Skip to comments.Shouldn't a College Degree Keep You Out of Poverty?
Posted on 06/14/2010 6:16:41 AM PDT by Cardhu
There's good news and bad news in a new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The good news: an increasing number of low-income young adults are going to college these days. The bad news: many of those low-income students remain in poverty after they graduate.
The report (pdf) found that 47 percent of young adults whose total household income was near or below the federal poverty level were enrolled in an institute of higher education in 2008, a healthy five percent increase from 2000, and another 11 percent had earned a degree. However, about one in ten of those students failed to immediately transcend the poverty threshold. In other words, they passed college but college failed them.
The introduction to the report quotes President Obama's State of the Union Address from January: "[I]n the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education." Apparently, and unfortunately, things don't appear to be that cut-and-dry for many impoverished young adults. Although higher education opportunities are expanding for poor populations, outcomes are not getting any better. Which raises the question: what good is a college education without a positive outcome?
There are a lot of surprising statistics in the report that are begging for explanation. (White low-income students are twice as likely as African Americans and Hispanics to remain poor after graduation? Really?) Future reports in the series, which is being funded by the Gates Foundation, will examine educational aspirations, academic preparation, movement in and between schools, and financial aid and debt burdens among low-income young adults to give all of us a better understanding of what's going on here so we can try and address the problem(s).
Even for young adults not coming from low-income backgrounds, college is expensive and may not be worth it in this economy. If we don't start improving educational outcomes for poor students, college might start to seem like a worthless pursuit for everyone and I don't think that's a road any of us want the country to go down. Gregory S. Kienzl, director of research and evaluation at IHEP, summed it up best: "If you have a degree, you should no longer be poor."
Not if the degree is in women’s or ethnic studies!
“a” college degree?
You have to have useful skills and education that is in demand.
Not much demand for “insert your perpetually aggrieved group” studies degrees.
Not surprising since most college degrees are less valuable than an equal amount of toilet paper.
Who would even think of going into debt for such worthless degees?
College degrees officially jumped the shark when people spent $30K a year in tuition to qualify for a $25K a year job after they graduate. Aside from SOME BA degrees, and engineering/math/science degrees, most aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
People whose self worth is totally consumed with what people think of them and how much they “care”.
Depends on the degree. But I’ll say this - a good set of pipe wrenches and other assorted plumbing tools will do better at keeping one out of poverty than will many college degrees.
It is racist to apply simple cost-benefit analysis to a college education, don’t you know?
A degree is now less and less even a work permit excluding those w/o a degree...
The only education is self-education.
A college degree is only a tool, not a guarantee.
I relate this often, but I was at a baby shower with my wife a few years back. There were a lot of “professional educators” there.
You should have seen the looks of shock and gasps of disbelief when I said “not everyone is fit for college, you know”.
I’ve taught math, physics, and EE at the undergrad and grad level for quite a few years. Given the present environment here in the states, I really don’t know if I’d encourage any student to pursue science or engineering.
Also, I respectfully suggest a change of nomenclature for college “professors”. I shudder when I find that some idiot with a degree in upgraded marshmallow coloring is called “professor” - the same prefix that I was honored and privileged to have.
Its called "Affirmative Action", and they are now a large portion of the government. I have a black female "supervisor" with a masters degree and she can barely read. (she has no clue what I do) I'm not kidding. PS, I'm a mechanic/technician w/o college but with years of Vo-Tech Schools.
I know a gentleman with a MBA from Notre Dame, now working at $8 an hour. A degree is only part of the equation. It’s how many are looking for the same job, work ethic, overall market demand, etc. A degree is a guarantee of nothing other than that the person spend 4 years or more pursuing an education. Beyond that, nothing.
failed to immediately transcend the poverty threshold.
Ummm. Very few college grads IMMEDIATELY transcend the poverty threshold. Have to find a job, get out of debt, perhaps travel. Who are they kidding
Statistics in the hands of liars.
ambition + degree = success.
Huh??? Perhaps "if you go to college and learn skills in something useful (and can follow instructions, read and perform simple calculations) ... but what does a degree in Art History or Women's Studies prepare someone for that a high school diploma doesn't????
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are college dropouts who seem to have done OK. I don't think the lack of a degree has held them back too much.
“work permit for excluding those” without the “right” ideology.
This has been the goal of all these “race to the top”, “no child left behind”, “goals 2000”, and “outcome based education” programs. By the way, these are all the same, just have different names.
Students soon will be screened and channelled based on ideology revealing tests - if you’re a Christian, you’ll be channelled to some labor job. If you’re a nihilist government worshipper, you’ll be channelled to some leadership occupation.
Why is nobody investigating colleges and universities for price gouging?
How about the kids who get a degree in “French Art”??
It is long past the time when colleges & universities need to publish the number of jobs open each year in various field of study.
I don’t think there are 50 openings a year for “French Art” degrees, but thousands of students spend millions of dollars getting that sheepskin.
Meanwhile, as the high school level, there are very few vocational classes even being taught.
It is a lie to push kids into ‘college’ when many of them are just not college material.
Then they get the idea that they are worth at least $100,000 a year in a starting salary.
I cannot wait until that ‘graduate’ who thinks they are worth $100,000 a year in salary cannot find an auto mechanic or a plumber to repair their property.
upgraded marshmallow coloring
in my old business we used to call ‘em “Vice President of the Left Side of the Building.”
University of Phoenix PING!
An acquaintance is pursing a degree in, no kidding, “Human Rights”.
This is part of the continued failed attempts of the school monopoly to try to tie school with sucess, which has only a moderate corrolation.
I learned this the hard way years ago. In the ‘real world’, a degree is means almost nothing. The only thing is says to an employer is that you’re able to stay committed to a goal and complete it. Look at any ‘white collar’ job description and the requirement for a degree is just a short single sentence. The rest of the description asks for the real requirements; experience. Combine this with the fact that we have less jobs thanks to the Obamessiah, and you have 400 people applying for every decent job that comes down the pipe. Employers are not going to consider anyone who doesn’t have at least 3-4 years of experience.
My kids have science degrees from front line colleges.
The daughter earned the tuition back in three years.
The son went into the US Army as a 2nd. Lt. Spent four years working for bubba.
Came out of the service, resigned his commission and it took him a very short time to earn back the tuition.
In both cases the tuition after four years was a bit over $100,000.
Neither took anything remotely connected to ‘liberal’ classes. One skirted the loony lib profs by taking photography as the required liberal arts class and the other took several languages which qualified for liberal arts classes.
It’s a foot in the door, nothing else, once you’re in the door, you might as well throw away the degree, you’re on your own.
I’m guessing such a degree isn’t about preventing government oppression but about requiring government to provide for people’s needs.
Interesting, and sometimes amazing.
Now, since I am a M.Sc. myself, I can say something about the university. In Holland, a degree is not a guarantee for a reasonable income. Not even for an income per se.
It is a tangled issue. Numerous academic studies do not lead to expertise that is highly in demand in the outside world; yet these studies are indispensable to the maintenance of our cultural position. The sensible thing to do here is to put a cap on the number of students allowed to get in; the cap should have a sound connection to the demand for professionals in a certain discipline.
In economically uncertain times, there is a tendency for young people to enroll in a college, or university. Although this sounds like a good choice (i.e. increase future job chances), I think reality is, um, more diverse.
I see too many ‘slackers’, pretending to study, but being quite lazy, and always going for the minimally necessary markings. If there’s a real capacity in them, it’s that for partying. It may be a fun life, without any real responsibilities. But in reality, it leads to nowhere.
Now, here’s a personal opinion that may be controversial. I agree with the late and esteemed American philosopher Allan Bloom on this: there should be no ‘money-oriented studies’ in the university. One can obtain all the qualifications of an M.B.A. in a private company; although highly fashionable, financial studies have nothing at all to do with the core duties of a good university: to teach, to study, to debate, to be as mentally creative as one can, without the influence of outside interests, financially or otherwise. For money, there are banks; for studying, there are universities.
I plead for serious forms of quality control and evaluation: better to tell a very mediocre student halfway that he/she will have a hard time to proceed as is being done, and get an occupation with his/her capacities in the chosen field of study, then to let him/her struggle, fall, get up, and struggle on with a tragically hopeless perspective. That would save good money.
Well, just my two cents. Curious how others will chime in.
Some “real” majors (in the sense that they are offered by colleges.
Native American Studies
Classics and Classical Studies (I like this one, but it’s not marketable)
Conflict Resolution/Peace Studies
Scum always has floated to the top...
You got it.
There is not much work in the under water basket weaving department, but considerable in underwater welding.
Hard work, mixed with imagination and a willingness to find a way, will keep you out of poverty (most of the time).
Throw DeVry and ITT in with that group.
I went on a field trip Saturday and there was a young woman in the group. She has some kind of biology degree but is in bad shape because she can’t live alone and in the manner she wants. Not poverty but the electric bill is a problem
I agree. That would be morally right to do, in my opinion. However, you would not be able to do that in the US. Mediocre students come in all colors, and so a certain percentage of the mediocre students would be black. WHAM! As soon as anyone tells a mediocre black student that they should rethink their desire for a college degree, it's time for a lawsuit.
Therefore, you cannot tell a very mediocre student halfway that he/she will have a hard time to proceed.
It actually does carry one guarantee... that you will be an indentured servant to the student loan industry for the rest of your life.
I am living proof that a college degree is not a guarantee of prosperity. I work a second job and NEED to.
I remember those days long ago - you couldn’t get a job unless you had experience and you couldn’t get experience unless you could get a job.
Insurance, Telephone and Consulting companies were the way to get a foot in the door.
It also helps a great deal to be a minority. They don't even need the ambition, just the skin color.
I think there is a niche for majors like French Art, Medieval History or Philosophy, whatever - but only for kids who come from families so wealthy that their parents never care whether the kid makes over $30K a year or so. And that’s a pretty small niche. They need not worry because they’ll get what “The Millionaire Next Door” called economic outpatient care, either from their parents or by marrying into it. So yeah, might it be delightful to get a degree in French Art? Yes, if I don’t have to worry about a paycheck...
I wanted to take photography for the same reason, but the class had out of pocket costs. So I took ceramics instead - that certainly enlightened my “learning experience”. I scored the 3 credits for graduation, which was all that class provided. Oh, and even though the class was ceramics, as useless as t*ts on a bull, the ‘professor’ was a flaming lib. Talk about adding insult to injury.
This topic seems to be coming up a lot in recent days. I wonder why?
Oh, and your answer is spot on, and has been hammered in again and again in the threads here. I wonder why these Libs writing pieces like this don’t get it?
The bottom line is that our education system has become geared towards shoving everyone through “college”, when really only +/- 15% can really benefit from what most of us would consider a real college education. Vocation / tech schooling and trade apprenticeships have been vastly under-emphasized in our system, and it is not serving us well.
“Education” as now practiced in this country, has nothing to do with the level of wealth attained in a lifetime. Extracting and verbalizing the intellectual content of a number of facts assembled by others over many lifetimes of experience, does not translate into the totally different skill set that goes into persuading your fellow human beings to give you money. Now, people give other people money, for a variety of reasons, because they are afraid of that person, and surrender up the cash to buy a little personal time during which they are “safe” from the bullying; or it may be a feeling of pity or remorse over some past inequity; or even because one person has so much admiration for the performance and capable talents of another, that the cash is gladly handed over.
Or the recipient of the funds may have made something so clever, so useful, that others clamor for the RIGHT to give their reserve of stored value to the innovator, that they may enjoy the fruits of that cleverness.
Book learning is unrelated to shrewd merchandising or manipulation. Willingness to accrue treasure, the drive to be wealthy, is a trait learned at an early age, and is as much a part of culture, as the feigned or real inability to employ money, cash flow, in a useful and provident manner, the desire to remain impoverished. Either rich or poor is a matter of attitude, not of any inherently unequal treatment by the economic system.
People will let you have about as much money as they think you should have. Pleasing personalities get more money than unpleasant people.