10 colleges least likely to pay off

Higher education usually is a financially smart decision, but at some schools the return on investment can be questionable.

Scot Meyer, SwitchYard Media, Special to MSN Money

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Jun 25, 2013 2:42PM
My son just graduated from Mecedes Benz school in Boston at a total cost of $6900 last Friday and he got hired last Monday as a Auto Technician at a Mercedes Benz dealership with zero experience. A weekend off between school and work is pretty good. Too many kids just waste time and money for a "Liberal Arts" degree which is worthless these days. We need more tradesmen, plumbers, machine operators, carpenters, electricians, craftsmen, and the like or we will become a country of couch potatoes sitting in front of a computor screen. Working with your hands is a skill that today's kids think is below them.
Jun 28, 2013 8:22PM
I have 3 grown children with college degrees from our State Universities. 2 Engineers and 1 Nurse. All went to the low cost State Universities and all have very marketable degrees. Helping them with their school financing was the best investment that I ever made.
Jun 28, 2013 10:21PM
I went to a no name little public college in the Midwest.  1000 total students.  I got a 4 yr degree, worked for CPA firms for 5 yrs and started my own business.  Last yr I made $950,000.  I've made over $700k a year for the last 12 years in a row.  I have several million in the bank.  It's not the college that's so important,  it's everything else.
Jun 30, 2013 2:28AM
It's more the major than the college.  When I, then my sister, pulled ourselves up from the poorest family in a neighborhood in the armpit of our county (no car, no gloves in winter, no vacations, spread the jelly thin, etc.) we didn't look for careers that would make us rich, but ones which would be in demand and provide us with good incomes and stable jobs throughout our lives, I in chemistry and she in nursing.  That was in the 70's and we've never collected unemployment.

Even more today, I'd urge people to major in one of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), accounting, teaching areas besides STEM like special education or foreign language, or in majors associated with medicine.

I would add that

Jun 27, 2013 1:23PM

Parents amaze me when their kid graduates college after partying for 4 years on dads money with a useless degree. Did they not understand the job market, job openings per degree, and pay scales that are listed on the web before they started? Do parents not sit down with their children and discuss the future? All parents want to help their kid become what they want. But if my kid wanted a music degree, I would try to push him into a double major with something marketable.


I would think most people realize that pay scale is a combination of career selection and then after that, growing experience, becoming an expert in your field, your drive and awareness of your market value. Ive seen experts in their field not knowing that they are underpaid due to lack of awareness as well as people selecting good career but are worthless or at low levels in job performance and get paid accordingly, etc.


The start of a good paying job or career is simple.

Typically the more difficult it is, the more demand and pay.


Look up the stats on-line with your child in 6, 7th grade and continue through high school. I believe the majority of kids don't know what they want to become after high school because of the lack of home discussions so they choose the easiest, least painful way to go through life for the next 4 years.

The problem is that they trade 4 or 6 years of potential struggles through Chemistry, Engineering, Medicine/Health care, Accounting etc to instead struggle financially for their next 50! 


Im am Engineer, My son just graduated with a mechanical Engr degree and is employed, good start.

Not a wealthy living, but a decent one.

But if you really want to make it, start a business. The pay is unlimited. All You!

Then you can complain only to your self.

Jun 25, 2013 9:27AM

Two of my kids with BA degrees from Auburn University work in service sector jobs and both have been cut to 30 hours a week by different employers so they don't have to pay for health insurance (thanks to frickin' Obamacare). They are financially in dire straits.


The other kid has a technical degree in Industrial electricity and while he works a lot of overtime, he loves his job and makes a 6 figure income.


Bottom line as far as I am concerned....always learn a skilled trade that will feed you and a family no matter what. Further your education once in a good job as time permits but do it even if you can only take a couple classes a year.

Jun 25, 2013 11:09AM
I think this is a bit incomplete. Not all degrees have a negative ROI. I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and I think my Web Design associate has paid off. I do have a job on my field and I'm paying  my student loans. This article is just describing an ROI on degrees that have low value, like Arts. 

It all depends on the student's choice and effort. I've seen lot of mediocre students presenting horrible projects, all done at last minute and being proud of getting a C, all they want is a diploma with their name on it, and then they're asking why they're not getting a job after they've graduated. 
Jul 2, 2013 3:45AM

If people are worried about university costs, do 2 years in community college and than transfer to a university to get your BS in 2 years. Saves you a ton of money. And if you want to get your degree faster, find out if there is a high school exit exam in your state. I took it (live in Cali. and the exam's name is CHESPE I think) and got out of high school after 10th grade. Than I went to community college for 3 years (I am an electrical engineering major and you want to finish all your math, physics, chemistry bio., introductory computer science classes like C++, C#, etc. before you transfer to a university). I am now transferring to a university and will hopefully get my BS degree in 2 years. And just as The_Mick said, major in one of the STEM field (and the other fields he mentioned).

Don't worry about going to Stanford, Berkley or any top schools. Try to get into a UC (like Irvine, Riverside, etc.) or even a Cal State. Work hard in any school, get your engineering degree and you will most likely get hired.


Side note: If you want to be an engineer and are in high school, learn some programming languages like Java and C++. The tutorials on Youtube are awesome. And if you like programming, try to major in software engineering or computer science. There will be explosive growth in that area in the future.

Jul 2, 2013 7:21AM
I think this article is a little loaded too. It has more to do with what major you pick then what school you went to. Personally I live in NC and I know plenty of people that went to Meredith that have jobs. Everyone who already have college educations is trying to tell kids "don't go to college" pick a "trade". I don't know about you but I personally didn't want to spend the rest of my life making a mediocre salary struggling to get by. My dad worked a "trade" job and while we weren't destitute or anything there is a limit to how much he can make without a college degree. Getting a college degree gives you a competitive advantage in the job market and it allows you to make more money. Don't be stupid, a music degree or an art history degree probably will not give you a great paying job. Yes, you probably should not go to a school that costs $40,000 a year and take out four years of student loans at that rate. But in general people that go to college make more money then people that don't. What someone should be addressing is why in the hell it costs $40,000 a year to go to college in the first place.
Jul 2, 2013 3:46AM
This story does not amount to anything. I don't believe their figures. School is what *you* make of it. Your talents and experience determine how successful a career you'll have.
Jul 2, 2013 6:44AM
Our youngest son received his degree last year from a highly regarded liberal arts college.  He majored in history and philosophy.  Those are things that interest him.  He worked hard and graduated magna cum laude.

The school attracts a good selection of recruiters and our son had five or six interviews during his last semester.  Two job offers resulted, and he accepted one from a large reinsurance company.  He started as a credit analyst making 48 thousand per year.  His first promotion came in February.

I work for a regional banking corporation in the midwest.  It has been many years since I was responsible for hiring at entry level, but our policy then--and now--has been to recruit smart, motivated people who can learn fast, express themselves precisely and fluently and learn from mistakes.  No particular degree will guarantee these qualities, but a liberal arts education can certainly give you a leg up.

I am a little suspicious of business degrees, even though business majors are a near-majority of recent graduates. The curriculum seems to consist mostly of jargon and the latest buzz-words thickly wrapped around a few nuggets of actual information.  Does anybody imagine that a degree in "business management" qualifies anyone to manage anything? 

I've worked in finance all my life and like to think that I know something about it.  From what I've seen, the entire practical content of a modern finance degree can be learned on the job in six months or so.  The rest is nothing but airy academic nonsense.  And marketing?  Common sense, nothing more.  Most of my jobs have involved the development and marketing of financial products, and I've never had a course in either subject.  History was my major.
Jun 25, 2013 2:17AM
A graduation rate of 39%... And all they teach is religion.........
Jul 2, 2013 7:48AM
For some people, money isn't everything.  I work a low paying job but wouldn't trade it for the world.  I am helping to shape our nation's future.  I am a teacher in a small private school.  I wouldn't want to do anything else.  
There may be other reasons (other than the BIG BUCKS!) to go to a certain school.
Jul 2, 2013 5:01AM

There have been several articles in multiple magazines over the last 3-4 years questioning the value of a college education for many of the kids who graduate from high school these days.


The primary negative toward the idea is that many kids who graduate today have no clue what they truly want to do when they leave high school. The best advice seems to be to get a job in a field that interests them at the time of graduation, and attend a Junior College to get an AA degree. The idea being that after 2-3 years of working and school at a higher level, they have a broader idea of what the world has to offer, and perhaps they have a better idea of what path they wish to pursue.


I have a buddy who's son spent 10 semesters (4 1/2 years) at the University of Washington earning a degree in computer sciences...(expensive and difficult degree) only to decide after graduating he wants to be a firefighter. I worked with guys in the P.D. who had degrees in pre-med, accounting, English literature, and all wound up packing a gun for 3 years.


Bottom line, I know few people who REALLY work in the field they were educated in unless they have made it to a point where thy can't afford to do something else. Most wish they had chosen a different career. so, working and doing J/C...might not be such a bad idea for many.

Jun 30, 2013 12:30PM
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION Was a mantra in the old Soviet Union. It is not education but a thriving economy that drives income. Without the entrepreneur to create jobs there is nothing left but the dole or unproductive government work.
Jun 29, 2013 10:33AM
The problem with numbers crunchers like payscale is that they can only crunch numbers.  I'll buy their conclusions when they quantify the value of doing what you love to do as opposed to doing something just to pay the mortgage while you watch the clock counting the minutes till you can punch out.
Jul 2, 2013 9:34AM
I don't know why we think everyone in the country needs to get a college degree. Some of the highest earning people I know went to trade schools, and they are successfully running their own auto repair, plumbing and HVAC businesses. One guy has a net worth in excess of $3 million. Unfortunately, so many high schools have dropped or drastically cut back on their vocational classes such as wood shop and auto mechanics. We need to realize that college is not the only answer out there. There are other jobs that pay just as well if not better than those requiring a college education.
Jun 25, 2013 10:44AM
You are better off with one then with out...Keep yourself in the game and the game is played with a degree.
Jun 25, 2013 10:54AM

No payoff from such highly ranked, well known schools as these?   Shocking!

Jun 25, 2013 9:23AM
all unheard of.  note how many are religiously based!
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