Saturday, May 29, 2010

Degree in "Interdisciplinary Religious and Women's Studies"---is it worth $100,000+???

 I have no problem with anyone going to an expensive private college/university.  I am for the freedom to choose your own way.  However, as with all freedoms there come responsibilities.  In this NTYIMES article ("Placing the Blame as Students Are Buried in Debt")  we see a young women in despair/regret about the massive debt she incurred in going to NYU---$100,000 plus.  Yes, that is alot of money, and a degree from such a prestigious university carries some weight and should explicitly and implicitly contribute to her future prospects in terms of earning power and/or career satisfaction.  HOWEVER, if you are going to "bet the farm" on your education, you should probably (1) be cognizant of your major and ITS ability to compensate you for the time and effort you put in to securing the degree, (2) be cognizant of your OWN abilities to create opportunities to benefit financially from your time and effort.  These two things should be part of a students self-assessment in determining their major.  This makes sense, right?
I had to read through 90% of the article before they mentioned what her degree was in: "Interdisciplinary  Religious and Women's Studies" (would the writer have waited so long if the degree was in engineering?). No, I am NOT interested  in a debate about the merits of such a degree path.  It has value to society, I get that.  I have a degree in Political Science (minor in Economics), for petes sake! I cannot speak ill of any degree or its relative importance.  But some measure of cost/benefit analysis must be performed before undertaking such an expensive endeavor as a college degree .  I am for allowing students choose their own way, but if my daughter wanted to study something akin to what this young woman choose to study, she would NOT be going to NYU but a fine public university (again, I WOULD let her study what she wanted, but not necessarily at the college of her choice, if I were paying for it).  If she told me she wanted to study economics at The University of Chicago AND be a high school economics teacher, I would have to do my best to discourage that (I am not betting MY farm and would not willingly allow her to bet the farm she does not have yet).  Who is to blame in this scenario? The banks who lent her the money? The college for not better assessing her career goals and balance those against her degree? Her mother for letting her have her way in selecting an expensive school? The young woman herself for her decisions? Hopefully, something positive will come out of this article in terms of a warning to others---CHOOSE carefully and build in some future expectations concerning compensation (financially or otherwise)...Parents will appreciate that and certainly the students themselves will also.
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