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Education The Almighty Buck News

What's Your College Major Worth? 433

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-your-money's-worth dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that with tuition rising and a weak job market everyone seems to be debating the value of a college degree. Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, says talking about the bachelor's degree in general doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because its financial payoff is heavily affected by what that degree is in and which college it is from. For the first time, researchers analyzed earnings based on 171 college majors and the differences are striking: For workers whose highest degree is a bachelor's, median incomes ranged from $29,000 for counseling-psychology majors to $120,000 for petroleum-engineering majors but the data also revealed earnings differences within groups of similar majors. Within the category of business majors, for instance, business-economics majors had the highest median pay, $75,000 while business-hospitality management earned $50,000. The study concludes that while there is a lot of variation in earnings over a lifetime, all undergraduate majors are worth it, even taking into account the cost of college and lost earnings with the lifetime advantage ranging from $1,090,000 for Engineering majors to $241,000 for Education majors. 'The bottom line is that getting a degree matters, but what you take matters more,' (PDF) concludes Carnevale." Last week we learned that dropping out of college could earn you $100,000 in start-up money for your business.
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What's Your College Major Worth?

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  • by Overunderrated (1518503) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:11PM (#36288204)

    As a grad student in engineering that has seen nearly all his friends at the BS, MS, and PhD levels all able to find good paying, stable jobs, I had grown pretty tired of the stream of /. articles from Ivy League tenured professors of religion ranting about how our education system is all wrong.

    • by Anrego (830717) * on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:31PM (#36288424)

      My thoughts exactly!

      Yes a degree in liberal arts or religion isn't gonna carry you far... and yes there are extreme cases of CS majors flipping burgers and multi-mullionaire highschool dropouts, but in general I still think getting a degree results in a better job and more money later on in life. Good to see an article not trying to "rock the establishment"!

      It maybe one of those bad corrolation dealies (people who can suck it up through a degree would have done better either way) .. but I suspect the paper still helps.

      • by Cryacin (657549) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:41PM (#36288526)
        I think a piece of graffiti found in the mens lavatory at my university put it best.

        Arts degree, please take one. (Arrow pointing to toilet paper.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mini me (132455)

        Wealthier than average people are driven to succeed. They're driven to finish college and they are driven to find a good job. There is certainly correlation between education and income, but I see no reason to believe the formal education itself has any bearing on ones chances at financial success. It seems that the attributes one has drives them to finish college, then make lots of money. However, if you removed the option of college, they would still be driven to make lots of money.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2011 @05:13PM (#36290792)

          Bullshit.

          I know a lot of people who are not wealthier than average who work their ass off. They can't afford college, and are trying to save up enough so they can go there.

          I have seen plenty of "wealthier than average" people work far less than most. In fact, the only reason they will have a job waiting for them is that Daddy has pull and has forced whatever company to hire them.

          Wealthier than average people have it easier, that's why they succeed more. To them, a speeding ticket is chump change while for someone who works for a living might have to decide between letting the ticket slide and a bench warrant issued, or putting food on the table.

          Heard of the phrase, "it takes money to make money?" It is very true. If parents are doing more than $150k a year, there is a lot of stuff they can do to make their kid have an easy life and not have to worry about basic things like food, roof over the head, health insurance, etc.

          So, when people say "wealthier than average people are driven to succeed", that is absolute bullshit. It just means they have a head start due to rich parents. No more.

        • by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday May 30, 2011 @08:25PM (#36291910) Homepage

          You know, that'd be all nice and tidy if it weren't for the fact that not all people are driven by money. I personally know quite a few people who decided to go into a major they liked instead of a major that'd give them a bigger pay down the line.

          That university seems to be considered as a gateway to high salaries irks me nearly as much as those who say a degree is useless on the job market. I'm not at university to get a fat cheque, I'm there because I like what I do and I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge which cannot unfortunately be quenched by just reading so-so books while working from 9 to 5 everyday at a random shop. I want to meet professors with a passion for what they do, I want to participate in the biggest drivers of research around the globe, I want to get to know people who also share that passion the same way that I do. I may be able to do some of this with a lot of work while avoiding university, but it would never, ever match what can be had there.

        • I see no reason to believe the formal education itself has any bearing on ones chances at financial success.

          I'd like to be a [doctor|lawyer|Indian chief] please. No, I don't have any qualifications. But I have a natural talent for [medicine|lying|the handjive] and a can-do attitude!

      • by anyGould (1295481)

        It maybe one of those bad corrolation dealies (people who can suck it up through a degree would have done better either way) .. but I suspect the paper still helps.

        And when you boil it down, that's what it ends up being:

        • People with degrees (of any sort) are likely to make more money over their lifetime than people without degrees.
        • Engineers are likely to make more than psychologists, teachers, and authors.

        Yes, there are rich authors and poor engineers, but that's statistics for you.

    • by mini me (132455) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:48PM (#36288612)

      There is nothing wrong with going to school, but your friends would have good paying stable jobs with or without their education. The criticism of the education system is that they are selling a dream that doesn't exist. You cannot buy your way into a good job. There are still a million others reasons why you should go to college, but if your only concern is future profitability, you are wasting your time.

      • by lgw (121541) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:58PM (#36288738) Journal

        Exactly. I hate to be the "correlation is not causation" guy, but the combination of being smart and having the "engineering mindset" will take you far in life, whether or not you pick up a degree along the way.

        I've heard the same story from engineers in several fields: they don't expect graduates with engineering degrees to have learned much that will be useful on the job (and some don't even care if your degree is in the same field, as long as it's some kind of engineering degree), they simply value an engineering degree as proof that you have that "engineering mindset".

        Personally, I think that getting a breadth of perspective and exposure to many cultures, and many historical sounded-great-at-the-time-but-failed-horribly ideas is a very worthwhile thing, but American universities seem to be falling down even there, instead trying to indoctrinate students with the One True Culture ("diversity" is a great place to visit, but you'd better actually believe the Right Things yourself).

        • The trouble is that the employers want very specific degrees to get the job in the first place. Without that, you can not ever display your "engineering mindset."

          In my case I have over over ten years of experience in technical service work: fixing large copiers, high volume printers, and the like. Of course I also have the IT training and experience that goes with that skill-set.

          I then returned to college and got my MBA. The result is that I am virtually unemployable. People who want technical workers spec

          • by demonlapin (527802) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:04PM (#36292386) Homepage Journal
            Leave the MBA off your resume when applying for technical jobs. Find a former boss who's willing to stick up for you to say that you worked for him during that time period.

            It is a sad reality that lots of jobs actually deny you the ability to progress in management at most companies. The most prominent in my mind was a blog post telling the story of a young man who was interested in working in insurance; he repeatedly turned down jobs as an adjuster or agent because having worked as one would permanently brand him as "not management material". The comments to the post clearly stated that he was absolutely right to do so - if you don't start work in the management-trainee path, you'll never get on the path that leads to the C level. A few people told him to go get a job as a management trainee at a McDonald's, as it would do him more good.
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > There is nothing wrong with going to school, but your friends would have good paying stable jobs with or without their education.

        Yes. At Wal-mart.

        For most people, education does matter. It helps give them a clue and a credential that opens doors. Varying degrees of that education may be less relevant. However, it's important overall. It also helps to not have a PhD in philosophy.

        • by mini me (132455)

          For most people, education does matter.

          My mistake. I should have stated formal education. Education is important and successful people are always educating themselves, every single day of their lives. If you are not a successful person already, college isn't going to help you.

    • by Stellian (673475)

      As a grad student in engineering that has seen nearly all his friends at the BS, MS, and PhD levels all able to find good paying, stable jobs

      Let me guess, all your friends have a PhD thesis in the exact domain their employer is active ? It surely couldn't be cherry-picking by the employers in a high unemployment situation where workers desperately try to signal [wikipedia.org] their higher commitment to the profession and ability to follow instructions, with only marginal improvement in their skills from said degrees ? The later would surely explain why the exact same curricula gets you widely different salary outcomes depending on how expensive the school was.

  • by stanlyb (1839382) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:13PM (#36288218)
    What about the ones that did not find the job in their field, and are deep in .... with a debt, low paid job, insecurity, wasted time, etc.....How are they measured in this statistic?
    • by Anrego (830717) * on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:35PM (#36288460)

      They didn't do enough research / made a bad choice?

      Ok, that's really not fair. Job markets change dramatically over short periods of time, but I still see a _lot_ of people getting degrees in things with absolutely no plan for how to turn it into a job when they graduate.

      I almost think this should be a requirement for any student loan... write an essay detailing how, in the current job market, this degree will result in a decent job. Look at local job ads, maybe even call a few up and see what kind of education they are expecting people to have and such. Are you willing to move? If so, where? What's the job market like over there?

      Not saying people shouldn't persue something they are pationate about, but getting your degree in music therapy may not be the best choice.

    • On top of that did they do any sort of research on those of us that ended becoming literally crazy because of college. You'd be surprised even if you have the right degree(Computer Science) at the right time (mid 90's) how hard it is to get a job when you're an absolutely mess psychologically. (Oh, and not getting a job makes a depression worse but hey, I'm bitter.)
    • by Savantissimo (893682) on Monday May 30, 2011 @03:29PM (#36289830) Journal

      Yeah, the methodology on this sucks. They're counting everybody up to 65 years old, and those over 45-50 went to school when it was cheap, easily available side jobs would pay your tuition, and you could have your student loans (if any) discharged in bankruptcy. The relevant measure today is "will I be able to make my loan payments throughout my first decade out of school?", "how fucked will I be if it turns out I can't?", "how long will it take me to pay off those loans while still eating everyday and sleeping indoors?", "what is the net present value of all the payments I will make over that period?" and "does the data show that this particular course of study at this particular school is a better investment of time and money than other opportunities?".

      I think looking at those questions, for many of those currently contemplating college it really isn't a good deal on the terms offered today. The education bubble is going to burst someday - it isn't affordable, the schools and student-loan pushers are bilking the students as hard as they can, and one can get a better education by reading and doing, and more prestige by teaming up to start a company. Why take a mortgage out on your brain so you can beg employers for the opportunity to be treated like a Dilbert?

  • Grain of salt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onkelonkel (560274) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:20PM (#36288288)
    I'm just paraphrasing some of the comments on TFA here. Some of the fields need a Masters or PHD to enter the profession. Not surprising that a bachelors degree in Psychology gets you diddly squat, if you need a Phd to get licensed.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      I think typically if you get a Bachelors in psychology you'd either go for a Masters related to counseling or go onto a PhD.

      A large part of the problem is that we let HR jack asses handle the hiring decisions rather than people who contribute something to the welfare of the company. Beyond just the degree, the institution also matters. I personally wouldn't hire anybody with a degree from most of those private for profit schools, just on principle. Even without going the ivy league route, some public school

  • talking about the bachelor's degree in general doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because its financial payoff is heavily affected by what that degree is in and which college it is from.

    No shit, Sherlock.

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:25PM (#36288352) Homepage

    Everyone knows that higher education is in a bubble. This type of article just show that everyone now recognizes it.

    The causes are clear. The government subsidizes loans, making it easy for students to take on more debt and for colleges to jack up tuition. Companies just use a degree as a proxy for basic competency. The list can go on.

    However, the real question is how will the bubble burst. What will happen? I have no idea. But it can't go on. You can't have 18 year olds wrecking their entire financial future for a degree.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Personally, I wish that had been apparent years back when I was getting my bachelors. It wasn't until I got out and found that I needed more education or experience for most jobs, even entry level jobs required both, that I realized what a predicament I was in. It does tend to get a bit better once you push through to a Masters or even just a Masters' level certificate, as there are fewer people to compete with, and it's less likely that somebody is going to be able to finish it and still be completely wort

    • I looked through the stats in the pdf, and it looks like only about 40% on average graduate.

      Presumably they did however take out loans while they were studying so you have millions out there with student loan debt, but not even a degree to boost earnings.

      Does indeed seem like there might be a problem.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Everyone knows that higher education is in a bubble...However, the real question is how will the bubble burst. What will happen? I have no idea. But it can't go on. You can't have 18 year olds wrecking their entire financial future for a degree.

      You can't? Says who, the debt-riddled Government, living trillions of dollars in debt?

      The same organization who doesn't really care about "qualifying" you much for that college debt loan, and doesn't really care how long you take to pay it back, as long as you "pinky-swear" that you will...someday?

      With our own country leading by example, don't think we really have to wonder why peoples finances are so screwed up these days...Massive amounts of debt is simply the American way, and bubbles are obviously fixe

    • > 18 year olds wrecking their entire financial future for a degree

      And still he is only aiming to become a mere employee.
  • What you love doing or can cope with doing for 40 years in a row.
  • by arcsimm (1084173) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:27PM (#36288380)
    Here's my anecdote/data point: I graduated last August from with a professional degree from a respected state university. Immediately thereafter, I was unemployed for six moths, and as of right now, I'm doing contract work and earning less take-home pay (after you figure in self-employment taxes) than I did the summer after I graduated from high school. So for me, figuring expenses, lost wages, etc., college works out be worth about -$200,000.

    This economy sucks.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:56PM (#36288706)

      I'm doing contract work and earning less take-home pay (after you figure in self-employment taxes) than I did the summer after I graduated from high school.

      You're doing the wrong comparison. The relevant comparison is not "with a college degree, now (in a bum economy)" vs. "without a college degree, then (in a good economy)", but "with a college degree, now (in a bum economy)" vs. "without a college degree, now (in a bum economy)". The problem is that without a time machine, we can't do that comparison for your particular case.

      But we can look at how people with and without a college degree are doing, and it turns out [npr.org] that unemployment figures for college-educated people are less than half that of those with only a high school diploma.

      So if you're doing poorly because you can't find any decent work, even with a college degree, there's a fair probability that you wouldn't have *any* job if all you had was a high school diploma. I have no clue what you were doing the summer after high school, but it's a good bet that whatever it was wouldn't have been sustainable - that is, chances are you couldn't have made it a full time, long term job, or even if you could, you would have been handed a pink slip the moment the economy turned south.

      So look at the glass not as three quarters empty, but as a quarter full.

  • Value decreasing? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:36PM (#36288478)

    In 2002 the US Census Bureau calculated that the value of an average degree over a lifetime was $2.1 million [census.gov]

    Has the value dropped that much in 10 years? Taking inflation into account, the value's gone from roughly $2.6 million down to less than $1 million? I know we're comparing average to median here, but I have a hard time believing Warren Buffett et al are skewing the numbers by a factor of 2.5+.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#36288800)

      The problem is that you're out of the work force and hence not gaining experience, if you're not fortunate you're probably not gaining much in the way of networking. I had a really hard time making the transition because I had worked in high turn over fields prior to going to college, as a result when I got out of school I had a really hard time getting references just to apply for jobs. Additionally since work study was only for certain subsets of people on financial aid and I went to a school in the middle of nowhere, the chances of working during the school year were pretty slim. On top of which I had to contend with applications which were very narrowly defined in terms of the degrees that they'd accept, even if there was no particular reason for it.

      What's particularly nasty is that if you don't manage to get into your field of choice very quickly you end up losing more and more ground versus the idealized model that the census is presumably using. Which means anybody that's graduated in the last couple years that hasn't managed to find something in their field is likely to fall further behind, they probably will eventually catch up, but losing that half mill wouldn't be surprising at all.

  • by Atmchicago (555403) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:54PM (#36288676) Homepage

    The point of getting a degree from college isn't to learn vocational skills, it's to more generally broaden yourself and to learn how to learn. The whole notion that your degree should directly influence your earnings is reflective of how today many people go to college to get vocational training. If you want to teach mathematics, you shouldn't get an education degree in college, you should get a mathematics degree, and then go on to teaching from there. If you want to go into business, learn some more fundamental skills like statistics and critical thinking, intern over your summers, and then go to business school for your MBA.

    Perhaps even more troubling is the notion that the sole goal in life is to make more money. What about doing a job that you enjoy, even if it pays less?

    • by AtlanticCarbon (760109) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:06PM (#36288844)

      The "make more money" is really popular among college students. They don't seem to fathom the possibility that they could end up hating their job some day.

      • by IQgryn (1081397)
        More likely they don't think they'll find a job they actually like.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bfastburrito (2027674)
        Or that they might think that field X is where the money's at, but upon graduating, the job market in field X has become insanely competitive because everyone else 2-4 years before them also had the idea to pursue work in field X.

        Case in point: finance. Back when I started college ('06), finance was the way to be. Sure, banking wasn't what it was in the 80's, but the industry had recovered significantly since the early 00's and there appeared to be no end in sight to growth. I remember reading statistic

    • by MacTO (1161105) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:12PM (#36288956)

      My pa always used to say, "you can live to work or you can work to live." I suppose the former are more interested in doing a job that they enjoy and the latter are more interested in a job with good earnings. Neither philosophy is inherently better, as long as you choose the one that reflects what you're trying to get out of life.

    • by demonlapin (527802) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:16PM (#36289004) Homepage Journal
      States support education because it is believed that higher levels of education mean better jobs and more tax money from businesses and individuals. (I personally think that correlation is pretty weak once you start to talk about a fixed population - smart people tend to get more education, but even if uneducated they would still be smarter, run businesses better, etc.) If making more money isn't the point of a college degree, why should the taxpayers subsidize you?
      • by dcollins (135727) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:46PM (#36289304) Homepage

        "If making more money isn't the point of a college degree, why should the taxpayers subsidize you?"

        Thomas Jefferson -- "I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness...Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance." [Letter to George Wythe, 1786 August 13]

        More Jefferson quotes on education: http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-education [monticello.org]

        • We don't live in the 18th century. Elementary education is everywhere, in a way that it simply was not at that time. The ideal Jeffersonian society never emerged, mainly because it was a pipe dream - the pipe dream of a very, very smart man, but a pipe dream nonetheless.
          • by sznupi (719324)
            "Never emerged" and yet there's quite clear correlation between places pleasant to live in, with decently functional societies, and those heavy on education (well, and good at importing it). Better educated society makes it run more smoothly, hence education is in its best self-interest (which is not the same as perceived self-interest of few selfish pricks who are unable to realize how abundantly they benefit from niceties of smooth societies). Or between such decent places and those with (even high) taxes
        • by pclminion (145572) on Monday May 30, 2011 @08:10PM (#36291836)
          If Jefferson was born again today, he'd be categorized as a terrorist and hidden away at Guantanamo.
    • by S77IM (1371931)

      No, that's what high school is for.

      It's sad that so many teen waste their high school years on stoopid stuff, but equally sad that our society expects and encourages this, and that our high school educational system has been reduced to a holding pen.

        -- 77IM

    • by makubesu (1910402) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:59PM (#36289480)

      A college degree is about making you an educated individual. I had a friend in college, who admitted that all she wanted to do is be a house wife. But for her, 10 grand a year in tuition was worth it, because she didn't want to be a moron for the rest of her life. What kind of role model are you to your kids if you can't communicate well, don't understand history, can't appreciate literature and art? What kind of voter are you if you can't think critically, or if you don't understand politics and science? Can you manage your financial decisions without and understanding of math and business? Think about what a better neighbor, parent, and traveler you would be, if you could speak a foreign language.

      Your technical degree can make you all the money in the world, but actually being educated is what will improve life for you, your family, and your neighbors. Ideally high school would teach you these core skills, but kids just aren't mature enough at that age to do it.

      • by wrook (134116) on Monday May 30, 2011 @09:23PM (#36292210) Homepage

        But for her, 10 grand a year in tuition was worth it, because she didn't want to be a moron for the rest of her life. What kind of role model are you to your kids if you can't communicate well, don't understand history, can't appreciate literature and art? What kind of voter are you if you can't think critically, or if you don't understand politics and science? Can you manage your financial decisions without and understanding of math and business? Think about what a better neighbor, parent, and traveler you would be, if you could speak a foreign language.

        Why do I need a university to learn these things? Fair enough if your friend just preferred taking classes to independent study, but you make seem as though anyone who doesn't go to university is a moron. You imply that the university is the font of knowledge without which you are doomed to a life of ignorance. How can we learn without the intellectual elite vetting our every educational experience? How can we determine right from wrong without an authority to define it for us? How can we think critically without someone to tell us if we've done it correctly?

        No matter how you learn, education comes from within. A teacher tries to be helpful, but it is your own effort that frees you from ignorance. Understanding this is the difference between being a slave to your tuition and being a free person able to choose your own path.

      • by woolio (927141) on Monday May 30, 2011 @10:38PM (#36292578) Journal

        What kind of voter are you if you can't think critically, or if you don't understand politics and science? Can you manage your financial decisions without and understanding of math and business? Think about what a better neighbor, parent, and traveler you would be, if you could speak a foreign language.

        Answer: an ethnocentric American Republican.

    • by khallow (566160)

      The point of getting a degree from college isn't to learn vocational skills, it's to more generally broaden yourself and to learn how to learn.

      Sure. And when are you going to get the time to learn what you actually need to learn for a real job, once you get out of college? One can get an education and a vocation at the same time. There's a lot of synergy between education and training. So why not learn how to do something useful while you're "learning how to learn?"

      Perhaps even more troubling is the notion that the sole goal in life is to make more money. What about doing a job that you enjoy, even if it pays less?

      So what if people want to be wealthier and are willing to make sacrifices to do so? What makes it "troubling?" Do you really think that education can be an adequate substitute for good

    • by evilviper (135110)

      The whole notion that your degree should directly influence your earnings is reflective of how today many people go to college to get vocational training

      No, actually, it's reflective of how huge of an economic burden student loans are, and hence requiring tremendous rewards to justify the burden and risk.

      Of course, I've never seen a study that attacks the issue head-on. Even this study makes no attempt at cause and effect, and merely states those who go to college happen to make more money, never mind pre-

  • Nursing is an interesting example of this problem. 5-6 years ago the industry was screaming for help, so tons of new nursing programs opened at universities and were quickly filled. Today, those nursing grads are having a horrible time getting work. It's not like you can just put your chosen career on hold for 2-3 years while the economy recovers.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday May 30, 2011 @01:59PM (#36288744) Journal
    Dropping out of college might be good for some people, but....

    and maybe I am dumb, but I learned a LOT my last two years of college. Those were the hardest years (as far as my major was concerned), and also where I got to take the most interesting classes like AI and compiler design. I strongly suggest not dropping out of school. On the other hand it worked for Bill Gates.
  • The idea that a college education is an interim between high school and a career is foolish. I've only completed my Associates' degree up to this point, and i know it's worthless in the current job market. School isn't just a stepping stone in my career. I went to the local community college on grants and scholarships. I took classes that I'm interested in, and I came away with an A.S in Information Science. During my time in school I found other people like myself who enjoyed what they were doing and excel
  • by davide marney (231845) * <davide,marney&netmedia,org> on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:16PM (#36289002) Journal

    once you get past the race and gender tables. The actual facts about the comparative values of various majors starts around Table 30.

    The problem with looking at this from a race/gender perspective is that the data tells us almost nothing about why there is a difference between these categories. For example, the study reveals that Petroleum is a specialty major, that 100% of the people who majored in it are men, and that this major has the highest median income.

    OK, facts noted. Does this mean that men are better suited to be Petroleum Engineers than women? There's no way to tell from this data set. Maybe women would be great petroleum engineers, but they don't choose it because it sounds like it would be uninteresting or unpleasant or too inflexible.

    What we _can learn from the data is that if you want a major that will bring in a steady, terrific income, Petroleum Engineering and other specialty majors are pretty awesome. The Study makes it pretty clear that people with "hard" majors make about twice as much as people with "soft" majors, so if money is your thing, pick a hard major. Put another way, if what you love to do is a soft major, prepare yourself for a life where you will never be tempted by the siren call of enormous wealth.

    • by j-beda (85386)

      What we _can learn from the data is that if you want a major that will bring in a steady, terrific income, Petroleum Engineering and other specialty majors are pretty awesome. The Study makes it pretty clear that people with "hard" majors make about twice as much as people with "soft" majors, so if money is your thing, pick a hard major. Put another way, if what you love to do is a soft major, prepare yourself for a life where you will never be tempted by the siren call of enormous wealth.

      Actually you cannot learn that such a major will bring in such an income, but rather that the people in the study who have that major had that income. The study does not show that a particular choice results in a particular outcome, but rather than certain choices are correlated with certain outcomes. The reason they are correlated is not obviously clear. Would those people who chose PEng have had similar outcomes in a different career due to their own personalities/drives/interests?

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Oil companies are insane. That's why they are paid more. I worked in IT at an oil company, and they hated hiring anyone without oil experience. They wanted secretaries with oil company experience. It was just plain stupid. They pay more because 1) they can and 2) they wouldn't hire a mechanical engineer to do a mechanical engineering job when a PetE was available (and they'd pay to get the one with "oil" experience. The only sector I've seen as stupidly inbred is the finance sector (medical as well, b
  • There are a few Tech / IT apprenticeship / training / programs out there that are not your Tech school / University of Phoenix type school. But are a real training / internship. As there are a lot of people that are not cut out for College or can't pay for it. There needs to be more hands on and less tech the test / the book type CS classes. Also in 4 year College there is way to much math that has little use in IT. Electrical, HVAC and plumbing is not 4 years in a class room loaded with theory no it's mi
    • Well, I know with what I do in computer game programming, I wouldn't hire an apprentice. There is simply very little work for those who are not bringing their own expertise, since doing takes seconds but figuring out what to do takes hours, people are there to figure out what to do, not to be shown what to do. Resignations and redundancies are so close that training someone for more than a few weeks makes very little sense from an economic perspective. Guys who are good, especially really creative programme
  • It should be kept in mind that most of this is, of necessity, old data. It probably doesn't have a lot of relevance to a time in which college degrees are, in many fields, simply losing their relevance.

    By definition, old data cannot keep up with rapid new trends.
  • by Snufu (1049644) on Monday May 30, 2011 @02:30PM (#36289134)

    that of all possible career paths, education has the lowest financial incentive? What does this portend for our future?

  • College studies don't help that much, but not having the sheepskin now hurts a lot as it is used to filter on conformity, race, parental investment, age, and some other things, many of which are now illegal to ask about on job applications...

    Lots of links here:
    http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-October/005379.html [listcultures.org]
    http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/005584.html [listcultures.org]
    http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November [listcultures.org]

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