Out of grad school, money spent. See no future, pay no rent.

16 05 2012

I blame Phil Hill for getting me to read this rant by Mark Cuban:

Its far too easy to borrow money for college. Did you know that there is more outstanding debt for student loans than there is for Auto Loans or Credit Card loans ? Thats right. The 37mm holders of student loans have more debt than the 175mm or so credit card owners in this country and more than the all of the debt on cars in this country. While the average student loan debt is about 23k. The median is close to $12,500. And growing. Past 1 TRILLION DOLLARS.

We freak out about the Trillions of dollars in debt our country faces. What about the TRILLION DOLLARs plus in debt college kids are facing ?

The point of the numbers is that getting a student loan is easy. Too easy.

That’s, of course, easy for him to say. He doesn’t need a student loan anymore. The effect of tightening those loans wouldn’t just be catastrophic for American universities. It would cut off all hopes of upward mobility for tens of thousands of young people in this country.

Worse yet, aside from loan money going to for-profit no-diploma mills, it wouldn’t be warranted. Graduating in debt with poor job prospects is obviously a risk. If you don’t believe that, then look at the results of this survey coming out of Rutgers. Yet for most college graduates, that risk will still pay off over the course of a lifetime.

However, I defy you to say the same thing about getting a Ph.D. in the humanities. As I’ve explained elsewhere, about 75% of academic jobs are now part-time workers on limited-term contracts. There is virtually no private sector for a humanities Ph.D. So do the math. The vast majority of new doctorates will end up as adjuncts (if they get jobs in academia at all) because that’s all that will be available for them. Adjunct wages aren’t worth the considerable investment in time and money that a Ph.D. program requires.

Look for a non-academic job, you say? When you’re done, you might actually be less employable than when you started. [After all, they think you only give them your funny papers.]

Therefore, how can anyone possibly tell anybody that they should pay or (worse yet) borrow money in order to get any graduate degree in the humanities in this environment unless they have 1) a job already (like a secondary school teacher looking for a raise) or 2) a totally different path to employment to fall back upon?

Nowhere to go is no excuse.




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