When College Isn’t Enough

college-campus-Harvard.jpgWith a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University, New Jersey’s flagship public college, 22-year-old Rachel Van Dyks expected to have a good job by now. A professional job with a proper salary and benefits would enable her to move out of her grandfather’s house, where she lives with her parents and her brother. Instead, the 2017 graduate works 46 hours per week at two jobs — scooping maple walnut ice cream at the local ice cream parlor and taking orders at a high-end steakhouse — while paying for an associate’s degree in cardiovascular sonography at a for-profit technical school.

Van Dyks is not alone, according to Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. A majority of college graduates require additional education in order to qualify for a good-paying job, Carnevale said — though many might not find that out until after commencement exercises are over. While colleges are expanding their career development offices and providing students with opportunities for internships, few students take advantage of those resources. For those young graduates, the realities of the job market come as a surprise.

More here.

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57 thoughts on “When College Isn’t Enough

  1. I know that young people are often aimless and confused–I certainly was–but I’m a little puzzled why someone would major in psych if they weren’t prepared to work in marketing or HR. Exactly what kind of job would you hope to get with those sort of credentials?

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    1. From the description in Laura’s article, I’d say the young woman never really considered what she was going to do with the particular major — it was the one she’s filled the most boxes in when she was ready to finish.

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  2. It’s all well and good to work on helping kids navigate their way into a career, but I don’t think there’s any solution that doesn’t involve systemic change so that more of the total economic pie goes to wages, especially wages at the bottom end of the scale.

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    1. MH said,

      “I don’t think there’s any solution that doesn’t involve systemic change so that more of the total economic pie goes to wages, especially wages at the bottom end of the scale.”

      Hey, it works for health care!

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    2. A sonogram technician making $60,000 per year (the number from Laura’s article, sort of) would be in the top half of the income distribution. If she married another sonogram technician, they’d be in the 90th percentile or thereabouts. So there’s limited scope for redistribution.

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    3. Reading the description of this particular person, I think she wanted a credential, which would qualify her for a decent job, not what college was in our day (and, still is, in many places), which is an opportunity to learn. But, I think jobs where credentials are enough are going to be disappearing. Sonography at 60K seems like it might be one, but I expect to see downward pressure on wages in jobs like that as the job becomes more and more automated.

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      1. My dad always told me not to treat college as a trade school, but as general life preparation. Of course, he also said he’d pay for it if I didn’t get scholarships.

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      2. I think colleges have priced themselves out of the “general life preparation” market. I’m all in favor of being an educated person, which to me means having a good general knowledge of the canon of English literature, an ability to write well, knowing calculus and basic probability and statistics, having a good knowledge of world history and of methods of historical analysis, knowing a foreign language well enough to read its literature, understanding basic principles of economics, sociology, and political science, knowing the major paradigms of modern science, and understanding the scientific method.
        Some of that I learned in college, some before, and some after. But paying $300,000 to acquire some of the aforementioned learning seems like a bad deal.

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      3. But Rutgers tuition & fees are $15K/year or 60K, so not in the category of paying 200K for your degree (100K includes living expenses, which would have to be paid anyway). I think the issue isn’t that paying money to learn is a bad idea but that employers are no longer willing to hire someone who has just payed money to learn, especially without clear evidence that they have acquired skills. Hence the need to do internships, build relationships, learn skills while at the school — it’s not enough to go to classes and get passing grades.

        And, if the goal is to get a job that requires credentials, in the hopes that that there will be less competition and more clear rules, aim for that job (including ones that require certificates in the form of tests).

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      4. My kids took aptitude tests in high school (9th grade) I think. Do schools near you not do that? I do think many kids are being pushed to college when tech school may be a better fit. Partly because school guidance counselors are afraid to tell kids (especially blue collar) not to go to college because it could perpetuate poverty etc.

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      5. Tulip said,

        “My kids took aptitude tests in high school (9th grade) I think. Do schools near you not do that? I do think many kids are being pushed to college when tech school may be a better fit. Partly because school guidance counselors are afraid to tell kids (especially blue collar) not to go to college because it could perpetuate poverty etc.”

        It’s good that they do the tests, but I feel like this is probably something that should be re-done, for example in 11th grade or during any major transitional period.

        I remember my sister took one in high school, and I believe it said that she should be a cleaning lady, or something similarly ridiculous. Hopefully the tests are better now…(As an adult, sis ran a number of summer tourist businesses simultaneously.)

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    1. This is what struck me too – bumbling around for a year or two seems pretty normal. But it won’t work if you take the restaurant job, probably. You have to do the right kind of bumbling. She didn’t want to take a sales job because she didn’t think she would be good at it (maybe a women’s studies class would have helped her here!!), and other career-directed jobs didn’t pay enough. But these might have been better choices long-term.

      When I graduated with an English B.A. I took an administrative-secretarial job at a city agency that paid about $15k – this was the 1980s, and this was half what I could have made if I had gone into advertising (another option for an English B.A. that I probably would have been good at but hated the idea of). I remember $30k sounded like an amazing salary. But it was enough to cover my share of an apartment and basic living expenses. I did tedious filing and typing, but also learned how to write and administer grants, got known as good at editing, and could have stayed there long term and moved into more interesting work. It also put me in a position to know what people with M.A.’s in various related fields did, and I could have gotten one of those and moved into that.

      I was just with a couple h.s. friends who went into the work force with a B.A. and went through a very similar process. You take a job, it’s not great but it has some bits that are interesting, and you make your way. I wonder if there are fewer of these jobs, or if graduates today are less comfortable with this path (or lack thereof).

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  3. I’m working on a project relating to the alums in one of our majors, trying to get info on what they’re doing career-wise right now. The thing is, we have only 2 classes worth of alums, so they’re still in “year or two of bumbling around” mode. I feel like I’m herding panicky cats.

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  4. Bumbling around after college isn’t happening anymore. For kids in super competitive schools, they have already focused on a career and had about three internships by the time they graduate.

    In this kid’s case, she needed a job with money, because her family couldn’t support her anymore. She needed enough money to get a basic, not fancy at all, apartment. She wanted a job with a guaranteed income and benefits. She came across a lot of sales jobs for recent grads with a liberal arts degree, but they worked on commission and that was too risky for a person in her situation.

    She didn’t understand the white collar work world. She didn’t understand office work and wanted no part of it. It was scary and confusing for her, because her family didn’t do that stuff. She wanted a job that she could understand, like this sonography job.

    Now, that’s the kind of job that she always wanted. She could have gone straight to this trade school after high school and her family would have been $120,000 wealthier.

    She had zero interest in going to college to get smarter. She thought college would lead directly to a job and it doesn’t.

    And she’s not alone. A lot of people I talk to think that college should be a straight line to concrete job that pays them about $40K starting salary and benefits. And that’s not what a traditional liberal arts college does.

    Look, I bumbled after college. I lucked into getting a job in publishing, after only sending out three resumes. But I was bored with that job and left after two years. Went to grad school for a year. Worked a museum for a year. Taught special ed for a year. Went back to grad school. And I had a marvelous time.

    But kids don’t seem to have that freedom anymore. Everybody is so damn serious. I’m not sure if this hyper-professionalism is for a real reason, like there aren’t many good jobs anymore, or it’s just irrational fear.

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    1. Gee, we pay $40K+ with benefits for newly-minted college grads (for paralegal jobs). But of course, if office work scares you, then being a paralegal is not the job for you. I remain puzzled about what kind of job Laura’s subject thought she would get with a psych degree from Rutgers: if not sales or office work, then the only other choice would seem to be a technical trade, which obviously requires technical training. At least she seems to have gotten on the right path finally. Now she just needs an apartment and a boyfriend.

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  5. I didn’t bumble around at all, for 30 years, from the summer I spent reading Keaton’s Biological Science as my leisure activity. There have always been people who thought they knew what they wanted and worked directly towards it. Some of them are right, and find themselves where they wanted to be. Some of them bumble later. I really don’t know if the “bumbling” you describe (which doesn’t really sound like bumbling, but sounds like the kind of thing people call internships now) isn’t possible now. I think it probably is. I also think resourceful people (that string of choices is an example of being resourceful, of not being stuck, and not having to have others tell you what to do).

    But I think it’s danger now is that there are people who don’t’ want to be resourceful, to figure out each step along the way, take risks, learn to navigate new spaces. They want a job, where they can follow the rules and successfully complete the tasks. College as we know it (and, as, I think, it was designed to be) shouldn’t be the prerequisite for a job like that.

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  6. I think the flaw is concentrating too much on decisions made my workers, rather than employers. For example, requiring a college degree is something employers do when labor supply is high: https://www.vox.com/2019/1/7/18166951/skills-gap-modestino-shoag-ballance

    One one hand, maybe going straight to the lab tech/sonographer training would have been the right thing to do for the student Laura profiles in the article. On the other hand, as the student matures, potentially considers other paths, that BA might be something she wants on her CV, one that makes it possible for her to apply for medical school, work as a lab tech at a university, run for political office without lying about her education, . . . .

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  7. BJ makes a good point. After this young woman works in sonography for a few years, day in and day out, and it starts to get fairly routine, and eventually boring, her four-year degree in psychology may be what helps her move up into better-paying positions—into jobs she’s too young right now to find interesting or worthwhile. Fewer kids should be going to college, but what’s done is done, and this young woman should take heart: It’s way too early for anyone to claim for certain that her time in college was wasted.

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    1. Jeff S. said,

      “BJ makes a good point. After this young woman works in sonography for a few years, day in and day out, and it starts to get fairly routine, and eventually boring, her four-year degree in psychology may be what helps her move up into better-paying positions—into jobs she’s too young right now to find interesting or worthwhile. Fewer kids should be going to college, but what’s done is done, and this young woman should take heart: It’s way too early for anyone to claim for certain that her time in college was wasted.”

      That is very true.

      I’m 40-something, have been a SAHM for a long time, and the work that sounds appealing to me now is completely different than what sounded appealing to me in college or as a 20-something. There is a lot of opportunity for growth, and this young woman’s BA gives her options for the future.

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      1. My mom got a second masters degree when she went back to work after us kids got older. I keep reminding her that’s she’s better educated than I am.

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    2. Yeah, I agree with that, too. A BA is a good flexible degree. It will enable her to move up the ladder into administrative work down the line, if that’s what she wants.

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    3. The key is that she got her degree, though. The people for whom the college was wrong are the ones who leave without the degree and without the learning/training that gets them a job.

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  8. The other thing I did, during and after college, and during one summer in grad school, was temp. I’m a fast typist and don’t mind doing other secretarial-type work. I probably temped at 20 places over the years, and there were a half-dozen where I could have gotten more permanent and at least somewhat interesting work because people there recognized I was well-organized, hard-working, and good at learning stuff. (Of course temp agencies make it expensive for companies to hire you, but I think some do anyway.) I find it hard to believe that there aren’t places where this kind of thing still happens. But, as Laura says, some people are just not comfortable in an office job.

    AmyP’s point is good, too – we don’t know that her degree is a waste. In some workplaces you have to have a BA to move up. We were very disappointed when one of our nontraditional students came back for a BA training to get a specific job in his current workplace and then because of politics didn’t get it (after many years of hard work!) But he was fine in the end – he said the BA on its own gave him more opportunities.

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  9. I don’t know how much you can conclude from one story. Anecdote is not the singular form of data and there were certainly people I went to college with who squandered their opportunities in a similar fashion, so I don’t see that this is necessarily a new or more common thing.

    Anyway, a few things stood out to me in this article:

    1. “she focused on finishing her academic requirements and participating in the social life on campus.

    From this it strikes me that, like a certain number of other callow students, her priorities were skewed towards making sure that she didn’t have Friday classes that interfered with the Thursday night parties. It’s fine to order your life this way, although it works best for upper middle class kids who can fall back on their parents for additional support after graduation. In any case, if this is what you primarily want out of college then this is what you will get.

    2. It’s true that many non-sales psychology degree jobs require a graduate degree, but not all of them. For instance, she could find a home in corporate HR offices administering those Myers-Briggs tests. Or, there are scads of caseworker jobs at mental health facilities or group homes or rehab centers that are entry level. To do the more serious counseling you need the graduate degree but pushing the paperwork and making the trains run on time, you can do with a BA. Of course, finding and landing these jobs is easier with an internship or other work experience…

    3. Which is why perusing the Rutgers psych department page, one notices that there are for-credit internship practicums that you can take that will result in this work experience. If she wanted to avail herself of these opportunities she need only have registered for the classes. Which involves actually taking an interest in your course of study rather than prioritizing “participating in the social life of the campus.”

    4. On the other hand, if she wanted to continue in her studies and go to graduate school, the Rutgers psych department guarantees three years of full support for master’s students and five for the PhD. This includes a $25000 stipend and health coverage, plus it probably defers her student loans. Of course, with a 3.2 GPA this option is probably foreclosed to her. But the option to get that degree for free is there for students who actually cared about their studies.

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    1. 14 percent of all college graduates have to get an AA or a certificate to get a job after college. Just like this girl.

      If a B student is considered a failure, then that’s just crap. If they are expected to have an internship or be considered a failure, that’s crap, too.

      There should be full disclosure in higher ed. Day one of college, all students should be explicitly told that there is no job waiting for them. A BA is not a promise of a job, though that degree does increase their odds of finding a job that pays more money. Most students will have to return to college to get a MA, AA, or certificate in order to find a good paying job.

      All students should be treated with respect. This girl is a human being whose life was made radically more difficult by getting a degree that she didn’t need or want at this stage in her life. I think it’s important that we acknowledge that there are people like this, and not blame them for their employment woes.

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      1. “Day one of college, all students should be explicitly told that there is no job waiting for them. A BA is not a promise of a job, though that degree does increase their odds of finding a job that pays more money. ”

        That’s your job as a parent. Even more, you’re supposed to teach them the universe is not a vending machine – just because you pressed the right buttons and dumped money into it (went to college, got A’s) doesn’t mean you will be rich or more importantly, happy.

        Just who do you think should be telling the kids there is no job waiting? The government? That’s crap! The government has been pushing the everyone should go to college line since the 60s.

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      2. I think colleges — not the parents, not the government — should tell the students about the employment realities. That’s exactly what we expect from for-profit colleges. By law, they have put all that information in black and white on their websites. They have to prove to outside evaluators that 70 percent of their students will be retained and 70 percent will find jobs in the field where they were trained. If for-profits have to do that, then ALL colleges should.

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      3. Then what you want is for college to be a credential, and that’s it. Just because we demand the for-profits announce the percentage of students who get jobs or are retained doesn’t actually make it a good idea.

        To me, this is still a wider problem of thinking that “I followed the rules, therefore I get…” It isn’t true now and it has never been true. Pretending it is true is magical thinking.

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      4. No, it’s not what I want. I love that my kid is getting a liberal arts education. I taught totally impractical classes, like Political Theory. But this is what other parents want. I think we should be straight up with them. What’s the problem with honesty?

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      5. If a B student is considered a failure, then that’s just crap. If they are expected to have an internship or be considered a failure, that’s crap, too.

        Who said I considered a B student a “failure?” Or that not having an internship is considered being a “failure?” Your anecdote data point didn’t fail. As you pointed out, her goal was to graduate and attend parties. Mission accomplished.

        And she did have job opportunities after she graduated that she wouldn’t have without her degree. Just not the ones she has decided, after the fact, that she wants.

        Being a B student with no add-ons is nothing special. In fact, although I don’t know the Rutgers median GPA, at many schools a 3.0 is below average. Somebody like that won’t have the pick of the opportunities afterward. This isn’t rocket science.

        Furthermore, the things she needed to do were right there in front of her face. This isn’t a magical code that is impossible to crack. All she needed to do was spend more time at the library, less time “pursuing social activities,” sign up for the internship class, and take an interest in the outside activities organized by her department.

        Look, I am part of the hiring process for our fairly selective organization. We hire STEM grads and we ruthlessly scrutinize their credentials. For recent grads without relevant experience, any transcript with a 3.0 or less is not given a second glance. We look at all their upper division coursework and any grade of a “C” or lower is interrogated (sometimes gently, sometimes not). We look at their extra-curriculars. We don’t demand internships, but we do demand some evidence that they didn’t just show up to class and do nothing else.

        Incidentally, the ubiquity of internships is a new thing. But look at what it replaced. Before everyone was doing internships, the way lots of places would hire people is to just call up people they were connected to and say “so, who are you sending me.” To get ahead you really needed to be connected. Yes, yes, social connections still will help you land the best internships and opportunities, but in this past world your anecdote data point wouldn’t even have had a chance. At least now, the opportunities were right there under her nose, even if she wasn’t bothered to take them.

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      6. I’m fascinated by the internship development. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

        I got a job immediately after graduation without connections and before hand, I had some nice slacker jobs where I had fun and learned things and made money. The kids who get internships have a lot of privilege from what I’ve seen. I think internships are increasing inequality.

        But I’ve had two glasses of wine with dinner, so I’m entirely clear thinking at the moment.

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      7. Who said anything about dishonest?

        I think day one of college is too late. At that point, students are already there, so you have timed your honesty to do absolutely nothing.

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    2. I do think that there can be advice about how to college right, without considering it blame. And, indeed, internships (let’s call this work experience) and better grades than B’s are almost certainly a requirement for leveraging a college degree into employment (as well as being open to what jobs are available). I think both requirements at least influenced by rampant grade inflation. B’s don’t mean what they used to (and, that’s just from our day). So, those hiring need to see other evidence that you took advantages of opportunities to learn in college.

      I think another part of your story is that this student didn’t want an academic experience. If so, I do think the solution to that is not that universities start providing credentialing instead of learning opportunities, but that some students should chose other opportunities (including community colleges).

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      1. Then colleges should just tell the students in the brochures and orientation that they shouldn’t expect a credential from the school. Rather, they are going to get an education. You would be surprised by the number of people who would be surprised and pissed off.

        I sometimes tell parents exactly that…. I say, “You know, colleges say their job is simply to educate students. Their job isn’t to prepare them for a job.” You know what they tell me? “That’s ridiculous.”

        Parents don’t care whether or not their kids read Shakespeare or Plato. All they care about is that their kids get a job. Sure, they like that their kids read books, but they don’t care $150,000 to $300,000 worth.

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      2. Then colleges should just tell the students in the brochures and orientation that they shouldn’t expect a credential from the school.

        But they do offer a credential. They offer a fully accredited degree in whatever field the students are studying.

        You are saying the students shouldn’t want this and that the college should tell them they shouldn’t want it?

        Perhaps the colleges should explicitly say something like this:

        “We are offering an educational experience that should culminate in a degree. It is clear that, on average, getting this degree will increase your lifetime earnings to a much greater extent than the cost of the degree. Nonetheless, a particular degree is no guarantee, in and of itself, in any particular job, and, should you have an interest in a particular career, it is incumbent on you to not only choose an appropriate course of study, but also engage in relevant curricular and extracurricular activities that are over and above the minimum requirements for the degree. Although we provide and advertise these activities, it is ultimately your responsibility to identify and take advantage of them.”

        This reflects the current reality and they could explicitly write that in a brochure. The thing is, these facts are already clearly presented. They are right there in the face of any student who is not in willful denial.

        Your student is a perfect example of this. What she wanted was to graduate and go to parties. The school gave her opportunities to do more and she wasn’t curious or interested until it was too late. The thing is, in order to go to Rutgers, she had to be more than a run of the mill student in high school. She obviously didn’t take the minimal graduation requirements and get mediocre grades. Furthermore, she almost certainly engaged in over-and-above extracurriculars in high school. Why on earth would she think it would be different in college? In college, you have to do more, not less. Why would she think she could take her foot off the gas and get good results?

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      3. Pro forma disclosures of the type Jay advocates seem utterly inadequate for instructing 20 year olds. On issues the colleges actually care about, like microaggressions, or due dates for tuition, they don’t stash a pro forma statement on the website somewhere and leave it at that.

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      4. Based on the amount of effort put forth by the administration, in my experience the main concern was making sure financial interests and conflicts were disclosed. I can’t imagine it being possible to pay for anything with a bag of cash the way you can at Liberty University.

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  10. My university just started an online degree completion program in healthcare management, run out of the economics department. It’s aimed at students who have AA degrees in health care fields who want to move up out of their current positions, but can’t because they don’t have a BA. It’s one of our most strongly enrolled online programs, outside of the general business degree. As such, I suspect that what a lot of people are saying here is true – even though she went about this backwards and in a more expensive way, the odds are probably good that the BA will come in handy down the road.

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  11. The skills that we teach at liberal arts college, even in “impractical” classes like Political Theory are marketable skills. Writing, analyzing texts, problem solving, oral communication, research, etc. These are all skills that my classes give students and they are all skills that they can use (and do use) to get jobs. And the stat that 14% of BA holders need to get some type of technical training to get a “good” job doesn’t seem high enough to conclude that the liberal arts are failing in some way. And that’s pretty impressive that 86% of students have a job or are in grad school 6 months after graduating.

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    1. No. 14 percent go to get an AA or a certificate after graduation. There are a whole lot of people who are underemployed, after getting their BA. There were good stats on this in the WSJ last October. Let me go find them….

      Some 43% of College Grads Are Underemployed in First Job
      https://www.wsj.com/articles/study-offers-new-hope-for-english-majors-1540546200
      “Students weighing their college options are increasingly focused on the return from that hefty investment, pursuing disciplines they think could lead to a steady and lucrative career.
      But in terms of landing graduates jobs that actually require college degrees, some of those more vocationally geared majors—like fitness studies, criminal justice and business—can be worse choices than English or gender studies, according to a new report by labor analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies.

      College graduates who studied homeland security and law enforcement had a 65% probability of being underemployed in their first job out of school, the report found. Those with degrees in psychology and biology stood chances of 54% and 51%, respectively, of working jobs that don’t require college degrees.”

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      1. But what is a bs major? https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/pdf/coe_sbc.pdf

        Looking at page 3. Hmm. The two fields with “higher than average unemployment rates than the average for all fields of study” are: Liberal arts and humanities and Fine arts.

        “Physical fitness, parks, recreation, and leisure” are at the average for all fields of study.

        Nursing is the winner, in terms of unemployment rates (1.1%) and median annual earnings ($56,350.) Funnily enough, Marketing and marketing research and psychology both do reasonably well.

        Of course, this is measured for 25-29 year-old bachelor’s degree recipients, thus after the bumbling around period. The first job out of school is not necessarily the best measure. It also seems to me that some of the “best” majors are those that prepare graduates to immediately fit into a professional job (engineering, computer systems, nursing, accounting.) It’s vocational training, we just don’t think of it that way.

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  12. But “underemployment” is subjective. IIRC, it comes from asking current job holders, in a survey, if the job’s needs a college degree. By that standard, all liberal arts degree holders are “underemployed.”

    It could help if colleges made students attend pass/fail courses outlining future career fields (or offered online briefings.)

    Bumbling around is still normal, in that I can think of quite a few young people with BAs who worked for about 2 years before enrolling in a technical, graduate or professional school.

    Paying for the Party did point out that family support could make a huge difference in employment outcomes. Being able to move to NYC or LA could be crucial for a theater major, for example.

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      1. Florida maybe not so much: ” the Smathers-Pepper legend depends on one key quotation that seemed to sum up the rivalry between the two men. Quotation in Time Magazine

        Mr. Smathers, now 69, was supposed to have dazzled rural voters with a barrage of double talk that went like this: ”Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.”

        Continue reading the main story
        Since these words appeared in the April 17, 1950, issue of Time magazine, they have been reprinted in numerous articles. Writers as different as Robert Sherrill on the left and William F. Buckley Jr. on the right have used the purported quotation in their books.

        There is only one problem with the legendary remark, Mr. Smathers said in a recent interview. ”It’s apocryphal,” he declared. ”I offered $10,000 to anybody who could say that you would come up and testify and pass a lie detector test that they had ever heard me say anything like that.””

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  13. Responding here to Jay’s comment…

    Jay wrote a hypothetical disclaimer that universities could print in all brochures:

    “We are offering an educational experience that should culminate in a degree. It is clear that, on average, getting this degree will increase your lifetime earnings to a much greater extent than the cost of the degree. Nonetheless, a particular degree is no guarantee, in and of itself, in any particular job, and, should you have an interest in a particular career, it is incumbent on you to not only choose an appropriate course of study, but also engage in relevant curricular and extracurricular activities that are over and above the minimum requirements for the degree. Although we provide and advertise these activities, it is ultimately your responsibility to identify and take advantage of them.”

    Jay said, “This reflects the current reality and they could explicitly write that in a brochure. The thing is, these facts are already clearly presented. They are right there in the face of any student who is not in willful denial.”

    I don’t think those sentiments are clearly presented. At no point, did my kid’s university even come close to even implying that statement to parents or students.

    It’s funny that you should write the word “guarantee.” See, in my conversations with parents, they tell me that that is EXACTLY what they want and expect from their children’s education. In fact, that’s the tentative title of a book that I’m starting to outline, “The Job Guarantee.” Now, I do agree with you that colleges can’t do that, but that is what parents expect. So there’s a problem.

    Now, most parents, who have the right education and income, do in fact get a job guarantee from their kid’s schools, because they make sure that the kids take the right classes, perform well, and get internships. But I can’t understate the role of parents in making this happen.

    I don’t have data on this, but I suspect that it’s the parents, not the kids, who are taking advantage of online resources at their kid’s career development centers on campus. Just based on conversations, it’s the parents who are making sure that the internships happen.

    We have to keep an eye on the rising importance of internships. First of all, I suspect that wealthier kids at elite universities with pushy parents are getting all the spots, so they are increasing inequality. Secondly, internships are latest development in credential inflation. When did a B student at a quality college who graduates on time suddenly become pond scum? Thirdly, they subtly undermine the importance of a university education. If they become more important than the education, then why get the education?

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