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the importance of going to a "good" school

Jeanne Boyarsky
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In the STEM vs STEAM thread, Paul A wrote:
are now waking up to this slowly because they can't get into good schools with just average SAT scores anymore


In my reply, I used the word "good" in quotes. I have trouble with the concept that it so important to go to a "good" school. The quotes are because "good" means "top rated." It's not that the others are "bad" schools. Granted some are, but most are perfectly fine.

Seems like this would be a good discussion. Do you think it is important to go to a "good" school? Do you think that has changed over time? Do you look at the school on a resume/CV?

This might be regional, so please mention which country you are talking about.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
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I'll start. I went to Queens College which is part of the City University of NY.
Pros:
  • They have a strong Computer Science program
  • It was affordable (I got a full scholarship), but tuition was only $3200 a year (in 2002).
  • I could live at home

  • Cons:
  • In high school, I had to listen to years of "oh, you are going THERE" (in quite a tone)
  • I had to explain at interviews why I choose that school. People who went to NYU didn't have justify that choice.


  • Ultimately, I felt going in that it could make it harder to get my first job because I thought some employers would care. I chose to go anyway, figuring I could just change jobs after a couple years and then my experience would matter more than my school. That turned out not to happen because a well known investment bank always interviewed for interns at my school because a top person at their company went to the school. Once I had the name of that bank on my resume, my school became less important.

    One reason I hear for going to a top known school (Ivy League in the United States) is for networking. For entrepreneurs that probably matters more at the college level that it does for someone who wants to work for a company.

    When I interview, I don't care where someone went to school. I care what they learned (which doesn't appear to be a function of what was taught). For entry level, I do care that people have a degree in something from somewhere that isn't a fly by night operation.
    Anayonkar Shivalkar
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        5

    Well, it depends upon what we call 'good' here
    Are we talking about schools with top rated students and where good companies come for campus placements? Or schools with good teachers?

    IMHO, the second type of school definitely has a positive impact on students. The college I attended for bachelor's degree (in India, we call it 'college' and not 'school'. Here, school means place where we go for 1st till 10th standard ) was not 'top rated' (at least at that time), but had really good teachers there. Also, it had really beautiful library and students were always encouraged to do new stuff (e.g. to convert college computer lab from Windows to Linux - first time it didn't worked because nobody knew how to use Linux, but later on we figured it out ).

    And I would totally agree with you - that usually students learn a great deal in school with good teachers (than school with just good students).


    Regards,
    Anayonkar Shivalkar (SCJP, SCWCD, OCMJD, OCEEJBD)
    chris webster
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      14

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Do you think it is important to go to a "good" school? Do you think that has changed over time? Do you look at the school on a resume/CV?

    This might be regional, so please mention which country you are talking about.

    It probably depends on what job you're after, what qualifications are required, what qualifications/experience you're offering, and as you say, which country you are in.

    Here in the UK, the higher education landscape has changed radically since I went to university in the 1980s. I got a good degree from a good university (Glasgow), but it was in German - not the most marketable of subjects! - so it took me a while to find a job in IT. As only about 20% of kids went to university in my day, I think having a good degree still encouraged employers to view me positively, but I have never actually had a job where I would say a degree was an intrinsically necessary requirement - intelligence, analytical thinking, skills and experience certainly, but nothing that can only be acquired through a university degree.

    Back then, there were around 70 universities in the UK, plus a larger number of more vocationally oriented colleges and polytechnics, some of which could award degrees as well. In the early 1990s, there was a lot of talk about how the economy needed more university graduates, so instead of looking at the actual skills required (rather than the piece of paper) and investing in developing those skills, successive governments decided to expand the definition of "university" to include the other colleges, which were then all expected to provide degree-standard courses.

    In some cases, this was a great success, as these "new universities" often brought useful and distinctive ideas into the market for degree education. But in other cases, the new university degrees were mainly aimed at recruiting students to qualify for extra funding i.e. cash-cropping students but not necessarily providing worthwhile degree courses in return. The Blair government stated its aim to have up to 50% of school-leavers studying for a degree, which rather missed the point that what we really need is people with good skills, not "degrees". This policy further boosted the numbers of graduates trying to find graduate-level jobs in an economy which simply doesn't really need that many university graduates.

    In recent years, the introduction of ever higher student fees and the reduction of state support for students at university has been justified by the claim that graduates earn more during their lifetimes than non-graduates. But this claim is based on previous generations of graduates, when there were fewer graduates in the market and most of them could find graduate-level jobs so they did indeed earn more. But since the financial crash many current graduates struggle to find anything other than minimum wage drudge-work, and after a couple of years of this their qualifications are regarded as irrelevant by employers who can take their pick from the cream of this year's graduates instead.

    So to answer your question, I think in the UK a "good" degree in a relevant subject (or at least a "hard" subject like STEM) from a "good" university is probably more important than it's ever been, at least for people in the first few years of their careers. Later on, I don't think it makes much difference and nobody ever asks me about my degree (over 25 years after I graduated!), although I'm sure if I had an Oxbridge degree it would probably impress some people even at my advanced age.

    These days, employers often insist on a good (2.1 or 1st) degree from a Russell Group university before they will even consider applicants for graduate or junior roles. I'm sure a posh kid with a degree in History of Art from Oxford and lots of family connections will still manage to find their way into pretty much any job they like, but for most youngsters today it's a pretty tough market, especially when university fees are now £9000 (about $14,000) a year even for a bog-standard "new" university and there are few scholarships or bursaries available. Student loans are available, so less wealthy students can still afford to go to university in theory, but I know a lot of families think twice about encouraging their kids to rack up £50,000 or more in debts to get a second-class degree in Media Studies from the University of Boghamptonshire, only to find the best job they can get after graduation is flipping burgers at McDonald's.

    Meanwhile, the problem with not going to college is that in a jobs market where up to 50% of job-seekers may be graduates, you're going to look like a failure to any employer who uses possession of a university degree as a filter to exclude "unqualified" candidates. So today's 18 year olds are damned to enormous intimidating debts if they go to university, or being locked out of the "graduate" job market if they don't.

    Friends of ours are thinking of sending their daughter to study in the Netherlands or Denmark, because the costs are much lower, the standard of education is high, and she'll probably have far better opportunities when she graduates. If I were 18 I know I'd be looking seriously at that kind of thing. Meanwhile, a lot of people feel a British university education is starting to look like it will soon be the preserve of the wealthy once again.

    I know the US has always had a fee-paying system, so maybe it works better for you guys. But I think our education system is totally screwed, and I pity the poor kids who have to find their way through this mess and still hope to enjoy a decent standard of living and a rewarding career in the long term.


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    Paul Anilprem
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        7
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:In the STEM vs STEAM thread, Paul A wrote:
    are now waking up to this slowly because they can't get into good schools with just average SAT scores anymore


    In my reply, I used the word "good" in quotes. I have trouble with the concept that it so important to go to a "good" school. The quotes are because "good" means "top rated." It's not that the others are "bad" schools. Granted some are, but most are perfectly fine.

    Seems like this would be a good discussion. Do you think it is important to go to a "good" school? Do you think that has changed over time? Do you look at the school on a resume/CV?

    This might be regional, so please mention which country you are talking about.


    There are basically two kinds of students - those who need jobs and those who don't. The ones who need jobs usually come from lower and middle class families who have little or no family business or property off which they can live or create a job for themselves. Their prime objective is to get into a degree program that increases their chances of getting a job.

    From this perspective, there certainly are good schools and bad schools. Specially in India, bad schools are really horrible. Most of these bad schools are privately run either by political bigwigs or seedy businessmen with loads of unaccounted cash. There is no faculty and no equipment. Just a building and a permission to run a few degree programs. I won't say a number because people may not like it but I believe that a majority of Indian schools are like that.

    This is what drives the competition for "good" schools. These are mostly run by the government. Fees are low. Faculty and facilities are among the best. Kids from 9th grade onwards study like crazy to get into one of these. You should see the condition of the parents whose wards take the national entrance test for these schools. They are probably equally stressed out and exhausted.

    For middle class and lower class families in India, it is pretty much a must to get into a good school. There are very few options otherwise. Everyone, including employers, knows this. When I graduated (from one of the top schools) and joined my first job (which I had accepted almost a year before I finished the degree program), I learned that salaries for new hires for the same position were based on which school they were recruited from. So the guy who joined with me was getting paid lower for the same job just because he came from a school that was ranked lower than mine.

    School doesn't just affect the first job of your career. It affects almost a decade of your career because that is the first thing employers look at. They see what school you are from and lowball you on the salary. They know you don't have many options and they take advantage of that. Last year I met one of my classmates from 12th grade by chance after almost 20 yrs. Our fathers were colleagues at work. He is also in IT but it took him almost 12 years to reach the salary point where I was at 4-5 yrs out of college. He went to a run of the mill school that wasn't visited by any employer for campus recruitment. So he had so slog it out at a low salaries for long time in small companies. His first salary was 1/3 of mine. He worked really hard and is doing well now but it took him such a long time just because wasn't from a well known school.

    I am sure you will recall threads on JavaRanch talking about a "bond" signed by an employee looking to switch job. I never had to sign any such bond. But I know now that a vast majority of the companies make students graduating out from unranked schools sign a "bond" that forces the new hires to work with them for up to 3 yrs! It is exploitation, plain and simple. But they have no option.

    If my description above scares you, then let me tell you that this is nothing. Students making their career in IT at least make a decent living after slogging for a few years. But students from other disciplines such as Mechanical or Electrical, are stuck at a very low pay scale for all their lives.

    A degree from an unranked school will drag you down more than you can imagine. It is not an insurmountable problem but it just takes a long time to overcome the prejudices that are attached to it.

    I hope you can now see how important it is to get into a "good" school.

    Personally, I find all this very unhealthy for the society.

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    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Anayonkar Shivalkar wrote:Well, it depends upon what we call 'good' here
    Are we talking about schools with top rated students and where good companies come for campus placements? Or schools with good teachers?

    It’s more top rated schools than schools with good teachers. That’s part of where the quotes come from.

    chris webster wrote:I know the US has always had a fee-paying system, so maybe it works better for you guys. But I think our education system is totally screwed, and I pity the poor kids who have to find their way through this mess and still hope to enjoy a decent standard of living and a rewarding career in the long term.

    It’s broken here in the US too. University feeds go up quite rapidly. And thanks for posting about how things have changed over time.

    Paul Anilprem wrote:From this perspective, there certainly are good schools and bad schools. Specially in India, bad schools are really horrible. Most of these bad schools are privately run either by political bigwigs or seedy businessmen with loads of unaccounted cash. There is no faculty and no equipment. Just a building and a permission to run a few degree programs

    So for India, we don’t need the quotes around the word good! In the schools have to be accredited (and there are actual standards for doing so). I school with no faculty and no equipment wouldn’t be accredited.

    Paul Anilprem wrote: I learned that salaries for new hires for the same position were based on which school they were recruited from. So the guy who joined with me was getting paid lower for the same job just because he came from a school that was ranked lower than mine.

    Wow.

    Paul Anilprem wrote: I am sure you will recall threads on JavaRanch talking about a "bond" signed by an employee looking to switch job. I never had to sign any such bond. But I know now that a vast majority of the companies make students graduating out from unranked schools sign a "bond" that forces the new hires to work with them for up to 3 yrs! It is exploitation, plain and simple. But they have no option.

    Yes, it’s hard to believe that is legal. But I see so many posts on the topic, it must either be legal or so prevalent that one is forced to play.

    Paul Anilprem wrote:I hope you can now see how important it is to get into a "good" school.

    Thank you for taking the time to write all this. In the US, the emphasis on going to a “good” school tends to be limited to certain parts of society. And it’s nothing like what you described. I’m glad you brought this up in the STEM thread. It definitely warranted a thread of its own and I learned a lot about the education system in India.
    Paul Anilprem
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        7
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
    Anayonkar Shivalkar wrote:Well, it depends upon what we call 'good' here
    Are we talking about schools with top rated students and where good companies come for campus placements? Or schools with good teachers?

    It’s more top rated schools than schools with good teachers. That’s part of where the quotes come from.

    My observation is that top schools are also the schools where top teachers are in India.

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
    Paul Anilprem wrote:From this perspective, there certainly are good schools and bad schools. Specially in India, bad schools are really horrible. Most of these bad schools are privately run either by political bigwigs or seedy businessmen with loads of unaccounted cash. There is no faculty and no equipment. Just a building and a permission to run a few degree programs

    So for India, we don’t need the quotes around the word good! In the schools have to be accredited (and there are actual standards for doing so). I school with no faculty and no equipment wouldn’t be accredited.

    A similar system exists in India as well. But just like everything else, let me just say it simply doesn't work. Good schools have good facilities and staff because they want to be good not because they want accreditation. I know of one good school in India which was first recognized by a top school in the US but agencies in India didn't recognize it for quite some time. Bad schools basically want to make money by hook or crook. So they get all the accreditations they want by questionable means. Students and their parents pay through their noses for a piece of paper really and no one cares.

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
    Paul Anilprem wrote: I am sure you will recall threads on JavaRanch talking about a "bond" signed by an employee looking to switch job. I never had to sign any such bond. But I know now that a vast majority of the companies make students graduating out from unranked schools sign a "bond" that forces the new hires to work with them for up to 3 yrs! It is exploitation, plain and simple. But they have no option.

    Yes, it’s hard to believe that is legal. But I see so many posts on the topic, it must either be legal or so prevalent that one is forced to play.

    It is illegal. It is basically a scare tactic and there is also collusion by employers. If you try to jump the bond, other employers will not hire you at the same or higher pay. So even if it is illegal and wont stand in the court of law, few dare go against it.

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
    Paul Anilprem wrote:I hope you can now see how important it is to get into a "good" school.

    Thank you for taking the time to write all this. In the US, the emphasis on going to a “good” school tends to be limited to certain parts of society. And it’s nothing like what you described. I’m glad you brought this up in the STEM thread. It definitely warranted a thread of its own and I learned a lot about the education system in India.


    I know that but the reason I brought it up is because I see the US system is going to the same destination. Path is a bit different though. I saw a documentary about how these online colleges offer expensive degree courses and these are basically funded by subsidized loans to the students. I see so many colleges and university sign boards on US highways and many of them are set up on floor in a high rise. I also saw some of friends kids studying for SATs and that reminded me of my days in India. American students come out neck deep in student loans and armed with degrees that don't excite the employers much. On top of it, you have programs like H1B. Don't even get me started on that. It is only a matter of time until this system collapses.


    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:My observation is that top schools are also the schools where top teachers are in India.

    In the US, we don't have such a strong correlation. Tenured teachers are chosen for (largely) how they do research.

    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    It is illegal. It is basically a scare tactic and there is also collusion by employers. If you try to jump the bond, other employers will not hire you at the same or higher pay. So even if it is illegal and wont stand in the court of law, few dare go against it.

    That sounds like a big problem. No one person can change the system. And it isn't as if there is a union of IT workers to stop it.


    Paul Anilprem wrote:I know that but the reason I brought it up is because I see the US system is going to the same destination. Path is a bit different though. I saw a documentary about how these online colleges offer expensive degree courses and these are basically funded by subsidized loans to the students. I see so many colleges and university sign boards on US highways and many of them are set up on floor in a high rise. I also saw some of friends kids studying for SATs and that reminded me of my days in India. American students come out neck deep in student loans and armed with degrees that don't excite the employers much. On top of it, you have programs like H1B. Don't even get me started on that. It is only a matter of time until this system collapses.

    I think that topic is more appropriate to this thread (or a third thread) than the STEM thread. It's not really about STEM or STEAM subjects specifically.

    Yes, I see the signs for the schools in a high rise. Most of them largely offer associates degrees. They are targeting people who dropped out of high school or didn't go to college right away. I don't know enough about those schools to comment. I was thinking about it from the point of view of students going directly to college.

    On the degrees that don't excite employers, part of that is a cultural problem. Students are encouraged to use college to "discover themselves" and "figure out what they want to do." Which encourages degrees that are less marketable. Not to say they aren't useful in other ways. If one wants to be an art teacher or work in an art museum, an art history degree is a perfectly reasonable choice. But I think there should be some thought put into that up front. Not, "well I like art so I studied art history. I wonder what kind of job I can get upon graduation."

    My college had a minor in business. If you majored in Computer Science, you got to skip the "here's how to use a computer" class in the minor. I met with the advisor of that program senior year of high school to interview and brought it up then. To which the reply was basically that I couldn't know what I want to major in yet and might change my mind. I've always loved computers even in elementary school. I knew I wanted to study computer science for a long time. I didn't know I wanted to be a programmer quite that young, but I knew I wanted to do "something in computers." And the system was set up to not encourage that definitiveness.
    Paul Anilprem
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        7
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:And the system was set up to not encourage that definitiveness.

    That is exactly my point. It is a very good system. Unfortunately, because of mindless globalization, it is at a disadvantage now.
    chris webster
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      14

    Jeanne wrote:It’s broken here in the US too. University feeds go up quite rapidly. ..

    Paul wrote:I see the US system is going to the same destination... American students come out neck deep in student loans and armed with degrees that don't excite the employers much....It is only a matter of time until this system collapses.

    Depressing but true. I don't see how the current system can continue. It's fine to argue that students should pick marketable degrees, but for society to flourish we also need to nurture other aspects of intellectual and cultural life beyond the short-sighted jobs market. If only a minority can afford to study subjects that don't guarantee enough wages to pay off enormous student loans, where will tomorrow's teachers or intellectuals come from? And what about the many professions that require university degrees and are vital to society but are not especially well-paid - teaching, nursing etc? After a century of expanding access to education for women, ethnic minorities and the working classes, we seem to be moving in the opposite direction again.
    Jeanne wrote:And it isn't as if there is a union of IT workers to stop it.

    A separate issue, I guess. But as an old leftie, I find it hard to relate to the idea that ordinary workers in any industry should rely on their employers' grace and favour throughout their careers, like feudal serfs relying on the goodwill of the local lord, instead of making sure that when push comes to shove, they have their own collective voice to defend them in a legal, political and corporate culture that is overwhelmingly biased in favour of the boss classes. A healthy society should balance the needs of both sides of the employment relationship, as they do in Germany for example, where companies are required to set up a works council of representatives from management and staff to help resolve problems before they turn into big industrial disputes. I wonder if the intense financial pressures and competition for decent jobs experienced by today's debt-burdened graduates will further discourage white-collar workers from defending their interests, or if it will increase an awareness that they need to stick up for themselves because nobody else will.
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    chris webster wrote: It's fine to argue that students should pick marketable degrees, but for society to flourish we also need to nurture other aspects of intellectual and cultural life beyond the short-sighted jobs market. If only a minority can afford to study subjects that don't guarantee enough wages to pay off enormous student loans, where will tomorrow's teachers or intellectuals come from?

    Which comes to knowing what you want to do before you start university. If you know you want to be a teacher, there are programs that help with tuition for that. (particularly if you are willing to work in underprivileged schools or in subjects where there is a teacher shortage). Or you can choose to got to a less expensive school. Teaching (at the K-12 level) is one of the fields that doesn't look down on going to city/state universities which are less expensive (because they are government subsidized).


    chris webster wrote:or if it will increase an awareness that they need to stick up for themselves because nobody else will.

    I think it is more likely to not be this. It's important to me personally not to be afraid that if I saw the wrong thing, I'll be fired. I'm really good at my job and well liked so I'm there. At one point, my manager was told to "suggest" that I reschedule my vacation for a meeting. i said no. (The meeting turned out to be when I got back which proved this request was completely unnecessary. But even if it was during my vacation, someone else could have represented our team.) I spoke to someone else at the same company who was "encouraged" to cancel his vacation and he agreed because of pressure. If you aren't really comfortable (or clueless), management gets to use that implicit threat against you. Also, it is scary to defend your interests. I remember when I had to complain about a teacher in high school. (it was a safety issue; I had no choice.). He made comments about it the rest of the term. It's unpleasant to bring stuff up. And these things are way below the level of "sign here or you don't get to work here."
    chris webster
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      14

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Which comes to knowing what you want to do before you start university.

    This places an incredible burden on young people who grow and develop their talents and interests at different rates. It's fine for people who have a strong vocation or clearly defined interest (or who are only good at one thing anyway), but what about the rest? In the UK, the job options for 18 year olds who don't go to university are very limited (partly because of the competition from graduates for even low-paid work), so what are they going to do while they figure things out? I guess it's a reflection of my own indirect path into my IT career (which continues to meander!), but I don't believe society or individuals benefit from forcing kids into such narrowly defined channels, with little opportunity to grow beyond those boundaries, at such an early age and at such a crippling financial cost.

    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:It's important to me personally not to be afraid that if I saw the wrong thing, I'll be fired...

    Sticking up for yourself is an important life skill, but the consistent trend of shifting power away from the individual to the corporate classes over the last 30+ years has created an increasingly feudal employment system which undermines that basic right. And in many ways the "globalised" tech industry is leading the way in this race to the bottom e.g. Amazon's grim employment practices.

    I think working people need to wake up and stand up for themselves while they still can. But I seem to be out of sync with the current fashion - across the media, politics and business - for cravenly worshipping the feudal masters of the technology industries.
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    chris webster wrote:This places an incredible burden on young people who grow and develop their talents and interests at different rates. It's fine for people who have a strong vocation or clearly defined interest (or who are only good at one thing anyway), but what about the rest? In the UK, the job options for 18 year olds who don't go to university are very limited (partly because of the competition from graduates for even low-paid work), so what are they going to do while they figure things out? I guess it's a reflection of my own indirect path into my IT career (which continues to meander!), but I don't believe society or individuals benefit from forcing kids into such narrowly defined channels, with little opportunity to grow beyond those boundaries, at such an early age and at such a crippling financial cost.

    I'm not saying they have to know what they want to study at 18. There is the option to not go to university right away or at least not full time. Working at a low wage job for a year or two while figuring it out what one wants to study. There is the possibility to take free classes (MOOCs) to dabble. Or take one or two college classes a semester while working to narrow down the candidates. That decreases the debt burden.

    I think we compound the "not knowing what to do" problem by spending high school focusing on "getting into a good college." Someone's child that I know is going to a vocational high school. At the beginning, they have them take a variety of subjects and then narrow it down. Then they narrow it down again to the one topic they are going to know real well by the end of high school. Granted, I don't think a 9th grader is equipped to make that decision but at least he graduates with some skill. And if he isn't going to university, he has something he is skilled to do. He can always change to something else, but he has a starting point. For those going to college, I think having the time in high school to explore interests would be more helpful than memorizing vocabulary words. MOOCs could help here too. Since they are free, you can take a number of survey classes to see what you like/don't like.

    In the US, you can now stay on your parent's health insurance plan until the age of 25 which allows a few years of buffer where it is ok to have a job that doesn't have health insurance. (I see other problems with this system but that's a separate topic.) As far as competition from graduates, I'm not seeing why a graduate is more likely to get a job in a store than a high school graduate. The employer knows both will leave in some amount of time.

    Also, one doesn't have to pick what they want to do for the rest of one's life. Later career changes don't put so much emphasis on a degree.
    Paul Anilprem
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        7
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
    I'm not saying they have to know what they want to study at 18. There is the option to not go to university right away or at least not full time. Working at a low wage job for a year or two while figuring it out what one wants to study. There is the possibility to take free classes (MOOCs) to dabble. Or take one or two college classes a semester while working to narrow down the candidates. That decreases the debt burden.


    Not knowing what to do after 12th is a luxury few can afford today. They better know what they are going to do after 12th when they are in 9th-10th grade. If they don't then they will be pushed at the back of the rat race so fast they won't know what hit them. You may want to check out one popular coaching institute that prepares kids for university entrance examination: http://www.fiitjee.com/ These guys have programs for 6th graders. 6th graders!! And this is not the only one. There are tens of such coaching institutes in every big city. It is a huge business.

    This is the situation in India. But my point is that you will have the same thing in US pretty soon because American kids will now compete directly with kids from other countries. If an employer needs a java program written, they won't care whether the applicant took 2 yrs to decide that he really loves to program in Java or the applicant hates programming but needs to put food on the table. It is all routine stuff anyway.

    It is a race to the bottom indeed.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Paul Anilprem wrote: If an employer needs a java program written, they won't care whether the applicant took 2 yrs to decide that he really loves to program in Java or the applicant hates programming but needs to put food on the table. It is all routine stuff anyway.

    If the developer is good, the employer won't care. And some "food on the table" developers are. Many are not. Which means you hit the negative productivity of a bad developer. I have to say that not everything we do is routine stuff. I suspect more is routine in India is due to outsourcing. I see plenty of work that requires higher order thinking skills and not just piecing together code.
    Joe Ess
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        9

    chris webster wrote: It's fine to argue that students should pick marketable degrees, but for society to flourish we also need to nurture other aspects of intellectual and cultural life beyond the short-sighted jobs market. If only a minority can afford to study subjects that don't guarantee enough wages to pay off enormous student loans, where will tomorrow's teachers or intellectuals come from?


    I've heard this argument many times and thought it strange, since most of the people who create said culture did not go through the university system. When you are shopping around for a good book, do you stop and check what school the author got his/her MFA from? Of course not. And as for university "intellectuals", those who write about culture, they're so far down the rabbit hole it would take an advanced degree to even parse what they're saying (yes, I have many credit hours towards my Masters in English, why do you ask???).

    chris webster wrote: And what about the many professions that require university degrees and are vital to society but are not especially well-paid - teaching, nursing etc?


    Nurses actually do pretty well, at least in the US: 65k median vs a 76k median for programmers. I work in the medical field and they're one step away from resorting to impressment to get fresh hires. Teachers do make less, 53k median, but there's many reasons for that: 9-month work year, market saturation (I have a friend who "temped" as a substitute for five years before landing a full-time gig), etc. I would assume that if it ever became difficult to fill those positions with qualified applicants, the salaries would rise like it is for nursing.


    "blabbing like a narcissistic fool with a superiority complex" ~ N.A.
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    chris webster
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    Joe Ess wrote:I've heard this argument many times and thought it strange, since most of the people who create said culture did not go through the university system. When you are shopping around for a good book, do you stop and check what school the author got his/her MFA from? Of course not.

    Of course not. But for some artists and art forms, the space/time to develop their skills with expert support in a richer cultural environment is definitely important - many modern authors did indeed study at university (mostly in the days when that was more affordable than now). And most classical musicians need to study for years to master their instruments and the repertoire, but they don't usually earn much. Saddling them with more debt is likely to discourage talented musicians from even considering a career in music. You don't need to spend years at a conservatoire to play in a rock band, but you probably do if you want to master Bach or Mozart. Do we want our artists only to be selected from the wealthier classes? Anyway, it's not just about individuals - our wider culture surely needs universities to be open and accessible to all those with the ability to benefit from them and to benefit society by developing their skills, whether it's in engineering or Classics.

    As for academics down the rabbit-hole, well I know what you mean (my specialist area for my final year at university was medieval Germanic linguistics!). But I still think a civilised society should value intellectual life beyond pure economics or potential earning power for individuals. I see nothing wrong with encouraging and supporting intellectual life in the same way we encourage and support the sporting life of the nation. Think how much money is spent on cat-litter, junk food or soccer merchandise, compared to what it would cost to provide just a modest level of subsidy to improve access to university for less wealthy students.

    Of course, as a European humanities graduate, I guess I have a different perspective on this anyway.
    chris webster
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    Stats on graduate employment and earnings in the UK: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/graduates-in-the-labour-market/2013/sty-graduates-in-the-labour-market.html

    Apparently, 47% of recent graduates are now in a non-graduate jobs, while 34% of graduates are still in non-graduate jobs 5 years after graduation, and there is a rising trend. Meanwhile, I suspect the figures for employment by degree subject ignore the distinction between graduate/non-graduate jobs, as media studies grads have a very high employment rate but - based on the recent media grads I know about - many of these are probably in minimum wage jobs rather than working for the BBC. Oh, and Russell Group graduates earn about 20% more than graduates from other UK universities.

    Food for thought for any youngsters and their families who are planning their university careers.
    J. Kevin Robbins
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    I can give a somewhat interesting example from my own family. My oldest daughter has two Masters degrees in art, one from the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute. She works as an adjunct professor because the colleges are no longer hiring full-time teachers as a result of Obamacare. So she's lucky if she gets two classes a semester which is not enough to live on. As a result, she works as a waitress when she's not teaching. That's what 10 years of school in the arts got her.

    My other daughter is going to school to become a Registered Nurse and I expect that she'll be able to live comfortably. Three years of school versus ten.


    "The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do." -- Ted Nelson
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    It sounds like you are arguing that it isn't important to go to a "good" school due to cost?
    Paul Anilprem
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        7
    It might be tempting to criticize US college education on the basis of cost. But I am not sure low cost degrees are a good idea either. India is a case in point. Here, cost of a 3 yr undergraduate degree program such as BA, BSc, BCom and masters degree (MA MSc MCom) is very low and since everyone can afford it (and free for those who can't afford), people just join these programs and get a degree. There are so many people with these degrees that these degrees don't hold any value any more. They are cheap only because these colleges are government run and are highly subsidized. They are not really bad programs from curriculum perspective. But because they are so cheap people don't value them as much. And since an undergrad degree is a must for government and even private clerical jobs, people enroll in these programs with the sole purpose of getting a degree. Such people devalue the degree for everyone. The situation is that if all you have is one of these degrees, you are nothing.


    Up until 15 yrs ago, when privately run colleges were not common, India had a shortage of colleges that offered 4 yr degree programs (B. Tech. B.E. B Arch etc.). There were only a few Govt. colleges that ran these programs. There was tough competition to get into one of these colleges. If you were studying in one of these, you were sure of a job. Students who went to private colleges could get admissions if they paid huge sums as "donation" and even they were able to get jobs.

    About 15 yrs ago, private colleges started mushrooming like crazy. Now, there is such a glut of colleges offering 4 yr programs that a majority of privately run colleges are not able to fill the seats. In recent admission season, some colleges could not get even a single student to enroll! Some colleges have closed because of lack of students. But most importantly, students coming out from these colleges are running into the same problem that students with 3 yrs degrees run into. Their degree holds no value. A 4 yr degree from a government college still holds some value because employers know there is still tough competition to get into those colleges.

    Hence, the extremely tough competition for getting into top colleges. That hasn't changed. So the point is no matter what you do with the cost structure of the degrees, they are good only if they are few.
    Paul Anilprem
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    J. Kevin Robbins wrote:I can give a somewhat interesting example from my own family. My oldest daughter has two Masters degrees in art, one from the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute. She works as an adjunct professor because the colleges are no longer hiring full-time teachers as a result of Obamacare. So she's lucky if she gets two classes a semester which is not enough to live on. As a result, she works as a waitress when she's not teaching. That's what 10 years of school in the arts got her.

    My other daughter is going to school to become a Registered Nurse and I expect that she'll be able to live comfortably. Three years of school versus ten.


    I think it is not fair to say, "That's what 10 years of school in the arts got her." 10 years of MA education should have made her an artist. Is she a good artist? That's what the course is probably for. What was her purpose when she decided to pursue first MA and then second?

    A job exists precisely because your knowledge and expertise are useful to someone else directly and they pay you for that. From that perspective, days of pursuing M.A. in "History" are over. I don't know why such programs exist in the first place. I think these programs were relevant during colonial times when rich people had lot of time to ponder over nonsense. Now, if you want to learn history, that's fine. But don't expect a job because you know history. M A History kind of courses are a closed loop. They are useful only for the people who want to learn history. They are a ponzi scheme. The sooner students realize this, the better.

    In India at least, I think the only cheap degree they should have is B A in Civil and Common Sense and which should suffice for all clerical jobs. All other degrees should be available on cost basis.
    Ahsan Bagwan
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    I can vouch for points Paul has raised. I would say employers in India have a lot of leeway than their counterparts in other countries. That's why things like bond and other sketchy things are whole lot commonplace here. The average joe here would stay away from legal tangles, and thus some corporations exploit this fact to their advantage.

    The reality about the education scenario also started surfacing in the mainstream news much later. College-politico nexus, as Paul said, is also no more an insider information. Except some graduates from elite colleges, navigating a fruitful career is an uphill battle for all barring the cream of the crop.

    I think the damage is already done. No matter how the common sentiment is that India was not affected by the global financial crash, the reality suggests otherwise. This might sound bold but the saying that "Anything goes in India" is not far from truth, IMO.

    Henry Wong
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      40

    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    I think it is not fair to say, "That's what 10 years of school in the arts got her." 10 years of MA education should have made her an artist. Is she a good artist? That's what the course is probably for. What was her purpose when she decided to pursue first MA and then second?

    A job exists precisely because your knowledge and expertise are useful to someone else directly and they pay you for that. From that perspective, days of pursuing M.A. in "History" are over. I don't know why such programs exist in the first place. I think these programs were relevant during colonial times when rich people had lot of time to ponder over nonsense. Now, if you want to learn history, that's fine. But don't expect a job because you know history. M A History kind of courses are a closed loop. They are useful only for the people who want to learn history. They are a ponzi scheme. The sooner students realize this, the better.


    I don't know if I would classify getting a history degree as a Ponzi scheme. First, there is still value in it (meaning you can still get jobs with it). There is a strong need for good teachers -- and IMO, there is still a big shortage of them. The fact that teachers get paid so little, when there is a shortage of good ones, well, that's a different issue. And second, I don't think that is the definition of a Ponzi scheme...

    On the other hand, PhD programs are borderline a Ponzi scheme (in many areas). Many people get PhDs because that is needed to do research, and when you finally get one... well, the easiest way to do research (and get cheap labor) is to become a professor of PhD candidates. I believe there is a ridiculous glut of PhDs, yet they are still being produced, because that is how research works in many cases.

    Henry


    Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
    J. Kevin Robbins
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    I think it is not fair to say, "That's what 10 years of school in the arts got her." 10 years of MA education should have made her an artist. Is she a good artist? That's what the course is probably for. What was her purpose when she decided to pursue first MA and then second?

    Yes she is a good artist and even manages to sell a few pieces. She's had several gallery showings but needs to expand to international shows. But she can't make a living at it. The term "starving artist" is not a cliche. She has to wait tables to make ends meet and then barely. Her only option for a "real" job is to teach, but the schools are only hiring part time help now, with no benefits.

    She pursued art because I always encouraged her to do what she loved the most. I'm not sure that was the best advice. Maybe I should have encouraged her to be more practical and consider art a hobby or second job. We've heard the saying "do what you love and the money will follow". I think that's B.S. Every kid on a basketball court think he's going to be the next Lebron James. Every kid with a guitar thinks he's going to be the next Steve Vai. The hard truth is 99.99% of them will never make a dime at it.
    Paul Anilprem
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    J. Kevin Robbins wrote:
    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    I think it is not fair to say, "That's what 10 years of school in the arts got her." 10 years of MA education should have made her an artist. Is she a good artist? That's what the course is probably for. What was her purpose when she decided to pursue first MA and then second?

    Yes she is a good artist and even manages to sell a few pieces. She's had several gallery showings but needs to expand to international shows. But she can't make a living at it. The term "starving artist" is not a cliche. She has to wait tables to make ends meet and then barely. Her only option for a "real" job is to teach, but the schools are only hiring part time help now, with no benefits.

    She pursued art because I always encouraged her to do what she loved the most. I'm not sure that was the best advice. Maybe I should have encouraged her to be more practical and consider art a hobby or second job. We've heard the saying "do what you love and the money will follow". I think that's B.S. Every kid on a basketball court think he's going to be the next Lebron James. Every kid with a guitar thinks he's going to be the next Steve Vai. The hard truth is 99.99% of them will never make a dime at it.


    I totally understand your point and I feel the same. That's why I said earlier that it is not possible for kids to pursue real art unless their parents can back them up to the hilt. Real art (performing as well as fine) requires complete dedication which is not possible if you are worried about the next months rent.
    Paul Anilprem
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    Henry Wong wrote:
    I don't know if I would classify getting a history degree as a Ponzi scheme. First, there is still value in it (meaning you can still get jobs with it). There is a strong need for good teachers -- and IMO, there is still a big shortage of them. The fact that teachers get paid so little, when there is a shortage of good ones, well, that's a different issue. And second, I don't think that is the definition of a Ponzi scheme...

    On the other hand, PhD programs are borderline a Ponzi scheme (in many areas). Many people get PhDs because that is needed to do research, and when you finally get one... well, the easiest way to do research (and get cheap labor) is to become a professor of PhD candidates. I believe there is a ridiculous glut of PhDs, yet they are still being produced, because that is how research works in many cases.

    Henry

    Well, if you leave exceptionally rare job opportunities for History majors aside (such as may be a historian at a smithsonian. I don't know if such a job exists. I am just guessing.), the only job I see for them is teaching history. So the only way they can get paid for their investment is if other people turn up to learn history, who in turn will get a return on their investment if still more people turn up to learn history. Classic case of a Ponzi scheme.
    Matthew Brown
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    Well, if you leave exceptionally rare job opportunities for History majors aside (such as may be a historian at a smithsonian. I don't know if such a job exists. I am just guessing.), the only job I see for them is teaching history. So the only way they can get paid for their investment is if other people turn up to learn history, who in turn will get a return on their investment if still more people turn up to learn history. Classic case of a Ponzi scheme.


    I think you're taking a very narrow view of the purpose of a degree. The vast majority of graduates (in the UK at least - I can't speak for other countries) do not use the content of their degree in the rest of their career. Most science graduates don't even get jobs working in science. What is far more important for employability are the skills you develop while doing that degree. In doing a history degree you develop critical thinking. You develop the ability to assimilate large amounts of information, assess evidence, marshal it into an argument, and communicate that argument. All of these are absolutely critical in a large range of jobs. There's a reason history degrees are still valued by many employers. On the other hand, there was a recent story here of employers complaining that too many STEM graduates don't have the soft skills they need in the workplace - the sort of skills that humanities degrees are good at providing.

    Disclosure: my partner is a historian, so I have a very good idea of the sort of skills they are trying to develop in students. With a fair amount of success.
    J. Kevin Robbins
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:I totally understand your point and I feel the same. That's why I said earlier that it is not possible for kids to pursue real art unless their parents can back them up to the hilt. Real art (performing as well as fine) requires complete dedication which is not possible if you are worried about the next months rent.

    Many of these opportunities are left to what we in the States call "trusties"; that is, kids who have a trust fund to live off of and don't need to worry about a real job. My daughter didn't have that luxury. Maybe it's made her work harder and become a better artist because of it. You can read a bit about her here. And here are a few of her pieces. Sculpture is her favorite medium, but she does everything from painting to making custom jewelry. It's amazing how many people have purchased the jewelry that she was wearing at the time.

    I'm getting way off topic talking about my kid. Sorry for meandering....
    Paul Anilprem
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    Matthew Brown wrote:
    I think you're taking a very narrow view of the purpose of a degree.

    Yes, I am. My point is that this is what it has come to now.

    Matthew Brown wrote:
    The vast majority of graduates (in the UK at least - I can't speak for other countries) do not use the content of their degree in the rest of their career. Most science graduates don't even get jobs working in science.

    Again, I agree. But again, my point is that it has already changed in India and it will change in the west as well.

    Matthew Brown wrote:
    What is far more important for employability are the skills you develop while doing that degree. In doing a history degree you develop critical thinking. You develop the ability to assimilate large amounts of information, assess evidence, marshal it into an argument, and communicate that argument.

    Yes, but do you think only a history degree teaches you that? I don't think so. These skills are actually acquired subconsciously while pursuing any degree. When a student go through a degree program, any good degree program, they will be required to develop critical thinking, ability to assimilate large amounts of information, and all the good stuff you mentioned.

    So now, an employer, has a choice. If they need a software developer, why would they hire a history major and pay for the training? Earlier, there was a time when there was no Computer Science department even in top institutes. Companies hired (and still do) Electrical and Electronics majors, Math majors for programming jobs. But now, when Computer Science majors are available, they first try to hire computer majors. There are exceptions, of course, but I am talking more generally here.


    All of these are absolutely critical in a large range of jobs. There's a reason history degrees are still valued by many employers.

    I am sure they are valuable. But is that value translating into a job? I don't think so. I just checked Monster and I don't see any job for a history major that is not a teaching history job.
    I, for one, will not advise my child to pursue History major. Would you?


    On the other hand, there was a recent story here of employers complaining that too many STEM graduates don't have the soft skills they need in the workplace - the sort of skills that humanities degrees are good at providing.

    Disclosure: my partner is a historian, so I have a very good idea of the sort of skills they are trying to develop in students. With a fair amount of success.

    I agree. You are supporting my point. The humanities candidate is not hired for his history knowledge and expertise but for soft skills that they are not able to find in STEM candidates. I bet they would hire a STEM candidate in a heartbeat if she had the soft skills as well. I don't think they are elated to hire History majors. They are just a stopgap arrangement.
    Matthew Brown
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    Matthew Brown wrote:
    The vast majority of graduates (in the UK at least - I can't speak for other countries) do not use the content of their degree in the rest of their career. Most science graduates don't even get jobs working in science.

    Again, I agree. But again, my point is that it has already changed in India and it will change in the west as well.


    I don't agree. And I think if it does it's a huge mistake by the West, because it would kill the areas where they have a competitive advantage. They need the creativity that comes with having diversity in a business area. The UK can't compete with India in terms of churning out lots of computer programmers. But that's not the basis of the UK economy.

    Paul Anilprem wrote:
    Matthew Brown wrote:
    What is far more important for employability are the skills you develop while doing that degree. In doing a history degree you develop critical thinking. You develop the ability to assimilate large amounts of information, assess evidence, marshal it into an argument, and communicate that argument.

    Yes, but do you think only a history degree teaches you that? I don't think so. These skills are actually acquired subconsciously while pursuing any degree. When a student go through a degree program, any good degree program, they will be required to develop critical thinking, ability to assimilate large amounts of information, and all the good stuff you mentioned.

    I think history does it better than most, based on observation. Certainly better than computer science.

    Paul Anilprem wrote:

    All of these are absolutely critical in a large range of jobs. There's a reason history degrees are still valued by many employers.

    I am sure they are valuable. But is that value translating into a job? I don't think so. I just checked Monster and I don't see any job for a history major that is not a teaching history job.
    I, for one, will not advise my child to pursue History major. Would you?


    I meant "valuable" specifically to mean "employers will pay you for it". History graduates still have decent employment rates. Of course there are few jobs that ask for a history degree. But the majority of graduate jobs don't ask for a specific degree. Lots ask for a good degree in any subject. "Software developer" really isn't that representative in this country.

    And yes, I would advise my child to take a history degree. Or rather, I would advise them to take a recognised academic subject in a subject they find interesting, because the more interesting they find it the better they will do. And for most jobs, that has a bigger impact. Of course, there are exceptions. Some jobs you need to be specific about. If you want to be a doctor, you have to take a medical degree. If you want to be an engineer you need a degree in engineering. But most jobs are not like that.
    Paul Anilprem
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    J. Kevin Robbins wrote:
    Paul Anilprem wrote:I totally understand your point and I feel the same. That's why I said earlier that it is not possible for kids to pursue real art unless their parents can back them up to the hilt. Real art (performing as well as fine) requires complete dedication which is not possible if you are worried about the next months rent.

    Many of these opportunities are left to what we in the States call "trusties"; that is, kids who have a trust fund to live off of and don't need to worry about a real job. My daughter didn't have that luxury. Maybe it's made her work harder and become a better artist because of it. You can read a bit about her here. And here are a few of her pieces. Sculpture is her favorite medium, but she does everything from painting to making custom jewelry. It's amazing how many people have purchased the jewelry that she was wearing at the time.

    I'm getting way off topic talking about my kid. Sorry for meandering....


    Cool Thanks for sharing.
    I am curious about this statement though, "I want to be an artist when I grow up". Is she an artist who does multiple things or is she focusing on something specific? Of course, as a child this statement is fine but I didn't see anything specific in the blog as a grown up. In India, people are usually more specific. For example, they would say, I am a painter or a musician.
    Paul Anilprem
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        7
    Matthew Brown wrote:History graduates still have decent employment rates.

    I am not familiar with the job market in your location so I will take your word for it. I can only say that this is not the case in India. The only people pursuing a History degree here are the ones whose sole objective in life is to prepare for Civil Services exams (these exams are conducted by the state and central government for recruiting all kinds of civil servants.) and get a government job that has, lets just say, perks that a privately employed person can only dream about.
    J. Kevin Robbins
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    Paul Anilprem wrote:Is she an artist who does multiple things or is she focusing on something specific? Of course, as a child this statement is fine but I didn't see anything specific in the blog as a grown up. In India, people are usually more specific. For example, they would say, I am a painter or a musician.

    I hesitate to speak for her, but I think she would say that calling herself a painter or sculptor is too limiting. She does many things, including performance art. She sees art in everything. I think sculpture is her favorite mostly because she likes working in three dimensions as opposed to painting on a canvas. She definitely sees the world differently than most people.
    Dieter Quickfend
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    About artists: I am a big fan of culture and art and I think a lack of spending on culture and art from a public perspective indicates that the public is not being paid enough. You're not going to buy a painting or go to concerts if you can't afford it.

    That having been said, in my country artists get a certain budget from the government and generally complain that it's not enough. I do not think the government should pay for artists to just 'exist'. Sure, it isn't fair that children from wealthy homes have the opportunity to be an artist while children from poor homes don't, but this is indicative of a problem far greater than art, namely the income gap.

    If you make sure the working population has enough money to spend on culture and art, artists will be able to generate sufficient income themselves without becoming dependent on government support. (And no, this is not done through tax cuts). The inequality of young people relying on parents' income is a major issue which must be addressed. But government subsidizing artists simply gives way to systematic abuse.

    I do believe that the pursuit of a higher education should be fully subsidized by governments. The more people that pursue a higher education, the higher your level of employment and the higher your average income. If everyone can afford to go to school, everyone can get a job in which they are not so easy to replace. Meaning poverty rates will be far lower. Premiums for rare profiles will also decrease due to there being more choice on the market, which will cause a reduction of the income gap.


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    Jayesh A Lalwani
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    And I have a completely different opinion on art:- I think art as a profession shouldn't exist. We should all be amateur artists. Everyone should have some sort of art training. Not just art, but philosophy too. People should have enough free time that they can pursue artistic pursuits. All art should be free or in public domain. The only reward for art should be the ability to do self-expression and enrichment

    I think young people get pushed into deciding into picking a career too soon, and once you pick a career, you are working hard to complete school, and then working hard to earn money. Even if you earn well, you are still in the grind. It's not like being smart, or good at something that provides value to the society gives you any freedom. You might have a good house and live in a good neighborhood, but you never stop running around. Everyone should have the freedom to do something just for themselves.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Paul Anilprem wrote: M A History kind of courses are a closed loop. They are useful only for the people who want to learn history. They are a ponzi scheme. The sooner students realize this, the better.

    I think there is a different argument for Masters and Bachelors level programs. I think getting a Bachelors in history can lead you to a variety of careers. Politics springs to mind. It would be nice not repeat all the mistakes of the past. Going into a law program after graduating seems like another promising approach. There's actually a page on the history site of a school that talks about what history majors can do. Although Paul would probably argue it is biased because that page targets more history majors. Whereas a Masters is a more specialized degree. I think by the time you get up to getting a Masters in something you have more of a goal. Which is probably history teacher.

    Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:And I have a completely different opinion on art:- I think art as a profession shouldn't exist.

    I disagree. Early in the week I saw a Broadway show. Everyone in it is a full time artist. (singer, dancer, musician, stage hand, etc) The same goes for most shows you see on television and most movies. There are many qualified people. Some "make it" as artists and others do not. Much of that is luck. Without any full time artists, I don't think we'd have the same entertainment options we do today.
    Paul Anilprem
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    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
    Paul Anilprem wrote: M A History kind of courses are a closed loop. They are useful only for the people who want to learn history. They are a ponzi scheme. The sooner students realize this, the better.

    I think there is a different argument for Masters and Bachelors level programs. I think getting a Bachelors in history can lead you to a variety of careers. Politics springs to mind. It would be nice not repeat all the mistakes of the past. Going into a law program after graduating seems like another promising approach. There's actually a page on the history site of a school that talks about what history majors can do. Although Paul would probably argue it is biased because that page targets more history majors. Whereas a Masters is a more specialized degree. I think by the time you get up to getting a Masters in something you have more of a goal. Which is probably history teacher.

    Thanks for sharing the link. What the page explains is how it is here in India as well. People take history because they just want some degree to qualify for other things such as Law, Civil Services, MBA, or just to be a graduate. Many girls who have no intention to pursue employment take this route while they wait for marriage (Please don't get offended. I am talking about India.). Of course, History is not the only degree that is required for these other things but it is the cheapest and easiest to get.

    But the fact still remains that these degrees don't make you uniquely qualified for anything and that is going to be a big problem for kids now. It is like saying, I know how to read and that can lead me to a variety of careers.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Paul,
    I don't see how that changes. If someone wants law or an Indian civil service job or the like, why would they be worse off with history now than in the pass.

    And I'm not offended by the some women go to school to get married rather than learn comment. It's not common now, but that used to happen in the US too. Besides, *I* am a computer geek. I liked what I studied in university .
    Paul Anilprem
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    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Paul,
    I don't see how that changes. If someone wants law or an Indian civil service job or the like, why would they be worse off with history now than in the pass.

    There is a lot of background to that but basically, civil service jobs are extremely rare. Not every one who prepares for it will get it. May be about 0.01% candidates finally get it. So what are the rest going to do? They have a tough time getting absorbed anywhere. They keep trying for civil services up the age of 35 (which is the max age limit.) For some disadvantaged classes, it is 40.

    Some go for a Law degree, again with the purpose of getting into Judicial Services (i.e. govt. jobs for which Law degree is required.). Private Law practice in India is nothing like in US. Here, 90% of the lawyers don't make enough to dry clean their coats every month! So they look for jobs such as Legal Advisors in private companies, where they have to compete with candidates whose first degree is actually something useful such as B Commerce, B Sc (Math), or even B.E. (because there are so many of them now).

    Overall, a BA is degree (unless it is in Performing or Fine arts) is a dead end. The difference between past and present is the competition. BA History is obsolete.
     
    It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
     
    subject: the importance of going to a "good" school