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Monday, January 28, 2013

Apparently education is not the answer

Paging Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Reynolds, cleanup on aisle 3
Nearly half of working Americans with college degrees are in jobs for which they're overqualified, a new study out Monday suggests.  The study, released by the non-profit Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says the trend is likely to continue for newly minted college graduates over the next decade.
Fortunately, these overqualified degree holders can be patient and don't need to make a lot of money right away, because being so intelligent and educated, they would have known better than to go into debt to pay for a useless degree... wait a minute....

If you're still on the mindless college track because you think education is priceless, you might want to stop and do the math first.  And ask yourself why, if it is priceless, it has a price tag attached.

This should also put some perspective on the value of the opinion of those who seriously believed - in some cases, still believe - that education is the answer to anything.

Labels:

159 Comments:

Anonymous Gill January 28, 2013 1:06 PM  

Hmmmm... weasel word from the MSM:

"overqualified" for what?

If you can't get a job and do a job with something...what makes you "qualified" much less "overqualified"???

I paid money to learn how to chop down a tree...you won't trust me with an axe...hence I'm overqualified as a lumberjack.

Blogger The Observer January 28, 2013 1:07 PM  

Getting a degree in chemical engineering is still reasonably smart, especially with the predicted oil boom.

Getting a degree in quadraplegic turtle studies or gay lumberjack studies, not so much.

Oh well.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 1:09 PM  

And ask yourself why, if it is priceless, it has a price tag attached.

Because for everything else, there's MasterCard.

...I'm so sorry.

Anonymous David January 28, 2013 1:10 PM  

A number of engineering fields are still a good idea, especially if you can bypass a couple of years of college credit with AP and CLEP tests.

But most students are cut out to handle tough engineering classes or an engineering job.

Anonymous David January 28, 2013 1:11 PM  

"aren't cut out"

Anonymous DrTorch January 28, 2013 1:13 PM  

College has been the single biggest burden on the middle class since the 1960s.

The "progressives" who claim to champion the blue-collar middle class average Joe, have done a magnificent job of destroying him, largely through the "need" of a college education.

Right now I'm strategizing how to homeschool my sone effectively enough not to bother w/ college, other than the open source classes. Which allows me to ask this pertinant question:

What computer language (and accompanying coursework if available) would one recommend for a 10 y.o. to start with?

I've heard pros/cons on Ruby, Java, and have seen open course available for Python. Other?



Oh, and as further contribution to the thread

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/01/too-many-scientists

Anonymous TLM January 28, 2013 1:19 PM  

@David-A number of engineering fields are still a good idea, especially if you can bypass a couple of years of college credit with AP and CLEP tests. ......

Not for white males! At least that's what I learned from watching that ridiculously over the top PC movie Higher Learning.

Anonymous szook January 28, 2013 1:24 PM  

DrTorch,

Up to about 4-5 years ago a friend (who teaches Comp Sci at a small private uni) showed me that they were using java as an intro. language. The main thing to consider is if he shows interest in the application/user interface side or if he might have an knack for the lower level interaction with hardware. C++ would give him better exposure to the latter.

Anonymous szook January 28, 2013 1:25 PM  

Oh, and just to stay on topic with the thread....Vox, you want some fries with that....

Anonymous Scott W. January 28, 2013 1:28 PM  

watching that ridiculously over the top PC movie Higher Learning.

Isn't that the one where the police are fully alerted to skinheads running around committing crimes yet when they stumble upon a skinhead in the hall, they arrest the black student next to him? :D

Anonymous DrTorch January 28, 2013 1:35 PM  

Thanks szook.

There are pros/cons to every approach, but for someone young, I think seeing success (a controlled ability to make interesting and productive things happen), is important.

People are being productive w/ high level languages. I don't want to get caught right back in the university education trap of needing to know everything before trying to do something useful.

Blogger Travis Kurtz January 28, 2013 1:38 PM  

The article says a college grad on average will make far more than a mere high school grad.

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 1:39 PM  

Javascript wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 1:41 PM  

The article says a college grad on average will make far more than a mere high school grad.

Consider what you're averaging.

Blogger Double Minded Man January 28, 2013 1:45 PM  

Dr Torch

Any language will help to learn other languages. There is also development in SQL or things like Sharepoint which incorporate SQL and IIS (web pages) and those both pay really well as well.

Anonymous JartStar January 28, 2013 1:46 PM  

Tell the banks that you can't put a price tag on education and stop paying your student loans. I'm sure they'll agree.

Anonymous HH January 28, 2013 1:48 PM  

I think education in itself is not a bad thing, and certainly more education is better than less. I am always reminded of the quote "Life is hard enough without being stupid" The argument is really cost/benefit analysis of degrees -- money in vs money out.

Current CS usually start with Visual Basic or Java ... both I think are a mistake. I would teach a new user C (Not C++/visual C etc) so they can learn about basic structures, logic etc unburdened by the desire to create a pretty gui. I would try to teach structure techniques (and yes I know C isn't all that structured.. but it can be taught as a structured language)--- I have even used structured basic (gen 3 stuff) but I think the most marketable primary language is C ... so just avoid the bad C stuff to start..

Anonymous ThirdMonkey January 28, 2013 1:51 PM  

I have two nephews, the "smart" one who took the college route, the other the "slow" one who barely graduated high school and went to welding school. The "slow" one is making more money while going to welding school than his older "smart" brother will when he graduates. "Smart" brother has 5 years of college debt up to his eyeballs. "Slow" brother worked, saved money, and paid all his tuition up front, and will graduate in 9 months. College is only worth it if you can do it debt-free and have a guaranteed job before you graduate. Most college students don't even start looking for work until their last semester, and wonder why they're stuck in the service industry. MPAI.

Anonymous Gen. Kong January 28, 2013 1:52 PM  

Nearly half of working Americans with college degrees are in jobs for which they're overqualified, a new study out Monday suggests.

That's no problem for the squid overlords like Bloomberg, Soros, et al. Fire all the overqualified deadweight and replace with the new uneducated third-worlders once the Repukes pass the amnesty. See, problem solved! YT never complains. They like to rattle their chains as they celebrate their freedoms instead. Besides, being college edumacated, those cashiered will appreciate the need for more vibrancy, especially the wymyn. They'll probably march out singing praises to the Mocha Messiah. It's truly a squid's world.

Blogger Subversive Saint January 28, 2013 1:52 PM  

I had a good chuckle one day when I found out about a female acquaintance (also school teacher) who scoffed at homeschool education for her niece and nephew (my friend's children). In her mind the only way they would "make it" was to go to school (preferably public) and then college.

She was aghast to learn that I had been home-schooled and did not complete college but was pulling in a salary of over 100K/yr.

The bubbles, they do burst so pleasantly.

Anonymous JartStar January 28, 2013 1:53 PM  

@Dr Torch

A buddy of mine teaches RobotC to his son and several other kids by having them program Lego robots. That way they get exposure to programming and do something cool with it. The results have been very good.

For very young kids (5-6) Lego Mindstorm has a graphical drag and drop language to start with and he switches the kids to RobotC around 8th grade.

Anonymous TLM January 28, 2013 1:56 PM  

Isn't that the one where the police are fully alerted to skinheads running around committing crimes yet when they stumble upon a skinhead in the hall, they arrest the black student next to him? :D.....

You are correct. All to make whitey look raciss. It's too bad there wasn't an alternate ending with the Nazi's taking down Ice Cube, Buster Rhymes, the mouthy black bitch, the part-time lesbo, the SWPL "cool" white guy, Ah hell, they should have just killed them all.

Anonymous DrTorch January 28, 2013 1:57 PM  

JartStar- Already doing that.

I do appreciate everybody's input.

Anonymous Matt January 28, 2013 2:02 PM  

Education is great. Schooling is not the same thing as education.

Anonymous Kevin January 28, 2013 2:10 PM  

I did not go to college, I just work a simple call center job that I enjoy. Not a fabulous salary, but it's enough for now. I'm married with a 6 month old, own a house, own 1 car free and clear, making payments on another, wife only works a couple days a week and is on track to quit to be a stay at home mom. We seem to be better off financially than some folks making literally 3 times as much as we are. How is this possible???

Anonymous Ten41 January 28, 2013 2:15 PM  

DrTorch

I will throw in my 3 cents worth.

There are many options out there, but Java will give your son a great environment to learn in. There are many tutorials out in the websphere. And if you pick up an IDE such as NetBeans, they will have tutorials on their website.

There are also some good resources such as Greenfoot which is intro Java for ages 13 and up - close enough for your son. Very graphical. This might be a good fit. There is also BlueJay which is targeted for college level students.

And if graphics (as in gaming) is his bent, he can play around with Alice which is a fun to play around with.

It is important to note that these are only (IMO) tools for him to cut his teeth on. If this is his bent in life, then there are definitely many more options out there that will make a true geek of him.

You can pick languages that are harder (e.g. C) but if you look in the paper for CS positions open - C, and even C++ positions are getting fewer and farther in-between. You see more Java, Python, web programming, etc.. The young men I come into contact with have never touched a lick of C or C++ in their life, and they are programming very well without those skills.



If your goal is web type of programming, then you will want him versed in html, css, javascript, etc.. This can be found at places like W3Schools. It might not be bad to have him go through this just for the fun of it. Gives one a good basis understanding how the basics of web pages are working.


Good luck on this, programming can be quite fun.

Anonymous Ten41 January 28, 2013 2:21 PM  

I always ask every young man and woman (read teenagers) that I meet what they are going to be when they grow up. Invariably they have no idea. But, they all are going to college to be "it" whatever "it" is.

Even though I am circumspect in the talks, they, and their parents, just can't grasp the point that college is not necessarily the answer to their life quest.

I can't get them to shake out of the "must get a degree" mindset. It truly is ingrained.

Anonymous Mike M. January 28, 2013 2:24 PM  

Education is always worthwhile, but Lesson #1 is not to pay big bucks for a degree that won't deliver a return on the investment.

Math is good. Science is better. Engineering is great. As Susan Walsh has said, STEM is the new black. :-)

As for the liberal arts majors...no, I don't want fries with my burger. I'm trying to go semi-Paleo.

Blogger tz January 28, 2013 2:26 PM  

Education is priceless. A piece of paper, be it something saying "This is legal tender..." or "Degree" is only worth what is backing it. Usually a promise, or nothing.

This is the Scarecrow generation. They think education happens by Ozmosis.

The Scarecrow in Oz wanted a brain but all he got was a degree. But there is a strawman (or strawoman) born every minute.

Anonymous bw January 28, 2013 2:31 PM  

I've always found it humorous that it's called a Degree in the first place.
But oh, you could be one of the advanced Degrees!

Blogger Taqiyyotomist January 28, 2013 2:37 PM  

I went to a small-town elementary/jr-high/high school.

It was 50/50 black/white, which is to say 50/50 hillbilly/Chicago Welfare Emigrants.

Very educational, to say the least.

Moved to Massachusetts and went to a ten-times bigger school with 2 black people, my senior year. And everyone there was rabidly racist, and Progressive, and most had never known or associated with a black family in their lives.

No scholarship at all from my 2nd grade to my move to the Big City. Black school board. If ten black students wanted to cut in front of you, you had to let them. Because Slavery. Flash mobs and flash beatings? These occurred well before the advent of Social Media and 4g cellphones. I can attest. My, oh, my, can I attest.

My "education", poor as it was by the state, was only made more complete by living 42 years and READING as much as I could, outside of my intentionally-de-educating school.

Anonymous Red Comet January 28, 2013 2:38 PM  

Anyone who went to college for a profession not in science or medicine has a degree that only proves they are easily susceptible to scams (or a professional con artist if you went to law school).

Anonymous Randy M January 28, 2013 3:09 PM  

"Education is always worthwhile"
This is one of those meaningless things that people say to sound moderate. Whether education is worththile depends on the topic, validity, detail, and retention of the education, and the cost, in opportunity and money, of the while.

Anonymous JartStar January 28, 2013 3:10 PM  

The whole thing ends with online undergraduate degrees become ubiquitous. It will be amusing to watch the entrenched academia at lest prestigious schools fight tooth and nail against the economics.

The first step is to show on the top of each major: the amount of debt the average student accumulates while getting the degree, the average wage 1 year out of school and then 10 years out, the job placement rate, and the graduation rate of the major. If it is proven that the schools fabricated the data the faculty of the department is suspended without pay.

Blogger tz January 28, 2013 3:33 PM  

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/tom-friedman-high-tech-philistine/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tom-friedman-high-tech-philistine

I have a comment if it stays up.

I must give my most profuse thanks to our host for his explanation making clear the difference between profanity and vulgarity, and though in most cases I do not go there, since the TAC post indicated that actually seeking real, usable, practical, or even just true (for its own sake) knowledge is "vulgar", it deserved such a response.

My only problem is maybe Freidman is realizing the scam. Sometimes even the elites are honest enough and charitable and really are for the little guy so will expose one of their own scams.

Blogger tz January 28, 2013 3:35 PM  

Today's college students will learn far more from their non-discharge-able debts than they will have learned in any of the activities where they accumulated them.

Blogger A January 28, 2013 3:38 PM  

I've been looking for work in Ontario and everything on the job sites is either placement agency minimum wage factory work, or technology work, both engineering and CS, with a peppering of managerial positions in tech companies. There really isn't much in the middle, especially for any kind of liberal arts degree, and most of the manager stuff is for 30-40k, but you have to have credentials in different specialties. Hell, you need to have credentials to be a security guard for minimum wage, what's up with that?

Also, I've seen some electrician jobs for 25 an hour. You have to have a cert for that, and be signed up with the provincial electricians something or other. Based on what I've seen just looking for work (just immigrated here), I'd recommend young people who haven't taken the plunge into college debt to take up an electrician apprenticeship and learn as much about computers, physics, and CS languages as they can, and then build some programs or demonstrate that they have good hands on experience to bring to their interviews.

Blogger tz January 28, 2013 3:43 PM  

Question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Answer: "An adult".
Althernative answer: "Elderly to the point of senility".
Another: "Researching how to reverse the process".

Q. "what's up?" A. "The direction opposed to gravity".

Anonymous Azimus January 28, 2013 3:59 PM  

My joy in reading the article was complete when it said we don't have XYZ good-paying jobs because we don't have the skills. This in an article about how there is an over-abundance of highly educated people. So LOTS of educated people, LACK of usable skills. If only I took Critical Thinking 201 in college, I'd be able to figure out what rhe problem was...

Blogger Vidad January 28, 2013 4:11 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Vidad January 28, 2013 4:13 PM  

@ Subversive Saint

Nice - keep shooting down the stereotypes.

Personally, I went and got an art degree. There's nothing beneath a man with a BFA.

Anonymous Russell January 28, 2013 4:16 PM  

Dr Torch,

Since modern computers are based on the Von Neumann architecture, are you more interested in teaching your son how to work closer to the metal, so to speak, or more interested in how computation works?

If the former, C, basic C++, and Java are all good starting points, if not without their share of problems. If the latter, than look into something Lisp based, like Scheme.

Good middle languages would be Ruby and Python currently. JavaScript is a must for browser interaction, if that's a route you'd want to pursue.

A word of caution, stay away from VisualBasic. It appeals to midwits and hacks, and it retards the mind. Plus, it leaves your laundry dingy and stained, won't shut the fridge, and refuses to use coasters.

Remember, though, whatever language you choose, it will color the way he views and solves problems. The sooner he learns more than one language, preferably least like the other, the better off he'll be.

Anonymous Kickass January 28, 2013 4:38 PM  

I have already explained we are not paying for college.

What I will pay for is three skills. And I mean skills that give you a living wage. Each child will be equiped with not only a full education, but at least three skills they can make a living wage in. The girls will focus on those that they could do while being at home with children to either suppliment a Husband's pay in time of need or to help care for an injured Husband or in case their Husband pasess (God forbid).
The boys will focus on at least one skill that pays that is mind work heavy (like computers) that can be done if injured. The other two can be anything, but I prefer things that have many practical applications like auto mechanic or welding.

If they would like to pursue something after that where they must go to college they will use the skills they have and pay for it. I will suppliment as much as I can (I have not told them that and won't until I see them ready to foot the bills).

I paid for all of my college and went into the Military to do so. I worked 12 hour shifts, six days a week while pulling fulltime college credits in. All 4.0.

I never finished. Started several businesses and there was no need to.

We out earn and out profit every single one of our friends who did ten plus years in college and now have mortgages and equal cost college loans. This is while having a stay at home Wife who homeschools.

It can be done. But you have to put the in pain and doing without for awhile. With family, you might not even have to do without. But I had no family.

Also, I know we are talking computer language..but I would like to hear anyone's thoughts on languages for homeschool that will be good to know for the future global climate. Right now we are concentrating on Spanish, ASL and French. But I hope to add some Asian languages and maybe even Arabic and Hebrew to the mix.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

Anonymous CunningDove January 28, 2013 4:43 PM  

Dr. Torch,

Learning the logic & structure is much more important than learning a particular language. If you know "how a computer thinks" you can learn any language. If you understand how the computer "ticks" through the structure, you can work out how to get any language to produce the results that you are after. I started by learning Basic & then Pascal. I have not had issue picking up any language since then. I typically need about 3 months working in a language to get a strong grasp of "how things work" and about a year to get really creative & start looking at questions like "what is the most efficient way to code this for results?" Not just, how do I write this code to get the results that I need.

My 2 cents.

Blogger hadley January 28, 2013 4:56 PM  

The liberal professors love it! They get to teach worthless liberal crap to students and get paid for doing it. The bankers get to loan 0.1% Fed money at 6% to student chumps. The bureaucrats in Washington get to keep their jobs administering the massive student loans that EVERYONE knows will never be paid back. In fact, the only losers in this deal are the students, who the Republicans AND the Democrats rigged the system so STUDENT loans are the only ones that can NEVER be discharged in bankruptcy! What's not to like?

And I still have a putz professor brother-in-law telling me that "America is so cheap she won't invest in her children" as he demands even more taxpayer money be thrown down the academic rat hole.

Anonymous Obliviou... I mean, Obsidian January 28, 2013 5:02 PM  

"...watching that ridiculously over the top PC movie Higher Learning."

From the LA Times, January 20, 1995:

Despite Columbia Pictures' upscale marketing attempts on "Higher Learning" and the studio's offers to pay for additional security at theaters, violence has plagued the first week of the John Singleton college drama, resulting in two deaths outside Washington.

Jennings R. Kettleson was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting Jan. 12 outside the National Amusements Multiplex in Centreville, Va. A second fatality was reported the following day at the Lee Highway Multiplex, also in Virginia. A 17-year-old youth was charged in the homicide.

There have also been brawls and at least one other reported shooting in Midwestern areas, according to reports in Variety and the Associated Press. Singleton's first film, "Boyz N the Hood," which opened in the summer of 1991, resulted in similar violent confrontations at theaters, leaving two dead and 33 injured. At that time, Columbia was criticized for not anticipating trouble.

For "Higher Learning," Columbia had taken several precautionary measures."



Congress! Legislative taskforces! This was your chance to shine - to chin-check all those obsessed white directors like Bay and Spielberg (not Singleton, of course; no way a brother could have known this would happen), and to ban these films from ever being shown in public theaters, protecting vibrant communities, and keeping white opportunists in Hollywood from profiting off the deaths of innocent movie goers, especially young black honor roll students. Why do you hate minorities and families, lawmakers? Why do you want Aurora to continue?!

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:02 PM  

@Vox Day


This should also put some perspective on the value of the opinion of those who seriously believed - in some cases, still believe - that education is the answer to anything.


Anything?

Well, certainly a college education is the answer to any high school graduate who asks, "How am I almost guaranteed to increase my income over my lifetime"?

It's also the answer to the question, "what must I do to practice law?"

It's also the answer to the question, "What must I do to practice medicine?"

And these are just some of the many questions to which "A college education" is the answer.

Wow.....Why not just tell the truth?

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 5:09 PM  

People do sometimes get into medical school and law school without college degrees. Neither of these career fields explicitly requires a college degree.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:12 PM  

@Noah

People do sometimes get into medical school and law school without college degrees. Neither of these career fields explicitly requires a college degree.

Funny, Noah. What? 1/10 of 1/2 of 1%?

On top of that, one can reliably say that medical school is a form of education, which Vox Day tells us isn't "the answer to anything". Well, you and I both know that's crazy talk.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 5:20 PM  

So, Tad, are you saying that, in fact, education is the answer to everything?

Anonymous Koppernicus January 28, 2013 5:22 PM  

@Kickass

I know Advanced Squad Leader is complex, but is it really a language like French and Spanish?

@Dr. Torch

I think for an introduction you should stay away from C and C++ because you will be spending as much time trying to explain compiler and linker options as actual computer programming concepts. Greenfoot and BlueJay have a good reputation. Python also has a good reputation.

I would recommend purchasing a Raspberry Pi from the fine folks at raspberrypi.org. It is a PCB the size of a credit card with an ARM SOC, USB, ethernet, and HDMI output. It also has general purpose IO pins and was designed by a group of British professors to help get children of all ages interested in electrical engineering and programming. I bought one and turned it into a home theater PC with the help of some extra components. Check out their website for more ideas.

Anonymous Josh January 28, 2013 5:22 PM  

Well, certainly a college education is the answer to any high school graduate who asks, "How am I almost guaranteed to increase my income over my lifetime"?

You dishonest slut, did you even look at the linked article? If almost half of college graduates are taking jobs that don't require degrees, how are they guaranteed to increase their income?

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 5:22 PM  

"Well, you and I both know that's crazy talk."

That's definitely hyperbole, but there are a hell of a lot of people getting buried in debt to earn degrees in humanities, social sciences, education, etc. who would be better off doing just about anything else.

Anonymous dh January 28, 2013 5:23 PM  

In my home state, it was possible to become a lawyer through apprenticeship. You apprentice for 2 years, and pass the same bar exam as any other lawyer, and meet all the other requirements, and you could be a lawyer.

Every few years, at the end of the legislative term, a rider was attached to something that had to pass that would end the practice. The only thing that consistently stopped it was one rep. who had become a lawyer through the apprenticeship path. When he finally retired (and then died, shortly after), that was all over.

On the one hand we have debt, and oversupply. On the other hand, a time tested system for bringing up new people into the profession.

It is often depressing to be a liberal.

Anonymous Johnny Caustic January 28, 2013 5:24 PM  

What computer language (and accompanying coursework if available) would one recommend for a 10 y.o. to start with?

At that age, it's important to have as short a loop between writing code and seeing the effects as possible. So I'd avoid compiled languages like Java and C++. (Also because Java is overrated and clunky, C++ is not a beginner's language, and C is too low-level.) I think Python is a good choice, as it's (usually) interpreted and makes a lot of things easy (scripting, plotting) that are harder in languages like Java and C++. And Python makes you just as employable as Java does.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:24 PM  

So, Tad, are you saying that, in fact, education is the answer to everything?

No. For example, education is not the answer to the question, "what led Signe to ask Tad, 'are you saying that, in fact, education is the answer to everything'".

Why would I say such a thing? That would be ridiculous. It would be akin to saying, "education is not the answer to anything".

Blogger ajw308 January 28, 2013 5:25 PM  

Dr. Torch,
I have a copy of the D&D game Neverwinter Nights and the one that comes before it. One of them has a scenario builder that requires programming. My son's also 10 and may be ready for it. He'll dig the game till it gets to tough, then I think we'll have challenges where we try to create a scenario we can beat, but the other can't.

I've seen an Ilk comment ages ago that his interest/into into programming was through that game series and the editor.

With my son, the trick it to make it fun. Then he'll overcome any obsticle. It's it work and I start talking about variables, equations, and compilers, I know I'll lose his interest early and the learning opportunity with it.

Anonymous Jimmy January 28, 2013 5:27 PM  

When I went to college in the 80s, it was all about learning, "finding yourself", and developing your experiences. It wasn't necessarily about your job prospects. It was a different time. Opportunities weren't that bad; however, I did graduate in a recession.

Today, education is all about looking for jobs. It is a different environment. There is more competition for everything. Education is much more expensive.

While I still recommend getting a 4 year degree, I would advise everyone to be realistic. Graduate ASAP. No more dragging out a degree beyond 5 years. No constant Major changes. Education is no longer about personal fulfillment. It is about job creditials. Work in interships. Get contacts while going to school. Go to state schools to keep costs down. No dorm living. Pick worthwhile degree or get a job.

I didn't graduate with huge debt. Actually, I got a small loan of $3,000 that I spent on a trip to Europe. I paid that off after graduation. At that time, a full time student can pay less than a $1000 per quarter at a Cal State. Sure, it wasn't U.C., but I did what I had to.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:27 PM  

@Noah

The fact is, in America a college education, on average, is going to result in just under $1,000,000 more in lifetime income than one on average earns with no college education.

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 5:33 PM  

"The fact is, in America a college education, on average, is going to result in just under $1,000,000 more in lifetime income than one on average earns with no college education."

In other words, kids, get a degree in islamic art history because doctors, computer programmers, and engineers can make good money.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 5:34 PM  

Why would I say such a thing? That would be ridiculous. It would be akin to saying, "education is not the answer to anything".

This is the problem with overschooled people. They think they can understand anything.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:36 PM  

@Noah

In other words, kids, get a degree in islamic art history because doctors, computer programmers, and engineers can make good money.

Maybe. I"m pretty sure that someone getting a degree in Islamic art history are likely to make much more in their lifetime than one that did not get any college education. There are many more things a person learns in the course of getting an obscure liberal arts degree eduction than simply the subject matter.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:39 PM  

@Signe

This is the problem with overschooled people. They think they can understand anything.

Maybe some do. I've certainly known a number of knowitalls. I'm not sure it's due to be over educated, however.

In any case, the notion that education is not the answer to anything just comes off as a the idea of someone that places ideology over reality. That's just stupid.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 5:40 PM  

There are many more things a person learns in the course of getting an obscure liberal arts degree eduction than simply the subject matter.

Yep. If not for my doctorate, I wouldn't be working for $35K a year as a secretary.

...The heck?

Oh wait, if I marry a rich guy I meet in the course of my job duties, does that mean that I got rich because of my degree?

Blogger MidKnight January 28, 2013 5:43 PM  

I'll add my couple cents as well, DrTorch

Most experts I know recommend either java, or Python, or both.

I'm not going into a number of the strengths and weaknesses of technical features, but you'll find a lot of CS courses starting in either Java or Python as well.

IMO - Python is a simpler language to pick up, and more flexible. It will also introduce you to the smalltalk-style languages and object usage, including "duck" typing, that is also typical of Objective-C.

Java is still more prevalent in cross-platform and embedded deployment, especially in systems that don't look anything like a traditional desktop. It's syntax is closer to that of traditional C, but object oriented.

Both are simple languages, with excellent tutorials. There are some excellent ones online for python, and with java, you can always use the "Head Start Java" book from O'Reilley

Anonymous DrTorch January 28, 2013 5:43 PM  

Tad
That's not a fact at all. Amusing that you couch it that way.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 5:44 PM  

Maybe some do. I've certainly known a number of knowitalls. I'm not sure it's due to be over educated, however.

In any case, the notion that education is not the answer to anything just comes off as a the idea of someone that places ideology over reality. That's just stupid.


Tell me, did your education include wordplay and nuance? At all? Even a little?

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:48 PM  

@Signe


Oh wait, if I marry a rich guy I meet in the course of my job duties, does that mean that I got rich because of my degree?


No. In calculating the value of a college degree, one's marital status isn't taken into consideration. However, it's a bonus.

Anonymous Jimmy January 28, 2013 5:48 PM  

Another thing I recommend is take advantage of companies that offer to pay for graduate degrees. My former company paid for my MBA at an expensive well-known private college in full. This was ten years ago. I don't know if they still do it, but I sure am glad. Unfortunately, I didn't use my degree to its potential. I'm still an Engineer and a non-manager. Many companies pay for graduate degrees if it is related to your work. For example, if you're an accountant, they will pay for any finance degree including an MBA. If you're an Engineer, they will pay for a Masters in Engineering. By doing this, you won't be overqualified when you graduate. You'll benefit when they award you with a raise or increase in job title.

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 5:49 PM  

"There are many more things a person learns in the course of getting an obscure liberal arts degree eduction than simply the subject matter."

I think the more technical term is contracts.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:49 PM  

@Signe


Tell me, did your education include wordplay and nuance? At all? Even a little?


No. Why do you ask?

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 5:52 PM  

@Torch

That's not a fact at all. Amusing that you couch it that way.

It's not clear what you are referring to.

Anonymous Dan in Tx January 28, 2013 6:04 PM  

Speaking from personal experience: I have had quite a few college graduates work for me (no degree here). They weren't doing college degree required jobs by a long shot. The last one I had was out and out in default on his student loans because he couldn't afford to make them and pay his rent etc.. As already stated, a degree in something worth while that will pay for itself is one thing but in this day and age of the student loan bubble, paying the money they are charging for an art degree just isn't a winner.

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 6:25 PM  

"In any case, the notion that education is not the answer to anything just comes off as a the idea of someone that places ideology over reality. That's just stupid."

Tad, you've really taken the art of being infantile to the next level.

Blogger Christina January 28, 2013 6:36 PM  

What computer language (and accompanying coursework if available) would one recommend for a 10 y.o. to start with?

Since everyone is saying languages, I'll go with accompanying coursework.

Logic, logic, math, logic, and a writing exercise on writing step by step instructions - even if it is step by step instructions on taking the dog out to pee.

Being able to structure the idea in step by step instructions in a logically sound way is the crux of every programming language.

Anonymous Kyle In Japan January 28, 2013 6:39 PM  

If I had to do it all over again, I'd seriously consider trade school and getting a job where I could wear jeans every day rather than white-collar cubicle drudgery (my current job isn't like this, but still.)

As it stands, my English degree is fairly useless, but I didn't go into any debt to get it because Georgia has a scholarship program that basically gives anyone who isn't a complete idiot a free college education.

College, for me, was the logical choice because I wanted to go to Japan and you simply can't work there without some sort of college degree. Barely anything I learned in college was directly related to my degree. I'm soon leaving my English teaching job but the skills related to my new job (Knowing Japanese and a whole lot of knowledge about Japanese denim) have practically nothing to do with anything I learned in college (though I took admittedly useless Japanese classes; all my real learning was self-study.)

Things have worked out well for me, but my younger bro (middle of three) was also an English major and has no real prospects, being a camp employee who makes barely any money. My youngest brother, who's studying mechanical engineering at GA Tech, has some actual sense in his educational/career path. If you want to send your kids to college for very, very cheap, Georgia's probably a pretty good state to live in.

Blogger Christina January 28, 2013 6:44 PM  

Here's a question - we keep posing this give-take to potential seekers of degrees, but what about the other side of this equation?

What is the real benefit to employers requiring degrees for every tedious, redundant job including entry positions?

I like to use this example with my husband and father in law - I knew people in High school who could program better than I could after a 4 year degree in it, and yet my first job required a 4 year degree in CS. Wouldn't it be more efficient for the employer to hire a high school student who can pass an exam tied to their application for an entry level programming job and then PAY THEM LESS? I'd argue someone who didn't just dish out $100-160K in pursuing that degree would be willing to work for a lot less than $48.5K

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 6:55 PM  

"What is the real benefit to employers requiring degrees for every tedious, redundant job including entry positions?"

Mainly, it cuts down on the risk of being sued for employment discrimination. College simply weeds out a lot of the undesirables. If an employer is dumb enough to openly advertise for a highly desirable job with few formal requirements, each person who doesn't get the job is a potential plaintiff.

"Wouldn't it be more efficient for the employer to hire a high school student who can pass an exam tied to their application for an entry level programming job and then PAY THEM LESS?"

Absolutely. But they have to find that person without letting the whole world know there's a position open with few formal requirements, or they make themselves a target.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 28, 2013 6:57 PM  

Dr Torch,

High level languages are great, and you're right about seeing immediate progress. I started with Basic.

But, at some point, you need to try him on C++ and really exercise pointer indirection to find out if he's cut out for programming. There's something critical wrapped up in being able to easily follow that level of indirection and keep thing straight in his head. I'm not sure it's a pure function of intelligence, it may be some quirk of the brain, or maybe it can be learned, I'm not sure. But I do know that particular ability is a marker that differentiates guys who can do the best work (in whatever langauge) and those who will never rise above journeyman.

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 7:02 PM  

"Tad, you've really taken the art of being infantile to the next level."

Again, I think the more technical term here would be faggotry.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 7:06 PM  

@Dan

As already stated, a degree in something worth while that will pay for itself is one thing but in this day and age of the student loan bubble, paying the money they are charging for an art degree just isn't a winner.

You aren't incorrect. Certain kinds of degrees are more in demand.

However, a great deal of one's success has to do with how they wield their degree, be it a BS or BA. An English or History or Economics or Social Studies degree should be looked as a tool. And much as too do with how one wields a tool. There is the knowledge and skills one gains when obtaining the degree that is crucial. Then there is the drive that one possesses that accounts in large measure to how they may successfully use the degree to not merely find a good job, but a good job they want.

Numerous BA degrees better equip a person to do numerous jobs and to embark on numerous careers. Of this there is no doubt.

Despite Vox Day's suggestions, degrees are not "useless", unless the person obtaining them are useless.

Anonymous Noah B. January 28, 2013 7:07 PM  

@Christina

Probably the bigger factor, though, is just the widespread, deeply held belief that a college degree is necessary for success, which is mostly just the result of indoctrination and refusal to rationally consider the basis of their beliefs. There's an emotional attachment factor too in that people who went to college do not want to believe that it was a waste of their time, even in part. Still, if most people embraced the logic of the situation to the same extent that you have, they would come to the same conclusion.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 28, 2013 7:08 PM  

Oh, I will jump onboard with the Python suggestions as a starter language. You can explore a lot of concepts with it, and the interpreter is really good for getting feedback and understanding concepts.

Find something he's interested in outside of computers and convince him to write a database application for it. Kids that age tend to love cataloging, measuring and tracking things. The first computer program I actually wrote was a stats database for a basketball boardgame I played with my friends.

At some point, if he really looks like he's going to be a programmer and is old enough for a thick book, buy him a copy of Code Complete by Steve McConnell.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 7:09 PM  

@KH

Again, I think the more technical term here would be faggotry.

Now there's an addition to the conversation. How bright, how bold of you. Unfortunately, your demonstrated brightness and boldness makes you suitable for fifth grade class.

Well done! Carry on.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 28, 2013 7:10 PM  

"Wouldn't it be more efficient for the employer to hire a high school student who can pass an exam tied to their application for an entry level programming job and then PAY THEM LESS?"

It would be, which is why exams trigger EEOC lawsuits. Can't be discriminatin' with no IQ tests, Mister...

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 7:13 PM  

@Noah

Probably the bigger factor, though, is just the widespread, deeply held belief that a college degree is necessary for success

It's true. A college education is not necessary for success. Nor for that matter is a high school education. But, too, there is the issue of by what measure a person measures "success", which again confirms your statement.

That said, there is no question that the person who gets a college education is on average going to have more means to pursue interests and options if only because they are far more likely to make a greater income than the person with no college degree.

But again, this is not necessarily a measure of success to many.

Many might find great success and satisfaction waiting tables, working behind the counter at Walmart, working in a convenience store or selling sewing machines at Sears.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 28, 2013 7:27 PM  

Tad is trying to pretend English is a second language for him.

Shutup, Tad.

Anonymous Jimmy January 28, 2013 7:31 PM  

"Wouldn't it be more efficient for the employer to hire a high school student who can pass an exam tied to their application for an entry level programming job and then PAY THEM LESS? I'd argue someone who didn't just dish out $100-160K in pursuing that degree would be willing to work for a lot less than $48.5K"

Such qualified high school students don't usually come out of the workwork. They need to be developed. However, they are still immature and need to be guided.

Some high school programs have internships that are incorporated into vocational programs. The unfortunate truth is these high school students are minors. They can't work more than 20 hours per week. There isn't much time to evaluate them for competency. After graduation, the employer can choose to hire them. Such decisions to hire on a young worker have benefits to the employer, but could be detrimental to the career of the worker if they don't pursue additional education. It is shown that for skilled workers, a college education is absolutely necessary as the minimum qualification.

The young worker with a high school education can thrive "as is" or be a casualty of his decision. Technical jobs come and go very quickly. If a program tanks, position gone. Just try to apply for a new tech job without a degree. It doesn't happen. That internship happened one time only. Perhaps he should open his own shop, or go back to school.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben January 28, 2013 7:32 PM  

Tad, the government has made it too easy to attend college which has resulted in many degrees being downgraded. I know numerous people that would've gotten good jobs if they graduated 20 years ago, but now can only find temp work that pays peanuts.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 7:45 PM  

@Fubar

Tad, the government has made it too easy to attend college

I'm not sure why it should be hard to get a higher education. Still, it's a fact that a higher education degree results is higher income than that of a high school degree.

Ive interviewed and hired quite a few people. Hiring management these days the degree issues isn't much of an issue. I've not sat in front of a potential management level or executive level candidate and ever thought much about their college degree primarily because if they get that far, it's the experience and other assets they bring to the table that matter.

But when I was hiring lower level employees and interviewing them, occasionally I'd come across a person that did not have a college degree and was not currently obtaining one. I'd ask, "Why the decision not to go to college?" 95% of the time they said, "couldn't afford it at the time."

Then I'd interview a person with a college degree with the same experience. They were almost always sharper, more confident, better able to handle themselves in a business environment and almost always has a better skills set for the job.

It's pretty simple.

Blogger Nate January 28, 2013 8:07 PM  

'Nearly half of working Americans with college degrees are in jobs for which they're overqualified, a new study out Monday suggests.'

Best ask what they mean by 'overqualified'.

I've got a degree in Biology and Conservation, and nearly qualified for a minor in Chemistry. I applied for four jobs which all would have used the degrees - particularly the chemistry parts, since all of them were lab jobs.

In each case, I was told I was 'overqualified'; in each case, I was interviewed directly by the head of the lab; in each case, I heard something along the lines of, 'You've got more education/lab-time than I've even got.'

I did my own translation of that: 'You're smarter than I am; if I hire you, you'll be gunning for my job; you aren't going to get the chance.'

I wonder how many others who've heard the 'over-qualified' label are or were in the same position I was.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 8:13 PM  

No. Why do you ask?

Funny that a lawyer wouldn't be educated in the vagaries of language.

I guess education isn't useful for just anything.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 8:19 PM  

@Signe

Funny that a lawyer wouldn't be educated in the vagaries of language.

Huh?? A lawyer? I don't know what you mean.

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 8:26 PM  

"How bright, how bold of you. Unfortunately, your demonstrated brightness and boldness makes you suitable for fifth grade class."

Do the immediate managers at the agitprop dept teach you to feign this passive-aggressive bit whenever a PC shibboleth is broken in the comments section, or is this an actual bit of your own personality shining through. I'm sure everyone here's all ears to find out!

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 8:31 PM  

@KH

Do the immediate managers at the agitprop dept teach you to feign this passive-aggressive bit whenever a PC shibboleth is broken in the comments section, or is this an actual bit of your own personality shining through. I'm sure everyone here's all ears to find out!

Recess is over. Head back to class.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 8:34 PM  

Huh?? A lawyer? I don't know what you mean.

Oh, you mean you're a LAYMAN when it comes to Second Amendment jurisprudence?

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 8:35 PM  

I'm not sure if I can; no one's posted yet what the calculated ROI for that fifth grade class would be, let alone that coveted obscure liberal arts degree.

Anonymous bob k. mando January 28, 2013 8:35 PM  

Kevin January 28, 2013 2:10 PM
wife only works a couple days a week and is on track to quit to be a stay at home mom. We seem to be better off financially than some folks making literally 3 times as much as we are. How is this possible???




that's simple, Kev.

just as with the federal budget ( hell, ANY budget ) you have and income side and a *spending* side.

it's highly unlikely that you and your wife saddled yourselves with school debt ( which cannot be discharged through bankruptcy filings ) and you probably pay your credit cards off in full every month OR carry very small balances.

it makes a BIG difference carrying 300k it college tuition debt at age 25 rather than being debt free.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 8:41 PM  

@Signe

Oh, you mean you're a LAYMAN when it comes to Second Amendment jurisprudence?

You thought I was a lawyer? Hmmmm....Interesting.

Let's say I work with a lot of lawyers, pay lots of lawyers and sometimes get paid by lawyers. But I haven't sat for the bar in anywhere. I'm best described as a consultant.

Anonymous bob k. mando January 28, 2013 8:43 PM  

Tad January 28, 2013 7:45 PM
I'm not sure why it should be hard to get a higher education.



jeezus, you are FACEPOUNDINGLY STUPID.

why shouldn't you be Heavy Weight Champeen of the World? i'm not sure why it should be hard to beat up Mike Tyson in the ring?

a 'higher education' is nominally supposed to denote greater abilities, knowledge and talent than someone with a mere associates degree or lower.

simple variance in intelligence is going to make this IMPOSSIBLE FOR A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE POPULATION.

that is, if we're going to make any pretensions at all that 'higher education' is a descriptor of quality or ability.

as is quickly becoming clear, modern 'higher education' has little to no applicability in the real world.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 8:55 PM  

@Bob...

No bob....Higher Education is the opportunity for people to continue and specialize their education and further hone their skills. Upon getting a higher education, it is presumed that abilities will be greater as well as knowledge and talent.

You suggested that the gov. makes it too easy to get. It ought to be SIMPLE to pursue a higher education. Furthermore, it ought to be much, much less expensive to get an higher education. Study after study after study shows that the better educated a person and the work force, the more opportunities the individual has and the more efficient and more fully employed the work force.

Anonymous Agent Mongoloid January 28, 2013 8:56 PM  

"Ive interviewed and hired quite a few people... But when I was hiring lower level employees... Let's say I work with a lot of lawyers... I'm best described as a consultant."

I can fellating.

"Then I'd interview a person with a college degree... they were better able to handle themselves in a business environment and almost always has a better skills set for the job."

The train is more than fine. They can fellating.

Anonymous Luke January 28, 2013 8:57 PM  

All this detailed advice on computer science as a professional field misses most of the key issues. Among the latter are:

-CS has age discrimination on a par with fashion modeling and professional athletics, e.g., your career will likely be over before age 40;

-without a programming internship during college, odds are that a CS degree holder will NEVER get a programming job (ending up in tech support/customer service instead);

-the Asian visa workers and the outsourcing together make CS a nuts field to go into, for those who want decent pay and long careers.

Norman Matloff, member of the CS faculty at UC-Davis (wife's a software engineer) has written online extensively about this. One of his essays is "Debunking the Desperate Software Labor Shortage". I highly recommend it to anyone in IT, or who is considering pursuing that field.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 28, 2013 9:02 PM  

I'm best described as a consultant.

You mean a disingenuous, intellectually dishonest, watch-borrowing, responsibility avoiding, dishonorable parasite.

I told you to shutup, you didn't listen, and now you have outed your real self.

My advise to you is pro bono. I hereby advise you to shutup, Tad.



Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 9:06 PM  

You thought I was a lawyer? Hmmmm....Interesting.

Well, considering how:
- you're always waving your hands and insisting that you have more legal knowledge than everyone here so you know what the law is and they don't,
- you're not quite able to put together a halfway-decent case,
- you write like you need a secretary,
- you have to be prompted to answer a direct question,
- you're not very honest, and
- you severely overrate your own intelligence and cleverness?

Yeah. I thought you were a lawyer. My mistake. You're just an unlicensed weasel.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:07 PM  

You mean a disingenuous, intellectually dishonest, watch-borrowing, responsibility avoiding, dishonorable parasite.

No. I mean a consultant for whom you would qualify to be a coffee toter.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 9:10 PM  

No. I mean a consultant for whom you would qualify to be a coffee toter.

Nowadays, you need a bachelor's degree in Hot Beverage Preparation to qualify for such a position.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:13 PM  

@Signe

No everyone. I'm have more legal knowledge than you, put together a better case than you, write better than you, answer more direct questions than you, are more honest than you and rate my intelligence and cleverness above yours. Not everyone....But at least you.

Baby, you stand for the advancement and liberation of the Hag. I salute you and your effort.

Now move along before your excessive reaching strains a muscle.

Anonymous Desiderius January 28, 2013 9:14 PM  

The situation is analogous to Ming China.

What once was an instrument of meritocracy and social mobility has been transformed into a barrier to entry by which illegitimate power is perpetuated.

Now, as then, the eunuchs serve as gatekeepers - their only source of power being contingent on the preservation of the increasingly corrupt system, having given up their own potential to create alternative sources of power (creating new rival families).

In our case, our principal eunuchs are the career women in HR, but of course there are also the Tads.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:14 PM  

@Signe

Nowadays, you need a bachelor's degree in Hot Beverage Preparation to qualify for such a position.

Ah...Well, then. You ought to be fully qualified to tote my coffee after a couple more semesters.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:15 PM  

@Desiderius

In our case, our principal eunuchs are the career women in HR

Bitter you never qualified? Get in line behind Signe.

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 9:17 PM  

"...for whom you would qualify to be a coffee toter."

Again, is this standard agitprop policy to fake passive/aggressive at target commentators, or is this your own person taking the fore.

Anonymous The CronoLink January 28, 2013 9:17 PM  

@Tad

so, first you assert that "certainly a college education is the answer to any high school graduate who asks, "How am I almost guaranteed to increase my income over my lifetime"?" but then you state that "Despite Vox Day's suggestions, degrees are not "useless", unless the person obtaining them are useless."
So, you do agree that education is useless, hotrod?

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:19 PM  

@KH

Again, is this standard agitprop policy to fake passive/aggressive at target commentators, or is this your own person taking the fore.

Medium French Roast, black. Please make it quick.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 9:21 PM  

No everyone. I'm have more legal knowledge than you, put together a better case than you, write better than you, answer more direct questions than you, are more honest than you and rate my intelligence and cleverness above yours. Not everyone....But at least you.

Oh noes, the dreaded "I know you are but what am I" rejoinder!

Well, that's it. I guess I'd better turn in my Intarwebs membership card and tie-tack; I got insulted by a gay consultant I don't know.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:23 PM  

@Crono

@Tad

so, first you assert that "certainly a college education is the answer to any high school graduate who asks, "How am I almost guaranteed to increase my income over my lifetime"?" but then you state that "Despite Vox Day's suggestions, degrees are not "useless", unless the person obtaining them are useless."
So, you do agree that education is useless, hotrod?


That's what you got from that exchange? Hmmm. Let's see if we can follow you logic:

1. X is very helpful
2. X can't help People Z
3. X is never helpful.

Funny. I'll spell it out for you so you don't have to work that hard.

No. I'm saying very little can help a useless person, even the near guaranteed income increasing strategy of getting a college education.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:24 PM  

@Signe

Oh noes, the dreaded "I know you are but what am I" rejoinder!

Hey, it's always best to speak down or up to your audience, depending on their abilities. In your case, the choice was easy.

Carry on....

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 9:34 PM  

I always figured there was plenty of ersatz roast on hand at gov't facilities. They issue it to you on a per-hour basis, right; or is it counter-intuitively handed out on your efficiency in trolling target sites. Seeing that you're hypothetically a protected and gilded class (the coital coterie), I'd imagine they'd have to meet some kind of affirmative action minimum to keep you happy, be it coffee, pay, train schedules.

But hey, even the best of bureaucracies have quota systems.

Anonymous Signe January 28, 2013 9:36 PM  

Hey, it's always best to speak down or up to your audience, depending on their abilities. In your case, the choice was easy.

Yes, but look at all the typing you can. I'm really impressed that you wrote it all out instead of copy-pasting. It shows you care.

Anonymous Geoff January 28, 2013 9:47 PM  

John Derbyshire says it often and loudly: get a government job!

I could snort coke off a sheep's ass while buggering it in a public square, and my union rep would get me two weeks off to go to Passages in Malibu CA for drug counseling and bestiality-avoidance classes, paid for by Uncle Sam. I don't know what the price is for that kind of job security for most people, but I'd need a million dollars up front to leave government employ. I do what I can to earn my taxpayer-funded salary, but i can assure you I'm in the minority.

Anonymous Tad January 28, 2013 9:47 PM  

@KH

'd imagine they'd have to meet some kind of affirmative action minimum to keep you happy, be it coffee, pay, train schedules.

I tend to hold out over the train schedule.

By the way, the coterie in the bunker have decided to focus on you, KH. You'll know when we are taking action when you see the black helicopters hovering.

Anonymous kh123 January 28, 2013 10:09 PM  

"I tend to hold out over the train schedule."

I'm sure you do.

The whole point was to tell something besides what most folks here have sussed out already.

Anonymous The CronoLink January 28, 2013 10:11 PM  

@Tad
"No. I'm saying very little can help a useless person"

...except that you asserted that getting an education is a guarantee of an increasing income over a lifetime, which means that whoever gets an education will certainly obtain such a reward. But, wait a minute; if a person deemed useless gets an education, you're implying that it would be of no use. It would be an useless education.

But why would a high school graduate be useless if he graduated from a high school education? Moreover why in Harvey Milk's name would a graduate from college be considered useless? But you seem to acknowledge that people have gotten a college education yet they do not enjoy its benefits, to which you're assuming those people must be useless. Yet an education that guarantees such an outcome cannot really be useless if it's actually a guarantee to anyone who can get a hold of it. But if you acknowledge there are those who get a hold of it yet do not get the benefits, then education is not useful.

Blogger Longstreet January 28, 2013 10:12 PM  

Ive interviewed and hired quite a few people.

Is any one at all surprised that Tad works in HR?

Anonymous zen0 January 28, 2013 10:28 PM  

I was watching a rerun of Big Bang Theory and switching to Two and a Half Men, which was also a rerun, and checking out this Taddified thread, and realized, I am trapped in rerun Hell!

At least the other two programs have some original moments that are worth revisiting.

Anyway, carry on.

Anonymous stevev January 28, 2013 10:47 PM  

Would you all just quit engaging with Tad? Christ, what a f***ing slog it is to find anything substantive in his comments, nevertheless
I read through every point-Tadturdpoint, thinking, in the interests of fairness and listening to an opponent, I must do so.
What a f***ing useless boor.

Anonymous jack January 28, 2013 10:59 PM  

Just to throw out my own 2 cents worth. If you are interested in some high level Math, Math Physics, and theory of computing, for free, then see the link below.
This is the site of Prof. Hugo deGaris. He has set a goal of putting, on You Tube, some 600 lectures in the above subjects. He calls it 'Free Profing'. Its directed to the 3rd. world [or anyone else thats interested] as a way to PHD 2 level. Most 3 world folk cannot afford a university level education. The stuff is pretty heavy hitting but the concept is great. I think Khan academy [also on Utube] inspired his effort. He says it takes up where Khan leaves off. At least in the mentioned subjects. Makes sense. You can replay each lecture until you truly understand it. Can't beat the price. I just hope he lives long enough to finish. That said, he is turning out those lectures very quickly. The site itself is interesting to visit anyway. Be prepared to be tolerant of the good prof's point of view and opinions.

http://profhugodegaris.wordpress.com/

Anonymous Desiderius January 28, 2013 11:08 PM  

"Bitter you never qualified? Get in line behind Signe."

Heh. Nice try, but way off base. I was raised feminist - I know how to play the game.

On a related note, are you bitter you cut off your own balls?

Tad is not an opponent, he's a party minder sent here to suck all the air out of the room and demoralize anyone who might consider resisting the dowager empresses to which he's pledged his allegiance.

Next.

Anonymous DonReynolds January 28, 2013 11:14 PM  

Memphis has had a string of impotent mayors since 1985 and each one gives the same damn speech, saying the key to improving living standards in the city lies in improving public education. I have told two of them that if everyone in Memphis had a PhD, it would still be a city of poor and unemployed persons. I pointed out, that the University of Tennessee Medical School hires Microbiology PhDs all day long for $18k a year! Obviously, their education did not lead to riches.

Now that the traitors in the Republican party have cut a deal to gift amnesty to tens of millions of illegal aliens, they need to give the same lip service to higher education with the nonsense speech about education being the key to future prosperity....Outrageous.

Anonymous Anonagain January 28, 2013 11:36 PM  

I am trapped in rerun Hell!

The whole world is in a continuous rerun loop. Nothing new under the sun until the Son returns. Now, that will be definitely be an eye opener.

Anonymous Tad January 29, 2013 12:15 AM  

@Crono

...except that you asserted that getting an education is a guarantee of an increasing income over a lifetime

Never said any such thing. And if you don't believe me, then go back and read better.

Anonymous Tad January 29, 2013 12:18 AM  

@Longstreet

Is any one at all surprised that Tad works in HR?

People in HR don't hire people. They screen people. Then they process new hires. Then they process people who are fired. They also, at upper levels, work to assure a firm escapes employment claims in a proactive way.

Anonymous Tad January 29, 2013 12:21 AM  

@desideriou


Tad is not an opponent, he's a party minder sent here to suck all the air out of the room and demoralize anyone who might consider resisting the dowager empresses to which he's pledged his allegiance.


Does everyone here have the same delusion of grandeur about the importance of this blog as you do?

Anonymous dh January 29, 2013 12:24 AM  

I like to use this example with my husband and father in law - I knew people in High school who could program better than I could after a 4 year degree in it, and yet my first job required a 4 year degree in CS. Wouldn't it be more efficient for the employer to hire a high school student who can pass an exam tied to their application for an entry level programming job and then PAY THEM LESS? I'd argue someone who didn't just dish out $100-160K in pursuing that degree would be willing to work for a lot less than $48.5K

I hire alot of programmers and software engineers. In my field, anyways, I will tell you that for jobs requiring a programmer, I do not ever require a degree. And when I score candidates, I do not add anything extra for any degree or certificate. None.

When I want to hire a software engineer, that's a different story. I look closely at the degree, and what the program of the school was all about. I desperately wish that people could not simply call themselves "software engineers", without being held to account like other engineers. For these positions, I expect and score for a degree, or advanced degree.

I get a lot of push back on both standards. A lot of time, I get programmers trying to be hired as a software engineers, and sometimes vice-versa. It's not the same position the way I run projects.

You can teach almost anyone to do basic level programming. Step-by-step functional programming relies on some skills (syntax, style) but mostly discipline and problem solving.

Software-engineering, in my experience, requires a higher level of abstract thought. It's not unusual for me to have 1 or 2 engineers on a team with 4 or 5 programmers, along with 1 manager who has "graduated" from q&a and software engineering.

For my own children they are relatively proficient programmers at a young age. This is where language doesn't really matter. Whatever you feel like will work. Python is nice, BASIC-variants are okay, whatever. Truth be told for my oldest, I brought out my old C64 and programming magazines (the ones with the programs on the inside back cover).

Anonymous robh January 29, 2013 12:36 AM  

"No. I'm saying very little can help a useless person, even the near guaranteed income increasing strategy of getting a college education."

Whenever I encounter this trope about college education and lifetime income, I'm invariably reminded of a conversation I had with an academic several years ago. This guy (Professor of Economics, top 5 school) would consult for insurance companies in return for access to data on their customer base. At the time I was writing software to test stock selection models. The subject: "data mining", also known as "fooling yourself". He told me that insurance company X had determined from looking at their records that if a customer stayed with them for more than 2 years, they hardly ever switched to another company. Some execs at company X proposed that a winning strategy would be to give free/almost free premiums to some customers for the first two years in order to surmount this obstacle and thereby turn them into customers for life. Sad but true.

The same sort of fallacy is in play when we look at lifetime college income. A is NOT B. You cannot polish a turd.

I earn an extremely comfortable living doing something very different from what I studied in college. I have had my IQ measured at something close to or exceeding 3 sigma over mean on the standard tests. Is my success a product of my educational experience or my innate abilities? Personally I credit my success first to my parents, neither of whom holds a degree, and second to the ("homophobic") Boy Scouts of America, before any institution of "learning". Apologies for the over-use of scare quotes.

Most college in the current day is not education but rank credentialism. It is nothing more, for a large majority of students, than a band-aid slapped over the festering wound that weeps where a high school diploma once stood. If we control for the innate abilities of the college diploma set and take away the net present value of those loan payments, I bet we wind up in a deep hole.

Anonymous The CronoLink January 29, 2013 12:39 AM  

@Tad

Calm down, pumpkin, there's nothing wrong with you agreeing with Vox that education is not the answer, just like you did with your previous assertions.

Anonymous The other skeptic January 29, 2013 12:43 AM  

-CS has age discrimination on a par with fashion modeling and professional athletics, e.g., your career will likely be over before age 40;

Hmmm, that's funny. I could have sworn that 40 was my age more than a dozen years ago. And yet, here I are, a software ingineer in Silly Valley working for a startup. Of course, perhaps that has something to do with having contributed to several open source software packages.

Anonymous robh January 29, 2013 12:47 AM  

"People in HR don't hire people. They screen people. "

But here's the rub. If we wanted to maximize performance rather than minimize potential legal liability, we would let the actual manager recruit/train/livewith that new hire. But to keep it all "safe" most companies have farmed that out to the HR drones who have no skin in whatever game the company is playing.

Anonymous bw January 29, 2013 12:51 AM  

The thesis I venture to submit to you is as follows: That during the past forty or fifty years those who are responsible for education have progressively removed from the curriculum of studies the Western culture which produced the modern democratic state; That the schools and colleges have, therefore, been sending out into the world men who no longer understand the creative principle of the society in which they must live; That deprived of their cultural tradition, the newly educated Western men no longer possess in the form and substance of their own minds and spirits and ideas, the premises, the rationale, the logic, the method, the values of the deposited wisdom which are the genius of the development of Western civilization; That the prevailing education is destined, if it continues, to destroy Western civilization and is in fact destroying it.
I realize quite well that this thesis constitutes a sweeping indictment of modern education. But I believe the indictment is justified and here is a prima facie case for entering this indictment.

— Walter Lippmann, speaking before the Association for the Advancement of Science, December 29, 1940

Anonymous The other skeptic January 29, 2013 12:56 AM  


"What computer language (and accompanying coursework if available) would one recommend for a 10 y.o. to start with?"

At that age, it's important to have as short a loop between writing code and seeing the effects as possible. So I'd avoid compiled languages like Java and C++. (Also because Java is overrated and clunky, C++ is not a beginner's language, and C is too low-level.) I think Python is a good choice, as it's (usually) interpreted and makes a lot of things easy (scripting, plotting) that are harder in languages like Java and C++. And Python makes you just as employable as Java does.


I have to agree pretty much with all of that, but I would also say, dispense with Python until they have the programming bug (but after that it would probably be a good choice.

I would suggest starting with the Lego Mindstorms stuff because kids of that age can get pretty instant feedback from typing some NXT statements on the console (via USB to serial terminal) and they can write simple programs to make things move around etc.

If the Lego Mindstorms stuff is too expensive, look at the ARDX starter kit for the Arduino. You can get them on Amazon and other places. You get an Arduino and there are IDEs for writing code, and you get to control LEDs, motors etc, and the instruction manuals are very good from what I have read. They promise to let kids of that age get good feedback quickly without lots of tedium.

After that, Python is good because you can start simple and avoid all the Object Oriented stuff and slowly work your way into it.

In my view Java has one big problem and that is the distinction it makes between primitive types, where all primitive type variables are references to instances of those primitive types, while all object variables are references to pointers to object instances.

This is unlike what C or C++ does, for example, and creates bad habits in my mind.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 29, 2013 1:05 AM  

-CS has age discrimination on a par with fashion modeling and professional athletics, e.g., your career will likely be over before age 40;

Look, let's be frank here (or shirley) - if you're still working as a line engineer for someone else by the time you're 40, you've screwed up. If you're still working as a grunt for someone else in any occupation by the time you're 40, you've screwed up. This isn't Uniontown Detroit, by the time you have 20 years experience, you'd better be doing something other than what you were doing 5 years out of school. My suggestion to everyone is to figure out a career where you will, by your early 30's at least, be running your own business. Trust me, there's no age discrimination in hiring consultants - they either deliver or the contract get's pulled, nobody cares how old they are. The only reason age is an issue for your typical employee is because employment law makes it disadvantageous to officially employ older people. Score another one for government.

-without a programming internship during college, odds are that a CS degree holder will NEVER get a programming job (ending up in tech support/customer service instead);

Bullshit, unless you're only willing to work for Microsoft of Google or some other big name. OTOH, an internship is an excellent way to gain experience in a real work environment, and typically you get some pretty cool assignments, since if you're good, the company you intern with wants to impress you so you will go work for them.

-the Asian visa workers and the outsourcing together make CS a nuts field to go into, for those who want decent pay and long careers.

Again, you're assuming you're working for someone else, doing what they tell you to do. That's yessterday's career strategy. You need to be working for yourself, building things you come up with. Or things that a close set of partners who like, trust, and feel like they can rely on you, come up with.

Here's the dirty little secret of Asian CS workers - they come in two types, ones that suck and ones that are good. The ones that are good make the same money as good white boy programmers do, because good programmers are rare and nobody cares what color they're skin is if they can do the job. The ones that suck end up dragging down projects that think they can do it on the cheap.

The lesson is, be good, don't suck.

That applies to whatever else you might do too.


Anonymous Justin McLeod January 29, 2013 1:18 AM  

The lesson is, be good, don't suck.
That applies to whatever else you might do too.


"Whatever you do - do it well" - Mel Gibson, Man Without A Face

Anonymous Unending Improvement January 29, 2013 2:06 AM  

My parents once bought me the Lego Mindstorms Star Wars set. It wasn't the high end set on it's own, but it allowed you to make an R2 model.

Unfortunately I lost every piece and then broke the control unit, so it was a complete waste of my parent's scarce funds.

I was a horrible child.

Also, I've seen some amazing creations in Minecraft of all things. It's kind of strange to see a computer made with materials that exist inside of a program.

Blogger Brad Andrews January 29, 2013 2:22 AM  

Kevin, it is probably because you have stayed out of debt.

A college degree has become a checkoff many places, so it is worth achieving, but you can do so much more cheaply than most do.

I have even heard that passing the GRE with a certain score can get some schools to award you a degree based on your achievement. I would look into that if I was self-funding my education (or taking it from my parents).

Blogger Brad Andrews January 29, 2013 2:23 AM  

UI, I bought a Mindstorms set for my kids when they were growing up and they never got interested in it. Their loss.

Anonymous Luke January 29, 2013 2:53 AM  

Jack Amok, go read Matloff. He's got exhaustive stats showing that a CS major in middle age has about half the odds of still being in CS at that age, in comparison to a Civil Engineering graduate. You're not a big fan of central tendencies, are you?

Blogger Brad Andrews January 29, 2013 3:42 AM  

dh,

Software development is far less precise than making a building or bridge, for example. I would never support holding software developers to that same standard. The problems vary far too much.

I would agree that many are quite sloppy though, which is the biggest problem. Though nailing those tends to also nail the ones who really are good, but just hit surprises.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 29, 2013 3:57 AM  

Luke, I don't need to read Matloff, I live in the industry and have my entire adult life. I'm 46. I've been hiring and firing software engineers for 21 years now. I've done it at startups, done it at mid-sized companies, and I've done it at companies as large as, um, well, Microsoft.

I have a Mechanical Engineering Degree from a hot-ticket engineering school. I have friends from school working as engineers all over... I am Mr. Engineer-in-his-Forties.

If you want to be a Civil Engineer, that's great. If you're really good like my friend Leo, you can become a project engineer making low six figures at a private company, but unless he divorces his wife and marries the owner's daughter, he's topped out, has been since he was 30. And since half their work comes from local government contracts, and the local governments are running a little short of cash, who knows what tommorow will bring for him. Or, speaking of local governments, you could be my other buddy Brent, Principal Engineer for a big city down in CA who just laid off half his staff and - judging by the recent uptick in his Facebook posting frequency - might not be long for his own job either.

Any engineering degree (well, not "environmental engineering") is valuable and can get you a good job out of school. But if it's a job working for somebody else, you're screwed by the time you're 40 if you don't grow beyond that. If you're still doing plain jane engineering by then and you're not doing it for your own company or not doing some really high-ticket, irreplacable stuff, it's only luck that will keep you from being dead meat.

Matloff's stats are great, if you could take a time machine back 20 years. But they don't say a thing about the next 20 years. Who knows what fields will be good and what will be rotten. Twenty years ago software was the king ticket on the money train. Things change. But I can tell you this - if you have the brains to be an engineer, you have the brains to run your own business. You might need to devleop the people skills, and you might need to develop the mindset of making your own rain instead of taking your assignments from da boss, but you can do it, and you'd better do it.

Because guys who just show up and crank out the work, as sad and rotten as it is, they get screwed. If you want to have job security as an Engineer in any field past 40, you need to be doing something special. My buddy works at Boeing. Distinquished Engineer. Any time a plane crashes the FAA flies him to the investigation. He's considered one of the top aviation safety experts in the world. That's special. He has job security. The Civil Engineer doing surface water runoff for the Dirtsburg City Planning Deptarment doesn't.

It's not about the category of work you do, it's about how you distinquish yourself doing it. If you work for someone else, you'd better be damned hard to replace by the time you're 40, or you will be replaced. If you don't think you have the chops to be the go-to guy for plane crashes or something equivalent, you need to start your own buisness and either make something you come up with yourself, or be a sought after consultant. Again, nobody cares how old a consultant is. Actually, usually they prefer older consultants, they're more reliable.

Hell of a thing, gamble on unreliable punks for you employees then bring in the greybeard consultants to clean up the mess. Well, that's Ivy League business management for ya...

* except Oracle. Nobody has friends at Oracle.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 29, 2013 4:00 AM  

* except Oracle. Nobody has friends at Oracle.

oops, too aggressive editing. That was supposed to be a footnote for a line that said "I have friends and former coworkers doing engineering management at most big software companies on the West Coast*"

Anonymous DDL January 29, 2013 7:26 AM  

Get a library card. Then you can study anything you want for free.

As for your job, consider where you want to live and what's in demand there, then try to get into it through vocational school or an apprenticeship. If you must go to college, start with a community college. It costs less and you may receive financial aid when you transfer to a University if your GPA is high.

Blogger James Higham January 29, 2013 7:33 AM  

they would have known better than to go into debt to pay for a useless degree... wait a minute....

Exactly.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza January 29, 2013 8:11 AM  

Wait until the indebted people receive letters in the mail stating their university lost its accreditation, the hamster of resume spinning shall spin into unforeseen absurdity.

Anonymous RedJack January 29, 2013 9:21 AM  

Chem E isn't what it used to be.

I have had a good career path. Can't complain. But the loan costs vs the wages aren't the best.

And I had a National Merit scholarship.

Blogger Joe A. January 29, 2013 10:04 AM  

In regards to loans, what about something like flight school training? Is it even worth it, or is the air force route unquestionably better?

Anonymous Kickass January 29, 2013 10:22 AM  

Advanced Squad Leader, good stuff.

Just in case you are not kidding, American Sign Language.

Anonymous Kickass January 29, 2013 10:25 AM  

@ Joe A. it depends.

I plan on looking into flight instruction for myself and my children. There are many ways to skin a cat and we are very, very good at getting things that are out of reach financially by the grace of God and the sweat of our brows.

AF is good for lots of things. Why don't you start at where you want to be and ask them what they are looking for.

Dad always told me to look at the want ads. If I saw a job I liked, pay I liked, call and ask what the requirements were for it and then get them. I of course also would offer to work on getting the requirements while I worked there at cheaper then advertised and often got the job anyway.

Anonymous Kickass January 29, 2013 10:26 AM  

@ Liza, for sure, that buble bursting is going to be very painful. Slaves they became for five years of unrestricted over priced partying.

Anonymous RedJack January 29, 2013 10:42 AM  

Tad,
There is some self-selection in the going to college game. Most people witha high IQ can and do go to some sort of higher education. Those who don’t, often succeed without that degree.

A good friend of mine works as an engineer with a place that makes electrified rail lines. He has no degree, and has taught himself the business. At last check he does very well, and is shipped all over to do that work. He also has an IQ north of 115.

Another has two degrees, and works at a camp. Guess which one makes more? The one with the higher IQ

Blogger Christina January 29, 2013 4:12 PM  

It would be, which is why exams trigger EEOC lawsuits. Can't be discriminatin' with no IQ tests, Mister...

How many lawsuits are being levied against firms hiring people who have passed the first Actuarial Exam?

I get it - no IQ tests. But I wasn't talking IQ, I was talking subject specific evaluation of knowledge on said subject - which I assume is what a college degree is supposed to state, right?

@DH -
Where I worked made no distinction between a programmer and an engineer. Lvl 1 SW Engineers were nothing but programmers.

And to whoever stated CS is a dead field, only if you can't compete as a programmer with those Asians and getting a degree in programming makes it near impossible to compete when you have to pay for that education.

However, having the nitty gritty programming knowledge in conjunction with design is what sets SW Engineers apart from the others. After all, its an engineer who makes the plans that the construction worker puts together.

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