Some college degrees in VA never pay off.

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Jun 12, 2022.

  1. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Others provide an immediate return.

    "The schools that house the highest number of negative-ROI majors are Liberty University, VCU, University of Mary Washington and Radford University."

    "You don’t have to go to a prestigious school or an expensive school to get a good-paying job. High-earning majors are found at VCU, Old Dominion University and for-profit schools such as ECPI University."
    Dustin likes this.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    And some pay off in ways not measured in dollars.
  3. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    "Just because a major doesn’t pay well doesn’t mean it has no value, said [Peter] Blake, head of the State Council of Higher Education. Return on investment is an important measure of a program’s success — average debt for a Virginia college graduate is $30,000. But it’s not the only measure."

    “A civilized world needs people who are trained and educated in English, history, social work, early childhood education, art, anthropology, et cetera,” he added.

    Apparently Mr. Blake agrees. And I do as well. It's wonderful that STEM grads get paid so well and if it's your forte and you have the aptitude for it, by all means go for it. But for many it's like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Do we need more engineers? Sure we do. But we also need more teachers too.

    I also found it ironic that Philosophy grads weren't getting a good ROI. I really can't see any philosophy degree seeking student going into their undergrad program thinking that they're going to get the big money upon graduation. In what world is that prevalent? But, FWIW Philosophy courses are no joke and I took an entry level Logic course back in the day and it was not easy. So it stands to reason, for me anyways, that a Philosophy grad would certainly have good critical thinking skills. And that in itself is quite the payoff.
  4. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    I've read - here on DI and elsewhere, that some philosophy grads do well in IT -especially programming. Apparently, the mindset necessary for those logic courses Sideman spoke of, is conducive to high-order programming skills. Makes sense to me. And I'm also with Sideman on the need for humanities and other non-STEM majors.

    A couple of DI members have expressed a strong opinion that all majors without a proven high ROI need to be cancelled completely. I think they all have blinkers on. Very shallow thinking -- logically and psychologically.

    I'll probably get penalized three subroutines and have to make an extra login screen, for that statement. So be it.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2022
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Not everyone is concerned with earning in the high five figures or more, but I believe most want to earn a living wage and don't want to default on their student loans. There are also people who regret going to college because they're making the same amount of money they could have without a college degree, or they're working in a position where a college degree doesn't matter.

    If we're being honest, many people don't care enough about the education if they're not going to use it. Others would have pursued free or low-cost avenues to study something they love if they would have known their degree wouldn't have utility.
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  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    If that's so, and it may well be, - as long as it's not pre-reqs / gen.ed we're talking - why do they order it up and pay for it in the first place, if they don't care?

    Often, people need degrees to get work in the field "they love" - and self-study won't cut it. There's enough info about "utility" for them to make decisions. People should be able to make intelligent choices - for them, as individuals. Not an automated checklist. And we need teachers, historians, linguists, librarians, playwrights, artists and others. Perhaps creative people need to use part of their creativity in finding ways to finance - and keep costs down - on the degrees they might need, The degrees should definitely be available. Not throwing stones at any individual here, but there are those on this board who have expressed the feeling that everything except STEM and medicine should be cancelled, for ROI reasons. That, to me is a retrograde sentiment.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2022
    JoshD likes this.
  7. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I think a lot of degrees have utility. I know folks who did a degree in physics that are now data scientists. I also know folks, and see them on LinkedIn, that did a degree in psychology that wound up in technical roles.

    I think a lot of ones success comes from how they present themselves when they apply and their willingness to learn. A degree, in my opinion, just shows that someone is able to be taught, has the desire to learn, and can follow through.
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  8. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    The students I know who are most successful are those who spend time specifically figuring out the kinds of skills they need and spending time during their undergrad gaining those skills.

    This isn't always as difficult as people think. Often the courses are available in the specific skills people need to get jobs (whether it's policy analysis, medical lab tech or AutoCAD) but they need to know what those skills are and that those courses are important.

    I don't think there's a way the universities can force this on people because everyone will have a different set of interests, but it's worth having a conversation about.
    sideman, Johann and chrisjm18 like this.
  9. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    A little bit of certifying goes a long way too. Salesforce costs $250 for the entry level qualification and it can totally transform your career path.

    100 hours of studying can turn you from a philosophy major into a Certified Salesforce Administrator, for example.

    Google has a bunch of certs out now too, same idea. Gets you those critical resume line items to open up that first job/interview.
    Rachel83az, JoshD and Johann like this.
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu offered us his capital theory. Oversimplified, it allows us to examine sociological issues by examining exchanges of capital. When pursuing a college degree, there is an exchange of capital. Specifically, the university and the student each give the other two. Students give their academic effort and their money. Universities give an education and a degree.

    Nowhere in that exchange is anything that resembles a job or a career. Nor is there a particularly coercive element forcing students into fields of study that will lead to lower-paying careers. Nor are graduates from such programs limited to lower-paying careers.

    This leads to another interesting sociological theory useful here: structuration (Anthony Giddens). In it, Lord Giddens takes us beyond the usual arguments over structure vs. agency. Structures are the sociological structures in which we live and work. Agency is an individual's ability to act independently within those structures. Instead, Giddens suggests that agents are not only able to act within structures, their actions act to change the structures. Relevant here because an 18-year-old freshman in college isn't locked in for the rest of his/her life. That person can make many decisions--good and bad--that affect his/her future within those structures--and can even affect the structures themselves. We are not helpless. We have choices. And we can find our way.
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  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Because they thought they needed the degree or that the degree would get them their dream job. I've seen this a lot in the criminal justice field. The students didn't care about criminology or addressing social problems that lead to criminal behaviors. They thought they needed the degree to become a police officer or CSI. When they get out there, they find out that most of their fellow police officers don't even have a bachelor's degree or that the FBI would rather have someone with an accounting degree.

    I've seen it with psychology degrees, too. They thought they were going to go to medical school to become a psychiatrist or earn a doctorate in psychology. Or, they thought they were going to become a research assistant or criminal profiler. Psychology is actually a flexible degree, and there are many jobs out there, but they're not the jobs people typically want. People should do better research, but they don't. Parents and educators give a lot of bad information. That's why some majors have over 50% of their graduates working in jobs that don't require degrees.

    There are also people without degrees in technical roles. There are people who switched to tech because they got tired of low-paying jobs in social services. Some people still love the fields they intended to go into, but they changed course for pragmatic reasons.
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  12. Vicki

    Vicki Active Member

    I have so many thoughts on this thread….

    I know someone who lives in Radford VA and went to Liberty. We aren’t really in touch anymore but from what I understand, he really didn’t do much with his degree. He never really seemed to have much direction, yet he’s a very intelligent person. Never really held down a steady job. I wonder if there are some other factors that they don’t touch upon. Like, maybe the admissions criteria is different so the schools attract a different “type” of student. I’d bet he would score really high on tests, probably get a 4.0 GPA and look great on a transcript. He should have gone far… but he didn’t.

    I was one of those kids who got the degree but had no direction. It was “expected” that college was the next logical step after HS. But I was also first generation college student, so I was really clueless on trying to figure out a clear goal. And I feel like I could do my job without a degree…. But I think having “any” degree was a requirement on the job posting.
    Dustin likes this.
  13. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    It is not always about the prestigious, but rather a degree major and what one is doing with the degree. You can graduate from Harvard University and work full-time for the Peace Corps living and working in Africa, then don't expect to have higher earnings. At the end passion does not pay bills. :D
  14. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    I graduated high school with about a 2.8 GPA. It was not until college that I really shined and took my education serious. I was a first generation college student and thought I wanted to go to medical school. Found out after shadowing various doctors that I really did not like being around sick people but I was already 3/4 of the way done with my degree in biology. Opted to pursue a MS in Molecular Genetics but halfway through, my wife gave birth to our twins. I found my way into banking, worked my way up quickly while pursuing an MBA just to have some sort of business knowledge. I found that I could use my bioinformatics skills pretty well in the data analytics field. Now, here I am pursuing a 2nd master's in business analytics from Duke.

    The university that one attends has some impact on ones success but it more so depends on ones grind and desire to succeed.
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  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I didn't go to high school at all. We had junior high (grades 7-9), but I didn't graduate. I kicked around the 10th grade--the first year of high school--dropping out of 3 schools. I never went back, getting a high school diploma (not GED) via testing.

    Needless to say, I didn't go to a prestigious university, choosing to pursue degrees from what is now Excelsior because they were fast and convenient. After graduating from there, I did an MBA at a you've-probably-never-heard-of-it National University (because it was convenient). Much later I finished my PhD at Union. (Because, at the time, it was one of just a handful of accredited, short-residency doctorates available.) None of these schools had a reputation that had even one little bit of impact on my career. No one has EVER been impressed with where I went to school, but they HAVE been impressed with the degrees I've earned. Those degrees did have a major impact on my career. Specifically:
    • Excelsior: Helped me get out of active duty a year early. Hired by Xerox (degree required). Selected for Officer Training School (degree required)
    • National: Helped me get a regular commission. Helped me get selected to teach AFROTC (master's degree required).
    • Union: Transformed my career. Tripled my income and started me on the path to becoming a consultant and, later, a senior manager in the federal government
    • Leicester: The most prestigious university I've graduated from, ranked in the top 200 in the world and top 20 in the UK. Not a thing. No impact ever for the degree, although the research I did and the things I learned have been crucial to the development of my third career. But no one cares that I graduated from their, except the occasional Brit I get to meet.
    You do you, of course.
    JoshD likes this.
  16. Charles Fout

    Charles Fout Active Member

    Peace Corps Volunteers are amazing. I was never a Volunteer but, I worked at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC for five years. Given the opportunity, I would go back to Peace Corps in an instant.becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer or employee is no easy feat. It takes patience and perseverance In my opinion being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer is more career enhancing than any degree. No one can network as well as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
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  17. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    It's on my bucket list to become a PCV. I'd like to go to West Africa in particular.

    Canada doesn't have that sort of program (so I'll need citizenship) and my wife is clear that she would only be supportive of us being away from the kids for 2 years once they're adults, so my Peace Corps dreams are on hold for now. But I hope one day I can answer the call.
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  18. Charles Fout

    Charles Fout Active Member

    The organizational culture is incredible
  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    "there." Sigh....
  20. LevelUP

    LevelUP Active Member

    I know that STEM degrees can pay well though there is a lot of value in learning skills outside those degrees.

    For example, in business, if you were in marketing, you would need to understand "why" does someone buy something? What are their core feelings? What processes in the brain trigger a buy response? Some understanding of psychology, for example, might help in answering these questions.

    Communication skills are essential skills to learn. Foreign language, public speaking, and also being able to understand people from their point of view are good skills to learn. Organizing your thoughts on paper is learned in college.
    SteveFoerster likes this.

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