The Education Bubble

This is one of the articles that I read about pursuing further degree and I think that we can gain more insight by reading it. So I tried to quote every word up and hopefully this can also be useful to others 🙂

“The next bubble to burst will be the education bubble. Make no mistake about it, education is big business and, like other big businesses, it is in big trouble. What people outside the education bubble don’t realize and people inside won’t admit is that many colleges and universities are in the same position that major banks and financial institutions are: their assets (endowments down 30-40 percent this year) are plummeting, their liabilities (debts) are growing, most of their costs are fixed and rising, and their income (return on investments, support from government and private donations, etc.) is falling.

This is hardly a prescription for financial success. Faced with this situation, colleges and universities are on the prowl for new sources of income. And one place they invariably turn is to new customers, i.e., students.

During times of financial stress, people become vulnerable and understandably seek to improve their situation in any way they can. For many, more education seems to be the solution. When the economy goes down, applications to graduate programs go up.

As a lifelong educator, I believe more education is always a good thing, but buyers must beware. The debt crisis is not limited to governments and universities but extends to students and their families. Far too many students come out of college with substantial debts that plague them for years.

And now the economy makes matters worse. Only 19 percent of the class of 2009 had jobs at graduation. Furthermore, many recent graduates who are young professionals and had been working for a few years have been fired. They find themselves surfing the web looking for jobs, all while worrying about health benefits and repaying their student loans.

This situation has many young people asking whether it makes sense to go back to school to pick up a master’s degree. There is no easy answer to this question and every case is different. When facing this decision, it is important to consider exactly what you need and how the degree will help you.

Some graduate degree programs can be very helpful for certain careers but many are not. And, remember, what is most interesting is not always most practical. Be sure you consider your motives and goals carefully. Do not simply assume that another degree after your name is going to open doors.

I have had too many students over the years who have gotten masters and even doctorates find themselves in debt big time, unemployed and forced to start all over in their mid-30s. If you do find a program that will enhance your prospects for a job and better life, then before your enroll, you need to figure out how you are going to pay for it and, if you must borrow more money, whether you can really afford to take on additional debt. You are going to have to do this by yourself because you cannot rely on people with vested interests in increasing enrollments to give you reliable advice.

One of the dirty secrets of many research universities is that they treat master’s students as cash cows that fund other activities. To make matters worse, with many faculty members uninterested in teaching, students cannot assume they will get what they are paying for.

Bottom line — and much of this is about the bottom line — consider your needs carefully, research your options thoroughly, don’t believe everything you read or hear and invest your time and money prudently.”

by: Mark C. Taylor

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