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The Value of A Four Year College Degree
It is becoming increasingly apparent that putting one's self through the financial wringer, in order to obtain a college degree, is generally a waste of time, AND money. Here is what USA Today has to say about it all.

Unless you have a highly specialized science degree, such as engineering, and geology(think energy), an associate degree may prove far more lucrative in the short, and long, term.

The biology degree surprised me, because they used to command high opening salaries.

A degree from an elite public flagship university does not necessarily guarantee a higher-paying first job than one from a lesser-known school. Some two-year technical degrees produce higher starting salaries than four-year bachelor's degrees, says USA Today.

A survey this spring by the non-profit National Association of Colleges and Employers found that engineering majors commanded the highest average salaries, followed by computer science and business majors. Those degrees also fared well in a survey last year by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute based at Michigan State University. The "surprise" finding, that study says, was that the strongest demand was for associate's rather than bachelor's degrees.

Some short-term degrees command higher salaries than bachelor's degrees:
-In Texas, new graduates from technical associate's degree programs earned average salaries more than $11,000 higher than those for graduates with bachelor's degrees.
-In Colorado, graduates with associate's degrees in applied sciences out-earned their counterparts with bachelor's degrees by more than $7,000.
-In Virginia by more than $2,000.

Higher tuition does not necessarily lead to higher salaries:
-In Colorado, first-year earnings for graduates of Colorado State University's flagship campus in Fort Collins averaged $36,777, slightly lower than the average $37,726 earned by graduates of the university's Pueblo campus.
-Tuition at the Fort Collins campus this fall for state residents is $7,494, compared with $4,894 at Pueblo.

The S (science) in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) may be oversold:
-In Virginia technology, engineering, and math degrees commanded starting salaries ranging from $38,673 to $52,200.
-Degrees in biology averaged earnings of $27,893, lower than sociology ($30,044), psychology ($29,040) or English ($29,222).
-Average earnings for chemistry majors were only slightly higher, $31,070.

My advice to young men is to either get into the STEM degrees, or go to a trade school. Welders can make some good money and are usually always in demand. Same with plumbers, etc. I just spoke with a friend who did an internship over the summer as a geologist with Sunburst consulting in North Dakota. He made $6,000/mo with nice living conditions and expenses all paid, treated like a human being, etc. And THAT isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Half of the *geologists* there didn't even have finished degrees: they fell into an internship and ended up staying as the money was so excellent at the time and still is. They are literally dying out there for lack of science, technology, engineering and mathematics types.

Mike Rowe (of "Dirty Jobs") spoke before some labor committee in Congress, and last I checked the situation regarding skilled trades in America was dire: simply not enough replacements. I chalk this up to most Americans having some unrealistic dream of working at an easy office job doing office crap among a slew of other factors.

It also doesn't help the education system sucks for young men.
I taught myself to program in Atari BASIC way back when, and sold four tutorial articles on programming the Atari to Compute! magazine. I went back to college and got an Associate in Science degree in Computer Information Systems. During that course I was taught to program in C+ and COBOL. But the job I wound up getting was with a software company with over a hundred proprietary programs that it provided for the Reprographics industry--and every one of those programs was written in BASIC. I could have jumped right in and done the work without the degree.
The correct idea has never been to simply attend college. The truly successful and wise people I've known knew it was important to select worthy teachers and professors - more than just accept whatever came their way to fulfill some course requirement.

I was lucky at Michigan to matriculate as an Advertising Design major. At UM, this course is atypical. Since A D Majors were put in charge of work groups made up of grad students from all the other colleges in the University, we were expected to take whatever classes we felt useful to control Law students, Finance Majors, Psych, Engineers, TV and Film grad students, and Business Majors. My advisor told me to pick whatever classes anywhere in the University I thought I could handle, without needing any prerequisites - and so long as the professor teaching it didn't think I was a hindrance to his class I was given admittance. For instance, the Economics school had a former Secretary of the Treasury teaching a sixth-year course restricted to Grad students, designed to take all the confusing stuff drummed into the brains of Econ Majors, and make sense of all the conflicting ideas they'd been exposed to. I took that course in my Sophomore year.

Timing is also important. During my years there, there was social upheaval that generated opportunities. The Economics building dated to pre-Civil War days was burned down in a protest over LBJ and Vietnam when I was there - the same time as the Kent State massacre. The University wanted a presence at the table - so recruited students with positive stories to build a group of positive activists. The school has its students in early to learn the basics before school starts, and my group consisted of only students who were both Class or Student Council Presidents and Varsity Sports Captains and award winners. It wasn't hard for us to figure out that the hundred or so students leaders were all thrown together to create a resource for the school, and not just for our benefit.

This sort of thing goes on all the time. You don't think Obama, who never cared about grades during his dope-smoking years in High School and College got into Columbia and Harvard without strings being pulled, do you?

In today's environment, Hillsdale College may be the best place to go.
As for my kids, they were true individuals. My oldest got into Electrical trade school as one of the only kids allowed in Fifteen years. Today he's building the Freedom Tower in New York as Project Manager. My other two went different directions and are happy with the careers they now have - unobtainable without their degrees from the State University.

For a good look at common sense on this topic, look at John Ratzenberger's ideas on growing a skilled work force in America

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