College Tuition - A numbers issue vs a percentage issue


For undergraduates, Harvard and Yale (and the other Ivys) are some of the most generous schools in terms of financial aid, and have costs equivalent to most private universities. They’re not particularly expensive.

As for a Harvard lawyer vs. a state school lawyer - it depends on the state school, but unless you’re at Boalt Hall or Michigan Law, you’re not getting the same level of instruction.

Law isn’t just knowing case law.

Full disclosure - I’m currently a law student at a private law school (not an Ivy, but top 25), with scholarships paying 75% of my tuition.


I guarantee you that the instructions at Harvard Law school is 99.5% the same as at Bozo State Law School. For instance, the facts of Terry vs Ohio and the followup case law don’t change whether you learn it at Harvard or at Bozo State. You can’t even argue that the quality of instruction is better as college professors don’t usually get there based on their ability to teach but rather their pedigree or in the case of science fields their research. Neither means you can actually effectively teach.

But the criminal defense attorney or prosecutor who learned Terry Vs Ohio at Harvard will be a shoe in for a six figure law job while the same who learned exactly the same stuff at Bozo state will struggle to land a job given the glut of lawyers in the country.

Its pedigree not quality - in the non science fields. As I said earlier there probably is a difference in science fields where the science is always evolving and growing and those doing the cutting edge science will be at the pricey schools but the law is fairly stagnant where you only need to learn the basics and then the minor changes that happen year to year from new case law.


Even a profession like medicine, which has core science requirements for pre med students & many pre med students are majoring in a science like biology, a degree from Harvard Medical School doesn’t necessarily mean a better doctor.

This is strictly one personal experience, but it illustrates a point. Can’t get a contact lens fitting due to a dry eye problem that at one time was quite painful.

Consulted with an ophthalmologist within walking distance. Perfectly nice man, Harvard educated, spoke several languages. He diagnosed the problem as something involving chemistry of tears produced & said lie down with a warm wet cloth over my eyes for 5 minutes a day.

Well, I did that, and one day experienced such ocular pain I could barely make it home from the grocery store, much less the then 45 minute drive to work. Consulted with an optometrist whose undergrad was in her native Italy & I forget which optometry program she attended.

She not only correctly diagnosed the problem but gave me a coupon for some preservative free drops. Haven’t had extremely painful flare ups since.

A degree from a private college may be more valued in professions like law & medicine, where it may open more doors. Doesn’t guarantee a more skilled professional, but it may open more doors.

If someone is looking at a profession like nursing or being a member of the clergy, or teaching, most likely a degree from any state university will do.


Does a history major at Harvard learn better History than a History major somewhere else? To take that further is there any real advantage of learning History, Sociology, Mythology, etc., etc., etc., by sitting in a classroom than say reading it in a book or online? Personally speaking I learned much more out of the classroom than in the classroom.


That’s ■■■■■■■■■

And Criminal Justice is not a liberal arts degree. It’s a pre professional degree and indeed worthless.

My kid majored in Politics, minored in History. He has a BA.

His first job immediately after graduation was with a Fortune 200 company that accepted him into their executive management program. He stayed 1 1/2 years then left to go to a tech start up. He has been there 2 years, has had 3 promotions, earns over 6 figures (plus was given stock) and the company is paying for him to get an Executive MBA 100% ( not the usual we will pay you back if you get certain grades.) My kid gets calls/emails every week from companies trying to steal him away. Last week it was Bose. But he is staying put until he finishes his MBA program, because that will be worth really big bucks when he takes his next job. He is 25.

He graduated from a LAC. He has friends who are on Wall Street, at companies like Google, FB, Amazon, and consulting firms (McKinsey, Deloitte for example.) The list of Fortune 500 companies/banks/consulting firms that come to recruit at his small (2000 students) liberal arts college is staggering.

Companies hire people who have critical thinking skills and excellent writing and communications skills. All of which any liberal arts major teaches.

Contrary to popular belief, pre professional degrees (like criminal justice, and even undergrad degrees in business) for example) generally do not lead to jobs in that field or good jobs at corporations.

If one wants to specialize in a field to get a job in that field, the place to do that is graduate school. That is what graduate school is for.


Is this the case for most liberal arts majors? Cause I know a number of anecdotal accounts of liberal arts majors who can’t buy a job and are working part time or still waiting tables, etc. Heck I also know people who were engineering majors for that matter and couldn’t find work, never mind a six figure job. The situation with your son seems like that is likely more the exception rather than the rule? Do you know what percent of liberal arts majors whom a few years after graduating are making six figures?


This is staggeringly incorrect.

Law school isn’t about just learning case law. Most of that you learn from Bar Prep classes anyway.

Law school is about learning to think like a lawyer. It’s not a technical school, and practicing law is not like fixing air conditioners. Every case is different.


Definitely not the exception to the rule for graduates of his college, and all students at his school majors are in the liberal arts (which includes all science majors.) There is no such thing at his college as a pre-professional major, not even computer science. It’s also not the exception to the rule for those whose majors are in the liberal arts at any the top colleges and universities in the country (including public uni’s such as UVA, UMichigan, Berkeley, William and Mary, etc, etc.)

Frankly, I think most people haven’t a clue when they throw out ‘he, she has a liberal arts education and it doesn’t lead to a good job.” I also think most people have no idea what a liberal arts education entails or what businesses are looking for in job candidates.


Congratulations to your son!

I’ve known liberal arts grads who are doing everything from Christian Clergy to pharmaceutical sales to paralegal work & teaching.

If students apply themselves & spend time in Career Counseling—learning how to write resumes, setting up mock interviews—they just might not do so badly after graduation.




My kid’s job on campus for 3 years was in the career counseling office. So he got to see before hand which companies were coming to campus and when. :slight_smile: He also learned a lot about the interview process and crafting his CV.

The most important thing, imo, every college student needs to do (besides using the CC office) is make good use of their academic advisor from the get go. So often kids find themselves having not taken the proper courses in the desired sequence (especially since often a needed course for one’s major isn’t offered every semester.) This leaves a lot of kids needing another semester or two to graduate. They can also end up with a hodgepodge of classes amounting to nothing helpful in completing a major on time.

At a small college, like the one my kid attended, it’s impossible not to use their advisors as they must see them before registering for the next semester. Their first advisors are often the prof who teaches their Freshmen Seminar course, so they get to know them well and develop a relationship with their advisor. They just aren’t some number.

Then, once they declare, they are given an advisor who teaches in their major.

At my kid’s college everyone also has to complete a Senior thesis in their major(s) to graduate. A great learning experience!


Another option for cost effective college is to work for an employer that provides tuition reimbursement. It might take longer to get a degree but you are also obtaining valuable work experience at the same time.

My employer covers the cost 100% of an online associates and bachelors degree and up to $5,000 per year if you want to pursue a masters degree or a traditional classroom degree.

I wish high schools would talk more about return on investment. Kids need to carefully consider how long will they see a ROI and adapt their college choice accordingly.

Dont get me wrong I firmly believe that education is never wasted but sometimes wiser decisions can lead to much less student debt.


I’m still bitter about this.

I was on track to graduate in December rather than May but one of my required classes was only offered in the spring. So I wanted to take it that spring in my 2nd to last semester but due to overcrowding they only allowed seniors graduating in May to take it. I tried to no avail to explain that if they didn’t let me in I couldn’t graduate in December as planned. Practically got shouted out of the office.

So I had to go a full extra semester for one stupid class. It did make my last three semesters cake though as I spread out the classes I’d planned to take in two semesters (approx 28 credits) to three. I actually had to take fluff classes like golfing, swimming, creative writing, etc to get up to full time status. But it still screwed me on having to pay for an extra semester.


That’s a very typical scenario - especially at large public universities. They like the extra money they get from the extra semesters students are forced into to graduate. Even better if the student is from OOS.

That never happens at the small LACs like the school my son attended. The only students who don’t graduate on time are students who have to take time off for health reasons.


I was hoping you could clarify some things for me here. I worked in a high school and usually every year I would give them surveys like these below:

Typically there was a general consistency with these types of surveys from year to year or from site to site. Obviously you could find variations from here to there. Also I am specifically talking about ones actual major not how or where each school puts it. In other words a Chemistry major at one school is considered a B.S. while at another it is a B.A. In other words are the surveys I posted inaccurate? It doesn’t matter to a company if the person has a computer science degree or a political science degree? That’s what it sounds like you are saying here:

“I also think most people have no idea what a liberal arts education entails or what businesses are looking for in job candidates.”

I am not by any means an expert on what companies are looking for, but from my experience and limited research it lead me to believe that the specific major one choose was the most important thing in finding in good paying job.


I really hope you aren’t doing that. That would be a huge disservice to your students.

I’m not going to keep banging my head against the wall with you but I will say this - no one knows 4 or 6 years in advance what the economy will be like for specific fields and choosing to major in something, because of a survey is ridiculous. You might want to ask all those Petroleum Engineers who graduated into an economy several years ago when the price of oil was below $50 a barrel. They couldn’t buy a job.

And why no computer science majors on the list is because the market is flooded with them now after years of telling kids a degree in computer science is a guatanteed winner.

My friend’s daughter majored in the dead languages and had a job in hand at Google before she graduated.

It’s much more important to have a strong GPA (at least a 3.2 depending on college since some have grade inflation, where you’d want to be much higher than 3.2 while others deflate.) But generally, under a 3.0 will go straight into the garbage bin.

Plus, strong verbal and written communication skills and critical thinking skills. Those are musts just to get through the job interview process now and even be considered. And it is a process. My son had 3 straight days of interviews at Corp. headquarters for his first job. He had written issues to solve and present and verbal presentations individually and with a group of other applicants. He also had to interview with several people, alone and together.

Just to get to that interview process he had an initial phone interview and then an online test. Only after doing well on those was he invited to interview at Corporate.

He has moved on from that company and his job now with the tech start up is in company growth analytics. In the business world that happens to be a huge growth field. He wasn’t hired to do that initially, but promoted into it when his company created a team of 3 just for that.


I was not trying to debate you here, hence my wording of “I was hoping you could clarify”. The fact is that we are all shaped by our experiences and by having conversations with someone of different experiences we can learn something new. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, you are basically referencing anecdotal accounts regarding your son, his friends, your friends daughter. Are you saying that there is no reliable surveys on what people major in and economic outcomes? Also I do agree that specific economic needs can vary from year to year. In other posts I noted that I now of people with engineering degrees who couldn’t find work. I also recall a Jeapordy contestant who had PhD. in Physics and was driving a bus. Regarding Computer Science the one article listed 4 different Computer Science related majors in its top ten, I think it is fair to say there will always be a demand for that. Clearly supply always impacts that as well. For example in education there were always many more resume’s and applicants for teachers of History, English, Phys Ed, than for Math or Science.


Yes, I am saying there are no reliable surveys on this subject. Next year there will be dozens of more surveys with all different jobs listed in each.

These are click bait articles, nothing more.

And they certainly should not be used to help any student decide what to major in. Ever.

The use of my examples is to show it’s a myth that majoring in a liberal arts subject leads only to jobs as baristas at Starbucks. It’s a terrible disservice to students entering university. One can get a good job if their studies lead to good written and verbal communications and critical thinking skills. Those are the most important attributes companies seek in hires. Liberal arts majors are particularly good at honing these very skills.

It’s more likely that someone graduating with a pre- professional degree (like the aforementioned Criminal Justice degree) will end up waiting tables than a liberal arts major.


It really doesn’t. The only undergraduate degree that I can think of that actually prepares you to use the degree is nursing.