Vastly expensive postgrad degrees that lead to low-paying jobs

In the future everyone’s job will be replaced by a machine…

You mean other than the government? I assume you’re not saying faculty should work for free.

Undergraduate education ought to be free, as educated people are a public good. Not everyone I know shares that opinion. I’m of two minds w/r to professional advanced degrees.

Kornfeld’s assertion is odd. On many campuses, including mine, professional schools charge differential tuition with the goal of being mainly self-supporting, but I doubt Columbia’s masters programs subsidize any other parts of campus except to the extent that all departments subsidize university commons (heating bill, library, Kornfeld’s salary, athletics). Many schools use a budget model called “responsibility (or resource)-centered management”, or RCM, which is structured to make units “self-sufficient”, but even then many essential costs of running a program are considered external to the program. I can’t tell if Columbia uses RCM in its budget, but if so she’s probably considering paying for those services as “subsidizing”.

Tradespeople will be needed to service the machines. :wink:
There’s an assumption that trades workers are anti-intellectual; far from it. They have 4 years of post-secondary schooling and paid practicums. Here in British Columbia some trades can earn a university degree in related disciplines as part of their apprenticeship credits.



Also known as right now. This is already happening. Because, in my field anyways, departments are being cut literally left and right.

Universities need warm bodies at the grad level to both look more attractive to donors and to teach those undergrads. And people are looking to get better jobs by getting a grad degree and of course, we’ve had several economic downturns in recent years. When that happens, grad enrollment goes up.

Check This Out GIF


Well, yeah.

1 Like

So much about modern schooling is a rort.

It amazes me young people can spend up to 12 straight years in public schooling and still somehow manage to come away without a viable skill to trade or the means to an independent livelihood.

Then what often follows is a tertiary education confidence scam.

What interests me upon reflection is that noone ever directly told me that investment in schooling would guarantee me a job yet this idea was heavily implied by society and institutions all throughout my journey to adulthood.


Make the school liable for the first 25% if the loan goes into default.

Also, start scaling down the amount that the feds guarantee, until it gets to something like $15-$20K per year.

Also, reduce the loans available on a sliding scale depending on the size of the university’s endowment. Over $1 million endowment per student, no loans.


Universities need to have expenses for (a) teachers, (b) lab facilities for STEM courses, (c) record-keeping. But the rest of the country at large does NOT need to pay for this -

There are fixes that can be implemented right now to reverse the growth in student debt. But it requires that a lot of people get their snouts out of the trough.

1 Like

I hear people bitching from time to time about unpaid internships. Well, yeah, but an unpaid internship most of the time does not leave you with mid six figures in debt when it’s over.

I have some sympathy for anyone who runs up 300 large in debt and then finds out that there are very few good openings in her field and it’s been that way for quite a few years.

But not a lot.

1 Like

Which is nice, if you can find someone to pay for you to take an unpaid internship – still without any guarantee of a career at the end of it.

And that’s the problem.

You can’t go anywhere to borrow $40,000 to cover room and board for two years while in an unpaid internship, at the end of which you would owe only $40,000 even if you could not get a related job.

But if you want to borrow $350,000 funneled by the feds through a bank and a college to wind up in the same place, they’ll shovel the dollars at you.

What we also need to do here is run the numbers. Let’s say you are in a humanities program with an instructor-student ratio of 1:10. If the tuition is $60K per year and the average instructor compensation (considering that there will be a mix of full/associate/adjunct profs) is $160,000, that leaves $44,000 per student per year going for things that aren’t teachers. What exactly does that buy? This same sort of analysis could be done for all levels of education. Health care, too.

Wut? In a humanities program? Where did you get those numbers?

Take off the 1 before that 6 and it would probably still be too high.

(And btw, an adjunct isn’t a prof.)


Fine. I was basically pulling numbers out of the air to make a point. And I did not want to exaggerate the amount of tuition paid that goes to things that aren’t teacher compensation.

If it’s actually $54K instead of $44K that’s an even bigger “what the holy fuck?”

(Edit: I suspect that the schools paying their profs $60K are charging less than $60K a year. I could be wrong, in that case, how about an orange neon WTF? eight stories high)

Friend of mine got a 4 year art degree. He is at Google now doing platform evangelism.

Degree AFAIK taught him nothing germane to his current job. But probably got him through some recruiter filters.

1 Like

My hat’s off to whomever hired your friend!

I’ve hired ~30 people in my career. And in more than half those cases, I’ve had to battle with HR because the candidate I really wanted did not follow the Approved Path with the Appropriate Credentials.


It is shocking how often that happens. I have gotten jobs I have totally killed and not been eligible on paper, but got to interview because of a connection.

Also have seen job postings for jobs I have vacated that I would not have been considered for, despite having done all the things listed well.

I have a generally low opinion of recruiters. They are on the same spectrum as car salespeople and real estate agents.


These days, even getting to a recruiter is something-so many places just use algorithms to sort applications that using the wrong phrasing can get you junked.


I know that’s true in some places, but the Wall Street Journal article we’re discussing here is about programs in the United States, where those are usually (always?) graduate programs.


A tempting idea, but flee to where? The countries which still have sane leadership don’t want us.


Where does the person live during such an internship? How do they eat?

A major part of the problem with unpaid internships is that the only people who can afford to take them are the same people who don’t need to rack up massive debt to get an education, because they have family money to cover costs.