How Dumb Are College Students?

It’s graduation season. In Minnesota, that means backyard high school graduation parties every weekend from late May through June. Most of the graduates that we know are heading off to college this fall.

Let’s all hope for their sake that they learn some useful things. I’m not sure that is actually the case. A study out this week says that the average college graduate in 2022 expects to make $104K as a starting salary. That’s a huge overshoot of actual starting salaries for college grads at $55K.

How is it that they are so wildly off in their expectations? Is the teaching on university campuses so detached from reality – or the students so coddled with undeserved praise – that they overestimate their worth by nearly 100%?

You would at least think that the Gen Z / Cyber Generation would at least have the sense to do a simple Google search to research starting salaries by their chosen major before they accept thousands in student loans to pay for their degrees.

Our son majored in computer science and graduated 2 years ago. He had a good understanding that it was a lucrative field and one that he enjoyed. I’m a bit shocked that other students would spend 4 years on campus and not have a good understanding of starting salaries.

Have college students always been this distant from the realities of the job marketplace, or is this a new phenomenon?

Chart Credit: Forbes / Statistica

15 thoughts on “How Dumb Are College Students?

  1. Yes, Chief, I was devoid of reality in college. I did manual labor during school and summers. That convinced me to work indoors. I thought I would be a poet and teach college. But I got married two months after graduation. My wife was still going to college. I needed a real job. Writing poems and book reviews didn’t cut it. Next stop, advertising. Final stop, retirement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Outside manual labor – ugh. I did everything I could do to avoid those jobs in high school & college: stock clerk, cashier, telephone operator, bartender, DJ, radio station music director, resident assistant, car dealer delivery guy, and MegaCorp secretary. That last one worked out pretty well!

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  2. Colleges are taking advantage of unsophisticated consumers. 18 year old’s are considered not mature enjoy to legally buy alcohol, cigarettes, and guns (the last two for sure in California). Yet, they are allowed to sign student loan contracts that run up several hundred thousand in debt that is not dischargeable even in bankruptcy, to get a studies degree that will never have an economic return on the time wasted in college.

    High school counselors are pushing everyone to go to college and are not considering the better returns for many students to go into the skilled trades. The skilled trades offer apprenticeships where you earn a living wage while learning your trade and very quickly get to where you are beating the numbers listed above on the table.

    High Schools stopped requiring their students to take personal finance. One of the two high schools I attended had a small businessman teaching balancing check books, budgeting, taxes, and investing. These are real world skills that teach you to ask, how much does it cost and how much will I be earning.

    My oldest son is a great example of someone who did not ask himself, “How much will I be earning, despite my wife and I trying to nudge him into a higher earning field?” He graduated with a degree in business and went from one job to the next without making that great of money, and not really liking the office work environment.

    At age 35 he decided to become an electrician. He is still an apprentice, but is already moving up in the small electrical contractor because he has the math skills to quote jobs accurately, make money for the contractor, and uses part of the safety cushion that he builds into his contracts to leave his job sites really clean. He now is getting ahead in life and feels good about his future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you on the value & rewards of the skilled trades. I’m a big fan of the work Mike Rowe from ‘Dirty Jobs’ has done to promote trade school & apprenticeships. I have a nephew that’s a skilled welder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike Rowe is great. The country would be better off if high schools subbed out career counseling to Mike Rowe.

        I met a skilled welder flying once and I could tell he was very happy with his career choice. He was doing specialized welding for refineries and was over $100K, one year out of trade school, in his mid 20s.

        Here is tip for your son, the Comp Sci guy. Learn to do the things that other people lack the aptitude to do. Become the person who others go to solve the problems no one else can and make friends as you go. Branch out as a consultant to offer his specialized services.

        Since retiring, I started IT consulting and I easily earn more as a side gig than I ever earned working full time for the two decades before retirement. I am running into other people who caught on to this much younger.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The same institutions convincing them of high dreamy salaries have also convinced society that people with a PhD and an EdD or a DDv (divinity) should be treated the same as an MD or OD. I limit those whom I address as doctor to people who can write a prescription and that includes veterinarians.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are some faux ‘Doctors’ earning a decent living the teaching the next generation of faux ‘Doctors’. My middle son refers to this aspect of college as a pyramid scam.

      I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with dual majors in electrical engineering and computer science in 4 and a half years. Now it would take six to seven years to do this because of the make work project for the faux ‘doctors’ that creates artificial demand for Libtard Arts classes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have a friend whose son is getting a dual major & a master’s degree in just 5 years. The 4+1 BS+MS degrees are growing in popularity.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I don’t generally even call my doctor, “doctor”. I just call him by his first name. I worked with many PhDs at MegaCorp – chemists, food scientists, etc – but I never called any of them “doctor”. Nor did any of the, expect it.

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  4. I hired thousands of people over my career. I learned (early on) to avoid the multiple Masters degree candidates and the PhD types, unless it was for very specialized fields. Their expectations rarely aligned with with the real world after so much time in academia.

    Just last week, I was in our local brewery, and struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar. He was in his mid-forties, married, with one young daughter. He is technically a lawyer and practiced for a few years early in his career, but it had been over ten years since he actually practiced law. Interestingly, he also has a PhD and multiple Masters degrees (one in music). He has taught history at a small local liberal arts college for the last 10 years. He also plays music (saxophone) for several local breweries in our area as a side gigs. The college had let him go last December, and he was lamenting that someone as “educated as him” can’t seem to find a new job. When I asked him what skills he would offer to a potential employer, he just kept telling me about his various degrees. When I pressed him for what types of roles he was applying/looking for, he replied, “anything paying me what I’m worth!” It was at this point, I found a reason to get a refill on my empty pint…

    My retirement is just too short to waste time on things that don’t really want to be fixed. My bet is, two years from now…he’ll still just be playing gigs in the local breweries because no one will pay him “what he’s worth”. The harsh truth is, they already are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m guessing that is the sort of guy who also thinks it is critical for the federal government to pay off student loan debt. The more ‘educated’ people are, the less they seem to support personal responsibility these days .

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      1. You absolutely on target. There seems to be a significant trend coming out of our higher education institutions toward bigger government, and less personal responsibility. Not to get political on your website, but we’ve allowed these overpriced platforms to “educate” several generations, that personal responsibility is someone else’s job. Division, immediate gratification, and lack of responsibility seem to be pervasive in most higher educated graduates these days. It is by design. These institutions know exactly what they are doing. It’s a form of control. Indebted voters will do exactly what they are told to do in order to gain hand outs. It’s no different than selling expensive cars, houses, 72” flat screens, and cell phones to people that can’t actually afford them. You just convince them that they are smart to buy these things or they can’t live without them. Everyone has them, and you “deserve” them too! Instead of getting five useless degrees, how about we take a two hour personal finance class as a requisite for becoming a useful member of society!

        The one word that absolutely stops a conversation with me is when someone says they “deserve” something. No one deserves anything! You have to earn it.

        It never ceases to amaze me how many supposedly “educated” individuals can’t manage a simple debt discussion. To your earlier point…How hard is it to google salaries, and recognize that most higher education degrees will not have the ROI necessary to pay off several hundred thousand dollars in debt? Yet there’s my (out of work) educated guy at 45 years old, wondering why he can’t get a job he deserves to payoff his five degrees. It’s simply marketing at its finest by our higher education institutions, and a lack of personal responsibility by the suckers who buy into it. The guy even complained about the cost of our local craft beers rising from $6 to $7 per beer, yet there he was drinking a “pricey $7 beer” that he couldn’t really afford, while out of work.

        According to my friend (the actual brewery owner- who by the way, has NO college degree and yet owns two profitable breweries), the educated (out of work) guy was extremely confused by the brief conversation with the unshaven 50-ish year old guy “with just a single BS degree”, wearing an old brewery tee shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, who had mentioned that he had retired nearly six years earlier and then suddenly just got up and left abruptly…yet had discreetly paid for his “pricey $7 pint of beer” on the way out of the brewery as a nice gesture.

        He said to my friend (the brewery owner), “…that guy must have inherited his money!” My friend just laughed as he poured him another “pricey $7 pint of beer”! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “Inherited his money”! 🙂

        Thom, I think you are completely unelectable with your opinions, but exactly what the country needs. Look forward to you running in 2024, although I know you are too smart for that!

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