Worthless Degrees (Funded by Debt!)

I am adding my two cents to a post my friend, Mike recently made and I think, ‘you poor millennial bastards, you.’

So many of you have emerged from the university business (yes, universities are in the business of selling education) only to find out that the job market isn’t interested in your passionate but worthless point of studies.

Think about it for a minute. What do Indian, Chinese and other people from far away countries come to study in the US?

STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. And that’s it. And believe it or not, it has been that way ever since I can remember.

My electrical engineering class, going all the way back to the early ’80s, was composed of: 40% eastern people (China, Pakistan, India, whatever), 40% Mexican-Americans (this was in Texas after all), and 20% white boys (meaning people like me). And just for the record – out of a class of about 100 – there were only two women.

Developing countries do not have the resources – neither the parents nor the government – to waste on any subject that doesn’t help move their economies forward. And subjects and degrees in the liberal arts are especially deemed irrelevant (and worthless) everywhere in this 2nd decade of the 21st century.

The student loan epidemic (crisis, problem, ceiling, bubble – chose your own word) has now surpassed $1.3 trillion dollars. Yes, it seems there has also been a grand banking business that has been spun up to fund any degree anyone out there one wants to pursue. The banks don’t care if you want to major in music, they simply want to own your future ass in the form of debt.

Do you realize that $30K – $50K in student loan debt is now considered the norm? And that many students pursuing medical degrees can be in debt as much as $350K?

Or law degrees – worthless, where a graduating student with a $150K in debt is normal?

I have a 28 year old niece who just graduated from a second/third-tier law school; which is bad, way bad. And to top it all off she is $150 thousand dollars in debt. Her one and only saving grace is that she has a job working for the government which has a debt forgiveness program after 10 years of government service.

Let’s look at her specific situation for a moment. I am guessing she is making $40K – $60K (max) per year; the government doesn’t pay shit. Taking an average of say, $50K means that she is taking home (after taxes) $30K per year which amounts to $2500 per month. Servicing those student loans might easily be upwards of $800 – $1200 per month. That all depends on if she is paying towards the loan principal or merely paying off the interest every month. Either way – how does one live on the remainder?

Let’s take a look at an even more grave statistic. What kind of man is going to want to marry a woman with that kind of upfront liability? None – at least no sensible man.

So let’s assume she makes it all the way to the age of 38 and has managed to stay in government service long enough to get her remaining debt forgiven. Statistically, what is the probability of a woman getting married after 35? Or closer to 40? Or after 40?

Age is a narrowing window for women when it comes to attractiveness. Men have a much longer shelf life especially if they are successful.

Men desire attractiveness and fertility in a mate while women desire a man’s ability to be a good provider.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – there is no longer any forgiveness; the world has become a hard place. Back when I was a young man coming up in the world of business, your career could suffer a mistake here or there. But not now. The world has become way too competitive and is moving way too fast.

So choose STEM or stay home.

PS – My buddy, Behan’s grandfather years ago (then a rather famous retired MD) once gave some great advice concerning careers. He said, ‘Choose whatever you like – be it something as simple as cabinetmaking – but be the best you can be.’

So that’s my advice to all of you would be liberal arts majors out there. You’re much better off financially to learn a trade and become damn good at it than to sell your soul to the devil for a worthless degree.

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