Saturday, March 15, 2014
This image has become popular recently among conservatives, and while the authenticity is not verified it is sufficiently likely that one can assume that if this exact picture is not real then there are others in the described situation. While there are several other problems in the 99% statement being held, the most glaring one is the problem of student debt and underemployment.
Other libertarian writers have described just how bad of an investment college generally is. This picture sums up the case as well. Unless a person majors in a field that is likely to have jobs available, a college education can indeed be a losing proposition.
Popular advice is to major in "STEM", Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The problem is only three of those are actually good advice - mathematics even can be considered too general a field, too unspecialized, to be easily applicable to the job market.
On the other hand, there are people who major in fields that have no immediately recognizable applications to such a degree that even the generalized field of mathematics seems like a good alternative. The woman in the picture apparently has a Masters Degree in Women’s Studies. Before going into debt the question should have been asked what was the intended career path of someone with that degree.
Given the soaring costs of college, and the reduced payout even in immediately applicable degrees, it would also be advisable to consider technical schools and trade schools. Many community colleges offer courses in auto repair, plumbing, sheet metal, etc. The point is that each of these, much like STEM, are jobs that can be applied quickly and easily.
The age of liberal arts majors are waning. There was a time when college was a luxury only the rich could afford, or that the very intelligent could attain with scholarships. Confusing cause and effect, it was determined that since the rich went to college, then going to college would make people wealthy, and therefore more and more people should be encouraged to go to college. But instead of producing an entire society of those who were able to afford the status symbol of college, the value of the degree has been weakened while the cost has gone up.
One cannot impose the effects of a better life in order to create the substance. The substance is what creates the effects. College once was, and is becoming again, an effect or feature of wealth, and no longer a guarantee of wealth. And colleges that emphasize useless majors over anything related to science are a symptom of the decline.