College Degrees and Debt Loads at Graduation
Data for the above chart was courtesy of Paul Hill, founder of Educate to Career
Their mission is to enable families to make fiscally responsible college to career planning decisions.
I asked Hill for a short synopsis of the problems and he wrote these paragraphs.
What is problematic with so many people pursuing masters degrees is that far too few of these students are analyzing what their occupational outcomes might be, post graduation. They presume a masters degree will push them over the top and into the strata of high earners. The reality is that for so many grads, there is little or no market for their skill set. If one were to dig deep into the requirements for a specific job (as we have) you'll see that employment opportunities are almost non existent.
For example, a significant percentage of the 48,000 students who enroll in history programs for their undergrad studies literally believe that they eventually will become a history professor. Less than half of those who enroll in history actually graduate with that degree after 6 years. None become history professors, while about 15% become elementary school teachers. The ambitious are undeterred, and ~1900 enroll in a masters program, specializing in an arcane field of history. Roughly 80% graduate with a masters in history after 3 years. Almost none will become history professors.
Rather than torture you by continuing with this exercise, we'll cut to the chase. Nationwide, about 300 jobs open up each year for history professors at the university level. All will require a PhD and those who dedicated 10 to 12 years of their lives (and have $200,000 in student debt to prove it) will be the candidates for those jobs. The same dynamics apply to the other soft majors.
The inverse is true with STEM majors. Try to get through a comp sci masters degree without being recruited away from college with a six figure offer. One of the problems colleges are having with their math, physics and comp sci programs at the masters and the undergrad level is that recruiters are luring the students away with incredible offers, 'Come and spend a summer with us. We'll pay you $6k to $8k as an intern and if you like it, stay on with the big kids next fall rather than coming back to school'.
In a phone discussion, Hill noted that Parks and Rec, Humanities, Home Ec, and most Business degrees are all but useless.
Take Humanities for example. The average debt load at graduation is about $50,000.
Those graduates will likely get a minimum wage job and struggle for the rest of their lives unable to pay back that debt unless they work 10 years in a qualified government program that cancels the debt.
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