Author Topic: PW article  (Read 16214 times)

phillystash

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PW article
« on: January 22, 2015, 03:10:14 PM »

slugline

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Re: PW article
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2015, 03:38:41 PM »
In my opinion, there are way more people that claim to be middle-class than are actually middle-class.

Using a cafe barista as an example -- really????

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Re: PW article
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2015, 04:09:59 PM »
It's crazy that she was living with nearly nothing, built herself up, but just kept expanding her lifestyle.  Presumably she'd have continued to do that even as she earned more.

You'd think you'd learn to put some away, and not expand past what you can afford.  She was clearly spending more than she made, for example, if she can't pay her bills.

And that means she was likely getting hit with late fees, etc.

What a shame.
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Re: PW article
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2015, 06:14:12 PM »
A lot of Americans are delusional when it comes to class issues. Just as there are plenty of temporarily embarrassed millionaires there are tons of working class people who think they are middle class. (Same with upper class people)

gimp

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Re: PW article
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2015, 06:35:46 PM »
I go by the simplest definition - the middle 60%. Or if you want to get fancy, a decent approximation of that is everyone within one standard deviation of the median. (Approximation, not ==).

However, I think people in the middle 90%, even 95%, consider themselves middle class.

The most annoying thing about this isn't that people disagree with my definition - certainly someone with not too much wants to be considered richer, and someone with quite a lot wants to keep their head down and claim they're just like anyone else - the most annoying thing is that people (news, politicians, and so on) try to divide us based on these bullshit arbitrary lines for cheap gain - a few dollars, election to office, whatever.

(For the record, I think it's great that people consider themselves to be 'temporarily embarrassed millionaires' - the quote comes from someone derisive of this idea, but I'm glad people strive for success, even if they measure it by dollars in the bank account.)

Scandium

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Re: PW article
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2015, 09:01:46 AM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?

galliver

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Re: PW article
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2015, 10:29:04 AM »
Class isn't really a distinction based solely on income. It's sometimes used that way, based on 19th century ideas, I think, but these days it's more murky. Education, background (parents' class), values, etc. play into one's class. Underemployed college grads and graduate students making $20-30k fit the middle class mentality much better than the working class, whereas certain "millionaires next door" espouse a working class mindset (I'm thinking the Duggars and Dave Ramsey, not MMM). Meanwhile, we see articles all the time about lawyers and financiers with 500k incomes living deep in debt/going bankrupt. So, I think the article's author was using this more flexible definition whereas you are trying to equate class to income groups. Not necessarily wrong, but you're using different vocabulary, so of course you disagree.

And Re: baristas: you don't have to have a degree to have student loans. People drop out for a lot of reasons...financial, family issues, disillusionment, and of course failing out. And I have seen second-hand how hard it is to make student loan payments with a min-wage job...while still trying to figure out what to do with one's future. 

vivophoenix

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Re: PW article
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2015, 11:34:23 AM »
Class isn't really a distinction based solely on income. It's sometimes used that way, based on 19th century ideas, I think, but these days it's more murky. Education, background (parents' class), values, etc. play into one's class. Underemployed college grads and graduate students making $20-30k fit the middle class mentality much better than the working class, whereas certain "millionaires next door" espouse a working class mindset (I'm thinking the Duggars and Dave Ramsey, not MMM). Meanwhile, we see articles all the time about lawyers and financiers with 500k incomes living deep in debt/going bankrupt. So, I think the article's author was using this more flexible definition whereas you are trying to equate class to income groups. Not necessarily wrong, but you're using different vocabulary, so of course you disagree.

And Re: baristas: you don't have to have a degree to have student loans. People drop out for a lot of reasons...financial, family issues, disillusionment, and of course failing out. And I have seen second-hand how hard it is to make student loan payments with a min-wage job...while still trying to figure out what to do with one's future.


and even if the barista did graduate,  i doubt this was their first choice in career. however i know alot of people who work at starbucks because of their benefits which they give to basically everyone.

it can be difficult getting your first job in your career. everyone thinks the employment crisis is over because people arent applying for unemployment benefits. however when you look at the number of underemployed, you get a better picture.

when did student loans because the easy cheap shot to mock people ?

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Re: PW article
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 11:53:05 AM »
It's easy to get caught in the paycheck-to-paycheck trap if you constantly upgrade your housing to what you can barely afford. 

That seems to be the underlying problem with the situations described in this article.  Our culture promotes this idea that everyone should have a single family house with a generous yard and two SUVs in the driveway.  So people get as close as they can to that on their pay and end up not being able to make ends meet.


mm1970

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Re: PW article
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2015, 12:12:15 PM »
I think far too many people consider themselves middle class.

Quote
Sorry, Suze—three strikes and you’re out. I like you as a person, but I call bullshit on your advice to the low-income earner.

Well, there's low-income and low-income.

You cannot deny that some people are saddled with low income and debt - college debt and/or debt from being unemployed.  It's not all about people who like their phones, and their cable, and their cars, etc.  There truly are people in this country who are living close to the edge and cannot pinch more.

But there were people in this article who were paying more to live in a neighborhood that was NOT commensurate with their income.  I'm not saying I don't have sympathy - because I do.

But I just got done having a phone convo with my brother at Christmas.  He has a brand new job (in a prison).  Finally good benefits and better pay and a pension so he can retire some day (he's 43).  Because "You know we all live paycheck to paycheck and it's impossible to save for retirement."

Now, I'm happy he's got a job that will give him a pension in 15 years (because his 6 years in the military will count towards it).
But I also know:
- he and his wife like cars, and there was a 10 year period where they bought a new (used) car every year.  I am not exaggerating.  They'd buy a car, drive it 9 months, trade it in (at a loss), to get a new car.  They had two pickup trucks when they were pregnant with their 2nd baby, and bought two SUVs.
- his wife is a shopper.  In addition to having a 45 minute commute (each way), on her days off she'd drive 2 hours (one way) to go shopping with her mom to buy clothes for her and the girls.  In her defense, she made most of the money.
- they rarely cook - wife ate lunch out every day, and they liked eating out a couple of nights a week.  Which isn't cheap, even in my rural town.

Of all my siblings, he's the worst with money.

LucyBIT

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Re: PW article
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2015, 04:03:26 PM »
when did student loans because the easy cheap shot to mock people ?

+1

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Re: PW article
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2015, 07:45:07 PM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2015, 10:55:46 AM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

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Re: PW article
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2015, 12:34:41 PM »
"Some days, I even eat out. But, like it or not, as I accumulate more things, more activities, more hobbies, more friends, more clothes, more everything, I also start to accumulate more expenses—and more wants."

So it was all self inflicted... ok move on.

Why does everyone and their dog NEED a cell phone... and a $60/mth one at that!?!  I know $60-100/mth isn't all that much but if these people ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT FOOD... then that can stretch basic foods for an entire month (Rice, pasta, potatoes, etc).  I know IF my work phone was suddenly cut off I could go down the street... pick up a $30 phone, and $150 prepaid card and be done for THE YEAR!

Still that's just a small part I guess.  Seems like large debts/loans always seems to be the culprit.  US system of private education loans is so broken imho.

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Re: PW article
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2015, 04:23:53 PM »
I am always baffled at the people who talk about student loans as if they had no part in deciding to pay tuition and pursue education - more parents should sit down with their kids and talk realistically about the cost/benefits of school, and how to try to choose a promising career. The comments on this article say things like, "saddled with student loan debt" - it's all Obama's fault! Making me angry.

gimp

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Re: PW article
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2015, 05:16:35 PM »
I am always baffled at the people who talk about student loans as if they had no part in deciding to pay tuition and pursue education

That's the problem - too many people didn't.

At the risk of going off-topic... fuck it.

You know how much college costs? I mean, when you're 18, and you're applying for colleges. How much do they cost?

Zero dollars. $0. All of them. Every single one. (Almost) no 18-year-old is told: You are going to need to pay me $x to go to school. Cough up. Where's your wallet? Don't have cash, no problem, go to the ATM, I'll wait. Cashier's check is fine.

Nope. None of them are told that. Incidentally, this is why Yale and Quinnipiac, located about 10 miles apart, can charge the same price for admission: because colleges don't cost anything so whatever you charge, people will still go there. Despite the fact that one is world-renowned and one would make the world better by not existing.

So when you're a kid, you vaguely know the sticker price of this school is 60 grand a year, including tuition, room, board, and some extras. You know the sticker price doesn't apply to you. You have this grant, this scholarship, this merit thing, this need-based thing, which all come from the government, the school, the program you're in, and other sources; and eight different loans from the government, at different sums and different percentages, and every single one of those paid out to your college directly so you don't have to worry about it, you just saw that your school year has been paid for and you're eligible to register for classes.

Four years later you graduate (or five, or six) and six, nine, or twelve months after that, the letters start coming. You owe x per month. Here's a really big figure of your outstanding debt - actually, I lied, here are twelve figures of outstanding debt all with different sums and interest rates. But all you have to do is pay x per month for ten years, that's it.

So you don't know how much it costs when you're applying, nor when you accept - or, rather, it costs $0, that is $000,000 - and then when you graduate, you pay a three-digit sum a month until eventually you're done, and you don't really know what you ended up paying anyways.

Of fucking course that's a problem, but it's very hard to blame a kid, whose parents never sat them down when they were 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, and ten more times at 18, to explain how much money, what the expected return on investment is monetarily, what the expected return on investment is non-monetarily (job satisfaction, career opportunities, friends, acquaintances, network, possible meeting of your future wife or husband), how much money today, where the money comes from, how much money over the four/five/six years, how to reduce the sum (live off campus and cook chicken and potatoes), how to avoid inflating the sum (live on campus and order pizza and buy vodka and put it on your credit card and go to cancun and put that on a different credit card), how to balance paying off loans versus mobility versus career opportunities versus overall happiness, and how much it will cost in the end. You really think kids are gonna figure that shit out on their own?

When our grandparents may have gone to school, there was a sticker price for school, and they worked to pay that price. Now it's like navigating financial contracts between financial experts in one field, given to financial experts in another field, backed by financial experts in the government, with a good amount of legalese. Grasping the full cost and benefit of college is beyond most adults, let alone fucking teenagers.

I got lucky, very lucky, to go to a school with a coop program and to be an engineer. After two years of school, I got my first coop, and from that point - 3 years, composed of 20 months work and four semesters of school - I paid every single dime for every single expense I had, including tuition, rent, living, car and car maintenance, five cross-country drives, and bourbon besides. I get to stand with the old-timers and say: the sticker price was $x, I worked to save up $x, and that's that. (Well, and loans, but they're so low I pay more than double minimum with zero impact to my standard of living.) I got lucky not just because I could just barely save up enough to pay, I got lucky because for me it was a simple system, or at least, far simpler than it is for most people - and because my parents explained how money works to me, so I had/have a pretty good idea of where it comes from and where it goes and what the total price is over the full term. Hooray for me.

If someone took loans for a degree that makes no money, yes, they fucked up really hard. They're largely responsible for their fuckup. But so is literally everyone else who told them to go to school, follow their dreams, and everything would work out. (Well, it will work out, just ten years later than anyone expected. Hard to tell a 22-year-old that it will take another 10 years to do what their parents did at 22 and grandparents did at 17. Much harder to hear it.)

"Well, they could have x." Yes, they could have, and were they wisely counseled, they may well have. Unfortunately wise counsel was lacking, and is lacking, from the generation for whom college was the way out and up, to those for whom it is no longer the case.

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2015, 05:40:51 PM »
I am always baffled at the people who talk about student loans as if they had no part in deciding to pay tuition and pursue education

That's the problem - too many people didn't.

.
.
.

"Well, they could have x." Yes, they could have, and were they wisely counseled, they may well have. Unfortunately wise counsel was lacking, and is lacking, from the generation for whom college was the way out and up, to those for whom it is no longer the case.

+1

My financial aid officers frequently tell me "well you can get more loans, you're not at the maximum amount the government's awarded you."  This is despite the fact that my tuition is completely covered and I even get a chunk back at the beginning of every semester for living expenses (though I'm stopping that now that I've found MMM). 

ChaseJuggler

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Re: PW article
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2015, 12:03:20 PM »
I am always baffled at the people who talk about student loans as if they had no part in deciding to pay tuition and pursue education

I got lucky, very lucky, to go to a school with a coop program and to be an engineer. After two years of school, I got my first coop, and from that point - 3 years, composed of 20 months work and four semesters of school - I paid every single dime for every single expense I had, including tuition, rent, living, car and car maintenance, five cross-country drives, and bourbon besides. I get to stand with the old-timers and say: the sticker price was $x, I worked to save up $x, and that's that. (Well, and loans, but they're so low I pay more than double minimum with zero impact to my standard of living.) I got lucky not just because I could just barely save up enough to pay, I got lucky because for me it was a simple system, or at least, far simpler than it is for most people - and because my parents explained how money works to me, so I had/have a pretty good idea of where it comes from and where it goes and what the total price is over the full term. Hooray for me.

If someone took loans for a degree that makes no money, yes, they fucked up really hard. They're largely responsible for their fuckup. But so is literally everyone else who told them to go to school, follow their dreams, and everything would work out. (Well, it will work out, just ten years later than anyone expected. Hard to tell a 22-year-old that it will take another 10 years to do what their parents did at 22 and grandparents did at 17. Much harder to hear it.)

I teach high school Physics & Calculus, and every year I beg and plead with them to only consider strong degrees at affordable schools unless their parents make >$150k/yr. I am yet to have a single student take me seriously or ask any followup questions about it. =(

The parents, guidance counselors, commercials, friends, whoever.... have collectively brainwashed today's teenagers. Without exception, all of my students have only one goal right now: get into the most selective university that will accept them.

The fact that today's teens have to make the biggest financial decision of their lives before paying a single rent check is asinine. But the voices of reason are very few out there, and get drowned out.

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Re: PW article
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2015, 12:58:08 PM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

As a professor of French... 

+ 1.

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2015, 01:08:03 PM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

As a professor of French... 

+ 1.

I was conversationally fluent in French once upon a time but I haven't spoken it in like 6 years :(  I keep telling myself, someday I'll get back to it....

Kris

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Re: PW article
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2015, 01:29:25 PM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

As a professor of French... 

+ 1.

I was conversationally fluent in French once upon a time but I haven't spoken it in like 6 years :(  I keep telling myself, someday I'll get back to it....
it's never too late...

And anecdotally, if you go into a career where you do business with any European firms or branches of your company, you would find that you had done yourself a favor as an American, having knowledge of a European language *and* a cultural tradition.  Nothing like looking blankly at your European counterpart, as he makes an allusion to an author or philosopher known to any European with the equivalent of a sixth-grade education, to reinforce some of the worse American stereotypes.

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2015, 01:57:44 PM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

As a professor of French... 

+ 1.

I was conversationally fluent in French once upon a time but I haven't spoken it in like 6 years :(  I keep telling myself, someday I'll get back to it....
it's never too late...

And anecdotally, if you go into a career where you do business with any European firms or branches of your company, you would find that you had done yourself a favor as an American, having knowledge of a European language *and* a cultural tradition.  Nothing like looking blankly at your European counterpart, as he makes an allusion to an author or philosopher known to any European with the equivalent of a sixth-grade education, to reinforce some of the worse American stereotypes.

That's the exact reason my parents pushed me towards languages and learning about other cultures.  They sent me abroad alone a couple times in high school and the immersion was really what led to the fluency.  When I'm done filling my head with all the molecular biology/biochemistry I can absorb, I'll round myself back out and start practicing French again :)  I think once you've known it, it probably comes back a lot more easily than learning it the first time. 

LalsConstant

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Re: PW article
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2015, 02:44:17 PM »
For whatever this is worth...

Back when I was a tax preparer, I prepared all kinds of returns (talking about the 1040s here) for all kinds of people.  Now bear in mind most of the more "humble" returns were for minors or done as favors/perks for bigger clients (Hey can you prepare my son's return, etc.) so perhaps this isn't a representative sample.

I think the lowest AGI I ever saw was like $8,000 and the largest I ever did was probably roughly $1.5 million.

Every.
Single.
One.

Of those clients, in conversation, remarked about being "middle class" at some point.

$8,000 AGI.  Middle class.
$1,500,000 AGI.  Middle class.

Yeah.  That's about when I decided the term was meaningless.

Annamal

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Re: PW article
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2015, 04:59:48 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.




gimp

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Re: PW article
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2015, 05:54:19 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

Annamal

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Re: PW article
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2015, 07:11:36 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

The bottom line is that, as a society we take these 18 year old idiots and make them responsible for all the choices and debts that they are going to regret a great deal as 30 year olds.

I got super lucky, in that my 18 year old idiocy was never particularly costly  (and by chance some of those decisions worked out very well) but I find it very hard judge other people's decisions at 18.

arebelspy

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Re: PW article
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2015, 09:03:37 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

I'm turning 30 this year and guess I still qualify as an idiot for you (and get a salute from Annamal)...  :)
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Annamal

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Re: PW article
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2015, 10:13:37 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

I'm turning 30 this year and guess I still qualify as an idiot for you (and get a salute from Annamal)...  :)

So no moments of 18 year old idiocy at all?

Yep I salute you.

galliver

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Re: PW article
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2015, 10:38:55 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

Only 26, but I'm pretty confident my decisions at 18 were pretty sound. Now, my decisions at 21-26, the verdict is still out...either I got dumber or decisions got harder (i.e. their consequences harder to predict...)

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Re: PW article
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2015, 06:49:06 AM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

I denigrate the people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available. And those that are available pay lousily. Humanities may be important, but clearly in many cases society's needs are filled at the moment. Engineers on the other hand are very important, there is a need, and it pays well!

arebelspy

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Re: PW article
« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2015, 07:59:05 AM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

I'm turning 30 this year and guess I still qualify as an idiot for you (and get a salute from Annamal)...  :)

So no moments of 18 year old idiocy at all?

Yep I salute you.

You moved the target.  You started with an idiot in "very key ways" (which I was not), and changed to "no moments" ever (which obviously I had).

That's disingenuous.

No, I was not an idiot in key ways (your first statement).  Sure, I had moments of idiocy (your second).  I still do, in fact.  I don't think my 18 year old self was any more or less of an idiot than me 12 years later.  In fact, I think my 18 year old self was a lot better mentally in many ways.

And I don't think my 18 year old self was an idiot (gimps target), nor do I think of myself as an idiot now.

Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

Only 26, but I'm pretty confident my decisions at 18 were pretty sound. Now, my decisions at 21-26, the verdict is still out...either I got dumber or decisions got harder (i.e. their consequences harder to predict...)

Glad I'm not the only one.
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frugalnacho

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Re: PW article
« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2015, 09:52:57 AM »
I am always baffled at the people who talk about student loans as if they had no part in deciding to pay tuition and pursue education

That's the problem - too many people didn't.

At the risk of going off-topic... fuck it.

You know how much college costs? I mean, when you're 18, and you're applying for colleges. How much do they cost?

Zero dollars. $0. All of them. Every single one. (Almost) no 18-year-old is told: You are going to need to pay me $x to go to school. Cough up. Where's your wallet? Don't have cash, no problem, go to the ATM, I'll wait. Cashier's check is fine.

Nope. None of them are told that. Incidentally, this is why Yale and Quinnipiac, located about 10 miles apart, can charge the same price for admission: because colleges don't cost anything so whatever you charge, people will still go there. Despite the fact that one is world-renowned and one would make the world better by not existing.

So when you're a kid, you vaguely know the sticker price of this school is 60 grand a year, including tuition, room, board, and some extras. You know the sticker price doesn't apply to you. You have this grant, this scholarship, this merit thing, this need-based thing, which all come from the government, the school, the program you're in, and other sources; and eight different loans from the government, at different sums and different percentages, and every single one of those paid out to your college directly so you don't have to worry about it, you just saw that your school year has been paid for and you're eligible to register for classes.

Four years later you graduate (or five, or six) and six, nine, or twelve months after that, the letters start coming. You owe x per month. Here's a really big figure of your outstanding debt - actually, I lied, here are twelve figures of outstanding debt all with different sums and interest rates. But all you have to do is pay x per month for ten years, that's it.

So you don't know how much it costs when you're applying, nor when you accept - or, rather, it costs $0, that is $000,000 - and then when you graduate, you pay a three-digit sum a month until eventually you're done, and you don't really know what you ended up paying anyways.

Of fucking course that's a problem, but it's very hard to blame a kid, whose parents never sat them down when they were 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, and ten more times at 18, to explain how much money, what the expected return on investment is monetarily, what the expected return on investment is non-monetarily (job satisfaction, career opportunities, friends, acquaintances, network, possible meeting of your future wife or husband), how much money today, where the money comes from, how much money over the four/five/six years, how to reduce the sum (live off campus and cook chicken and potatoes), how to avoid inflating the sum (live on campus and order pizza and buy vodka and put it on your credit card and go to cancun and put that on a different credit card), how to balance paying off loans versus mobility versus career opportunities versus overall happiness, and how much it will cost in the end. You really think kids are gonna figure that shit out on their own?

When our grandparents may have gone to school, there was a sticker price for school, and they worked to pay that price. Now it's like navigating financial contracts between financial experts in one field, given to financial experts in another field, backed by financial experts in the government, with a good amount of legalese. Grasping the full cost and benefit of college is beyond most adults, let alone fucking teenagers.

I got lucky, very lucky, to go to a school with a coop program and to be an engineer. After two years of school, I got my first coop, and from that point - 3 years, composed of 20 months work and four semesters of school - I paid every single dime for every single expense I had, including tuition, rent, living, car and car maintenance, five cross-country drives, and bourbon besides. I get to stand with the old-timers and say: the sticker price was $x, I worked to save up $x, and that's that. (Well, and loans, but they're so low I pay more than double minimum with zero impact to my standard of living.) I got lucky not just because I could just barely save up enough to pay, I got lucky because for me it was a simple system, or at least, far simpler than it is for most people - and because my parents explained how money works to me, so I had/have a pretty good idea of where it comes from and where it goes and what the total price is over the full term. Hooray for me.

If someone took loans for a degree that makes no money, yes, they fucked up really hard. They're largely responsible for their fuckup. But so is literally everyone else who told them to go to school, follow their dreams, and everything would work out. (Well, it will work out, just ten years later than anyone expected. Hard to tell a 22-year-old that it will take another 10 years to do what their parents did at 22 and grandparents did at 17. Much harder to hear it.)

"Well, they could have x." Yes, they could have, and were they wisely counseled, they may well have. Unfortunately wise counsel was lacking, and is lacking, from the generation for whom college was the way out and up, to those for whom it is no longer the case.

Uh...I did.  I looked at the prices and made my decision based on those prices (and now have no student loans).  It also was not hard to tell that if you take out a loan for school (or ANYTHING) that you have to pay it back.  That's how loans work.  That's how loans have always worked; you borrow money, and then you pay it back later.  You don't even have to be a whiz with math and be able to calculate amortization, etc to grasp the basic concept that you have to pay back at least what you borrowed. 

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #32 on: January 26, 2015, 10:48:44 AM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

I denigrate the people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available. And those that are available pay lousily. Humanities may be important, but clearly in many cases society's needs are filled at the moment. Engineers on the other hand are very important, there is a need, and it pays well!

Sooooo literature, art, music, languages, history, philosophy, teaching, etc. should only be open to wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships?  Sorry, I prefer diversity of perspective in those fields where it (arguably) matters most. 

Also, not everyone is cut out to work in STEM or finance.  And I'm saying all of this as a science geek double majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Studies and going on to get a joint PharmD/MBA -- I'm not sitting here upset because you're insulting my one true passion ;P  I will say, though, that my younger sister is an absolute creative and wouldn't last a day in any sort of STEM job.  She's literally incapable of thinking the way STEM requires (trust me, I have tried; we are complete opposites).

The world requires all types of people in all types of positions to run; we can't all be engineers.  You also have to consider the selection bias that occurs on this forum -- a forum about money and therefore math.

Like I said previously on this thread, financial aid officers at a lot of schools are practically predatory.  Getting you to agree to come to their school, to pay that enrollment deposit, is their job -- if they have to hype up the "value of a degree" from XYZ University, they will; if they have to gloss over the numbers in their verbal explanation of things, lumping Pell Grants and federal loans together into "federal financial aid," they will; if they have to insist you'll definitely be making the average salary for your absolute top choice career the day after you graduate, they will.  If you're a first generation college student, or someone who's parents haven't helped them understand the system, or someone who's not capable of understanding the system, or someone who doesn't realize that the "authorities" might not have your absolute best interests at heart, it's very easy to get screwed over and not realize it until six months after graduation. 

For those of you who graduated with little or no debt because you figured things out faster than others, congratulations!  I hope to join your ranks after I finish my professional degrees.  But I won't join you in judging people who weren't forward-thinking, financial whizzes at 18.

galliver

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Re: PW article
« Reply #33 on: January 26, 2015, 11:10:44 AM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

Only 26, but I'm pretty confident my decisions at 18 were pretty sound. Now, my decisions at 21-26, the verdict is still out...either I got dumber or decisions got harder (i.e. their consequences harder to predict...)

Glad I'm not the only one.

It's also interesting to consider one's decisions in two contexts: one being, would I make the same choices again, knowing what I know now, and the other being, could I have known this then (e.g. anyone could have done the basic math to calculate their student loan payment, researched careers open to their chosen major and starting salaries, etc.) or is the new information related to experiences that could not have been predicted (e.g. how much one enjoys a chosen career, or a change in the career market, or a change in how much tuition rates went up annually), and therefore there is no possible way I could have made a more educated decision than I did?

I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

I denigrate the people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available. And those that are available pay lousily. Humanities may be important, but clearly in many cases society's needs are filled at the moment. Engineers on the other hand are very important, there is a need, and it pays well!

Sooooo literature, art, music, languages, history, philosophy, teaching, etc. should only be open to wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships?  Sorry, I prefer diversity of perspective in those fields where it (arguably) matters most. 

Also, not everyone is cut out to work in STEM or finance.  And I'm saying all of this as a science geek double majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Studies and going on to get a joint PharmD/MBA -- I'm not sitting here upset because you're insulting my one true passion ;P  I will say, though, that my younger sister is an absolute creative and wouldn't last a day in any sort of STEM job.  She's literally incapable of thinking the way STEM requires (trust me, I have tried; we are complete opposites).

The world requires all types of people in all types of positions to run; we can't all be engineers.  You also have to consider the selection bias that occurs on this forum -- a forum about money and therefore math.

Like I said previously on this thread, financial aid officers at a lot of schools are practically predatory.  Getting you to agree to come to their school, to pay that enrollment deposit, is their job -- if they have to hype up the "value of a degree" from XYZ University, they will; if they have to gloss over the numbers in their verbal explanation of things, lumping Pell Grants and federal loans together into "federal financial aid," they will; if they have to insist you'll definitely be making the average salary for your absolute top choice career the day after you graduate, they will.  If you're a first generation college student, or someone who's parents haven't helped them understand the system, or someone who's not capable of understanding the system, or someone who doesn't realize that the "authorities" might not have your absolute best interests at heart, it's very easy to get screwed over and not realize it until six months after graduation. 

For those of you who graduated with little or no debt because you figured things out faster than others, congratulations!  I hope to join your ranks after I finish my professional degrees.  But I won't join you in judging people who weren't forward-thinking, financial whizzes at 18.

+1. :) And I'm also in a tech field and have a sister who is very much not cut out for it. I think her dream is to work in YA novel publishing, which actually wouldn't be terrible business, the way that market is going... I totally agree with you that the funding structure and motivations of universities are screwed up right now. Personally, I think that  some form of merit evaluation would make sense on student loans. Not because I don't think people deserve a chance, but because it seems cruel to set up a student with low probability of succeeding at a 4-year school with $10k's of loans...

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Re: PW article
« Reply #34 on: January 26, 2015, 11:50:27 AM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

I denigrate the people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available. And those that are available pay lousily. Humanities may be important, but clearly in many cases society's needs are filled at the moment. Engineers on the other hand are very important, there is a need, and it pays well!

Sooooo literature, art, music, languages, history, philosophy, teaching, etc. should only be open to wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships?  Sorry, I prefer diversity of perspective in those fields where it (arguably) matters most. 

Also, not everyone is cut out to work in STEM or finance.  And I'm saying all of this as a science geek double majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Studies and going on to get a joint PharmD/MBA -- I'm not sitting here upset because you're insulting my one true passion ;P  I will say, though, that my younger sister is an absolute creative and wouldn't last a day in any sort of STEM job.  She's literally incapable of thinking the way STEM requires (trust me, I have tried; we are complete opposites).

The world requires all types of people in all types of positions to run; we can't all be engineers.  You also have to consider the selection bias that occurs on this forum -- a forum about money and therefore math.

Like I said previously on this thread, financial aid officers at a lot of schools are practically predatory.  Getting you to agree to come to their school, to pay that enrollment deposit, is their job -- if they have to hype up the "value of a degree" from XYZ University, they will; if they have to gloss over the numbers in their verbal explanation of things, lumping Pell Grants and federal loans together into "federal financial aid," they will; if they have to insist you'll definitely be making the average salary for your absolute top choice career the day after you graduate, they will.  If you're a first generation college student, or someone who's parents haven't helped them understand the system, or someone who's not capable of understanding the system, or someone who doesn't realize that the "authorities" might not have your absolute best interests at heart, it's very easy to get screwed over and not realize it until six months after graduation. 

For those of you who graduated with little or no debt because you figured things out faster than others, congratulations!  I hope to join your ranks after I finish my professional degrees.  But I won't join you in judging people who weren't forward-thinking, financial whizzes at 18.



Not quite sure where I said only rich people should be teachers..? Or everyone should be engineers? But hey, it's the internet right?

Despite this, to address your straw man: there are too many people with certain degrees. If fewer people applied to these fields tuition for them would go down, and the salaries for people with these qualifications would go up (eventually). If everyone became engineers? Well, then engineers would earn minimum wage (or have to become baristas).

Another thing. It's not just STEM; there is a lack of nurses and similar jobs in the medical fields. Does not require what I consider STEM thinking. And pays much better than Starbucks! But no, that wouldn't let me realize myself by getting a phD in ancient Serbian basket weaving..


PS: yes I know there is no ancient Serbia
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 11:55:17 AM by Scandium »

frugalnacho

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Re: PW article
« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2015, 11:52:27 AM »
You didn't opt for the under water basket weaving degree?  How are we supposed to even take you seriously?

Scandium

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Re: PW article
« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2015, 11:56:24 AM »
You didn't opt for the under water basket weaving degree?  How are we supposed to even take you seriously?

My finances were under water after I got my degree. Does that count?

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Re: PW article
« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2015, 12:09:43 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

I'm closing in on 30 (28 right now) and don't think I was an idiot at 18 - I was a self-supporting adult, making all my own decisions, working full time and living alone. Sure, knowing what I know now I could have saved more money, but I had great experiences and did nothing dumb enough to cause myself harm like rack up massive student loans/credit card debt.

frugalnacho

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Re: PW article
« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2015, 12:20:34 PM »
Is there anyone ( over the age of say 30)  who can look back at themselves at 18 and not consider that kid an idiot in some very key ways? If so I salute you.

If you're 30 and you think you weren't an idiot at 18... then you're still an idiot at 30. Hell, replace 30 with 22 and I figure it's still accurate.

I'm closing in on 30 (28 right now) and don't think I was an idiot at 18 - I was a self-supporting adult, making all my own decisions, working full time and living alone. Sure, knowing what I know now I could have saved more money, but I had great experiences and did nothing dumb enough to cause myself harm like rack up massive student loans/credit card debt.

I just turned 32.  I certainly wasn't as wise as at 18 as I am now, but the 18 year old me didn't have these extra 14 years of life experience so I can't really fault my old self for that.   I had a great head on my shoulders and did pretty well for my future self.  I wish I could go back and talk to my 18 year old self and give myself a lot of great advice, but that is really all related to the extra wisdom i've gained in 14 more years and not because I was an idiot. 

Annamal

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Re: PW article
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2015, 02:30:20 PM »


So no moments of 18 year old idiocy at all?

Yep I salute you.

You moved the target.  You started with an idiot in "very key ways" (which I was not), and changed to "no moments" ever (which obviously I had).

That's disingenuous.

No, I was not an idiot in key ways (your first statement).  Sure, I had moments of idiocy (your second).  I still do, in fact.  I don't think my 18 year old self was any more or less of an idiot than me 12 years later.  In fact, I think my 18 year old self was a lot better mentally in many ways.

And I don't think my 18 year old self was an idiot (gimps target), nor do I think of myself as an idiot now.




Sorry you are right, I didn't phrase either of those statements very well, by an "idiot in key ways" I meant making  important life-changing decisions as an 18 year old that you would avoid as a >30 year old (with the implication being that the reason you wouldn't make those decisions now is that you made them back then and learned from them).

I was also attempting to use "18 year old idiocy" as short hand for the same thing (very poorly).

Sorry for the unfortunate implication and target shifting.

And I stick by the salute.

Emilyngh

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Re: PW article
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2015, 02:58:11 PM »

Sorry you are right, I didn't phrase either of those statements very well, by an "idiot in key ways" I meant making  important life-changing decisions as an 18 year old that you would avoid as a >30 year old (with the implication being that the reason you wouldn't make those decisions now is that you made them back then and learned from them).

I was also attempting to use "18 year old idiocy" as short hand for the same thing (very poorly).

Sorry for the unfortunate implication and target shifting.

And I stick by the salute.

Yeah, even with your clarification, I'd ask to be added to the "not an idiot at 18" group.   I made very important life decisions then (handled all of my college expenses, made a wise choice to go to a state school for an engineering degree, was working on my PhD by age 21, etc) and did a good job with them, IMHO, of course.

Some people are idiots at 18 and then mature, some are always idiots, and some never are.  Probably not fair, but it's how it is, IME.

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Re: PW article
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2015, 03:01:45 PM »
Gotcha, thanks for the explanation.  :)

It looks like there are a few of us who aren't too down on our younger selves.

The point remains though that many 18-year olds are not equipped to make major decisions - those of us here tend to be outliers among the population.  Most adults today are fairly unimpressive in their logic and decision-making, so it makes sense their 18 year-old selves wouldn't be any better.
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Re: PW article
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2015, 03:06:12 PM »
I am always baffled at the people who talk about student loans as if they had no part in deciding to pay tuition and pursue education

That's the problem - too many people didn't.

.
.
.

"Well, they could have x." Yes, they could have, and were they wisely counseled, they may well have. Unfortunately wise counsel was lacking, and is lacking, from the generation for whom college was the way out and up, to those for whom it is no longer the case.

+1

My financial aid officers frequently tell me "well you can get more loans, you're not at the maximum amount the government's awarded you."  This is despite the fact that my tuition is completely covered and I even get a chunk back at the beginning of every semester for living expenses (though I'm stopping that now that I've found MMM).

When I was a kid, my parents' edict was You Will Go To College. Was there any discussion about how I would pay for it? No, of course not. Did my parents pay for any part of it? Other than letting me live at home, no, of course not. Was there any talk of "you need to earn enough money to pay your own way?" No, of course not. (On the contrary, the talk was "make sure not to let your work interfere with your studies.")

I ended up with a STEM degree because I actually like it, not because it's valuable. In other words, because somebody told me "follow your passion" and I had the dumb luck to be a geek. In fact, I like engineering so much I wasted my time getting degrees in two different fields because I couldn't decide between them -- and no mature adult in my life bothered to tell me "hey stupid, you only need one!"

My wife got told the same things (actually mostly by my parents, because hers had even less of a clue), but she's an artist (and not a "fine artist," either; an animator/graphic designer -- something that should be halfway marketable). Guess what? We're effectively a one-income household. If we weren't married, she'd be homeless by now. And her only mistake was to take the advice of every adult in her life!

"Well, they could have x." Yes, they could have, and were they wisely counseled, they may well have. Unfortunately wise counsel was lacking, and is lacking, from the generation for whom college was the way out and up, to those for whom it is no longer the case.

Uh...I did.  I looked at the prices and made my decision based on those prices (and now have no student loans).  It also was not hard to tell that if you take out a loan for school (or ANYTHING) that you have to pay it back.  That's how loans work.  That's how loans have always worked; you borrow money, and then you pay it back later.  You don't even have to be a whiz with math and be able to calculate amortization, etc to grasp the basic concept that you have to pay back at least what you borrowed.

The problem is not that high-school kids don't understand how loans work, the problem is that they lack perspective. When you're used to making $100/week from your part-time McJob then the $100K you assume you'll be making at Teh Googlez after graduation sounds like a fuck-ton of money and makes whatever student loans you take out seem insignificant. And then when every adult reinforces that idea by saying "you must go to college -- right now, do not pass go, do not collect $200 -- or you will ruin your life" then the loans seem like the only choice.

Zikoris

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Re: PW article
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2015, 03:07:59 PM »
I think the "18 year olds are idiots" thing is a particularly thorny issue for me because when I was 18 that mindset caused me several major problems:

1. Landlords were hesitant to rent to me (they outright told me the issue was age)
2. Finding non-menial work was more difficult
3. Finding a doctor to do my sterilization surgery was damned near impossible (eventually I lucked out at 21 and found one)

It basically made my life a lot more difficult than it should have been, and remains a sore spot.

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2015, 04:01:19 PM »
I love the barista complaining about his student loans. I didn't know you needed a college degree to make coffee?! How much debt did he get into to secure this high-paying career?
I bet the Barista's college degree is in French Literature or some other BS (no pun intended) liberal arts degree.

No reason to denigrate certain academic subjects just because there's less of a demand for workers trained in them.  The humanities are still important to our society :/

I denigrate the people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available. And those that are available pay lousily. Humanities may be important, but clearly in many cases society's needs are filled at the moment. Engineers on the other hand are very important, there is a need, and it pays well!

Sooooo literature, art, music, languages, history, philosophy, teaching, etc. should only be open to wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships?  Sorry, I prefer diversity of perspective in those fields where it (arguably) matters most. 

Also, not everyone is cut out to work in STEM or finance.  And I'm saying all of this as a science geek double majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and Pharmaceutical Studies and going on to get a joint PharmD/MBA -- I'm not sitting here upset because you're insulting my one true passion ;P  I will say, though, that my younger sister is an absolute creative and wouldn't last a day in any sort of STEM job.  She's literally incapable of thinking the way STEM requires (trust me, I have tried; we are complete opposites).

The world requires all types of people in all types of positions to run; we can't all be engineers.  You also have to consider the selection bias that occurs on this forum -- a forum about money and therefore math.

Like I said previously on this thread, financial aid officers at a lot of schools are practically predatory.  Getting you to agree to come to their school, to pay that enrollment deposit, is their job -- if they have to hype up the "value of a degree" from XYZ University, they will; if they have to gloss over the numbers in their verbal explanation of things, lumping Pell Grants and federal loans together into "federal financial aid," they will; if they have to insist you'll definitely be making the average salary for your absolute top choice career the day after you graduate, they will.  If you're a first generation college student, or someone who's parents haven't helped them understand the system, or someone who's not capable of understanding the system, or someone who doesn't realize that the "authorities" might not have your absolute best interests at heart, it's very easy to get screwed over and not realize it until six months after graduation. 

For those of you who graduated with little or no debt because you figured things out faster than others, congratulations!  I hope to join your ranks after I finish my professional degrees.  But I won't join you in judging people who weren't forward-thinking, financial whizzes at 18.

Not quite sure where I said only rich people should be teachers..? Or everyone should be engineers? But hey, it's the internet right?

Despite this, to address your straw man: there are too many people with certain degrees. If fewer people applied to these fields tuition for them would go down, and the salaries for people with these qualifications would go up (eventually). If everyone became engineers? Well, then engineers would earn minimum wage (or have to become baristas).

Another thing. It's not just STEM; there is a lack of nurses and similar jobs in the medical fields. Does not require what I consider STEM thinking. And pays much better than Starbucks! But no, that wouldn't let me realize myself by getting a phD in ancient Serbian basket weaving..

I bolded it for you; if you "denigrate people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available" and the jobs that "are available pay lousily" then who do you approve of studying those fields (in which I included teaching because of its lousy pay and the fact that a majority of K12 subjects are humanities - art/music/history/language/literature)?  People who do not take loans -- aka "wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships," as I said previously.  Your response conveniently ignored the second half of my statement?  I will concede that you could also start at a community college and get enough aid for your first two years to be free, or work to pay off the first two years, and then hopefully have a strong enough GPA to transfer to a 4 year school with significant merit scholarships.  However, most community colleges, at least in my state, have pretty limited humanities/arts options, and merit scholarships (earned at either high school or college) very rarely cover 100% of educational expenses.   

It's important for young people to continue to be educated in humanities/cultural studies because those fields require a diversity of opinions/perspectives to thrive.  In a situation where the majority of positions are filled by an older generation, you miss out on the perspective of an entirely new set of people.  It's not a huge deal because there are many soft skills acquired in those fields that translate well to corporate work.  Additionally, someone educated in those fields is capable of contributing to their field without necessarily being directly employed in it. 

As for the engineers thing, you are right that you didn't say everyone should be one; you just offered it as the sole alternative to a humanities degree. I then expanded that category to STEM + finance, which are the fields recommended by pretty much everyone these days.  Interestingly, depending on what STEM field you enter, you might have just as hard a time finding a position as the Renaissance Art History major.   

BTW, to get a healthcare job, you have to take a boatload of S(TE)M classes (mainly S & M -- heh...).  If you aren't capable of 'STEM thinking', you will do poorly in those classes and never make it to your healthcare field.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 06:30:23 PM by caliq »

NoraLenderbee

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Re: PW article
« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2015, 05:35:44 PM »
I have made my living for more than 25 years in the high-tech industry as an English major, doing no engineering and no finance. Guess what? Engineers are good at writing code, but really bad at writing documentation, and most of them don't like doing it anyway. They need people who can write clear and effective instructions so that the CUSTOMERS can use the great products the engineers made. This is steady, high-paying work--not as high as engineering, but still good. It's subject to the same cycles as the rest of the tech industry, including outsourcing and all that stuff, but so is engineering.

You know what else engineers usually suck at and hate doing? Translation. Customers in other countries have this weird thing about wanting documentation in their own language. I'm about to hire two more translators to support my employer's growth in new markets. True, they will get paid less than a doctor, but they can make a very good living nonetheless.

I just have to laugh every time I see another thread about how useless anything but STEM is. Like if you major in humanities, your only choice is to become a barista or a starving artist.

galliver

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Re: PW article
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2015, 05:39:46 PM »
I have made my living for more than 25 years in the high-tech industry as an English major, doing no engineering and no finance. Guess what? Engineers are good at writing code, but really bad at writing documentation, and most of them don't like doing it anyway. They need people who can write clear and effective instructions so that the CUSTOMERS can use the great products the engineers made. This is steady, high-paying work--not as high as engineering, but still good. It's subject to the same cycles as the rest of the tech industry, including outsourcing and all that stuff, but so is engineering.

You know what else engineers usually suck at and hate doing? Translation. Customers in other countries have this weird thing about wanting documentation in their own language. I'm about to hire two more translators to support my employer's growth in new markets. True, they will get paid less than a doctor, but they can make a very good living nonetheless.

I just have to laugh every time I see another thread about how useless anything but STEM is. Like if you major in humanities, your only choice is to become a barista or a starving artist.

Relevant: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2597 (And I say this as an Engineering PhD candidate)


Scandium

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Re: PW article
« Reply #47 on: January 27, 2015, 06:36:19 AM »

I bolded it for you; if you "denigrate people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available" and the jobs that "are available pay lousily" then who do you approve of studying those fields (in which I included teaching because of its lousy pay and the fact that a majority of K12 subjects are humanities - art/music/history/language/literature)?  People who do not take loans -- aka "wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships," as I said previously.  Your response conveniently ignored the second half of my statement?  I will concede that you could also start at a community college and get enough aid for your first two years to be free, or work to pay off the first two years, and then hopefully have a strong enough GPA to transfer to a 4 year school with significant merit scholarships.  However, most community colleges, at least in my state, have pretty limited humanities/arts options, and merit scholarships (earned at either high school or college) very rarely cover 100% of educational expenses.   

It's important for young people to continue to be educated in humanities/cultural studies because those fields require a diversity of opinions/perspectives to thrive.  In a situation where the majority of positions are filled by an older generation, you miss out on the perspective of an entirely new set of people.  It's not a huge deal because there are many soft skills acquired in those fields that translate well to corporate work.  Additionally, someone educated in those fields is capable of contributing to their field without necessarily being directly employed in it. 

As for the engineers thing, you are right that you didn't say everyone should be one; you just offered it as the sole alternative to a humanities degree. I then expanded that category to STEM + finance, which are the fields recommended by pretty much everyone these days.  Interestingly, depending on what STEM field you enter, you might have just as hard a time finding a position as the Renaissance Art History major.   

BTW, to get a healthcare job, you have to take a boatload of S(TE)M classes (mainly S & M -- heh...).  If you aren't capable of 'STEM thinking', you will do poorly in those classes and never make it to your healthcare field.

I never said nobody should choose humanities, just fewer people than do so now, and really only some specific ones that there are too many of (when i was in college a big one was psychology). Rich or poor, I don't care; spending money on an education that almost guarantee unemployment is dumb. I didn't know criticizing people for making stupid decisions was controversial? Some degrees are more in the demand that others, don't choose the one with no jobs and 500 applications for each job. For example I wanted to become a pilot at one point, but it would cost $100k+, and the job market looked shitty so I said forget it.

Btw this applies to architects now too. That's STEM-ish. Well maybe not. They barely know physics or math at all..  (civil engineer major) Oh, and a friend of mine studied nursing; the math they had was pretty pathetic. If you can figure out 3 ml + 5 ml you'll do great.. They did have some S&M classes involving a lot of latex though..

caliq

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Re: PW article
« Reply #48 on: January 27, 2015, 07:07:57 AM »

I bolded it for you; if you "denigrate people who take loans to get educations in fields in which there are few/no jobs available" and the jobs that "are available pay lousily" then who do you approve of studying those fields (in which I included teaching because of its lousy pay and the fact that a majority of K12 subjects are humanities - art/music/history/language/literature)?  People who do not take loans -- aka "wealthy people or people who did well enough in high school to earn full merit scholarships," as I said previously.  Your response conveniently ignored the second half of my statement?  I will concede that you could also start at a community college and get enough aid for your first two years to be free, or work to pay off the first two years, and then hopefully have a strong enough GPA to transfer to a 4 year school with significant merit scholarships.  However, most community colleges, at least in my state, have pretty limited humanities/arts options, and merit scholarships (earned at either high school or college) very rarely cover 100% of educational expenses.   

It's important for young people to continue to be educated in humanities/cultural studies because those fields require a diversity of opinions/perspectives to thrive.  In a situation where the majority of positions are filled by an older generation, you miss out on the perspective of an entirely new set of people.  It's not a huge deal because there are many soft skills acquired in those fields that translate well to corporate work.  Additionally, someone educated in those fields is capable of contributing to their field without necessarily being directly employed in it. 

As for the engineers thing, you are right that you didn't say everyone should be one; you just offered it as the sole alternative to a humanities degree. I then expanded that category to STEM + finance, which are the fields recommended by pretty much everyone these days.  Interestingly, depending on what STEM field you enter, you might have just as hard a time finding a position as the Renaissance Art History major.   

BTW, to get a healthcare job, you have to take a boatload of S(TE)M classes (mainly S & M -- heh...).  If you aren't capable of 'STEM thinking', you will do poorly in those classes and never make it to your healthcare field.

I never said nobody should choose humanities, just fewer people than do so now, and really only some specific ones that there are too many of (when i was in college a big one was psychology). Rich or poor, I don't care; spending money on an education that almost guarantee unemployment is dumb. I didn't know criticizing people for making stupid decisions was controversial? Some degrees are more in the demand that others, don't choose the one with no jobs and 500 applications for each job. For example I wanted to become a pilot at one point, but it would cost $100k+, and the job market looked shitty so I said forget it.

Btw this applies to architects now too. That's STEM-ish. Well maybe not. They barely know physics or math at all..  (civil engineer major) Oh, and a friend of mine studied nursing; the math they had was pretty pathetic. If you can figure out 3 ml + 5 ml you'll do great.. They did have some S&M classes involving a lot of latex though..

Hehe! 

My molecular & cell biology degree requires everything up to Calc II, which is admittedly not much math for math people but most of my friends are appalled at the "difficulty" of what I have to learn.  I have an old friend who wanted to do nursing and was struggling with the first semester of General Chemistry (a class that I loved!), which does involve more math than simple addition.  I don't know if she ever passed the class and continued on the path to nursing, but if she did, I know it was a struggle for her.

The difference between your pilot situation and getting a humanities degree is that getting the humanities degree does not restrict you to a specific career.  It's a hard skills vs. soft skills thing.  Not everyone who majors in English is going to be an author -- see the poster above who works in tech with an English degree.  Not everyone who majors in psychology is going to be a psychologist; I could think of a lot of corporate-y positions where knowledge of psychology would be helpful (HR, marketing?).  Majoring in french literature doesn't restrict you to an academic career  researching/teaching french literature.  Look at all the people who major in history or philosophy and go on to law school.

The problem is the kids who don't look at anything but jobs in their specific field, and then end up working at Starbucks instead of applying the skills they've developed from a liberal arts education to other pursuits, like business or government or whatever.  They end up whining about how educated they are and how it's gotten them nowhere, and making people devalue a strong liberal arts education, because they can't/won't use their valuable soft skills.

daymare

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Re: PW article
« Reply #49 on: January 27, 2015, 07:46:48 PM »
Argh, that article really frustrated me!  In fact several times I started to write a status about it on facebook, but realized no good would come of anything I posted.  That article frustrates me for so many reasons.  The fact that somehow everyone thinks they're middle class is fucking absurd and needs to stop - that word has no meaning if baristas making minimum wage and people earning 200K+ (referencing a recent forum topic) all consider themselves middle class.

Also, I really don't understand many of the people in this article.  I am not cold-hearted and blind to my own privileges: I have had so many opportunities and advantages others don't get, mostly in my upbringing and education (and having parents pay for college -> no loans), so I don't think it's a character or moral failing for someone to not be mobilizing their income in the same way I do.  (I don't attribute my success to 100% personal tenacity, or vice versa don't think others' failures are 100% due to personal idiocy.)  And yet - I live really well in Center City in Philadelphia, and I don't spend a lot of money.  My husband and I (living in a 2 bedroom - just as doable as a single person with a roommate) spend about 30K/year + a couple thousand more for our travels.  Our area (Fitler/Rittenhouse) has a walk score of 99 (out of 100), we can walk to TJ's, the liquor store, the park/running trail.  Quality of life is high! 

We obviously have a different lifestyle than the author - we pay less for cell phones, and don't go out to coffee shops or restaurants enough to say (as the author does) "X, one of the baristas at a coffee shop I frequent".  Sure, I've been able to get really mindful about spending and the unnecessary spending has fallen away.  But I'm really not extraordinary in how I live or act or dress - nobody would think I was this huge deviant upon meeting me.  I dunno, I find Philly to be affordable.  I don't feel like I'm sacrificing or living a really alternative lifestyle in any way.

The super-negativity in the comments is just a bummer - comments sections always manage to become a cesspool of shit and shitty attitudes.  Sigh.