Worthless College Degrees and Worthwhile College degrees

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by AGS, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. AGS

    AGS New Member

    I had been perusing youtube videos concerning college degrees that just costs money but you can't do nothing with it in the workforce. And of course there are degrees out their serving the practicality for employment and survival in this tough world..

    Anyone wouldnt mind sharing their thoughts/opinions on the best and worst college degrees? for this economy and the next in 2010?
  2. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    The worst college degree is the degree in which one has no interest that burdens the student with excessive debt. The best college degree is a degree that fulfills one's life. The fulfillment can be financial or otherwise.

    Some jobs just require a degree, any degree, thus justifying any field of study. Some people simply like learning, even obscure subjects. I see nothing wrong with either situation.

    For me it was a combination of something I found interesting that also provided employment opportunities. My degrees (BS, MS) are in chemistry.
  3. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Really, the value of a degree depends highly on the person who holds it and what he or she needs it for. The vast majority of students would likely find the dinky degree in my signature to be worthless, but in my case, it has already done wonders for my career. Conversely, a Doctor of Whatchamacallit would be entirely worthless for me.

    You need to do your research beforehand, and do it thoroughly, to get an idea of what degree, if any, you need to pursue your goals.
  4. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    So medical and dental degree programs, would be classified by the above as among the worst degrees, as students routinely graduate with hundreds of thousdands of dollars of debt.
  5. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    You overlooked a significant part of what I said. If the person has no interest in medicine or dentistry, whether altruistic, financial, or otherwise, and is burdened with a lot of debt, then I think that is among the worst for that person to get.
  6. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Master's in Chemistry? You are one smart cookie.
  7. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    If you are talking about bachelor's degrees, I'm not sure that any could be considered totally worthless as long as they are legitimately accredited. There are plenty of employment opportunities out there that require a nonspecific bachelor's degree. Doesn't mater which, as long as you have one. Moreover, even if a bachelor's requirement is not listed on the job requirements, an individual with a bachelor's in anything would have some sort of advantage over those who don't, all other factors being equal.

    The sad thing is when an individual goes deeply into debt to get a degree that will not pay them back when there are cheaper options.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2011
  8. AGS

    AGS New Member

    medical degree

    Its a good thing you have mentioned medical degrees because the US health industry does employ alot of foriegn medical doctors.

    Many foriegners graduating from foriegn medical institution doesn't necessarily need to pay the medical schools in their home countries because the education is paid by the govt so they come here to the US with their degrees and just get into some under paid internship and taking equivalency exams...
  9. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    There is always the question of "interest vs utility" and this comes up alllll the time. Throw in a little debt, and you got yourself a meaty debate. I don't have the right answer, but in my world I have my own perspective, because I have done it both ways.

    Since my husband and I are in a trade career, we both tend to be more heavily in the "job preparation" or "credential" mindset regarding college degrees. We both earned NA AOS degrees in our field from the top school IN OUR FIELD. That served us well for about 20 years. Then, we wanted bachelor's degrees. Nothing like a crash course in the difference between AA/AS and AOS/AAS and NA/RA. That said, hubby opted for a NA BS and I started from scratch on a RA BA. I VERY MUCH enjoyed pursuing liberal arts classes! Who knew? I felt smarter for it <cough>, which gave me an appreciation for "education because it' good for society" side of life. That said, if 20 grand dropped out of the sky, I'd be enrolled at Harvard TODAY, not a trade school. *and that wouldn't do jack squat for my career. My career likes high-profile non-credit classes lol which would suck up that 20 grand in 20 seconds. My husband would be on a plane to Napa for a CE class.

    So, I guess what I'm saying, is if my children wanted a degree in a liberal art, I'd probably discourage it unless they ALSO had a career training plan. On the flip side, if my children wanted only a vocational certificate in something, I'd discourage it unless they ALSO had a plan to augment their critical thinking/writing/worldliness with some college level work.

    So, what's the worst college degree? IMO it would be one that you can't answer the question "why?" when asked.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2011
  10. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Yes but in most countries where school is free is extremely hard to get into medical school. At least this is the case in Canada where very few are chosen for this field (Canada's education is not free but subsidized).
  11. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    I see. Let me try to understand what you are saying. Let me take the other extreme. If i were to get a degree in, say, early child education, and I am highly interested in the subject and learn a lot about it, but I leave with a great deal of debt, would that make it a good or bad degree?
  12. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    I think I was clear enough. I'm pretty sure you're an intelligent enough fellow so that you know exactly what I was saying.

    No one, including you, has to agree with me. Why don't you just make your point directly with playing these games?
  13. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    ...without playing...

    sorry about my typo.
  14. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I guess it's an ROI issue and the answer to that is always "it depends." While I consider myself to be the Queen of Cheap, I can see that someone else might think differently. I have very little money, no rich spouse, no 529 plan, no inheritance, etc. but I know that others might have these things and feel that spending such dollars is OK. As far as I'm concerned, if someone want to spend 200K to get their BA from Hampshire College or (fill in the blank) then that's OK with me. We live in a pluralistic world.
  15. NorCal

    NorCal Active Member

    Its funny to watch everyone around here tip toe around and give politically correct answers to what can be viewed as a really simple question as a matter of personal opinion, lol.
  16. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    I am afraid that you misunderstood my intentions. I was not playing games. For the past several months, we have all read (supposedly) highly educated people accuse the entire private sector of higher education of providing "worthless" degrees, while saddling students with high amounts of debt. Unfortunately, neither Senator Harkin, nor his many disciples, has come up with any data on what constitutes a quality degree. The only things that he has offered is that a degree in which the holder (for whatever reason) chooses to stop making payments on a student loan within three years of graduating must be a worthless degree from a bad school. By this measure, MD degrees from Harvard and Tulane, whose graduates currently have a 71% default rate, must be worthless degrees from bad schools. Of course Harkin's criteria makes about as much sense as judging the quality of Ford vs. Chevy based on whether people stop making payments on their car loans.

    Now, back to your comment. You were correct in that I focused upon your statement about excessive debt, since student at my local state university's dental school often graduate with over $200,000 in debt (sometimes much more than that). When you spoke of spending a lot of time and money for a degree in which one would have no interest, that concept made no sense to me, so I came up with a scenario in which someone had great interest in the topic, but had high debt (and not a great starting salary).

    No games...just trying to have a clearer understanding of your position.
  17. perrymk

    perrymk Member

    You had a point to make, and finally you made it. Good for you.

    "I am afraid that you misunderstood my intentions. I was not playing games."
    Your efforts to talk me into a corner to make your point for you with out-of-context references to my opinion constitutes playing games. That's my opinion. If someone did that to you, you'd probably have a similar opinion.

    "...that concept made no sense to me, so I came up with a scenario ..."
    Exactly. You made something up and tried to attach it to me. Very unprofessional and somewhat surprising coming from one should know better.
  18. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I don't track this stuff too closely but my memory tells me that it's not so much that people are saying that the for-profit degrees are worthless, it's more that they're enrolling people who are unlikely to finish and then leaving them with big bills to pay.

    Are these schools sucking people in with big, slick sales promos and then leaving them high and dry? It seems there's some indication that this is true. If a person actually graduates is their degree worthwhile? It seems that in the marketplace it's treated like any other accredited degree. One of the things that we talk about here at degreeinfo is the question of whether it's worth the extra money to earn a degree from a for-profit school or whether it's better to search for a cheaper alternative. My position on this issue is clear. I am the Champion of Cheap. Take the MBA degree as a prime example. Why would anyone, knowing the alternatives, choose U of Phoenix over UMass or Peru or anyof the other (dozens) of alternatives. I don't know.
    So I think that you can work toward a degree from any accredited school and feel good about your accomplishment once you finish and you can expect that this degree will assist you toward your career goals. But in these current economic times people need to ask whether they are getting good value for their dollar. How is the more expensive degree superior? If you don't know the answer then maybe you shouldn't spend the money.
  19. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    My only "point" was to try to clarify the point that you made (low interest + high debt= worst type of degree) by providing another scenario (high interest + high debt = ?). I was interested in your opinion. Apparently that was a bad thing for me to do.

    If you honestly think that I was trying, somehow, to trap you, then you REALLY misunderstood my intentions. Anyone who has dealt with me at all on Degreeinfo for the best decade, knows that I do not do things like that. I readily admitted that, as you said, made the mistake of focusing on the high debt and not the low interest. My second question was merely to see where you stood on the more common scenario of high interest+high debt.

    I did nothing of the sort. I merely asked for your opinion and, in place of an answer, was given an insult. If you found my questions insulting, I sincerely regret it, as this was not my intention. I shall let our colleagues judge who in this instance has acted unprofessionally.
  20. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    From Sen. Dick Durbin's Website: "Durbin has long fought to protect students and veterans from for-profit colleges that engage in deceptive marketing and recruiting practices that leave students with worthless degrees and deeply in debt."

    From Sen. Tom Harkin's Website: "We must guard against for-profit schools that load up students with tens of thousands of dollars of debt in exchange for largely worthless degrees."

    Yes, highly influential people are stating that degrees from for-profit schools and colleges (not differentiating between beauty schools and regionally accredited universities) are worthless. They state it constantly.
    Excellent question. Some, of course, do. Do non-profit schools never engage in slick sales promos? I travel regularly to present at conferences and, across the country, I see plenty of billboards, airport wall advertisements, magazine ads, radio spots, etc. for both public and private non-profit universities. I regularly receive unsolicited e-mails for degree programs at non-profit universities. U. of Phoenix may have pioneered this kind of mass marketing, but the for-profits are hardly alone in slick marketing.

    Incidentally, I have worked as faculty or administrator at 2 public community colleges and two state universities. Each year, many students dropped out of these institutions. Were they left high and dry?

    That really is the key question. The discussion of this very issue here on Degreeinfo has, in my opinion, been much more informed and thoughtful than the same discussion on Capital Hill.

    From the standpoint of the student, Degreeinfo provides a vital service, as there are people who can provide actual experiences dealing with many institutions and programs. Cost is (or should be) a major factor in the decision to pursue higher education. The idea that all for-profits require extra money, compared to all non-profits, is, of course, a myth. In all of the recent lists of the top 100 most expensive colleges and the list of colleges that cost $50,000 plus per year, no for-profit is on either list.

    Harkin and Durbin compare the costs of for-profits ONLY to public community colleges and state universities. Disingenuously, they omit the fact that the cost of a degree at a community college and the same degree at a for-profit are the same. The difference is that the vast majority of the cost for the community college degree is paid by a gift of public taxpayer funds that is not required to be paid back, while the vast majority of the cost of a for-profit degree is paid for by tuition. The majority of students served by for-profits choose to pay for their education (and other) expenses via federal grant and by student loans (which are required to be paid back).

    In my city, we have a major state university, two private non-profit university and a private for-profit university (regionally accredited, doctoral granting, not publicly-traded).

    Undergraduate tuition per unit (converted to semester hours) at these four institutions is as follows:

    Public State University $373 per unit
    Private University #1 $645 per unit
    Private University #2 730 per unit
    Local for-profit $377 per unit

    So the for-profit is a whopping $4 per unit more than the heavily subsidized state university (which is a wonderful school). Incidentally tuition for online courses is $33 per unit MORE at the state university than at the for-profit.

    Yes, Phoenix, Strayer and Kaplan charge more (however, they still charge far less than either of our two local non-profits). So, it is difficult for me to swallow this nonsense about cheap non-profits and expensive for-profits, as if there was no variation within these two groups.

    Well said...I could not agree with you more!

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