As some of my e-mailers recognize, their dilemmas are those of the relatively fortunate. They are young. They have advanced degrees. As Sam wrote, “It should be noted that I’m a very lucky, healthy, happy 23-year-old male who, aside from having little money and having caught a bad break on his choice of careers, has nothing to complain about.” For a dose of perspective, I’ll include an e-mail from Dani, who is 28, lives in Chicago, and couldn’t go to college right out of high school. She works in a warehouse office and will finally graduate in May with a two-year associate degree for which she scrimped and borrowed and is “fighting tooth and nail for.” She can’t see how she can afford to go on in school, and she points out that “for those of us not privileged enough to have [a college degree] being seen as not as valuable as someone who is ‘smarter’ than us because they have a degree puts us behind in the job market even further. We are already worried about our futures, and the thought that this economy or even one bad thing happening [could] disrupt our paycheck-to-paycheck lives, is more than terrifying.” It is bad to have a degree that you fear is underwater. But it’s still worse to have no degree at all.
This article fails to adequately address the matter at hand because they only compare people with advanced degrees with those without any sort of degree or special training what so ever.
Here is another question: are people with advanced degrees better off than those who opted for vocational training of some sort, or even those who only got bachelor’s degrees? Comparing the plight of MBAs, Phds, and lawyers to plumbers, mechanics, dental assistants, etc. would be more relevant. It would also be worthwhile to compare people with advanced degrees with people who have bachelor’s degrees in certain fields such as biology, math, computer science, and engineering.
Slate: Help, My Degree Is Underwater