STEM degrees give the best financial returns

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Plazma Inferno!, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    A new report from PayScale, a research firm, calculates the returns to higher education in American universities. Its authors compare the career earnings of college graduates with the present-day cost of a degree at their alma maters, after taking account of financial aid.
    Top universities may be growing ever more selective, but the returns on a college degree depend far more on field of study than the choosiness of the university itself, the report says. Apparently, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degrees give the best financial return.
    Engineering and computer-science students earn most, achieving an impressive 20-year annualised return of 12% (the S&P 500 managed just 7.8%). Engineers were also least dependent on institutional prestige: graduates from less-selective schools experienced only a slight decrease in average returns. Business and economics degrees also pay well, delivering a solid 8.7% average return. Courses in arts or the humanities may pay intellectual dividends but provide more mixed economic returns. Students concerned about their financial outlook should worry less about their school's rank and spend more time brushing up on maths.

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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    They fail to include the cost of failure - the risk of incurring the debt, and not getting the degree or taking longer to get it. If the risk of failure rises for the higher paying degrees, at some point they become bad bets.

    Also, according to their graph, the returns to less profitable degrees do depend on the prestige of the university - a math degree from anywhere is good, but an art history degree needs to be from a selective school.

    The all time record for average return to a degree, btw, belongs to a non-stem degree from a pretty good University: A BA in Fine Arts from Georgetown University in 1985 earned its recipients average first job starting salaries in the high six figures.
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  5. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    The cost of failure is not very high because when people wash out of STEM they usually just end up graduating with something non-STEM.
    Uh, what do you think ROI is? It's all in there!
    Yes. That's because for a useful degree, the useful skills you get by earning the degree are what matters. For a non-useful degree, it's "well, at least s/he went to a good school!"
    Since you typically just make crap up and never provide references, I won't even bother asking you for a source for that nonsense.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    At no additional cost ? - because that would damage the ROI of the less profitable degrees while hiding the true cost facing the STEM attempter.

    Ok: In which case their failure to include the value of college prestige to that non-STEM degree, a value visible in their graphs, undermines their conclusions regarding the value of prestige to those attempting STEM degrees.
    No, the risk of failing to get the degree attempted, or taking longer and paying more than for the standard four years or whatever, is specifically not included in the "investment". The investment cost is that of credentials obtained, in the standard time allotted.
    You ever notice how often I'm right, when I make up crap? I'm a very lucky guy.

    It wasn't nonsense. I'll help you out, although if you were really curious simply copy pasting my assertion into a search engine bar would hand it to you: Patrick Ewing.
  8. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Little or no, generally, yes. STEM degrees generally require a lot more credits than non-STEM degrees and non-STEM degrees allow a lot more electives. So even if you fail a handful of STEM classes, you can switch to a non-STEM degree without being behind, as long as you do it relatively early (which is typically where people fail-out). It even works for harder to easier STEM degrees, such as aerospace to mechanical engineering. That, I know from experience.
    Huh? It is visible in their graphs and discussed in the report because they did include it. WTF?!
    You mixed several things together in there. The first part was addressed above as not being a big issue - and if anything, that risk is under-reported for the non-STEM degrees because people who fail out of college fall out the bottom and as such they should be counted against the non-STEM degrees, but they aren't.

    You're also making an assumption that the average time to graduate for STEM is longer than for non-STEM, but I'm not willing to accept your assumption without evidence, which I know you won't provide.
    Heh, no. I do check on some of your crap and do indeed typically verify that it is crap. I have a very good sense of smell. But thanks for helping me out and verifying that it was, in fact, crap in this case too. Saved me the effort. Now if we could just get you to stop posting the crap in the first place, it would save us all a lot of time!
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Nowhere I know of.
    Some of the sciences, but not true of mathematics, or in general.
    You can't fail classes without getting behind, and increasing your chances of failing to obtain credentials.
    My single point was that attempting to obtain STEM credentials carries a higher risk of failure, especially for the indifferently prepared or motivated student, and that risk is not included in calculating the ROIs published in the study.
    No, I'm not. The opposite, if anything: I accepted your implication that, on average, it would more likely be the other way around (if people who change their focus due to "washing out" take longer to graduate on average).
    It was not discussed in either of the two links. In the Economist link it was specifically dismissed - the last paragraph suggesting that all those looking for high ROI should ignore college prestige and focus on their own maths, which is exactly what a prospective non-STEM student should not do according to their data.
    And then you keep that a secret out of courtesy, every time. I must owe you more thanks than I ever recognized.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member


    At a recent meeting of one of our STEM programs we were pondering ways to get 9th through 11th graders more interested in STEM.
    "Let's show them the drone program over in the aviary! Kids love drones," suggested one person.
    "Maybe have a day where they come in, get lunch and get talks and demos from engineers," said another.
    "Just take them to our garage," said our CEO.
    "Huh?" said the meeting organizer. "You mean do a demo or something in the garage?"
    "No, just let them see the kind of cars the people here drive. These are sixteen year old kids. That's how you convince them."
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Is that how the engineers here got interested?
  12. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    STEM gender gap is overblown

    There are two universally accepted “truths” about women and STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The first is that men outnumber women in in these fields, and the second is that women are socialized to avoid STEM as career choices, because society considers them “unfeminine.”
    These beliefs have spawned a national effort on the part of the National Science Foundation to attract girls and young women into STEM. The preferred strategy is to attract females by “unbrainwashing them” into accepting STEM careers as appropriate for women.
    On closer inspection, it turns out that these “truths” are nothing more than assumptions, and that these assumptions are inconsistent with the facts, which prove that:
    1. Men do not outnumber women in all STEM fields
    2. Women and men are equally capable of doing STEM work
    3. Sex-linked interest preferences are not mere artifacts of socialization
    4. Different preferences don’t mean women’s are less important
    5. Men earn more because they believe they are worth more—and women agree

    All points are observed and explained in the article below.
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    It's not how I got interested; I've been interested in engineering since I was 5.

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