Here's At Least 260,000 Reasons Why College Isn't Worth It

Tyler Durden's picture

Just last week we asked "Is college waste of time and money?" It appears, based on the latest data from the BLS, that for all too many, it absolutely is. As CNN Money reports, about 260,000 people who had a college or professional degree made at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 last year.



Via CNN Money,

Experts point to shifts in the post-recession labor market as the reason for so many college graduates in low-paying jobs.


"The only jobs that we're growing are low-wage jobs, and at the same time, wages across occupations, especially in low-wage jobs, are declining," said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a staff attorney at the worker advocacy group National Employment Law Project.




Some 58% of the jobs created during the recent economic recovery have been low-wage positions like retail and food prep workers, according to a 2012 NELP report. These low-wage jobs had a median hourly wage of $13.83 or less.

Perhaps the following sums it all up perfectly...

"My family told me, 'just get your degree and it will be fine,'" Bingham told CNNMoney. "A degree looks very nice, but I don't have a job to show for it."

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drink or die's picture

With my degree in women's studies with a minor in gay and lesbian art, I am sure to get a high-paying job!  

knukles's picture

I had the same credentials and couldn't get anything until I got my mechanical engineering GED from ITT Online Technical Institute and now I'm the production mold manager at a Taiwanese extra large dildo extrusion firm specializing in brown and black color quality control.

drink or die's picture

When college kids come back from college and can't find a job, are they even added to the "unemployed" statistics?  Don't you have to first be working to collect insurance and be marked as "unemployed'?  Serious question, not trying to argue.


What that link doesn't show is debt vs wage.  

knukles's picture

See, its just that kind of insightful shit that breeds distrust of official government statistics when you make the truth known so that everybody knows its worse than they want it to appear.
Rabble rouser!

yellowsub's picture

Did you really need this statistic to confirm that?

James_Cole's picture

When college kids come back from college and can't find a job, are they even added to the "unemployed" statistics?

Yes, though lots of people dispute the sources. 

What that link doesn't show is debt vs wage.

^ Yeah but that pretty much says it, depending on how you go about it it's almsot certainly worth some level of debt.

(go nuts anti-bls folks)

drink or die's picture

In the first plot, I really don't see how one can consider <$50k/year average as a good enough reason to go in debt for school.  If you do the calculations on that (4 years of lost wages of working a full-time job out of high school, interest on debt, amount paid down on debt per year, etc), it takes a long, long time to make it worth it.  I get that it's an average, so for some professions (I have my masters in engineering, and it pays well) it's obviously worth it.

James_Cole's picture

Pretty easy to figure out. If you take the avg high school from that chart, 25k /yr and compare to bachelors (45k) and factor in 4 yrs lost wages (100 000$) + lets say 100 000$  (including interest) for cost of going back to school it would take approximately ten years to pull ahead. That's figuring you make zero $ while in college. 

And from there on you're making ~double each year, not to mention your job prospects pick up considerably. 

Of course you could make it really complex and much more accurate but as a ballpark it's not hard to see how quickly it would become worht it. 

drink or die's picture

Until you figure in your tax burden when making 45k/year vs. 25k/year, and that if you make 25k/year you are eligble for several government subsidies.

James_Cole's picture


Pretty marginal.

A lot of the subsidies vs. tax write offs are a wash.

Here's a simple formula: 

(income level with degree after taxes)(x yrs) > (hs level wage after taxes)(x yrs) + (hs level wages * 4 yrs) + (student loan amount) + (interest on loan) + (.gov subsidies * x yrs)

Quickly comes out ahead and makes a tonne of sesne, especially if you consider working life length. 

babylon15's picture

avg college grad starts at 28k not 45k.

babylon15's picture


45k is only if they have a full time job.  Only 50% have full time jobs.

James_Cole's picture

45k is only if they have a full time job.  Only 50% have full time jobs.

Well first your study is older, second median income already encompasses these variables. Otherwise you could argue how many high school only folks lack full time jobs? How many really only earn 12k/yr?? Etc. It's down a rabbit hole of straw men. 

Look at the median (+ correct demo) and compare from there, which is what I did. 

weburke's picture

youll be hearing about the new medical coding nightmare in the fall. Have your student age kid look at this certification.

DavidC's picture

That sounds like fun knukles!


knukles's picture

Ultimately, but prior thereto, I had to make my displeasure known to TPTB

RafterManFMJ's picture

I had gratuatded collage several years ago with duel. degrees one in comparative sexuality and seconds in humen resiurces!

I consult your company, show you what single affirmative action hire fills 4 quotas, spot trannies, same day!

I knows owe 175,000 dollars in studant loans, but often work 10 house per week!

As always, thanks you very much Univercity of Pheonix!

libertus's picture

Blow off the traditional college nonsense. is the future. You get to look at the course outline, profs experience and the skills you will learn in class before you pay a dime. Classes are between $500 and $1500. Take a look--you have nothing to lose but your addiction to student loans. 

August's picture

You've missed the mark, my friend. 

These days, the BIG bucks are in lesbian chicana poetry.

yellowsub's picture

Are those graduates of Hamburger University?

Black Warrior Waterdog's picture

Nahhhh, it's just a lil' hiccup.

Soul Glow's picture

For those who go to college to get a job after, yes, it is a waste of time.  I found college to be important for me because I learned how to read and write critically.

Interestingly I was a philosophy major and many people I talked with told me my degree would never get me a job.  Funny how those with degrees that ensure jobs - like business degrees - now find themselves out of work because all they learned in school was how to make a power point presentation.

An education is just that so get a good one but don't expect it to pay out the way society expects it to.

Two Feet Studs Up's picture

You learned to read and write critically in university?  Christ, what planet do you live on?  You shouldn't need to pay thousands of dollars for that - if that is the case, the American education system is more fucked than I thought.

HardAssets's picture

"You learned to read and write critically in university?  Christ, what planet do you live on?  You shouldn't need to pay thousands of dollars for that - if that is the case, the American education system is more fucked than I thought."


What many Americans haven't figured out (I don't know how it is in other countries) is that true education isn't a product of college. In most high schools and colleges in this country, you won't become truly educated. You won't learn about evaluating evidence, logical thinking, or creative application and communication of ideas to others, for example. You'll learn little of the history of the civilization you live in or the country you are a citizen of. Even those in technical fields will be presented with a very narrow view of the scientific method and apply it to only their own narrow specialities. And when it comes to broader economic & political issues such technicians (even if doctors, lawyers, or scientists) are as ignorant as the general population, and perfect targets for propaganda & the b.s. of politicians. Just look at how many scientists not in climate science have fallen for 'global warming'.

The 'education' system isn't designed to help people become independent thinkers and informed and active citizens in a democratic republic. This is no accident.  (Thomas Jefferson supported such education for Americans, but it was rejected.)

Author Ray Bradbury got his education by reading every book in the library over a 10 year period, and by actually Doing what he loved to do. What a concept.


My young nephew took a couple of semsters in college and then told his parents he was wasting his time and their money. He dropped out to work 3 different jobs so that he could earn & save up enough money to fulfill his own dreams. Now he's travelling/working/learning Spanish in central and south America.

That kid will do just fine.

Lore's picture

Great post. Statistics need to be understood within context. How many undergrads and grads think creatively, take initiative, do research, plan, show patience and humility, have realistic expectations, and persevere?  Albertans familiar with the busy oil patch tell stories about people from out of province who show up at the bus station in Fort MacMurray and wander around downtown for a few days before leaving on another bus, wondering why proximity wasn't sufficient to land a job. Employers in the resource sector lament weakness in basic life and work skills. Personal grooming, attitude, values and communication skills are underrated.  We look to schools for success, when it should start at home.  What happened to traditional family values?  Everywhere we see corruption, irresponsibility, lack of accountability, loss of standards.  Why should we be surprised by the lack of success of this generation? 

Rainman's picture

Those 260,000 are the NCAA football and basketball grads who have a BA in African Studies, Swahili major.

knukles's picture

Minor in Ebonics and a monitoring an Applied Cursive course.
Applying for Graduate Studies in Original Sin Based Racial Hate Mongering

Surging Chaos's picture

Funny enough, you could have such a degree and still get a nice job because of your connections. Nowadays getting a job is no longer about what you know, but who you know. And student athletes tend to be loaded with connections that will guarantee them pretty much any job no matter what degree they get.

Suisse's picture

They can go back to slinging crack? What meaningful connections will many of these dullards have?

HardAssets's picture

That sounds like something a college recruiter would say.

Girls soccer or volleyball scholarship ?

WageSlave's picture

Theoretical Phy$ic$ bitchez

Skateboarder's picture

What's the difference between a theoretical physicist and a pizza?

John_Coltrane's picture

Better:  What do theoretical physics and pizza making have in common?

Answer:  They both require the extensive use of Pi.  (you know, 3.14159...)

James_Cole's picture

Theoretical Phy$ic$ bitchez

Yeah right.. applied physics I think you mean. 

medium giraffe's picture

They have a great scam going in the UK.  Offer some bullshit course, say a Diploma in Pet Massage, throw around some easy student credit, and Bingo! Unemployment figures look much better!  When young Johnny discovers that the Pet Massage business isn't booming, he signs up for unemployment benefit.  If he doesn't go on a course every now and then, he will lose his entitlement to unemployment benefit.  But what happens when he's busy attending his fourth mandatory course on Paperclip Administration?  He's no longer counted in the unemployment figures!  Bingo again!

Lore's picture

That strikes a chord. "Certified Massage Therapist" signs are popping up all over the place.  Academic puppy mills also recently began producing "Climate Policy Analysts."  When productivity has all but left your economy, debt is parabolic and sentiment is anti-war, you can try putting people to work rationalizing "carbon taxes."

reader2010's picture

It's a form of taxation. 

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

I'll give 65,000 reasons why it is. I know plenty of kids running up the loan bill with no intention of repaying and trying to get Uncle Sam to pay the bill. Can you say hidden debt monetization. The idiots are maxing out the credit line thinking it will get all paid off while the smarter ones know what the limit is and are only taking out loans up to the limit and pocketing as much of it as they can then trying to join the service.

The College Loan Repayment Program is an enlistment incentive. Like other enlistment incentives authorized by Congress, each of the services are free to offer the program, or not, as they see fit, in order to meet their established recruiting goals. Under the program, the military will repay a portion of eligible college loans for non-prior service military members. This program is for non-prior service enlisted personnel, only. Officers are not eligible.


Congress has limited the maximum amount of payment by federal law to $65,000. However, within these limits, each of the services have applied their own maximums.


And some other options offered beside direct repayment

Normally I would be okay with this since it is kind of like washing dishes to repay your diner bill when you got no money but remember who's tax dollars is subsidizing this and they are enabling bad behavior and using it as a recruiting tool here.


DrData02's picture

College is non-penal warehousing of very energetic 18 to 22-year-olds.  (And they pay for it, loans or not.)  The establishment (e.g. government) simply hopes that, after that 4-year cooling-off period, the transition to semi-independence will seem real enough that the graduate will tolerate, if not come to love, their slavery.

all-priced-in's picture

The thing is -  some people will be successful with or without a degree, some will be unsuccessful with or without a degree.

But IMHO their is a large group of people that go farther in life because they got a college education.

The other thing is - there is NO FUCKING REASON to end up with thousands in student loan debt to get a degree in art history.

I am pretty sure I would have done OK without a degree - maybe own a small business -

My degrees have given me a chance to travel all over the world - working on projects - doing things that were exciting - I would have never had the chance to do these things without a degree. 









Two Feet Studs Up's picture

Are you working for someone else?  If so, the best of luck to ya.

Lore's picture

Re: "I would have never had the chance to do these things without a degree."

If it's something you wanted anyway, you would find a way.

HardAssets's picture

Lore:  "Re: "I would have never had the chance to do these things without a degree."

If it's something you wanted anyway, you would find a way."


Yes. See above post about my nephew who is traveling & working in central & South America now.


American kids are taught to sit in neat rows, raise their hands before speaking, take the tests and try to get  'good grades', and move on to the next class when the bell rings. Kinda like a rat in a maze. I have met & known a few straight A students - - - they never had an original thought in their lives. Strictly 'by the book' rule followers.

They can't imagine that there might ways to create what you want outside of the standard formulas. And many of them feel so safe in the shelter of the classroom that they are too frightened to do something different.  They are quite boring people.

Lore's picture

Roger that. I find that paying tuition pretty much guarantees a pass. Attending lectures ensures a 'B.'

Most schools have to be dumps in order to ensure steady enrollment (hence revenue).

'Degree' conferral is a inside masonic joke having to do with circles squared, best suited for another forum. Rgds

sethstorm's picture

That's what happens when low bargaining power, guest worker use, and a bad economy intersect with each other - for long amounts of time.

pitz's picture

There are enormous numbers of US Citizen STEM workers unemployed.  Firms like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, despite receiving literally 10,000+ resumes from qualified applicants per week, still are using H-1B guest workers.  If government wants Americans to be employed again, especially American STEM workers, they need to put an end to the travesty of firms not even considering domestic talent before they go off and hire foreign.  Even top grads can submit their resumes not even to receive the basic "courtesy of a response" from most of the firms that use H-1B visas.