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Letter: Not all degrees deliver the same earning potential

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The guest editorial in the Nov. 28 Daily Record concerning college costs laments the skyrocketing cost of a college education. It tells us the cost of a college education grew by nearly 260% between 1980 and 2014, compared to a 120% increase in all consumer items.

The biggest reason appears to be the student loan program. How could that be? How much could you get for the house you bought for $250,000, if suddenly there were no housing loans available

Government attempts to help often backfire. We must end the student loan program. What would the universities do in such a case? They should do what all businesses must do when there is a declining demand for their services. They must cut costs or go out of business.

We must also look at some other factors concerning college education. The writer tells us, “… the median earnings for young adults with a master’s degree or higher were $65,000; for those with bachelor’s degrees they were $51,800.

“For those with high school diplomas? $32,000. And for those who did not finish high school? $26,000. Unemployment rates jumped with each step down the educational ladder, too.”

It is possible that those figures could be accurate, but they might have a hidden skew. The people with degrees in business, science and engineering might be making the overall average of people with those degrees higher than what people who studied other disciplines make.

When I was in high school, 50-plus years ago, we were being told how someone looked at a curve and predicted that in 15 years (from back then) 65% of all jobs would require a bachelor’s degree. In the years since then two closely related factors put a different face on that situation.

Business management is as faddish as fashion. When I finally got my bachelor’s degree, the fad had changed. “Don’t show me your degrees, show me your experience.” We baby boomers had flooded the market with degrees like history, philosophy and literature. The economy had no use for so many people with that kind of training. I knew people who had degrees in such fields who went to TVI (now CNM) to learn a skill to make a living.

It would be interesting to see how the incomes of people with bachelor’s degrees in history, philosophy, and other related fields compare to people with only a high school diploma.

Russell A. Scott
Roswell