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There are many variables. These days for “most” jobs, a bachelors degree is a bachelors degree. It checks the box for hiring. Masters degrees from better institutions matter a little bit more but are often tied to experience. PhDs pull in experience. It depends on the position you are going for. It is perfectly fine these days to obtain a “cheap” accredited bachelors degree to move ahead.


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So, first question is what would you like to do? Where is your passion?
After you figure out that, than think about education options. As Doug said, there is much more to education than just numbers. Sometimes people make less money having advance degrees than those without, but quality of life is much better.
With a lot of luck (though Arnold Palmer said: the harder you work, the luckier you get), I ended up at the right place at the right time and got BS, MS and PhD paid by university (experience was a factor here) and in the fields that I am very passionate about. That opened a lot of doors, as I never saw that as hurdle as I really enjoyed what I was doing. Other things that came with it, classes that I did not like it etc. I viewed as obstacle that I need to get through in order to get what I want. But, when you do what you really like, people notice that too. I never looked at it as how much I will make it after, and that was while I was on F1 foreign student visa here in the US. That opened me door to US Air Force Air War College, which was huge privilege as no civilian that is not employed by some government agency and sent purposely to that college on that agency dime, had access to college like that. Why that matters? College is not only about quizzes and tests. It is about meeting people, fellow students etc. It gives you opportunity to meet people that can push you further up, help you with scholarship, job etc. I never got scholarship by applying for it without previously "lobbying" my way to get it. That thing at Air War College? It was created to accommodate my friend who was at PhD program too and me. Professor that I had very good relation with, had good relation with Dean at AWC, and they came up with some scheme to get two of us in.
That allowed me to get a job that I never dreamed I could get out of PhD program. Now, I do not make bucks as your dad does, but I manage to ski 50 days every winter :)
So, choose carefully, choose your passion, as then that is not a job, it is a passion. I never woke up and said: God Damn it, why I have to go to work. You like cars, mechanics. Why not try engineering? Do not go to college bcs. family wants. You might rack up debt, and in the end be at the same place, or worse. Choose what you care about, what you want to do in 30 years.
 

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Wow, I never realized that all the 'car guys' here, were also philosophers. That said, I started college in 1963 when I had just turned 17, and I finished 19 years later when I was 35. The only reason I went back was that I had a kid and a wife. I had a lousy job, and I needed to get off the stick. I finished my engineering degree, and went to work for the Navy as a civilian engineer. I retired in 2015, but I never really figured out what I wanted to do.

BTW, I never had a business card, as I never wanted to grow up!
 

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In the 60's and the 70's college was almost for free for perspective.
Computer Science was new and Hardware Engineering was still the thing.
Biotech was in it's infancy.
Even the white collar job's and medical will be threatened by AI.
Of course the way we are going maybe survival college would be a better
option.
 

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In the 60's and the 70's college was almost for free for perspective.
Computer Science was new and Hardware Engineering was still the thing.
Biotech was in it's infancy.
Even the white collar job's and medical will be threatened by AI.
Of course the way we are going maybe survival college would be a better
option.

My colleague who just retired paid $34 for a class at UC Berkeley in 60’s. The funding for education is at the lowest levels. Everyone is saying we need to have better education to address new challenges, yet no one wants to invest in it.
As for survival, this crisis will eliminate A LOT of institutions. Unfortunately, predatory colleges thrive in environment like this.


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In the 60's and the 70's college was almost for free for perspective.
Computer Science was new and Hardware Engineering was still the thing.
Biotech was in it's infancy.
Even the white collar job's and medical will be threatened by AI.
Of course the way we are going maybe survival college would be a better
option.
My colleague who just retired paid $34 for a class at UC Berkeley in 60’s. The funding for education is at the lowest levels. Everyone is saying we need to have better education to address new challenges, yet no one wants to invest in it.
As for survival, this crisis will eliminate A LOT of institutions. Unfortunately, predatory colleges thrive in environment like this.
Not to turn this post into a political dumpster fire, but yes, fully agreed with both of you that the cost of post-secondary education is HUGE problem.
 

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And the predatory colleges where funded by Federal Loans .
If you managed to graduate you got a useless degree.
Trump University.

A lot of stuff can be learned with the online model.
Take a look at Kahn academy.
Some of the online learning aids now I wish I had in college
big time.
Listen to a lecture from the most qualified people be able to replay
it . Do the exercises and get a TA to smooth out the points you don't
understand. You don't have to take good notes if you can replay.
And so often you had to make the choice between good notes and
understanding the lecture.
 

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The best bang for the buck is at community colleges. They're almost free, and have almost open admission. In Floriduh, they're really tightened up on admissions to the state run universities. They tell the unsuccessful applicants to hit the community colleges and reapply in two years to finish out their BS/BA at the university.

I took a GPIB (General Purpose Interface Bus) class and Access programming at Bubba Coast Community College.

A friend of mine got fed up with working for the Navy, and started a "2+2" program at a community college. He taught the first two years of a BSEE degree, using the same text books, syllabi, and sometimes tests as the nearby university. The community college tuition was a fraction of what it was at the university.
 

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Get a useful degree. Don't be an art history major.

I'm an engineer and I really can't complain. More of my parts are leaving for Mars on Thursday.

About 5 years into it I wanted to be a LEO, the kind where you need an engineering degree, but that didn't work out medically. In hindsight it would have been the wrong career- I wouldn't have liked it. Age age 57 approaches though, the idea of retiring with a solid pension is quite appealing.

Putting aside current events, in terms of yard appeal, cars and toys, the leader on our block is an LAPD detective. They make a lot of money and can retire young with a great pension. Just a thought.
 

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And the predatory colleges where funded by Federal Loans .
If you managed to graduate you got a useless degree.
Trump University.

A lot of stuff can be learned with the online model.
Take a look at Kahn academy.
Some of the online learning aids now I wish I had in college
big time.
Listen to a lecture from the most qualified people be able to replay
it . Do the exercises and get a TA to smooth out the points you don't
understand. You don't have to take good notes if you can replay.
And so often you had to make the choice between good notes and
understanding the lecture.

That “university “ was ridiculous fraud, and not even higher education institution.
What I had in mind is University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University (HQ in Schaumburg, IL) etc. Phoenix was banned from Peterson AFB last year due to their practices.
OP, whatever you decide, just do not go to one of these frauds. As someone said community colleges are A LOT of value. Then move to your local state university. Forget these for profit grifters.


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Experience with a mass spec or an SEM (like my $6k/yr SUNY tuition 10 years ago got me) is hard to come by online... same with a trade. Learn to weld, sweat a pipe, or repair HVAC and you’ll never go hungry. Some of the wealthiest people I know (people who own their own islands) got there by cutting grass, and didn’t even graduate high school.

If you’ve got the drive, the rest falls into place, but no one can drive you but you. Paper can open certain doors, it al depends on which door you want to open. Until you can answer that question... no, college is not the answer.

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Get a useful degree. Don't be an art history major.

I'm an engineer and I really can't complain. More of my parts are leaving for Mars on Thursday.

About 5 years into it I wanted to be a LEO, the kind where you need an engineering degree, but that didn't work out medically. In hindsight it would have been the wrong career- I wouldn't have liked it. Age age 57 approaches though, the idea of retiring with a solid pension is quite appealing.

Putting aside current events, in terms of yard appeal, cars and toys, the leader on our block is an LAPD detective. They make a lot of money and can retire young with a great pension. Just a thought.
***8221;... leaving for Mars.***8221;

Thanks for the reminder.

My PD had a great community out reach when I retired. I still correspond with then Sgts and Lts, now Chief and Command Officers. Back then the SWAT Sgt., now Chief, in full battle rattle filled a doorway by himself. A tip o***8217; the hat Chief Ritchie. Back then the department had NINE sworn Officer Sean.

My buddy Major was a Boiler Tender rating in the USN. Still waters run deep. Great background for his years undercover.
 

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My older son went to the University of Maryland and is now, after a semi-tortuous path, a very successful medical doctor in MIchigan.

My younger son went to Duke University. His Duke professor recommended him to someone he knew at Princeton, where he had a free ride for five years, and graduated with a PhD in Aeronautics. His first job was at the Lockheed Skunk Works in California, for which he was recommended by his Princeton prof.

He also met his wife at Princeton, who's the daughter of a PA college president.

Now, he's not dumb, but a lot of what he did is from knowing people who know people. Of course, a lot of what he is also because of who he is. There are many intangibles to going to college.
 

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My older son went to the University of Maryland and is now, after a semi-tortuous path, a very successful medical doctor in MIchigan.

My younger son went to Duke University. His Duke professor recommended him to someone he knew at Princeton, where he had a free ride for five years, and graduated with a PhD in Aeronautics. His first job was at the Lockheed Skunk Works in California, for which he was recommended by his Princeton prof.

He also met his wife at Princeton, who's the daughter of a PA college president.

Now, he's not dumb, but a lot of what he did is from knowing people who know people. Of course, a lot of what he is also because of who he is. There are many intangibles to going to college.
PhD in Aeronautics: Now, he is not dumb :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:
I cannot remember I ever got a job without "it is who you know."
But, if that is only reason why one gets a job, eventually that catches up with you, and landing is not pretty. So, one still has to know what he/she is doing.
 

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One of my house mates at the college flop house turned me on to my first engineering job. He was a co-op student there. One of the managers later told me that he passed on interviewing me because I was a friend of my house mate.

My house mate asked for a reference from one of the senior technical people where we worked when he applied for a job with Cannon. The senior technical person told me that he told his friend at Cannon not to hire the guy, but they did anyway.

After I was working for about two years, they sent me back to my college to recruit engineers. The most promising person I interviewed was a friend of my former house mate, but his nickname at school was "Cocaine Ed."
 

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In the 60's and the 70's college was almost for free
My colleague who just retired paid $34 for a class at UC Berkeley in 60's. The funding for education is at the lowest levels. Everyone is saying we need to have better education to address new challenges, yet no one wants to invest in it.
Yes, today is a very different situation than 50 years ago!
When I went to college, it was to a private univeristy for $1200 for a full year. When I graduated, my first job was $12000, a 10x multiple of what my freshman year tuition cost.
Today, tuition at the same university is $52k per year...can you imagine anyone expecting to earn a 10x multiple of their freshman year tuition?! ...more like 1.5x than 10x.

So the 'value' of a college degree is very different today than it used to be.
Assuming 4 years costs you $208k before books and with zero living expenses factored in, if you could earn $52k per year with no degree but merely learning a trade, and if you could earn 1.5x that amount with a degree, it would still take 8 years of post-gradualtion work simply to pay off your education. But then you have 57 more working years at $26k more per year, or $1.48 Million more earning power due to your education. So there is a monetary reward over the years. (Yes, there are jobs that would not have that earning power, like a sociologist, but there are also jobs that have far greater earning power, than if you simply took on a trade.

Not to demean trades!!! We need plumbers and electricians and cooks and barbers, carpenters and mechanics and many, many other jobs that do not require a college education.
If instead of going to college, you had simply worked in a trade at $52k per year, you would have earned $208k in 4 years, rather than being -$208k in debt 4 years later. So that earning-vs-spending has to be taken into consideration.

The less tangible advantage to college is that it makes 'more rounded' people, because you are exposed to a very wide range of cultures and points of view, compared to living in small town USA. It is a broadening experience. And it can lead to meeting lifelong friends who are often times very influential and powerful people in their career pursuits.


We had exactly that conversation with our youngest daughter about 15 year ago. Rather than being a hairstylist, she has been the top medical capital equipment sales rep for her employer for two consecutive years, and earning a much higher multiple than 1.5x what her first year tuition cost!...and her first job was an intern position for a company!
 

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My last undergrad degree cost $24k total 10 years ago, and a Masters $12k total soon thereafter. If someone is paying much more, shame on them. Ditch the private schools and find a state school (providing your state has quality schools).


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My last undergrad degree cost $24k total 10 years ago, and a Masters $12k total soon thereafter. If someone is paying much more, shame on them. Ditch the private schools and find a state school (providing your state has quality schools).

Boys, is your $600/week unemployment bonus iffy?

Does you future look....dim?

Are you a Political / Pandemic / Economic victim of circumstance?


Well fret not lads, YOU can earn back what Uncle Sugar don' wanna give no more! Just open a browser window with this handy link and pick your career --- it's just that easy, because the Internet is just that effective.

No fear!


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I have a BS in Comp Sci; University of Pittsburgh, 1988; never used it, couldn't now even if I wanted to.

My wife & I were both working full-time jobs while we attended college full-time. (she's a PharmD)
When I graduated, I was working in television production, something that had absolutely nothing to do with what I studied in college.
Life Choice Point: continue making good money doing something I really enjoy, or become Dilbert?
I stayed in tv.

My career is different now than it was then, but I absolutely LOVE what I do right now.
Unfortunately, my entire industry is currently illegal, but that's a story for another day.

College now is obscenely expensive.
Do you REALLY get to broaden your horizons by being exposed to different ideas?
I obviously have an opinion about this, but no one cares about my opinion except me. :)

Covid is going to put some hurt on a LOT of colleges; not just the ones mentioned above.
When it comes right down to it, ALL colleges are "for profit"; some are just more honest about it.
It'll likely take a year or 2 for people to start asking why they're paying full tuition for online classes, and that's going to start an avalanche.

One reason to get a college degree:
The automated job application filtering software will discard your application if you don't have that box checked.

Knowing someone is important; I had a whole lot of right-place-right-time things go my way, and more than 1 "I know this guy" type of situation.
I never made any contacts in college; we were too busy working to keep a roof over our heads and mac & cheese on the table to spend much social time with classmates.

I have put in some good words for several people, and they've gotten hired, so full circle there.

How's that for a very wordy non-answer?
"It's up to you."

Also, take a long hard look at "stuff".
Do you want that big house because you have a big family, or because you want people to see that you have a big house?
How many times have you been driving with someone, and you see a development of gigantic houses, and 1 of you will say "wow, those are nice houses".
But they're not, they're just BIG. They're all poorly-built identical lumps of stucco.
I mean, we all drive BMWs so that's kinda funny. My excuse is that mine is 12 years old. hahahhaha
If you don't spend $100K a year impressing other people, you don't need to earn $150K a year to stay afloat.
Put 10% of every dollar you get paid in a shoe box or something.
Rainy days can come out of nowhere; ask any of the 35 million of us who are currently not working in the US.

Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.

Live within your means, take time to enjoy the world around you, work to live, do not live to work.
 

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I have a BS in Comp Sci; University of Pittsburgh, 1988; never used it, couldn't now even if I wanted to.

Oh, to work with punch cards on an IBM 370 again....U of Oregon & U of Delaware here.

Oddly I'm not employed in the computer field either, but find the experience immensely valuable in constructing databases and teaching chips to talk to one another; designing sensor data transmission & number crunching for my business. Little bit o'homegrown electrical engineering into the mix - the Web is an excellent source for self-education.
 
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