Benefits of a College education

Nice post. I like infographics that communicate clearly and with a story. Unfortunately, this particular one is misleading as it presents their situation as if it was an outcome of their education (correlation is not causation), While things look grim for Jim, and good for Joe, the stats (from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) consistently show that higher levels of education are associated with higher wages and lower unemployment.

While the “correlation is not causation” mantra applies both ways, the stats don’t claim causation they simply describe the data. In this case, they even describe Jim: he’s one of the 2.2% of bachelors degree graduates who are unemployed (compared to the 4.1% of high school graduates without a college degree, or 5.6% of people who didn’t complete high school). Further, on average Jim’s colleagues will be earning almost $500/week more than Joe’s colleagues. And if Jim’s colleagues pursued further studies (Masters, professional degree or doctorate) then their average weekly salary will be double or more that of Joe’s non-college mates.

By definition, most of us are average. So given a choice between lower unemployment and higher wages versus higher unemployment and lower wages, I know which I’d be recommending.

With that said, I still think this infoGraphic is positive and valuable if we use it to consider the attributes that lead to Joe’s success. Instead of attributing it to his lack of education, we should be focussing on (for example) his work ethic, ambition, and talent for his trade that enabled him to become such a rare success. He is clearly an outstanding young man and we need more people like Joe.

Note to self: remove all of my college photos from Facebook.

“Explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog, you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.”

Mark Twain

Also, Joe didn’t disconnect Jim’s electricity, as he is most assuredly not working on or near live electrical wiring with those tools. If he were, there’s a strong likelihood that he’d be visiting one of Jim’s friends who went to medical school in the very near future.


I could be wrong, but the following scenario comes to mind. The line is definitely not hot. The lineman is in a training environment. Judging by the position of the insulator, he’s tensioning the line using a come-along. Or, he’s replacing/stringing line and tensioning it on an actual “high-tension” wooden pole line using the same tool.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but hydro linemen in Canada and the U.S. are paid pretty good compared to other occupations, with plenty of overtime to boot. They earn every penny.

I am a former helicopter aviator. In the winter months I would fly the crew out to the various isolated lines in order that they could inspect the clearing for trees that might fall on the power line, causing an outage. “Walking the line” meant flying the crew beneath the steel towers, landing and letting the crew out to cut the deadheads, and then carrying on, beneath the tower line/cables, to the next site that needed trimming. I might add that I did not fly below the line on the wooden pole lines. The height was too low to fly the helicopter safely beneath the charged lines.

I often had close to half a million dollars in annual salaries in the light helicopter at the same time (including my wages).

I have to say that, of late, I have often thought that if I had my life over again, I would choose to train as an electrician or a plumber rather than going to university.

Having a degree from Cambridge, and having been employed all my life, as a teacher or university lecturer, my earnings were roughly half of what I would have earned as a self-employed electrician or plumber, if that.

Fortunately, making a lot of money has never been a driving force for me, so rather than the extra money I could perhaps benefit by having more time at my disposal; and having satisfied customers would be equally rewarding as trying to coax interest in the many students who were only at university because they wanted a piece of paper!



I have also spent my working life in the university world, and I have had an immensely funny time. I wouldn’t swap it for even a double life salary. :smiley:

I also like how they assume people in trades aren’t into learning. My cousin graduated early at the top of his class, and that’s the sort of person trade schools want, not dropouts. They’re pretty competitive to get into, especially when also competing for apprenticeships. It’s not all fiddling with pipes or wires all day–there’s a significant classroom component, as well.

Yeah. Do you really want someone “fiddling with wires” if they don’t know the difference between a resistor and an inductor?


My wife is from the Balkans. In her country many people are highly educated and have advanced degrees. But they can’t find a job. Her cousin is self employed and runs a fitness center and makes way more than a professor. I have a friend in Canada, her son is doing his PhD in History. She is very worried that after finishing the PhD that there will be no work for him in academia or anywhere. But at least he won’t be in debt with a huge student loan because parents paid for it all. :cry: … ime-salary

The following article is interesting in that it shows that males are purposely shunning higher education, family and careers. Why? They no longer see it is as worthwhile. Read the whole article to find out why.


This article about modern trends on campuses brings into question if college education will still be as valuable as it once was.


The Coddling of the American Mind

In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.

Continued at

It is simply a mistake to think that the names of academic disciplines (like Philosophy and History and Biology and Physics, etc.) are the names of jobs/professions. They are not. These are the names of great human pursuits.

These pursuits are ones which we would like every citizen to know about and understand the value of. Because they are and have been of great value. (Great pursuits also require a steady flow of pursuers, of course, but this should concern only a very small percentage of the people who go to college.)

It think it is a common mistake for undergraduates to tacitly assume that the disciplines at college are something like a menu of jobs they are supposed to choose between. I don’t know who or what is to blame for this mistake but we are certainly doing young people a disservice by not correcting it. It is also the case that memes like the one posted here perpetuate this mistaken picture.

All Best,

Now you’ve done it! You annoyed me enough to go in search of actual data. It turns out philosophy majors do pretty well, both as preparation for fields like business and law, and in financial terms. … nd-graphs/


:smiley: What started as joke is turning into something else.

Here is another along the same line that you posted.

My cousin has a PhD in philosophy, could not find any academic work in that field, she now teaches English in Korea.

Apparently some philosophers are disenchanted with professional philosophers.

I’m out.

I believe the link I posted specifically noted that there are many opportunities for people with philosophy degrees outside of academia.

Also, the link I posted discussed opportunities at the bachelor’s degree level, not for philosophy PhDs. In equating the two, I believe your cousin would note that you are engaging in a straw man fallacy.