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Education The Almighty Buck

Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It 281

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-your-degree dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The wisdom of getting a college degree and saddling yourself with a huge amount of debt has been called into question recently, but not by Eric Schmidt. The Google Chairman says it's still worth it, noting that: 'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.' From the article: 'When asked about the difficulty in paying for college, Schmidt was adamant: "I appreciate it's expensive and we need to fix that," he said, but "figure out a way to do it." One potential problem with Schmidt's statement is that it was an argument for the average student. It may be more advantageous for students at the bottom and top quartiles of the talent distribution to go straight into the workforce (or get vocational training). Case in point, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and I don't think anybody would say he made a mistake.'"
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Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

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  • Both (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @04:58PM (#46500633)
    The best college students are also self educating students. In order to make best use of college training a few students have great histories of forcing all kinds of self education upon themselves. The great scholars can not be stopped. A kid who is a born scholar who is isolated in a tiny village with poor schools will still somehow find a way to learn. These are the personalities that we need the most as a nation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2014 @05:11PM (#46500723)

    Also, one can't look at the lifetime earnings of people in their 40s or 50s to do this analysis. the question facing the high school graduate today is a looking forward one, not "what was the effect of choosing college or not in 1970-1980". In 1970 the job market was very different today. Manufacturing and similar jobs which did not require a degree were still a large part of the market. Today, there's many fewer non-degree jobs beyond the "would you like fries with that". (Not that a degree is required for most of those degree required jobs, but it's a easy discriminant for which resumes/applications to throw in the trash).

    There is also a HUGE effect on life time earnings from what you made in your very first job, which in turn is very much affected by the overall economy. Be unlucky enough to graduate in a recession when pay is low and you are literally cursed for life. Most companies ignore issues of "internal equity" and pay wages for new hires based on what it costs to get someone today, and do not readjust wages of employees already working there as the market goes up and down. This has the advantage that it tends to damp out wild fluctuations, but it also means that employees aren't really paid "market rate" at any given time. There is also a significant cost for an employee to change employers: that is, if you're doing "ok" at your current employer, you require a substantial increase in pay to change jobs to make up for the overall inconvenience and financial penalty in changing jobs. (Unless you're unlucky enough to change jobs because of a spouse or moving, etc.)

    Upshot is that statistics like "college graduates make X million more in their life" are very, very suspect when predicting future market behavior.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2014 @05:23PM (#46500793)

    nobody can sort through the entire cumulative body of knowledge built up by human civilization and find what's significant and what isn't.

    You don't need to, because you can find out what other people have already discovered about this subject with a minimal amount of research. Information doesn't exist in a vacuum. As a self-educated individual who learned many subjects on his own, don't tell *me* what I can or can't do. If you're lazy, then fine, but don't assume everyone is the same.

    This "Everybody needs to go to college!" nonsense just makes colleges lower their standards, puts people into unnecessary debt, and wastes the time of people who don't need or want formal education. I'm tired of this silly elitism some people have, where they act superior to people who chose to go down a different path, no matter how educated they are.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @05:39PM (#46500865) Journal

    Increasing the supply of trained workers lowers the cost - economics 101.

    Of course tech companies always more workers, even if they are looking to offshore as much as they can, and replace the rest with visa workers. But, just in case, doesn't hurt to lower the cost of domestic workers.

    Forget the situation today, look towards the future. There is no way for western workers to compete with third world wages.

    You know I have heard this on slashdot for 10 dang years!

    The worst advice I ever took in 2004 was that computer science was a waste of time and so was engineering! They would pay $12/hr by 2014 due to Indians taking jobs etc. Go get that useless business degree.

    Let me tell you that was the worst advise I have ever taken.

    My friends who graduated even in 2008 all make $70,000. I ended up unemployed, divorced, and moved back into my parents in my 30's as no one would hire people with a business degree.

    It took 2 years just to get back into the white collar market. Working 13/hr and then 15/hr then 18/hr and up while I lived at home because I got my degree in the wrong area because people like you said NO TO IT H1B1 will take it all.

    I am now starting to make ok in IT again but lost 5 years of my life and marriage since I had to work any call center or low wage job I could find and worked for free paying my student loans.

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:4, Informative)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @05:41PM (#46500873) Journal

    Why start this generation with massive debt that you might not be able to pay off?

    That was the point of the first statement you were arguing against, the student loan thing in the US is what he wants to "fix". Believe it or not there are countries where you don't need take out a massive loan to get a degree. Here in Oz the government pays 75%, you pay the rest as a small weekly surcharge on your income tax, but only after it reaches a certain level. If you don't gain financially from the degree when you go back into the work force, it costs nothing. Of course if everyone had a degree then they would be worthless, so rather than limit student numbers with the cost of entry, the universities in Oz limit numbers on ability alone.

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:5, Informative)

    by exomondo (1725132) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @05:49PM (#46500911)

    The problem is paying off that loan AFTER you leave college.

    The Australian system seems to work very well. Their degrees are government-funded loans that are only subject to interest based on inflation and I believe you pay it back by your employer deducting repayments from your pre-tax income after you start earning over a specified threshold (which I think is somewhere in the $45k region). The amount of your repayments is calculated and adjusted based on your income but you do get additional discounts for paying off lump sums yourself.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i> on Sunday March 16, 2014 @10:07PM (#46502305)

    I'm not looking at highest overall pay, but highest incremental pay, vs. if you self-taught that field. CS degrees pay a lot, but their incremental value is not nearly as high, b/c self-taught programmers also get good salaries. Therefore, if you are going to do CS, the incremental value of getting a degree in it vs. just self-teaching is not that high.

    Now compare people with liberal-arts degrees to people who are looking for liberal-arts jobs without having a degree. Now here you see a big differential: people looking for liberal arts jobs with no college degree don't have many offers coming.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.