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Harvard’s President Says We Shouldn’t Judge a College Degree’s Value by Graduates’ Salaries.

Written by Gary North on February 22, 2013

It costs $230,000 to earn a B.A. from Harvard University. This assumes that prices will not go up over the next four years. But they always do.

The president of Harvard knows that the job market is rotten for college graduates. In Atlanta, you have to have a B.A. to get a clerk’s filing job.

So, she assures us that the value of the degree is way more than money. Yes, it costs a boatload of money to go to Harvard. Yes, the job market stinks. But consider the intangibles, he says. And he said it in the New York Times, so it must be true.

The focus in federal policy making and rhetoric on earnings data as the indicator of the value of higher education will further the growing perception that a college degree should be simply a ticket to a first job, rather than a passport to a lifetime of citizenship, opportunity, growth and change.

He neglected to mention that a bright student can earn a B.A. from an accredited university for $15,000, total. The degree gives a student ” a passport to a lifetime of citizenship, opportunity, growth and change.” The passport just costs a lot less than Harvard’s passport.

Maybe a student can go on welfare, or what amounts to the same thing, get a low-paying job with the government.

When I speak with students today, I encourage them to pursue those interests that enable them to make their particular contribution to the world. A graduate working to begin a start-up or one pursuing a career in the creative arts would likely not score high on the proposed federal scale of educational worth. Nor would the nearly 20 percent of our graduates who each year apply to Teach for America and numerous other teacher-residency programs.

That’s what parents want to hear! “We are so thrilled that we shelled out $230,000 after taxes for this kind of opportunity for our child.”

Making college more affordable for students and families is a fundamental goal that we in higher education are dedicated to support. When we decide what to measure, we signal what counts. Equating the value of education with the size of a first paycheck badly distorts broader principles and commitments essential to our society and our future.

Spoken like a woman who sells a passport to federal welfare for $230,000.

Continue Reading on www.nytimes.com

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11 thoughts on “Harvard’s President Says We Shouldn’t Judge a College Degree’s Value by Graduates’ Salaries.

  1. dntmkmecomoverther says:

    Applying this moron professor’s logic: I build a house which costs $250,000. But I can only sell it for $25,000. In his world, this represents a ‘great investment’. NO WONDER our kids are so screwed up when they are handed a diploma…it’s a ticket to serfdom…and at a whopping $250,000 after taxes. In my world, this is malpractice and misrepresentation of goods/services. It’s time to put the screws to malfeasant idiots like this.

  2. Texas Chris says:

    "Welcome to slavery, here's the bill for your chains."

  3. Andrew Kaizer says:

    Harvard’s President, Drew Gilpin Faust, is a woman.

  4. 1775Concord says:

    As noted, Drew Faust is a woman. I agree with her letter. The purpose of college is not to immediately educate students for high paying jobs. But it is to educate them, to develop thinking and reasoning, and to expose them to basics in many fields. When I graduated from Harvard, the only job for which I was trained was as an English teacher in a private (not public…no teacher's certificate nor required education courses) school. It took another 14 years of full time training/education to complete studies as a neurosurgeon. And my first faculty job as asst prof was at $32,000 per year.
    I have long agreed with Pres Faust's position, which differs from this piece by Mr. North, and similarly differs from the shouting of magazines, etc,. who measure the value of a college degree in dollars.
    Addition: When I was a medical student, we were told that if you took two high school graduates at age 18, one became a bricklayer the other a doctor, that at age 50 the bricklayer would have more money.
    Further: tuition support (scholarships based upon need) at Harvard are scaled so that a student whose family income is $65,000 or less pays nothing (except he/she is expected to earn $5-6000 a year). The family contribution is then raised with family income, so that at $180,000 the family is responsible for full pay.
    One great advantage of Harvard (or other outstanding colleges) is the interchange of ideas by arguing with your fellow bright students.

  5. What would Harvards president know , they no longer educate , they like most other colleges and universities today merely INDOCTRINATE .

  6. I graduated from Stanford, and I agree with Gary on this one. If you want to argue with bright people, do it on the internet — it’s much cheaper, and the internet has bright people (I assume 1775Concord would consider him/herself one). You are also much more likely to find epistemologically self-conscious and philosophically sophisticated thinkers than even your typical class of Harvard/Stanford undergrads. “Go to college and pay tens of thousands so that you can argue with bright people…” — reminds me of Monty Python’s argument clinic :-).

  7. Phillip the Bruce says:

    Maybe it should not be judged that way, but it has to be paid for somehow.

  8. As the owner of two small businesses, I don’t care if a prospective employee has a college degree or not, how much he paid for his degree, or what school he attended. All I want is someone competent, ambitious, reliable, and someone who understands their place. The last thing I want is an arrogant kid from an affluent family that’s had everything handed to him, coming into my business and telling me how to run it, while taking sick days every time he has a sniffle or just wants a day off. In the world I live, you get paid exactly what you’re worth. No more, no less. Kids coming out of school today expect vacation time, sick days, holidays, pay raises, benefits, everything. I started from nothing, and I laugh every time someone with a masters degree applies for an $8/hr job I’m offering. Last year a guy applying for a manual labor position sent in his resume; at the top was his name…followed by CPA. That’s funny.

    Welcome to the new America (patterned after the old one) where the scrappy go-getter rules the common class. All you rich kids who drove the expensive cars in high school, hooked up with the cheerleaders, went to Mexico on Spring Break…I’ve got jobs for you.

  9. Following this educational-boob, I can see why barry is totally ignorant in economics with his spend our way to prosperity philosophy. Of course, barry never paid for his own,
    Besides, those intangable "awards" received from a sub-standard education (even Havard) goes towards her fancy house, illegal help, and foreign cars. Remember, it takes billions from the middle class taxpayer to keep the criminal immigrants in this country. Her grads may believe this BS, but she needs to be careful in her message to the rest of the country…

  10. The purpose of LEARNING is not to obtain an income. The purpose of PAYING for an education most certainly is. You can LEARN much more for FREE than everyone at Harvard combined will ever know.

    Learning how to think is the purpose of an ELEMENTARY education, not a college education. The fact you think otherwise is evidence you didn't develop reasoning skills while you were at Harvard. i don't doubt you graduated near the top of your class.

  11. Working4aliving says:

    I went to a community college worked in a deli payed for school, books, car everything….worked 30 hours a week. I got my associates degree then got hired at a company that payed for my full degree at night that took four years. What a lesson I got real world experience, no student loans to pay back. I would sit and listen to some of the kids in class at night that took that class because they assumed it would be easier. They were the same age..mom and dad payed the bill…..I am happy I did it that way. Best education I got….not from college but having to work and pay for it myself.