Is most of college a waste of time?

Discussion in 'Community' started by JesseJames, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2003
    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
    What do you think?
    You're facing a mountain of student loans. Or your parents spent a boat-load of money.
    And for what really?
    Break it down for me folks. Did you really get your moneys-worth?
  2. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    For me, college was one of the best times of my life. It not only built the intellectual foundation of my life, but the social one as well. My general college education has served me better than more specialized graduate education later, because I can apply it to anything, rather than just one specific field. Not only that, I met my future wife and lifelong friends. So for me, it was totally worth it.

    Of course, your mileage may vary...
  3. Dippo macrumors 65816


    Sep 27, 2003
    Charlotte, NC

    After 6 years of school (BS and MS) -> job with starting of more than $60K

    No college -> Retail job making less than $15K

    Total Cost of school (public university) ~ $40K

    Now you tell me want makes sense to you.
  4. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    im still in college, got one more year left to get my BA, but so far it has been worth all the money issues, man i am not going to like my student loans or my credit cards or my apple loan once im done, but the stuff i have learned has been worth it all, i have seen and interacted with more people than ever before, its an experience, especially at a large university such as mine..... :p
  5. AssassinOfGates macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    A cardboard box.
    First term for me at Westwood and it seems okay to me. The only real problem I have is theres not enough girls at the campus. Other than that, I think college gives you the same thing HS did. A piece of paper allowing you to procede in your life, and a fun time :D
  6. bryanc macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2003
    Fredericton, NB Canada
    don't do it for the money

    Just for a different perspective on this:

    After 15 years of university (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.) -> job with starting salary of $26k.

    No college -> oil patch job making more than $70k

    What make sense to you?

    Now, speaking as the guy with the Ph.D working for poverty wages, I love what I do, and would eagerly come back to work Monday morning after winning the lottery. But my point is that university training isn't by any means a guarantee of a high-paying job (nor should it be). What it gives you is choices and the perspective to be more likely to make good ones.

    I think our society has some serious priority problems when research scientists can't pay their rent, and hockey players are concerned about mulit-million dollar salary caps, but I'm obviously biased.

  7. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    well said
  8. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    It's not at all a waste of time. Academics, per se, aren't for everyone, but higher education is. I'm going for one new degree and an extension of an older degree. I don't agree with everyone going into university--technology and vocational schools need to be considered for others. Something I've considered dear is that you should find an interest which you like that also pays well as a career.

    Obviously, the math and language and humanities classes have to be fulfilled. They may seem useless but classes in math and English are especially important, considering how poorly people do with these subjects. You might find it boring but you'd be amazed at how much information you could learn, if you worked at it.

    Besides, without hard work, how do you know that you're having real fun?
  9. poopyhead macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2004
    in the toe-jam of greatness (Fort Worth)
    I spent 2.5 years at my first college, didn't graduate, few of the classes transferred (even though it was a top 20 school), and lost roughly 30,000 dollars even though the first year I had a full academic scholarship. I can honestly say that it was all worth it and I would do it over again in a heartbeat.
    Now I go to a local community type university for free (I'm now pseudo poor since my parents disowned me while at school #1, which is the reason I now go to a community college) and I get stafford loans to live off of. I've hated my years at the community college mainly due to a lack of any sort of active community atmosphere, which was prevalent at school #1.

    Socially, it all depends on where you go
    Financially, it almost always pays off in greater income later unless you get a Ph.D.
  10. MacFan26 macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2003
    San Francisco, California
    I have to agree with you on this. This is only my first year in college, but it's definitely worth it. The only time I think college isn't worthwhile is when I hear about people that are so happy and successful and haven't gone to college, like actors, etc. I always think "well, if they can do it without college, why can't I?" But then I stop complaining and go back to my homework. how sad.
  11. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    4 yrs of college=retail managemnet job making under 20k
    otoh, borders tends to favor management who have at least an undergrad degree if not a masters. and there is more money to be had if i stick with it.
    so its interesting; no money, but a job that i couldnt have gotten without my degree. if i didnt have my degree...well i dont know. i wouldnt be me, wouldnt have had the part-time experience and overall knowledge to land this job....tis interesting.
  12. sonofslim macrumors 6502a


    Jun 6, 2003
    the thing about college is that you're not buying a job -- you're buying an education. what you choose to do with that education is up to you.

    i'm up to my medulla oblongata in student loans, i spent the first 3 years out of college mainly unemployed, and i have yet to have a job that has anything to do with my major.

    but would i do college over again, the same way? hell yeah. college taught me how to think. i came away with a lot more than "just the facts" as they were taught in class.

    an education isn't the means to an end -- if it's worth paying for, it's worth it because of the personal benefits, not because of some leverage it might give you in the job hunt.

    crikey, i sound like an admissions officer.
  13. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    It's been worth it for me. I spent 4 years in CC, then 5 MORE years at university to get my Bachelors degree, but now I'm doing what I love and getting paid for it. I couldn't do what I'm doing now without my degree, so it was necessary and I'd do it again.
  14. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    If college were just going to classes and getting a 'better' job, it would be an utter waste.

    College is about learning to live and understand yourself in a way that no other experience can teach.

    College is a great place to make life-long friends and have stories of 'those crazy college days' to tell for the rest of your life.

    College is about double-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 2 in the morning. It's about trying to drink a galloon of milk in one hour on a bet. It's about pulling 3 all-nighters in 4 days to get through crunch times. It's about dying your hair weird colors because no one can fire you because of it! It's about giving that guy who said "moderation in all things" a boot up the ass. EVERYTHING TO THE EXTREME! You'll never get another chance! College ****ing rocks!
  15. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    This is my research specialty - the returns on higher education.

    On average, the average person with a B.A./B.S. will make $1 million more in his/her lifetime than someone who did not go to college at all.

    Someone who attended "some college" is still far better off financially. There are always exceptions, but this data is from an average of millions of students.

    A large part of college learning comes outside the classroom. Discussions with friends on xyz topics, learning about subjects you never wanted to know about, time and money management, peer effects (gaining knowledge and experience from those around you) - these are all intangible benefits of college.
  16. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    "There's a time and a place for everything Children, and it's called college."

  17. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    The big question that looms over many minds is: what if I took this X amount of money and instead of investing it in college - put it in the stock market, or used it to get an apartment and "start" an adult life. I wouldn't be in debt, and I'd be MAKING money. I may not have the same starting salary as a B.A. working next to me - but I'm 4 years ahead of the game!!

    AT WHAT POINT (# of years) DOES THE DEBT AND HIGHER STARTING SALARY FROM COLLEGE PAY OFF? How long until it has paid for itself and I am making MORE money??

    This varies by job and tuition price, but the average is 7-10 years. The economic benefits go on til you retire - (30-40 years later.)
  18. poopyhead macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2004
    in the toe-jam of greatness (Fort Worth)
    damn skippy
    college is the one place where stupidity and testing the limits usually doesn't get you in trouble. Its a place where you can break away from societal norms in order to figure out what life really is about and wake up in the morning puking off your loft onto your desk below relishing both what you know you did last night and what you will never remember but only hear about. In college everything is possible and its your job to test every possibility.
  19. rueyeet macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    My parents say they did, every time I come home to fix their ailing PC's. :D

    Seriously, though, I agree with all the people who've enumerated the non-career reasons for college. I learned so much that didn't happen in class, and so much from the classes not in my major. It was a hugely influential period in my life.

    Also, the people who say that a degree doesn't necessarily get you more money are only mostly right. There are some fields where you're not going to get anywhere without at least a bachelor's degree, and some where a degree will net you a higher salary on average. Heck, when my manager found out I had a bachelor's in comp sci, I got a huge raise even though my job isn't strictly IT-related.

    Of course, in the long run, does any of that really matter? Depends what you want out of life. My sister took her college fund, bought a car, and started working right away. She went through some "should I eat or pay the electric bill" periods, true, but she's doing every bit as well as I am and just traded to a lower-paying part time position to have more time to spend with her two-year-old son. That's success too, as far as I'm concerned.

    So, is college worth the investment, in strictly ROI terms? Depends.
    Is it worth it, in terms of life experience? Yes, but not strictly necessary.
  20. G4scott macrumors 68020


    Jan 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Sitting in a lecture right now, I can't help but ponder whether or not college is a waste of time. This class makes me think so, but other classes are very valuable. I think college has this period in the beginning where they have to make sure you're up to a certain level before you can take the real courses, so that the university doesn't waste resources on you, such as valuable professors and equipment. They want to make sure that you're taking these upper division classes to learn something...

    While browsing Mac Rumors in a philosophy lecture makes college seem like a waste of time, if it helps you to get a good paying job, or learn the skills you need, then no, it's not a waste of time. If there is a way for you to get the skills you need for less, then that's be a smarter choice. It's all about opportunity cost...
  21. takao macrumors 68040


    Dec 25, 2003
    Dornbirn (Austria)
    at the moment i just started my 2nd year on university(is that the same as college ? )
    working on my first degree (bachelor) in computer science (software development etc.)
    and yeah it is worth... stuying itself isn't expensive (700€ a year fees) the flat in which i live is eating money more :rolleyes:

    there isn't anything like a campus here: all departments of the university are spread across the whole town medicine/law/history of arts/psychology/archelogy/etc. (the 'old studies') are in the center of the town manegment etc (the 'money ones' )are somewhere on the one side of the town and of course (theoretical)maths/(quantum)(experimental)physic/architecture/computer science (the 'technical ones') are on their own areal near the airport :rolleyes:
    if somebody want to know more:
  22. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    I'm going with mostly --not-- a waste of time.

    Excluding the job issue, I've been finding that through the years at college (all right, so I'm only in my second semester) make me feel even stronger about one's willingness to persue a college education. Mainly, what I'm finding out is if you have professors that explain things clearly and expect you to do work that isn't so far beyond your capabilities, then you also learn, mentally, the experience of being able to do things on your own...independence. Isn't time management great? :p Then you feel more confident (maybe even more interested) in being able to apply college knowledge to your own work. At least I feel that way. For instance, before I even saw this thread, I browsed through my Calculus book, trying to figure out how to find surface area of certain 3D figures...and I'm about halfway through the level of Calculus below it.

    But that doesn't mean I don't see H.S. as a bad thing, because I like that too. I like H.S. because the classrooms are slower-paced, more thorough, and smaller in classroom size. (Any classroom with more than 20 students makes me feel uneasy...) Then again, with H.S., time management is not as developed as in college, but I don't feel that one should view H.S. negatively as a result. Lately, though, that's almost all I hear from people...negative things about H.S., especially since these "kids" see H.S. as the whole educational system. Of course that's not true! (Anyways, had to vent.)
  23. Mav451 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    Its probably the best time of your life. It sounds cliche, but if you have a good college experience (ask alums out there), the majority will definitely have that nostalgia hit em right in the chest :) Many people have talked bout it, but learning to think is huge. Just b/c I'm an engineer doesn't mean I can't think outside of equations. In fact, I'm not all that good with equations--I might have been in my high school, but in my competitive engineering program, I'm only average in that :( Nonetheless, at college you learn more about yourself. And notably not the academic side, but your personality. Living with roommates, the friends you make, and just how you handle day to day things will really reveal to yourself who you really are. In high school, things are far too controlled, to limited in scope to what college can do. Want to skip a class? Sure in college, but your grade and midterm will undoubtedly suffer. But it is YOUR decision.

    And as others have said, you will learn the meaning of all-nighter as well. Being awake at 2am is not abnormal at all (vs. high school, where that rarely happens weekdays). And depending on your school, freshman 15 hahah...all in good fun of course (assuming you lose it later on too :) ).
  24. raynegus macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2003
    My BS & BA degrees in Biology and Philosophy were not much use in the job sector (odd double major I know, but I make no apologies). I went to college to enrich my life yadda yadda yadda (hence the Philosophy degree) but when I got out I wished I had studied something more career oriented. I mean, people with 6 months of specific vocational training were better off than I was! I worked odd jobs for a few years and decided I had to go back to school. I'm finishing up my medical degree now (only two more months to go, woo-hoo!). Of course, now I'm 200 grand in debt... not to mention exhausted.

    Would I do it again? I dunno. Sometimes I wish I had kept things simple and not gone to college at all. Or just picked a simple field with a year or two of training and lived a simple happy life like a lot of my friends have. Sure they are not as educated as I am but who cares? I think I will make a good doctor as I am near the top of my class and I have met people who certainly are not good doctors (ethics wise). It is just a very stressful run which does not leave you. Managed care, malpractice insurance, lawsuits, it's a hard life for a doc these days. That's how I feel right now, but after a few years of practice my views might change when I'm not poor anymore. :p
  25. Opteron macrumors 6502

    Feb 10, 2004
    South Australia
    I'm a second year mining Engineering Student, and Starting wages are around $70k AUD, or more over seas. Uni in Australia is payed for by the government, and you pay your fees back through Australian and New Zealand Tax. However I have no intent on paying Australian or New Zealand Tax, as I plan to work off shore.

    There has been much industrial action latley in Australia with the Right Wing government continually cutting Uni funds, and not paying the lectures what they diserve.

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