18 May 2011

Pop Goes the College Bubble

Enrollment will decline once this becomes common knowledge:

The brutal job market brought on by the recession has been hard on everyone, but especially devastating on the youngest members of the labor force.
About 60% of recent graduates have not been able to find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco.
And for those just entering the workplace, a bout of long-term unemployment can affect their career plans for years to come.

I have two friends from college who graduated recently.  One of them has an Associate’s in graphics design; the other has a dual-major Bachelor’s in graphics design and business administration with a minor in marketing.  They both work at Target.  They both have tens of thousands of dollars in student debt.

I have another friend who graduated a year ago with an Associate’s in network security.  He makes minimum wage working at Walmart and pays $400+ per month on his student loans.

These guys are relatively intelligent and quite hard-working and reliable.  They are educated.  And they work crap jobs because they have to pay off a ton of debt that they accrued pursuing a piece of paper that hasn’t actually improved their job prospects.

And so, my advice to any all high school seniors is this:  when you graduate, get jobs anywhere you can and forget about going to college.  Look into an apprenticeship, if possible.  Alternatively, learn a trade and start developing work contacts.  College is not worth the cost anymore, unless you’re going into a hard science or engineering.  Medicine is socialized, so avoid it all costs.  Computer science is mostly overrated because you can learn everything you need to know online.  Everything else is B.S.

If you go to college, you will have debt that you cannot ever default out of; you have to pay it back.  You will lose at least four years of your life.  And on top of all this, you are not more employable with your degree than you were as a high school graduate.  There are better things to do with your life than earn a college degree.


  1. If you want a four year degree, pick a college that accepts CLEP and DANTES/DSST tests for credit. Sign up for an online study site (I used instacert.com) and spend a year taking at least one test/week. Then figure out what it will take to wrap up your degree in the following 12-18 months.

    Tradition 4 year college is a sucker's deal.

  2. You're exactly right. Skilled trades are where it is at. Where else can you make that kind of money, legally, in non-corporate non-military-contractor work?

  3. @Oz- great advice. I wish I had done that so I wouldn't have had to sit through a large number of boring freshman classes. It would have saved me some money and given me chance to take other, more interesting classes.

    @Olave- I do freelance work in a variety of trades, and make a decent amount of money (although the work is inconsistent). Even though I will graduate with a degree in business, I will more than likely continue to work a trade.

  4. I made a similar point months ago. College ed nowadays is a bill of goods, and there is no reason for most people to go into any appreciable amount of debt to pursue one.

    That said, I've found that most people who cry that they can't find work are really just unwilling to look beyond their little 50-mile radius. The modern American economy is not one that lends itself to living in the same state for the rest of your life. I had to move 1,500 miles, from Maryland to Texas, to find work, but I found it, and in my chosen field to boot.

  5. @Proph- I've found that sort of mindset is common among college students. It seems that many of them are laboring under the delusion that getting a college diploma will land them a dream job. Of course, dream jobs exist only in dreams.

  6. A great plus about the trades is far fewer women. The ones that are there might actually like men. If you go into education or another female-dominated occupation, you'll last 3-5 years because of all the workplace misandry. Or you'll have to pursue your career overseas.