Before You Enrolled in College Did They Tell You Your Degree Sucks?

In my ongoing thread over the concern colleges and universities have been enrolling students and not giving them the window sticker of what was really to be expected (see this, this, and this) comes this interesting information out today.

While some students were induced to enroll in college and go deep into debt, there is growing concern that the messages given by schools about employment, income, and outcomes is misleading or even deceptive. That’s the message the Federal Trade Commission sent in this recent case.

And of course the performance of college is going to be based on the actual school, which you can look at, here and here.

But out today is a very interesting set of data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While this is a look at college graduate employment data, one section of the data struck me.

In the section on Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates by Major the data shows the fields of study where graduates have the great chance of being underemployed. That is, employed in low-wage jobs that do not require such skills or abilities.

So even if your college, school or university bragged about employment and income rates of graduates, it would be very interesting if advisors, enrollment counselors, or academic counselors are letting students know what the outlook is in their field.

Worst College Degrees for Underemployment
Criminal Justice – 74.4%
Performing Arts – 66.5%
Public Policy and Law – 63.1%
Leisure and Hospitality – 62.6%
Fine Arts – 62.3%
Business Management – 61.4%
Medical Technicians – 59.6
Anthropology – 59.1%
Art History – 58.9%
Communications – 58.1%

And the data also shows the median expected income of these graduates in the years after graduation is low. The question is if the anticipated income can even begin to cover the cost of the education funded on government money using federal loans.

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Median Income of Graduates in Early Years
Criminal Justice – $33,000
Performing Arts – $30,000
Public Policy and Law – $32,000
Leisure and Hospitality – $32,000
Fine Arts – $29,000
Business Management – $38,000
Medical Technicians – $44,000
Anthropology – $30,000
Art History – $32,000
Communications – $36,000

Based on the expected median income and rate of underemployment you’ve got to wonder how any student who is pushed $50,000 – $175,000 for a degree in this program is ever setup for success.

What do you think: Should schools restrict loans based on the likely expectation of graduation, income, and employment?

We can’t lose sight of the fact this data is for the one-in-four students who actually made it to graduation. Those majority who have student loan debt and no degree, fair far worse.

Let’s also not be distracted by the reality that people don’t graduate for a number of reasons. But when people are setup for life and financial failure by misleading claims or lies in order for the school to enroll inappropriate students to profit from via federal student loans, that deception falls on the backs of the taxpayers and that should piss you off.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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