Skip to comments.Are Liberal Arts Degrees Worth the Cost in This Economy?
Posted on 05/24/2009 12:42:08 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
As Nicole Marshall posed for photos on the eve of her commencement, someone joked, "Smile -- think of all the loans you took out for this!" She says she chose St. Michael's, a Catholic liberal arts college near Lake Champlain in Colchester, Vt., because it offered the biggest aid package, "but I'm still leaving with quite a bit of loans" -- about $20,000.
Her debt is a little lighter than the national average for graduates of private, four-year schools who borrow: nearly $23,800 as of 2007, according to the College Board in New York.
But if there's any time that students and parents can take such costs in stride, it's during the heady rush of commencement, when the campus is fragrant with fresh blossoms and abundant hope. For added inspiration to help them focus on the value of learning, these families heard a commencement speech from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Standing head and shoulders above the others on stage, clad in academic regalia, the former basketball player and superintendent of Chicago's public schools acknowledged the costs:
"With those college loans to pay back, you're probably wondering, 'Just how much is a liberal arts education really worth?' Albert Einstein said the value of a liberal arts education is not to learn facts, but to train your mind to think about things that cannot be learned from textbooks. So now you're probably wondering why you spent all that money on textbooks. The point is not that the facts are useless; it's just that the facts alone don't make you educated. It's how you put those facts together and what you do with them that matters. The real value of a liberal arts education is that it teaches you ... how to analyze a situation and make a choice."
(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...
Unless your child has to attend college to attain a professional degree such as lawyer or doctor, there is little reason for them to go at all. For any liberal arts degree, a majority of their classes will be taught by determined Marxists feeding them disinformation or worse, and they will leave either you, or worse themselves in a great deal of debt. Business degrees are useless. Far better to have your child start their own business(es) at as early an ege as possible.
My 10-year old son does website design and earns $10-20 per hour. It is over the internet and they have no idea how old he is (I help him with business headaches now while he learns). He works less than 10 hrs per week, saves nearly every penny, and puts away almost $150 per week into a credit union account. By the time he is of college age (assuming his hourly rate does not increase, which it most certainly will as he learns new skills) he should have put away well over $50,000. What does he need a stupid college degree for? He can learn what he wants and live the life he truly desires, all while avoiding the idiots who typically populate our nation’s universities.
My 7-year old daughter sells cookies and brownies at local parades and events for $1-2 each. She buys the ingredients at deep discount, and her cost per 100 is about $7. Do the math. At age 7, she already can tell you about material costs, revenue, profits and rate of return. Not because she is a math wiz, but from spending and making her own money. You can never start them too young.
I wouldn’t be surprised if community colleges and trade schools make a comeback (if not already). Both teach specific skills (plumbing, computer software, IT, carpendry, accounting, nursing, etc.,) that businesses need.
I just finished a course at our local community college. It was very well taught by experienced business owners. I’ve had plenty of theoretical coursework over the years; this was very pragmatic and of high quality.
Yes, and I’ll tell you why, you read and write and learn to distinguish between a good idea and crap, at least that’s what I learned back in the dark ages, that is what a college degree is supposed to do for people, teach them how to think, as opposed to training for a job. A college grad should know how to think critically. That is what has been lost by the white tower brainwash that goes on now with the tenure system for axle “professors” who do nothing but exhale their putrid breath for four or five years to college students.
Any of your kids sew clothes for Nike? ;)
No, it is good you are teaching them the value of work and the value of a dollar.
College is a good idea, but Liberal Arts degrees are never a good idea.
there was a time when I would have said that a liberal arts education was valuable because it taught one the rich intellectual heritage of our civilization, taught one to think, to read with a critical eye, to write with clarity, and to reason. Essentially, the student would be exposed to the things worth defending against the barbarians, both foreign and domestic. Now that the universities are overrun with Marxist fools, I imagine my naive vision only exists in a few places.
Power engineering graduates are getting 2 or 3 job offers this year. With overtime the starting salaries are $65,000 to $80,000.
During summer coops these students make $10,000 to $20,000.
In the next few years these graduates will have training in nuclear engineering to operate the new nuclear plants coming on line.
I have to disagree so vigourosly, I'm not quite sure where to start. Business degrees are useless? Try getting a job at an accounting, consulting, banking or other financial services firm without a business degree.
Without a college degree you close a virtually infinite number of doors that may lead to very lucrative careers. While a college degree may not make you smarter or make you a better person, it does open allow for possibilities that would otherwise be unavailable to a non-degreed job candidate.
Most companies couldn't really care less what your degree is in, so long as you have one. My advice to someone who wasn't excited about college; study something you enjoy and that comes as naturally as possible - if you find a career in that field, great. If not, at least you have a diploma to put on your CV, and that alone will be worth the effort and expense.
Not every kid can handle the math needed for engineering degrees.
Well, my brother has a computer science degree and holds almost every MS certification known to mankind and from being a bankrupt college major, started close to $75,000 to start. However, I do believe that technical colleges serve the same programs at a faster level, BUT a number of them are fly-by-night colleges which could close at anytime.
He was recently interviewed as an instructor for networking admin for 3 tech colleges and he was aghast that the course outline was like throwing kids with average level tech skills to advanced proficiency.
I always post this when the subject of college costs comes up, but here goes again.
My kid graduated from college, and is about to graduate with his Master’s and it has not cost us one cent of tuition.
His AA was earned during his high school years via the dual credit program of our local school system...no tuition.
His Bachelor’s was finished up at a state university with an academic scholarship (good score on the SAT/ACT and a high GPA will earn that)....no tuition.
Graduate tuition paid by becoming a Graduate Assistant...full tuition paid in exchange for working for a prof (at his university, which is a private U, it is awarded on the basis of GMAT test scores and GPA.)
We were fortunate in that we have many colleges and universities within commuting distance, so he could live at home, and he was willing to sacrifice the “college experience” in order to save money on room and board.
The advantage, no student loan debt, dual credit in high school gives you a head start, and so he’s 21 and about to be awarded his Masters.
I know many kids who are making the right choices and are going to school tuition free because they are taking advantage of the programs offered. In our state the main tuition program is supported by the Lottery. The dual credit during high school just uses our property tax dollars the same as would be used for a public high school education. The grad school obviously looks at the GA as am employee, thus the work in exchange for tuition.
As the job market becomes more competitive, I do think a degree is important. Our son does not have a liberal arts degree though, so I don’t know what the job prospects are with a liberal arts degree, but for work this summer, he had to choose between 4 job offers (all required that you be enrolled in a Master’s program.)
Any college that invites Arne Duncan (rabidly anti-2nd amendment socialist) to speak at commencement certainly isn't worth attending, that's for sure.
How I wish I could be an engineer. I have lots of engineering friends; civil, electrical, chemical. They all do well. Of course, they’re all incredibly intelligent. I’m smart (I swear!! just ask my mom!) but don’t have much in the way of mathematical aptitude.
I’m teaching pre-nursing Organic chemistry and Biochemistry at a CC. Three sections with standing room only.
Are you an Organic Chemist?
Yes, organic synthesis. I teach part-time.
Ping... Of interest.
What I did: I finished the first two years at a (more affordable) community college and then transferred the credits later to a university. I knew many other people who did the same. That’s what we’re planning for our sons to do, too.
My daughter will graduate university next Spring with ZERO loans. For her first 50 to 60 credit hours, she was a part time student (less than 12 credit hours) and paid for it herself, with money she earned.
Then she decided to speed up the process and do 15 hours a semester. That meant she qualified for Pell Grants and academic scholarships each semester.
Even though she very much wanted to attend a particular (expensive) university, she has gotten all but a few credit hours at a State university that is much less costly, and the Pell Grants have covered almost 100% of her costs.
So, she thanks all of us taxpayers who have contributed to her education through the non-taxable Pell Grants she has received and used.
That's terrific. Who's paying $10-$20/hour for website design? We could use the extra cash ourselves... ;-)
Of interest to homeschoolers, but not directly a homeschool related article.
You are correct, there is always a need for someone to change oil down at the local truck stop and to run the tire change service on the highway’s.
“How I wish I could be an engineer.”
LOL, me too, but apparently I smile too much.
So I dunno. As an economic bet it probably isn't a very good one, but there's a lot more to it than that. Some holders of liberal arts degrees fade into a deserved obscurity and become ditch-diggers, others turn out to be David Petraeus. Ya never know.
In 1980 when the economy was bad like it is now I worked part time in a grocery store deli along with about 14 other girls. All f the other girls had diplomas from liberal arts colleges. I’m sure there were not the size loans then that there are now but when I quit to move home 3 years later most of them were still working there.The value of liberal arts degrees in a bad economy IMHO just isn’t there.
That's right, especially if you want guaranteed income and likely a six figure one at that. There will be cars around for a long time and will always be the need for them to be repaired.
A good car mechanic is in high demand these days since there has been a tendency in the public schools to downplay non-college degree programs.
When the economy tanks as it certainly appears to be doing, those who earn money and eat will be those with practical skills.
If universities were succeeding in their aim to graduate critical thinkers, the world would be filled with young economic conservatives. Instead there is a glut of professorial clones who must spend years in the school of hard knocks undoing their mind pollution. I’d say that the universities are failing at their purported aim and succeeding wildly at their subterfuge.
“For any liberal arts degree, a majority of their classes will be taught by determined Marxists feeding them disinformation or worse, and they will leave either you, or worse themselves in a great deal of debt.”
And ignoring the liberal arts is a great way to ensure that the Marxists take over everything, and that the voting generation is too stupid to do anything about it. I’ve been teaching college English (literature and composition) for three years now, and can tell you that (a) there are still plenty of humanities teachers still interested in actually teaching the humanities and (b) the ignorance of history, literature, philosophy, and the inability to think critically about anything else, is a far greater threat than Marxism.
I find it rather distressing that among all the conservatives who have responded to this thread so far, not a single one seems to care about the value of education.
What does he need a stupid college degree for?
What does he need a stupid college degree for?
You are right, and there are a few great places
New St. Andrews
Thomas Aquinas College
And among secular colleges, St. John’s in Annapolis and Santa Fe certainly teaches the books that make up our civilization.
I agree with you 100% - most of the anti-college crowd either don’t want to pay for their kids to go to college, or don’t have a degree themselves and have some kind of chip on their shoulder about those who do.
It’s really funny how engineering students are expected to take and do well in fairly advanced humanities courses, but we can’t ask the liberal arts majors to take calculus. I wonder why?
I used to really annoy the liberal arts/humanities majors I went to class with by openly referring to my history/English/artistic classes as “easy A’s”.
The applied engineering courses don’t require much math.
A good understanding of algebra and a year of basic applied calculus (no theorems or proofs).
I have found that even students who have done poorly in math in high school can with some additional work do well as they get older. I for one did rather badly in high school algebra II.
I don’t understand how some people qualify for Pell Grants - if your daughter lived with you don’t they consider your salary as part of her ability to pay?
Not at her age and circumstances. She is considered an independent student. She applied through FAFSA, and that org determined what she qualified for.
When she was 18 - 22, FAFSA did demand our income and outgo figures. But after she reached 23, she completed the app as an independent student. (I think those are the correct ages relative to those results.)
Read the applications and qualifications carefully.
My goal is to have my son on the other side of that desk asking those questions of potential hires. That's the whole point.
I find the jobs for him online, email them to set it up, and then give it to him. He is a real wiz. As long as the clients and the state bureaucrats don't know, it's ok. As he ages, he can learn to deal with clients himself and handle the accounting.
Why does he need to help someone else balance their books when he can hire someone to do HIS books? I don't want him to NEED a "job", but rather build his own businesses, so he will be doing the hiring instead of relying on Career counselor morons and sending resumes out to 500 companies on a panic-driven fishing expedition. I went through that crap, which was one of my big motivators that he and my daughter not have to do so.
Computer Science is clearly what I have in mind as a useful degree, along with MD, JD, Engineering, Biotech, etc. My son will likely pursue computer science himself.
By the way, my son is 10 and is about to take his first Microsoft Certified Pro exam. Wish him luck!
My webpage stuff is out of date although I can do basic stuff. Flash is something I could stand to learn. CAD has been an interest to me for a long while now. School is mostly out probably this year due to medical bills and some other stuff.
Who said I ever derided the value of "education"? I just disparage the kind of education they give out in universities. I have a liberal arts major, and everything I learned about philosophy, history and conservatism I learned AFTER college.
Not everyone looks good in horn rims and a pocket protector...:)
And yes, I am an engineer!
Every child I know who was not urged toward college for most of his life, didn't attend. That includes the kids who want to go, but have had parents telling them all along that they better have the ability to get scholarships because they aren't going to help pay for school. Even if we couldn't have helped our daughter, we would have said we would do whatever it took for her to get through school. It is just too important today to have that piece of paper.
Perhaps your child will beat the odds, but I'm not willing to gamble with the future of my children.
It does take a lot of patience to fill out the FAFSA each year - and it never did us any good - we never qualified for any assistance.
“I have a liberal arts major, and everything I learned about philosophy, history and conservatism I learned AFTER college.”
Then do not project your own collegiate ignorance and lack of initiative onto the entire institution.
I'm a small business owner. After spending 20 years in the Marines, I wanted to work for myself after I retired, so my wife and I started our own company a few years before I called it quits. I can tell you for a fact that one of the primary reasons that I received the start-up capital I needed was because of my education (as well as my wife's education), both directly and indirectly.
The knowledge that I gained while completing my MBA allowed me to put together a compelling business plan for my investors and bankers. Also, I have been told that one of the reasons I was given an opportunity was because I had my MBA and my undergrad from two blue-chip schools. Without my advanced education, it would have been very unlikely that I would have received the investment I needed at terms that were favorable.
The days of easy-come start-up money are long, long over. Bankers and investors will be looking very hard at the CV's and business plans of people that they will risk giving some seed money too. If you're advising your children that higher education is a waste of time, effort and money, you're giving them very, very bad advice.
Good luck to your kid. My bro had to go to the san Diego MS centre to take his.