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While you hear about this sometimes over here, the most common approach for funding school seems to be to take out massive student loans. With even state-run colleges costing upwards of $20,000 per year (tuition & living), there are a lot of people graduating with useless degrees and debt far beyond what they can hope to pay off.

In Colorado there is discussion about changing the fee structure so that students who pursue "business-ready" subjects (medicine, business, law, engineering) pay less than those who take degrees that do not lead directly and obviously to jobs. This leads to hand-wringing about "the purpose of a university is not to be a trade school," but I think that's a bit unrealistic. If you go to a school like Harvard or Cambridge, etc., then you can study Philosophy or Classics because your daddy has a bank VP slot waiting for you after the Grand Tour is finished. It's probably not going to be possible to elevate everybody to that situation. (Or at least it would be if we were living under different political circumstances, but that ain't gonna happen.)

by asdf on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 10:42:04 AM EST
Well - it wasn't all that unrealistic when I was doing my degree. Quite a few people from my generation studied classics or philosophy for the sake of it.

The reality is that employers want to see evidence of application and achievement, and are just as happy to employ (e.g.) music grads as they are to employ engineers.

Or at least they used to be. Now they just want skilled interns who will work for free, and universities are supposed to produce cowed and stunted employees grateful for crumbs of corporate largesse and turbo-charged with the sacred urge to buy and sell shit.

Independent thinking is no longer welcome.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 11:02:51 AM EST
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"Now they just want skilled interns who will work for free,"

Unpaid internships are so out of date. Nowadays interns are expected to pay for the privilege of gathering experience.

by Katrin on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 11:32:28 AM EST
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Tuition was a minor expense for both of my degrees back in the first half of the '60s.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 12:58:38 PM EST
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Independent thinking is no longer welcome.

So die civilizations.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 02:08:18 PM EST
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The stupid, it burns.

No, what's happened is that we've conflated trade schools with universities. Mostly the fault of a middle income group pretending to be middle class and wanting all the middle class trimmings. Oh, and businesses want those new minions fully formed employees who they, in theory, don't have to train how to do their jobs.

The whole vocational training sector here has been elevated to university status and the universities have been required to become vocational training services. Just in case they'd encourage anyone to accidentally think a thought. Which is what happens when your country is run by people who qualified as school teachers so they'd have a secure fallback in case the whole political career didn't work out.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 01:06:56 PM EST
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Right, but the practical problem is that new graduates with degrees in Chemical Engineering can go to work for ExxonMobil or BP and make $100,000 the first year out of school. Ditto the finance majors who go to Wall Street. Then there is a tail of electrical/civil/computer/mechanical engineers who might start in the neighorhood of $50,000, and then qualified schoolteachers (it is not as easy as falling off a log to get a high school teaching job) starting at $25,000. Then an even longer tail of Philosophy, Sociology, Classics, Women's Studies, and Kinetic Motion majors who are unable to find a job of any sort.

How do you convince Shell to hire a Modern Dance major?

When I was in college, I was able to make $2300 in a summer--exactly the cost of tuition and living expenses for a year. At my first job, I made $8000. Nowadays, the price of school is up by a factor of ten, to around $23,000, but there are very few jobs available where you start at $80,000. Engineering, finance, law, physician...

by asdf on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 01:45:35 PM EST
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Dito. My first 'professional' job was as a teacher in a private school and I made something under $6,000. The next year I made something over $6,000. (To get a decent salary required working in the public school system, which required a teaching certificate.) This was for 10 months work. But this was 1967 and I could rent a one bedroom apartment in Santa Monica, five blocks downhill to the beach, for $67/mo. Hell, unemployment paid about $67/week at that time. And, because I was teaching, the payments on my ~$2000 student loan were deferred or forgiven, can't remember which. It is a totally different and worse world today for recent grads.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 10:23:37 PM EST
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