Thursday, August 15, 2013

More Isn't Always Better

The American way of life seems based on the notion that if some is good more must be better. Certainly this has been adopted by educracy who advance the notion that everyone absolutely must have a college degree and an advanced degree where ever funding permits. No brains required.

Turns out reality doesn't support these notions of overfunding higher education. A couple of articles in the Atlantic warrant a read and expose the farce.
We've been hearing, mostly from those with a vested in interest in convincing us, that we just do not have enough PhDs and that furthermore we don't have enough home-grown PhD candidates and are therefore forced to import and arguably increase our import of foreign degree candidates or holders. Sadly the job market strongly disagrees with the premise that the more advanced the degree the better the job prospects and the higher the pay. And this problem exists for the STEM fields where we have technology rock stars like Bill Gates promoting the notion that we need unlimited H1B (and H2B) visas because we're not pumping out enough highly trained tech talent. Where is he when newly minted PhDs are being forced into un- and under employment? Why isn't he waving six figure job offers under their noses?

Anecdotally a recent Ga Tech graduate with a freshly minted EE PhD found work very hard to come by. Being resourceful he updated his resume removing mention of the PhD in favour of his Masters degree and started work at IBM within two months. Making over six figures.

Corporate America may just not hire you if you're "over educated" but academia eats their young. In the world of higher education a PhD in Mathematics (the truly universal language) is most likely to get you a job as a "post-doc", academia's term for "wage slave". That's assuming you get a job at all. Then there is the path split between teaching and research. If you're inclined to teach then that advanced degree in Math might get you a university job, perhaps even tenure track but you'd be very fortunate if it commands a salary much over $50,000. If you're research oriented your prospects and pay are better, but only if you walk in the door with funded research in your back pocket.

So why is it that academia promotes this scam? Mostly because there is much upside and little or no downside. Professors with tenure are not really impacted by the fact that fresh graduates add to the burgeoning pool of the over-educated and underemployed. In addition no one really cares that these new grads would dramatically undercut tenured salaries as these professors have their "job for life" and are not subject to the kind of cost-benefit evaluation used in the corporate world. College administrators are adherents of the "grow or die" philosophy and are incented to expand their department without much regard to what happens after the student stops paying tuition.

So at the end of the day we're educating too many folks to an unnecessary degree and wasting resources to do it.