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Every year, the salary comparison website gathers up its massive trove of user generated data and ranks America’s colleges and universities based on which schools make their students richest. Or, to be a little more technical about it, the site calculates each institution's total return on investment, once you take the cost of attendance into account. And every year, the results are roughly the same. Turns out, once you take financial aid into account, going to a prestigious liberal arts college or research university is a great use of four years. So is going to a reasonably priced state school with a great tech or engineering program—or, for that matter, an extremely expensive private university with a great tech or engineering program.
But what about those on the bottom, those who go to college for somewhat more diverse reasons and whose decisions become as seemingly random as the admissions office decisions to admit prospective students or to form a First-year cohort.

The act of going to college is statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.  In short, actions by an individual decision-maker influenced by other agents including mass media or even interpersonal, familial, or social/cultural constraints.

The stochastic recruiter is the person who is responsible for the incited action.  For example they go on radio or television and stir up passion toward a particular person or group. This is what occurs when institutions release videos that stir random recruits down the street or halfway around the globe to commit to a college or university, or to defect and not go to school but do some other activity.

The self-reported earnings of art majors from Murray State are so low that after two decades, a typical high school grad will have out-earned them by nearly $200,000. Here are the degrees (i.e.: specific majors at specific schools) with the lowest 20-year net return, according to PayScale. They are all public schools: Bold names are for in-state students.
There are many more schools where the average return on a degree is low enough that students would be better off putting their money in stocks or bonds.
This apocryphal statement is made every college recruitment season and the problem of using such large numbers is that the individual stories of individual and familial debt, sacrifice, and even tragedy are lost in the calculation of ROI as the development of human capital. In the knowledge industry, one-eyed persons are royalty.
In the past, the higher-ed lobby has stood in the way of allowing the Department of Education to track college graduates over the long term to keep tabs on their lifetime earnings—what’s known as a “unit-record system.” And as a result, we have to rely on less complete government surveys, or less-than-ideal crowdsourced databases like Payscale's. As a result, some students are going into college financially blind, and they could be ending up poorer for it—literally.
Even more troubling are the figures of graduation from for-profit institutions, especially among the military recruits who have been the targets of corporate stochastic recruiters, using their GI benefits in ways less profitable to the individual student where the return on Investment is more favorable to the corporation.
Which College will leave you the poorest

Late last month,Corinthian Colleges, a publicly traded for-profit higher education company that enrolls 72,000 students at over 100 campuses nationwide, announced its imminent bankruptcy. Facing declining enrollment and multiple investigations into its financial and educational practices from parties including the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a group of state attorneys general, Corinthian was also under pressure from Department of Education regulators demanding information about practices that, the department said, included “falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students and allegations of altered grades and attendance.” The department announced that it was temporarily withholding some of the federal student aid money that makes up the vast majority of Corinthian’s $1.6 billion in annual revenues. The company said the cash delay would render it effectively insolvent.
Most students are close to matriculating so a new season of recruitment will begin again with students stirred up by perhaps the prospect of good/bad roommates, going to college with/without their friends, and being distracted by so many other matters that could cause them to snap and transfer to another school after only a semester or a year. But what remains will be projected earnings and debt measurable at higher scales but also debilitating for years as one decides between religion or dope, sex and/or rock&roll.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 05:03:28 PM PDT

  •  Making The Rounds For My 2015 HS Graduate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, elfling, GAS

    The Campus tours. The information sessions. Been through 3 already and the fatigue has already set in. I feel that when we see the first student tour guide fall over while walking backwards conducting the tour is the college that is for my son. Forget the numerous college ranking guides. I'm looking for the sign from the Gods. The expense is unbelievable. I think the people who conduct these sessions earn extra money doing the pitches for time share resorts.

    •  yeah the falling backwards is a sign - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leo Flinnwood

      know of a place where standard practice for these students is to tell a lie about or why a particular classroom building is oriented and blots out sunlight "They took a helicopter and turned it ninety degrees" - idiots

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

      by annieli on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 05:42:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tip Is to Walk More Tippy Toe Than On Your Heels (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli, Gooserock

        That is what a niece who works in admissions at an east coast school has told me. The marketing of higher education is crazed. When you realize that for a consumer this is the largest cost they will experience in their lifetime you realize how valued their bucks are or their access to student loans. If you have many children it will beat the cost of your house. The glossy catalogues that get sent have to cost more than any other consumer product.

        Funny to see the smart kids these days. They have realized the false American dream of marriage and a house while witnessing their parents divorces and foreclosures. They see the bullshit of the cost of higher education coming and it seems like more of the same.

        •  education as cultural reproduction (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Leo Flinnwood, ban nock

          There is a unique combination of elite and popular culture in schools. As institutions they provide exceptionally interesting, and politically and economically potent, areas for the investigation of mechanisms of cultural distribution in a society. Thinking of schools as mechanisms of cultural distribution is important since, as the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci noted, a critical element in enhancing the ideological dominance of certain classes is the control of the knowledge preserving and producing institutions of a particular society
          and yet the viewbooks are quite mystifying....
          The glossy catalogues that get sent have to cost more than any other consumer product.

          Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

          by annieli on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 06:09:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I Bought the Largest Cost of My Lifetime Working (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          annieli, Leo Flinnwood, unfangus

          fast food and occasional unskilled construction, debt free.

          Of course, that state university education was bought during the Great 50 Year Anomaly so grossly unrepresentative of what America has had to offer its people over its history.

          There's nothing today's kids can apply to their lives from my experience.

          How's that for a role reversal? Get ON my lawn, don't bother trying to follow my example.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 06:10:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Young people need to be kept somewhere (5+ / 0-)

    during their most kinetic years. If not colleges, where? Kennels?

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 06:00:22 PM PDT

  •  Notice how the most cited majot nationwide for (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, emal, daddybunny, elfling

    poor salary return for the college investment is education.

    Couple that with the war on teachers and you're eventually going to get what you pay for.

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 06:03:48 PM PDT

  •  Hmm. I think I see what you're (0+ / 0-)

    doing here. But I'm trying to understand how your link to the article that calls out Stochastic Terrorism theory as ad hoc and dishonest fits into the narrative.

    "I've always admired your tart honesty and ability to be personally offended by broad social trends." -Principal Skinner.

    by cardinal on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 06:04:37 PM PDT

  •  Back when dirt was young, college was a place w... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeggiElaine, fumie

    Back when dirt was young, college was a place where your heart and soul decided what they wanted to do for the rest of time.

    How sad that now things are different.

    How sad that now dollars are more important than enthusiasm and deep-down interest.

  •  arts, education, humanities,ENGLISH (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    HOW does that translate into $
    This from someone whose father asked why she had so many BOOKS
    I was led to believe the world was different
    how I do not know?  How did this happen

    PRESENT Shock When everything happens NOW

    by Portia Elm on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 07:39:37 PM PDT

  •  Danny Noonan: I planned to go to law school after (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I graduated, but it looks like my folks won't have enough money to put me through college.
    Judge Smails: Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubt." Bertrand Russell I'm very certain that is true. 10−122

    by thestructureguy on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 08:28:01 PM PDT

  •  I find it hard to understand how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Cal State Northridge could be ranked that low... or cost that much. Is that for out of state students? I would expect if CSU prospects were that poor that CSUN will still exceed some of the other campuses.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 11:06:01 PM PDT

  •  Arts and humanities maybe important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    but they're not $40,000/yr with little to no prospect of earning important.

  •  Glass half full? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The glass is actually not even half full, or I suppose it could be more than half empty.  The volume of the top "half" if more than the volume of the bottom.

  •  As more and more people see a bachelors as the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    minimum for one step up the ladder from McDonalds it becomes worth less and less. Plus there are all the kids who graduate, find out that work is hard, and jump back in for a masters hoping it will pan out for more money and less work. Some are just useless no matter how many degrees in whatever,,, and it's apparent to anyone hiring them, those are the folks who are just SOL.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 04:14:43 PM PDT

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