Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Free $25 from LendingClub! | Main | Make Money by Blogging »

February 19, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Good post.

I have always been amazed at how much some people will pay to go to "that" college. I agree wholeheartedly that part of what you are paying for is the experience... but that "experience" is pretty generic for a lot of people (get drunk, wake up, go to class, get drunk. rinse. repeat).

As far as reducing costs of college... I have two suggestions:
1) Apply, apply, apply. So many scholarships go to a high percentage of the applicants. The academic society for my major gave out scholarships every year. I was an officer so I got to see some of the backend work. I was surprised at how many people applied for the scholarships (it wasn't even an essay one... it was a form you fill out and attach your transcript). We gave a scholarship for $1,000 to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who applied! So just apply.. you WILL get money. Also apply for grants!
2) I am also a big advocate of working while in college to reduce the costs. I worked the whole time I was in college.

By doing those 2... debt free out of college!

I think the stickier point here was going $85,000 in debt to go to a school that nobody has heard of and which I doubt is well-connected even locally. It's the people who take on big debt to go to low-ranked schools who really get squeezed. It's very unfortunate.

My parents didn't really talk about the returns on particular degrees although being able to support oneself was a major family value. What they did instead was to promise to support us for the equivalent of an in-state university education. If we wanted to go to anything that cost more than that, we had to find our own money without going into debt. That worked for us. While we did not expect it and were a bit reluctant to accept it, two of us (gratefully) received some support during grad school from our parents.

$24 k for Rivier College?...I only live 45 minutes away and I've never even heard of it! My parents always warned me about getting a degree in Art might like it, but good luck getting a job.

I've heard an interesting factoid, but I don't know the reference. "Something like half of the new jobs created in the economy in the last 20 years did not exist 20 years ago". In other words the economy added brand new types of jobs...things we never dreamed (like web designer...not on the course list when I was in college). Think technology care, computers, engineering, and even some types of services (like Collateralized Debt Obligation Trader, which will probably disappear now).

Ummm...perhaps my quote should have been more clear. I meant to say that of the new jobs created in the last 20 years, 1/2 were from jobs types did not exist 20 years ago. maybe that is better.

In my opinion, one of the other biggest pluses about going to a well-known but expensive college has nothing to do with your major -- but who you meet along the way. Throughout my career I've profited greatly from the pool of people whom I became friends (and eventually colleagues) with from my college years. You can never downplay the importance of networking and who you know when talking about job hunting and (to a lesser extent) career advancement.

It astounds me that people spend that much money for a low paying job. Back when I was in school, I was initially a biology major. I was scared though, of not finding a job when I graduated since typically you need a Ph.d to do anything with a biology degree. When I told my counselor that, he responded that college is not for job training but for the experience. If I wanted to get job training he said I should have gone to a technical college. I basically told him that was a load of crock and I switched my major to Computer Science (my first true love). That was back in 95 and boy am I glad I did it!

Chances are the people saying to take out the loans and go deeply into debt for a crappy degree are the same people teaching those classes for that crappy degree. Colleges need to give students unbiased guidance for things like this.

Ben C --

In a lot of ways college isn't job training... companies spend a lot of money re-training their college hires to forget what the textbooks say.

I haven't gone to technical school but I imagine that is better at actually giving you job training. I think the same goes for colleges with mandatory co-ops.

Colleges DO need to give people better guidance, though!

A friend who taught at a small, liberal arts school once quietly admitted to me that he couldn't understand why parents were shelling out $25,000 a year for their kids to get a teaching degree at his college when our state had 3 public universities with good teaching programs .. all of which had tuition/housing costs of less than $10,000.

@My Life ROI - it depends on a major. You are probably not in CS or Engineering or you wouldn't say that graduates need retraining. CS graduates need no retraining, at least CS graduates from the universities with good programs - this includes a number of state universities as well. This is from personal experience of someone with an MS in CS who has been working for many years for a Fortune 500 technology company doing CS R&D. When I started work I needed no retraining, in fact I knew a whole lot more than some of more experienced people who worked there. In my experience with new hires neither do current graduates - if they are good.

My company always hires CS students in summer. Sometimes it's PhD candidates, sometimes just juniors or seniors depending on what we need done - development work or research work. We usually find a part of a project that can be done individually and in only a couple of months. There is no time for any kind of training. For the most part, they are always able to do a pretty good job.

Probably the best advice my mentor--who came OUT of THE GREAT DEPRESSION in much BETTER financial situation than how he and his wife entered it--offered concerning college and any form of debt was, "First, how do you plan to pay for it (the debt) BEFORE you go further? Second, 'I'll get a job to pay it off' is not a plan; that is allowing other people to do your thinking for you."

With her degree in human development, what she might consider doing is marketing herself slightly differently than other applicants by demonstrating how her prospective employer might benefit more from her education through identifying what benefits might be better suited for fellow employees based upon each employee's individual needs. Perhaps another possible option might be a home-based business and offering tips or techniques that benefit others similar to how this website functions for many people.

Identifying how what SHE offers a prospective employer as opposed to other potential candidates "bring to the (interview) table" makes a difference with the decision-making process. How many colleges or universities actually focus attention on teaching students how to market themselves BEFORE or AFTER graduation, and how many just provide a degree generally developed to market the institution?

Thank you for posting this type of question, for it exemplifies the point my mentor failed to get one of his daughters to understand (who has a degree in Home Economics so that she could be a homemaker) but was successful in teaching the other.

I switched majors into engineering because I wanted a degree that would mean a decent paying job. I'm actually in a slightly different branch than I studied and have learned everything on the job. But the degree is the key you need to open the door.

My heart pours out for this poor soul. I am going to ask my Senators to introduce a new Bill to Congress to FORGIVE people of their financial contracts and obligations if they can't find a job in their field. Why should she and others suffer for the CHOICE they made? How is this any different than the current mortgage plan? We need to bail out students and recent graduates TODAY! We need to instead push their DEBT and BURDEN those who made wise choices and investments in their education and lives.

I'm being extremely sarcastic, but I'm sure that some knucklehead out there actually thinks this. Serenity now.

I tried going to community college for a year- I paid as I signed up for classes, and I have no student debt. I have been able to pay off a car and finance a condo- without a college degree. I have found that by skipping college and going right into job training I have actually exceeded the salary of most new college graduates. I work a bit of overtime every week, and my annual salary is well over 40k. I'm twenty years old, and because I actually have dedicated myself to on-the-job training I have moved up to the position of office manager for a small private school with only three years of experience. Granted, I have been lucky landing the job that I have. I think that skipping a degree all together has put me in a better position than 90% of college graduates who leave school with a boat load of debt, and no job. Has anyone else had the same experience?

Rebecca, You have missed the point. You can of course get a decent paying job without college and you can even grow in that position. But consider that engineers start at $50k+ in my company and that they will generally exceed 75K within 4 years. Nurses in the Boston area easily make more than $75k. A starting teacher in Massachusetts makes $40k (and nice benefits and an automatic scale increase every year for 9 years)I was making $40k 20 years ago, which is why I went and got my degree. The thing to consider is where do you go now? Maybe money isn't the driver for you, but then that is point of this post for the money value of a college degree

I'm not belittling your effort, but initiative with a degree statistically provides a far better financial return than no degree.

Bill, The point of this post was to show how a college degree can be a step backwards when you leave college with $85,000 of student debt and no job for three years. It has nothing to do with the starting salary of various entry level jobs. Your point is irrelevant.

I can relate to Rebecca. When I got out of the Navy I went to college while a lot of my navy buds went straight into the work force. Most of them started in the 60-80k range and have since worked their way into 6 figure salaries. Most of them have no degree and if they do its the mail order variety. The thing about the navy was it taught (and paid for) them their skill set and how to work hard which is extremely valuable to their employers.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.