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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good College, Major Debt, & Now What?

Our local High School had college night last night, so the wife, me, and our wonderful daughter (sophomore) went.

UCLA, UCI, Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College were all there. After doing a tour of Cal Tech, she decided Math was not her love so we did not talk to Mudd.

After my wife and me were talking about colleges, and she mentioned how our daughter's piano teacher's niece had a degree from UCLA in Economics and was an office manager. I mentioned how a co-worker had a degree in Economics from UCI and ended up as an assistant. ($15 an hour or so at a Chinese run company we used to work at). I then mentioned another friend who graduated with a Master's from Harvard in Japanese and is looking for a job. And then there was my wife's cousin who got a degree from UCLA in Social Science with a minor in accounting, and could not get a good job so he became a lawyer (and doing very well). And my wife went to a CPA extended education class on paying for college and private schools cost $35K to $50K a year. It's not unusual for students to be graduating with $100K in debt in student loans! Average student debt is $19237 for a graduating senior.

Please don't take this as anti the major of Economics. A good friend of mine has a degree in Economics and did forcasting in the semiconductor industry. I always enjoyed talking with him about the direction the economy and industry was taking. A great Engineering Prof. of mine has a Masters in Economics and enjoyed it because half of it was right, and half was wrong. The problem was nobody was sure which was which. Me, I took two tests to get out of taking Micro and Macro Economics as pre-requisities for my MBA. And somehow I passed the section on that in the Social Studies test more recently.

We compared the people we know who went to a UC, to my wife who went to Cal State Fullerton and got a degree in accounting, and she has never had a problem getting a job. And I got an Engineering degree from Cal Poly that was very hands on. Looking at the majors at UCLA, and many of them don't seem to be very practical for finding a job. I have heard that Cal State's do a better job at the under-graduate level, and UC's do a better job at the Master's level. Both my parents went to private schools and ended up with degrees in Political Science (one specialized in European History and the other South East Asian Politics). And what did they end up doing? One was an accountant and the other a credit manager. Of course their son (that's me) did sit down with basically no studying take and pass the teaching exam for Social Studies - not good to mention in interviews with people who went back to school to get a degree in it to get their license ;-)
Something else to consider is what type of job will your little prince or princess get after graduating. What is the average pay of that major? How much in student loans does it require?

So much to figure out, and so little time it seems for the college admissions process! We plan on going on more college tours.

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