It’s not necessarily clear. Let’s look at some decision factors.
PayPal founder Peter Thiel has offered smart young techs $100,000 each to just quit school. That worked out okay for them. But then they were just the kind of smart young techs he was specifically looking for. No U could teach them what no one else yet even knew.
But is that true of the typical family physician? Nurse practitioner? Chemistry teacher? Mechanical engineer? Clearly, university is necessary. On the other hand, lots of people end up serving coffee while paying off student loans they can’t shed even if they die. So how do our families sort it out?
We could start by asking what we hope to achieve. Assuming we don’t want a degree only for the sake of saying we have one, here are some new media helps toward a reasonable discussion of the issues:
– Check the top degrees for actually getting a job: “A massive 99.4 per cent of all students graduating in medicine or dentistry landed themselves jobs or further study within six months of graduating. 92 per cent went straight into work in the UK.”
Wouldn’t doubt it. In Canada, small towns along the TransCanada (highway) are festooned with signs saying, Doctor Wanted. One reasonably suspects that the terms for clinic space in such a town will also be easy.
– Now, what about degrees that probably won’t get us a job? Here is one 2014 proposed list of academic timewasters and here are some in-general online stats to think about, from the Washington Post: Note the number of “studies” and “administration” degrees.
In general, I am told, we are well advised to beware of any degree with “studies” in its name.
It makes sense. If we are going through for emergency room nursing or mining engineering, we are not going through for “studies” about that kind of thing; rather, we intend to actually do it.
That’s not to say that all degrees with “studies” or “administration” in their name are a waste of time. It’s more like, if we need our degree to produce a job to pay back the loan, how can we convince an employer to hire us?
Here are some additional online resources that might help us think carefully about such matters:
What is a degree worth financially?
Who are the most wanted employees?
Money is only useful if it helps us pursue the goals that matter to us. But we ought to know what the market thinks about any asset for which we might acquire debt, whether it is a house, a car, or a degree.
Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.