best scholarships are reserved for the students who go straight to college out of high school. if a kid wants to take two or three years off to grow up a little and take a breather from school before jumping back in, he (or she, and too bad about the archaic pronoun limitations of english) can be financially dry-fucked, shut off from the opportunities presented to freshly-minted high school grads.

  45. LeeAtwater

    I have a BA in journalism and polisci, and I'm working in EMS and couldn't be happier. It's one of the last careers out there with any job security, because as long as people keep doing stupid things, I'll keep having to pick them up and explain that operating a printing press while drunk is a BAD idea.

  46. WIDTAP

    We all know the only purpose to get an education it to take an appropriate drone role in Corporate America, right? It's not actually learn the process of critical thing, or anything. Damn Librul Arts!

  47. robertsgt40

    "America remains pathetically short on graduates with useful advanced degrees…
    the kind of people Google and Apple and Microsoft have to import from India and China"….. I suggest you look at the H1B "program" that was shipping in 100,000 techies(per year) from India and China(at greatly reduced salary) to replace those who's job couldn't be exported. Now if you want to get one of these advanced degrees(pricey), you'll get to compete with deminishing wages. It's a Catch-22. All planned way in advance to tank the country.

  48. Reader11722

    Useless colleges, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by fencing-in demonstrators at G-20, banning books like “America Deceived II” and trying to take-over the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by wireless wiretapping.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
    Impeach Obama (and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul).
    [Link of Banned Book]: http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.asp

  49. Laughitoff22

    But daddy told me that I was just going to graduate school to get my MRS… what was I supposed to be doing here?

  50. ReturnToMetal

    I never got my degree. And sometimes, I'm thankful.

    Apparently, the mortar board contains a hypo full of bullshit. If you aren't smart enough to remove it before commencement, you turn republican.

  51. CivicHoliday

    If I believed in god, I would thank him every day that a) I ended up getting my MS in Biology (quite useful) and not Anthropology (completely pointless), and b) I decided not to get a PhD, even though I had applied and been accepted to several schools. I still have student loan debt, but am not so drowned in it that I can't afford a house or nice dinner on date night with the hubby. I like Academia, but getting tenure is a bitch, and having to publish in order to justify your existence is hell.

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