The Value Of An Engineering Degree

Six years ago, in the summer of 2008, NYU and Polytechnic University came together to create NYU Poly, NYU’s engineering school in downtown Brooklyn. When I saw the news, I called NYU President John Sexton and asked for a meeting. He agreed and I went down to Washington Square to meet with him. I told him he had just acquired a jewel, but a jewel that had fallen on hard times. I told him he needed to invest in bringing that jewel back to it’s former luster and that if he did, it would be an incredible thing for NYU, for Poly, for Brooklyn, and for NYC. In typical John Sexton fashion, he got up, gave me a big smile and a big hug, and said “I will do it but I need your help”. And that is how I found myself on the board of NYU Poly and NYU.

Here’s the thing I know. Engineering schools and engineering degrees are the most valuable degrees you can issue in higher ed. Here is the data:

20 year ROI on education

You might be surprised to see Stevens Institute and NYU Poly on that list. But I am not. NYC is starved for the kind of technical, quantitative, and analytical minds that engineering schools generate. Combine a big urban center with a top engineering school and you have a recipe to print money. And you have a recipe to change lives. Many of the kids who go to NYU Poly are from immigrant families and are graduates of the NYC public school system. They are smart and work hard. And with an engineering degree and a big city like NYC, they can earn more in a year than their parents earn combined.

The value of a diploma is set by the marketplace, by the laws of supply and demand. There are more technical jobs open than qualified candidates to fill them. It is the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak employment picture. We need to be investing in our engineering schools and we need to be investing in a K-12 education that gets our children ready to go to these schools.

When I am not working at USV and/or hanging out with friends and family, I am working on this problem. It is an important one. I plan to post more on this topic in the coming weeks. I have been looking at enrollment data and we are seeing some really interesting things. It is very encouraging and exciting to me.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. JamesHRH

    I married an engineer and both my kids talk about being an engineer.My wife says it was one of my life’s blind spots: had I been exposed to someone who was an engineer when I was younger, I would have ‘seen the light’.Oh well.

    1. Aaron Klein

      And yet you executed a strategic merger to compensate for this oversight. The synergistic effects are already clear. 😉

      1. JamesHRH

        She had a weak moment & I bedazzled her w some marketing BS!!!!I desrcibe it as marrying way over my head or a ‘win/not a total write off deal’

        1. Aaron Klein


        2. Alex Murphy


        3. ShanaC


    2. thebigmix

      Me too!….except replace Engineer with CFA – I’m an Eng. major. The more time I spend with my wife the more I realise how many blind spots I have.I understand movies better than her though. 🙂

      1. thebigmix

        I am an English major – not Engineering….Eng. = English!

        1. Alex

          Im pretty sure my MEng would disagree with you

    3. Emily Merkle

      I have a number of PhD MIT engineers in my extended family, and most ended up at Sandia. I was “exposed” – and decided not only that did not want to work for the gov’t, I also decided I do not have the “engineer personality type”.

  2. Luke Skurman

    I’m not sure the source of your data but there is a major omission on this list, Carnegie Mellon University. I sit on the Board of Trustees of the University and I’m certain that we belong on this list. I’ve seen data that CMU internally uses that puts us at the north end of that list.

    1. fredwilson

      the blog post i got the data from…includes CMU in a number of charts, but not that one

      1. Luke Skurman

        Thank you for sending. I’m not sure what the University uses internally but we must be using a different source.

    2. Mac

      Luke, my son-a junior with a PSAT Math of 800-is receiving emails and printed material from CMU. We’re both impressed with the work being done by CMU graduates in the technology/engineering fields; especially the Internet. I appreciate the work Admissions is doing in getting this information to him. My compliments.

  3. Anne Libby

    I’m wondering how engineering’s ROI would looked 20-30 years ago, when compared to medicine and law, the holy grails back in my college days (at a school with no engineering degree.)I’m not debating the value of the degree today! But wondering what outcomes we’re seeking from higher education in general.

    1. awaldstein

      People schooled in problem solving and communications are a huge plus. The exceptional at this are a rarity.I hire English majors for the same qualities when they are a cut above.

      1. Anne Libby

        Yes. I’ve been thinking a lot about the growing importance of the ability to communicate visually, too.

        1. Emily Merkle

          Tumblr is a great platform for developing one’s ability to communicate visually.

      2. Emily Merkle

        Natural / human scientists.

      3. ShanaC

        Well, I know said same school did that.

    2. ShanaC

      Its interesting watching the school in question (university of chicago) evolve. There was (and still is) an alumni revolt for the one minor in engineering ( ) I’m still not sold on engineering for all. There are a surprising amount of engineers who could use a dose of the core. They don’t know why they build what they build.The other thing I have noticed: Many u of c grads from the comp sci department are overly heavy on the math (in fact, it becomes a popular double major because almost all of the comp sci degree requirements are the same as math requirements after the first 3 quarters of classes)

  4. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    It is a great article at a time when many young people wear it as a badge of honor that they were college dropouts. It is too late for me to consider engineering but I do plan to nudge my nephew towards that career path.

  5. JimHirshfield

    Great story of how you roped yourself into such a good thing.

  6. JimHirshfield

    Please explain the data. NYU Poly costs >2x Harvard???

    1. fredwilson

      the data is net of tuition support (scholarships etc)

      1. andrewjude

        What’s your view of grads who may do a liberal arts degree but pick up “hard skills” alongside their qualification?I’ve met plenty of people throughout my short career to date who may have done say a history/econ/politics degree. This is then combined with say strong photoshop, sql, programming, design, web design skills so they may not have a formal education but they’ve picked the skills up informally.

        1. Emily Merkle

          I went to 2 undergrad universities, 2 graduate schools. majored in psychology (a science) and minored in education. got my PhD in both school psychology and I/O psychology. Then went to work in digital media. I had the analytical mind to do it. I did not have computer skills. Had to pick those up along the way, along with rudimentary programming, and techspeak. It can be done.

  7. JLM

    .What do people say to an engineering grad five years out of school?How are you, Boss?What do people who have degrees in English learn to say?Would you like fries with that?The study of engineering even if you never practice engineering is the best possible training for your mind. Add an MBA in Finance and that’s a bit of all right.JLM.

    1. awaldstein

      I’m an English major.Call me boss and bring me my green blends with raw treats on the side!Thanks for handing this one to me;)

      1. JLM

        .Would you like sweet potato fries with that, Mr Waldstein?JLM.

      2. Anne Libby

        I’ve seen enough smart people in the NYC start-up community with Teach for America on their resumes: I’m starting to wonder if that’s a better credential than an MBA.

        1. pointsnfigures

          depends. MBA still has a lot of value.

          1. B12N

            Depends on the MBA program (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, vs. ______)

          2. pointsnfigures

            ChicagoBooth…. : )

          3. Anne Libby

            Yes. My MBA was a fantastic experience, wouldn’t trade it.Unless your employer pays for your MBA while you continue to work, the 20 year ROI of an MBA would be beaten hands down paying job with a great training program, like TFA would seem to be, based on where their alums are landing.Training programs like those in our day — when P&G, IBM, Chase, any telecom brought college grads into 18-24 month rotational programs — rare today.Last week I did meet a soon-to-be Wharton MBA alum who will start a rotational program at Amazon. Not sure if they hire out of undergrad, too…One of the things I’m saying here is that the 20 year ROI is not a good metric for measuring the value of an education. I think you said something similar here:

        2. ShanaC

          Depends. They have a strong alumni network – many people are starting to go as openers for elite things. Meanwhile, I’m hearing that they are short shifting the teacher training part….

        3. Dave Pinsen

          It has higher signaling value than a non-elite MBA, that’s for sure.

    2. fredwilson

      That’s what I did. Engineering undergrad at MIT and MBA in Finance at Wharton. It worked out great for me

      1. Dayna Gant

        I sort of did the same thing. Mechanical engineer from Michigan and then got my CFA designation.Worked out pretty well for me. Pesky GPs create great opportunities to use my problem solving skills gained from being an engineer.

      2. Ro Gupta

        Did something similar but got my undergrad eng degree at a liberal arts-skewing school, which in hindsight was a nice balance at that age.

    3. angoodkind

      I have to completely disagree. I think the point of a liberal arts education is to teach you to think critically. When I started out in finance after college, sure my engineering colleagues were better at first, but it was a tortoise-and-the-hare kind of thing, where eventually all of the more malleable liberal arts mindset won out.

      1. JLM

        .I sat on the board of a military college which is equally split between engineering and liberal arts.I have undergrad degrees in civil engineering, economics and math — took the “wrong” electives. Long story.I cannot really think of a single liberal arts class that taught me critical thinking that is even close to that of engineering.The engineering grads far outstrip the liberal arts grads. I say this with the objectivity of being able to see a hundred years of records of the school’s graduates.I could care less about the “winner” but the data seems to support the notion that a degree in engineering is a superior launching pad for success as a broad brush.Having said that, there is no reason why a learned person would not strive to be both an engineer and a liberal artist. A 4-year college degree is the beginning of a lifetime of learning.JLM.

        1. angoodkind

          I found that the upshot of many of my classes was to learn how to dissect an argument. Whether literature, art history, or philosophy, I thought it all led the same way.

          1. JLM

            .Engineering is the classic Socratic method of learning.One learns a physical property or law.A problem is presented.The student must figure out which laws apply.The student applies the law.The application of the law provides the solution to the problem.The problem has a unique solution.The student checks, double checks, re-checks the solution.Engineer takes the unique solution and applies a real world factor of safety.Engineer implements or constructs the solution.This methodology is a process rather than a discussion or an argument. It provides the basis for the teaching of law, military science tutelage and the case study method of learning business.It is often subsumed so completely in the learning process as not to be seen in its application but it is the core of the learning process.In many liberal arts courses, the learning is simply fact based. As an example, a historian may become an expert on a particular battle while an army officer may learn something about tactics.A perfect example is Rommel’s WWI book on tactics, Attack. Battles are studied but it is the discussion of tactics which is important for cadets to learn. I remember maneuvering troops thinking to myself — Rommel taught me how to do this.JLM.

        2. pointsnfigures

          At the Academies, there is a large dose of liberal arts education that goes in with the engineering degree.

          1. JLM

            .At VMI, there was a huge dose of military history regardless of what one’s major might be.The VMI cadets fought in the Civil War as a unit in the Battle of New Market sweeping several Yankee batteries and capturing their guns. The only military academy to fight and win in a war. They made a bit of history.Sitting on a horse overlooking that battle was a relative of George Catlett Marshall from Pennsylvania. Marshall did OK for VMI in WWII. His older brother said to their father on the matriculation at VMI of George: ‘I hope he doesn’t embarrass the family.”JLM.

          2. Emily Merkle

            Yes. My sister went USAFA and majored in English, 5 and flew, and then got a gov’t contractor gig at SAIC. Oh – and did maintenance on her to-be husband’s AWACs, they married, and now her hubby leads the Gulfstream contingent at Andrews AFB, flying all manner of dignitaries to and fro. Not too shabby.

    4. Mark Birch

      Well…Two of the best and brightest product manager/engineers I have ever met were liberal arts majors (English and Philosophy). Plenty of other folks that turned out to be solid engineers came out of non-traditional backgrounds.Do not mistake the degree for the ability. There are plenty of CS majors that I would never hire for a programming job.

      1. awaldstein

        Amen.I’ve always been the communicator (Eng/Philosophy/Film Major here) for tech companies. In 95+% of the time, the only non tech person on the early team, in large companies in the boardroom.I’ve always tried to hire the best of both.

        1. Emily Merkle

          As am I. Not all technical/analytical/quant minds need to study to be hardcore engineeers. Someone has to herd them, after all.

      2. JLM

        .The smartest man I have ever met did not go to college. So what?This kind of anecdotal information is meaningless.As a general proposition, an engineering degree requires a more rigorous course of study.I once knew an Airedale who could count. He had a degree in English.JLM.

        1. Mark Birch

          Actually that matters. You say so what, but I say ability matters.And as we are speaking of anecdotal information, what exactly does “more rigorous” mean quantitatively? If you mean by course hours, then most engineering degrees do have a nominally higher number of credit hours. But does that mean that one degree program is somehow harder than another? I was an engineering major and there were plenty of classmates that could not write a cogent paragraph. I would think that matters.If the only thing we have to go on is ROI at a snapshot in time, then it is worth recalling that MBA’s, JD’s, and MD’s, dominant the corporate board rooms and halls of power in government. Maybe that will change, but I have been around long enough to see these peaks and valleys of employer demand and global workforce movements.But merely this retort is a reaction to your rather lame attempt at humor to begin this thread. Demean others as you wish, but there are plenty of those engineering majors that are now working at fast food jobs because they cannot get a job. Why? Because they are older, they never had any other skills other than programming or other engineering skills, and are now stuck with a degree that is useless, skills that are diminished.Here’s hoping your next boss is an English major.

          1. JLM

            .More rigorous means that fewer than one half of those who launch into freshman calculus pass it or are comfortable enough with it to proceed with an engineering degree. Calculus, the first trial by fire of most engineering curriculi, is apparently more difficult than freshman English. That is what I mean by rigorous.I had four semesters of calculus before I ever learned to design a building, bridge, roadway, runway or other “simple” civil engineering tasks.You need to lighten up a bit. Nobody was getting demeaned.I have not had a boss in about 30 years (other than my lovely Southern magnolia). I realized quickly I was unemployable and thus I became an entrepreneur by default. I am starting to think it was a good move.JLM.

          2. timraleigh

            My brother’s son is in his first year of engineering in Tulsa. He called his father one day and said, “Dad, this is really hard”.

          3. Emily Merkle

            That is not a sound concept of rigor. That is a function of a few things: 1) students who 5 their AP exams (test well) and place into courses beyond their ken. They may very well be capable, but the must drop.2) Freshman Calculus as you put it is the weed-out as is orgo for pre-med. Fabled weedouts.Many degree pursuits have rigorous course and lab work.

        2. JimHirshfield

          “I once knew an Airedale who could count.”Yeah, but did he ask you if you wanted fries with that?

          1. JLM

            .Airedales when actually delivering the fries will almost always eat them.JLM.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Ah, now you’re delivering the deep (fried) knowledge of years in the trenches.

          3. JLM

            .A substantial number of people I know are not as smart as an Airedale. Very few as honest.JLM.

          4. JimHirshfield

            You need to get out and meet more dogs.

          5. pointsnfigures

            But not cats.

          6. JimHirshfield

            Depends on your purrspective.

          7. Emily Merkle

            No catz?Boom not happy.

        3. John Revay

          Jobs, Gates, Zuck

          1. JLM

            .Fair play.JLM.

        4. Richard

          Physics with Calculus knows is the language of the analytical mind.

          1. Emily Merkle

            How about science with research?

          2. Richard

            It would require an essay to support my statement, but in a nut shell there is only one science, like the oceans, the sciences are devised by convenience. If you dig into physics with calculus (this a class) you’ll find it is a sunset of almost every field engineering.

        5. ShanaC

          You say that, but the last CS major I interviewed couldn’t explain what the area under a curve meant in terms of calculus. And he wasn’t out of the major yet (though supposedly, past calculus)

          1. JLM

            .This clearly argues for the hiring of more Airedales, no?JLM.

        6. Emily Merkle

          JLM, what constitutes “rigor” for you?

          1. Dave Pinsen

            He explained above.

          2. Emily Merkle

            Saw that, thanks. Was unable to delete my query for some reason.

      3. jasonsmartin

        My wife has a American history degree from Purdue but works as a project manager for a software/data base management company in Chicago and is doing quite well.

      4. ShanaC

        this My mom had a degree in chemistry….

    5. Richard

      My world

    6. LE

      Figure I’d tag this in here thinking you’d find it interesting:…They miss of course the main reasons.Mommy and daddy are your friends, they take you everywhere, and give you all you need. So a car is way less important. And there is less of a need to have the freedom that a car gives you if you aren’t trying to escape.Note the opinion of the “millenial car loving analyst” quoted below. Of course since he is a millenial he would completely miss the major reasons for the shift.There are “changes in how millennials feel about driving, about the utility of driving vs. the cost to society of driving,” he says. Millennials are “more likely to have an environmental focus and be involved in environmental advocacy.”Notice the “we’re so much better than the people who came before us” bs.That said I do think that there is a tendency in lower or lower middle class to still find cars important (and a symbol of prestige for that matter). In middle or upper middle not the case though.

    7. Emily Merkle

      That’s patently exclusionary. Add to your “best training for your mind” the study of the human and life sciences.

  8. Paul Sanwald

    Are the costs total, or just tuition? I was very surprised about tuition costs. I got an awesome CS education at NCSU, and my tuition was insanely cheap. Looking now, it looks like it’s 4k per semester for in-state students, it was around 2k when I was there. I was able to work my way through school, and it makes me sad that that is not really an option these days for many places.

  9. Alex Wolf

    Fred, I am excited to see your reach now extend down to Kindergarten. Early childhood is the prime neuron connection/formation time. As you have seen, my science games (Anigramit and others) are designed for K level, though I am testing them in preschools and doing teacher guides to get them younger.I’m glad to see Scratch Jr via your post and I will blog on that. What other efforts have you seen for the K age group that you liked?

    1. fredwilson

      Betaworks has a app near launch that is targeted at early learners that is quite promising

      1. Lisa Mogull

        My son wants to be an engineer and he’s applying to NYC public middle schools. We toured The Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering. Imagine our horror when we found out they have no CS or programming classes during or after-school.If anyone out there has the time it would be a great opportunity to help really nice and deserving kids. Or, might be a good group to use as beta testers for learning apps.http://www.columbiasecondar

        1. LE

          Why not get your son some private tutoring for this?Computer guys already give away much of their free time for open source and stack exchange type things. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to find a few that would tutor someone even by facetime. [1][1] And actually that right there might be a business idea. Maybe even a Falicon “joint”.

          1. Lisa Mogull

            Totally on top of this for my son. We have a “geek” from the Columbia Univ. School of Engineering who comes over and hangs with him once-a-week. They’re working on a game and a bunch of other science projects. Got the idea from the first WE Fest when they had ITP students doing childcare for the entrepreneurial moms.The kids at this public school aren’t as lucky. They are, for the most part, low-income. Even if my son doesn’t go there (it’s his second choice for a variety of reasons) I’d like to work with the start-up community to help them. Figured if I posted it here someone might step-up.

      2. Alex Wolf

        Any way to get a sneak peek? I love seeing smart things for kids

        1. kenberger

 is what i believe Fred means.They are presenting tomorrow night at the NY Tech Meetup.

          1. Alex Wolf

            Thanks Ken. Kandu looks awesome. Anyone going to the meetup?

          2. fredwilson

            yup. you are always ahead of the curve Ken

  10. angoodkind

    I have to object to the statement “we need to be investing in a K-12 education that gets our children ready to go to these schools.” I fear that that will just mean more “teaching to the test,” rather than encouraging creative thinking. Perhaps one of the things that keeps these university’s ROI so high is that its students are the ones who rose to the challenge on their own.

    1. fredwilson

      I fear that too. What I like is project based leaning and tools like Scratch to support that

      1. angoodkind

        That makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t really thought of that. Thanks!

      2. JimHirshfield

        Yeah, so what you’re getting at is using engineering in History class, for instance. Or create an app that leverages something from literature. Computer art. Still get a well rounded and creative education. cc @angoodkind:disqus

      3. ShanaC

        common core doesn’t do that..sadly

    2. Emily Merkle

      The key is not investing in curriculum – it’s investing in our teachers, and a rebrand of teacher-as-profession altogether.

  11. JimHirshfield

    This speaks volumes to the value of a Comp Sci degreehttp://qzprod.files.wordpre…

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i was tempted to post that one too.

    2. LE

      Care to elaborate on where that chart comes from?What is the basis for that info and what data was fed in to come up with that chart exactly?Who put that together and where is the article that it’s associated with?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Same QZ article Fred got graphic in his post from. He links to it in his post above. But here’s the URL:

        1. LE

          I can’t even begin to imagine that it pays to make a decision using this data given the “self reported” methodology.And things like this:Bachelor’s Only: Only employees who possess a bachelor’s degree and no higher degrees are included. This means bachelor’s degree graduates who go on to earn a master’s degree, M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., or other advanced degrees are not included.So once again someone is going to draw a conclusion from this (and that’s just one thing I don’t have time to pick apart the entire thing) without even knowing the underlying assumptions.

          1. Anne Libby

            +1000.Plus, are they taking the 2013 starting salaries and projecting 20 years of continuous employment? How about layoffs, startup not taking off, cost to keep skills current?

    3. ShanaC

      what about not-comp sci degrees?

      1. JimHirshfield

        I don’t know. I saw this graphic on the original article. I’m not any more versed on this topic than what’s on that article.

      2. Emily Merkle

        Any degree is worth exactly what you put into it and worth exactly what you do with it.

        1. Harish Narayanan

          In the abstract, and in an ideal situation, what you say is true. Though…I think one of the imports of such data is that equal amounts of hard work and initiative across different fields don’t always yield the same monetary compensation. There is something uniquely valuable about certain degrees (at certain periods).

          1. Emily Merkle

            What you say is true, but that is not what I was saying 🙂 I was just stating that your degree – in any field of study -is only as “good” as the time, effort, and care you take in the degree process; post-degree, your degree does not carry you; your resilience, knowledge; doggedness, planning are key to making the most of your education.I find this concept of degree ROI over time to be ludicrous. Too many variables to be controlled for.

          2. Harish Narayanan

            Ah, I understand now and agree completely. :)(Though I do feel sometimes that my quant Ph.D. does carry me in situations where I don’t feel I entirely deserving. But impostor syndrome is a topic for another day.)

          3. Emily Merkle

            Self-imposed 😉

    4. sc

      EDIT: The article answers most of my questions around assumptions and how calculations were made. Thx.That said, while it is useful broad scope data, I would not make a decision on where to attend based on this survey, nor make any investment decisions based on the data.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Yes, if you’re interested, I suggest you read the QZ article and follw their link to the Payscale study.

  12. Mark Birch

    Not surprised about Stevens at all. Most of my team at Enhatch are Stevens grads and it is an excellent engineering focused school.

  13. William Mougayar

    What you are doing is great for NYC, and it’s needed because it also helps the tech startup ecosystem, which creates more jobs, wealth and opportunities. But I was appalled at the cost of these tuitions. Are you satisfied with this status quo, or also planning to question these costs? For comparison, here is the table of tuitions at the University of Waterloo who is turning very fine engineers.

    1. fredwilson

      the tuition for international students is no different than what Poly charges. the thing is the canadian government subsidizes tuition for its citizens

      1. William Mougayar

        …which is subsidized by tax payers’re right, it works out to $31K per year for Poly vs. $30K at Waterloo. pretty close.

    2. JimHirshfield

      We’ve had/have comp sci interns and employees from Waterloo. Quality. Canada FTW.

  14. andyswan

    The value of a diploma is set by supply and demand…. Someone needs to tell out President and friends on the Left about that.They seem to be under the impression that a college degree makes you earn more no matter what. Guess what… Your “Womyns Studies” degree is going to get you nothing but a bitter Tumblr and a thousand excuses.Now we have the cost of degree being artificially inflated by government programs and financing schemes, while the value of degrees plummets in reaction to the glut of new supply entering the marketplace.I wonder if the ROI on a college education has ever been lower… In fact it could be negative already.I’m all for helping the right people into great learning and application environments… But government has essentially removed the most valuable part of a college education : its role as a filter which separated those with high potential and ambition from the crowd.Now you’re racking up 60k in debt for the modern equivalent of a High School honors diploma.

    1. fredwilson

      i think tuition assistance from taxpayers should be tied to the ROI on the degree and the school. when i mentioned that to John Sexton, he almost strangled me.

      1. Emily Merkle

        So teachers, doctors, nurses? Not great ROI there. Much need, though.

        1. andyswan

          Supply and demand will solve

          1. Emily Merkle

            I was speaking to Fred’s comment about taxpayer assistance tied to degree ROI.

          2. andyswan

            Yes if truly in demand and supply is low ROI will increase

      2. andyswan

        Haha I bet he would really like my stance that taxpayers should provide zero assistance.

        1. LE

          The other way to do this is to encourage out of state students that pay full tuition. I have one daughter in a good private college at +-55k and one in a really really good public college (out of state it’s called a “public ivy” apparently) at only +-35k. The student body of the “public ivy” is really high quality. And in the state it’s in it’s really hard to get in. But my daughter got in – we think because she was out of state and paying full tuition.

      3. Anne Libby

        I’m glad he didn’t strangle you, and I think these numbers are backward-looking. Like portfolio performance.Should a teaching degree cost less? Or should we pay the people we task with training future engineers as much as we pay an engineer?

        1. pointsnfigures

          Teachers take no risk. Guaranteed income and can’t get fired. They should probably pay more for their degree.

          1. Emily Merkle

            You *are* joking! .. right?

          2. pointsnfigures

            I am not. Teaching jobs in America are risk free. They are guaranteed income, and a pension. If we had true supply/demand markets with perfect competition-what would you pay for a guaranteed annuity until you died that had COLA increases every year? (full disclosure, my father was a teacher) Government jobs are not glamorous-you don’t ever get rich, but you take no risk. If you were guaranteed a job in government because of a certain degree-what would you pay for it upfront?

          3. Emily Merkle

            Do you want this nation’s public school teachers to be “taking risks”? I want them to be teaching without worrying about their jobs and thus “teaching to the test”. Yes, they do get fired. Not nearly as often as in the private school realm. (where mom teaches maths, 30 years now). I personally see the public school system in such a disarray that it should be scrapped entirely.

          4. pointsnfigures

            I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.…Public school teachers almost never get fired for being a poor teacher. I am for doing it a different way.

          5. Emily Merkle

            We have to. It is now an imperative.

          6. LE

            Not nearly as often as in the private school realm.At the private school I went to the majority of teachers weren’t lifers.They were merely passing through to bigger or better things.Was kind of setup like Fred does with his associate positions. The assumption is you will leave. Really helps keeping expenses down.

          7. Emily Merkle

            At my privates (Catholic), the only ones that were fired on a regular basis were the hinky priests. Those schools were communities, and they saw/see education as an avocation. Not a means to and end.

          8. LE

            One of the reasons I hate to hear people complaining about the cost to go to medical school (roughly 200k).200k (which you pay out over 30 years at a really low interest rate) gets you a guaranteed income and great benefits and about as much security as one can have.There is no business or franchise that you can buy with 200k (once again paid out over 30 years) that gets you anywhere close to that.Of course if you choose law school and have 100k in debt (or whatever it is) well then you or your parents fucked up and didn’t properly assess the job market at the time the decision was made.And if you choose to get a Phd in romance languages or studied art or music because “it’s what you like to do” to bad as well. [1][1] Because I hate all this “now it’s your problem” because I choose to do what I like without taking into account future employability.

          9. ShanaC

            To practice a more general field in NYC, you will default on the loans.

          10. LE

            What do you mean “more general field”? Do you mean not in a medical specialty?A lower end specialty might be Internal Medicine or Hospitalist. Those pay 250k plus benefits. Not only is that enough to live in NYC but if it’s not enough then go work 50 to 90 miles from NYC to the south or west where it will be plenty of money. Or any other place in the country.Living in NYC isn’t a right.I also posted an article about an adjunct professor that was living out of a car and teaching romance languages. So she made the wrong choice for a career. Or perhaps she shouldn’t be living in NY Metro.Have family in NY Metro and/or you like the city and don’t want to leave? To bad. You can’t have everything you want unfortunately. (Not directed at you of course…)

          11. Emily Merkle

            Actually, GPs are in such demand, some entities have debt assistance programs.

          12. Matt Zagaja

            That was true before 2008. Now many governments and school districts are cutting back. If you make it past the moat and over the wall then you’re generally safe, but even then the newer employees are at risk of being cut because of Last In First Out policies. I know many government employees who see the writing on the wall and are looking to jump ship to the private sector.

          13. pointsnfigures


          14. Matt Zagaja

            Here in Connecticut.

          15. ShanaC

            The district my parents are in for one.

          16. Anne Libby

            Because their earning power is so high?Fred is making an ROI argument here. What’s the 20 year net ROI for a public school teacher? A private school teacher? An adjunct professor?

      4. LE

        when i mentioned that to John Sexton, he almost strangled meForgetting whether the idea is good or makes sense note the inability to even consider for a second out of the box solutions.This is exactly why young people (sometimes) do well with startups.Have you ever been a member of a family owned business? (I know you did things for your father in law at some point but not sure of your other involvement). Try bring up some out of the box solutions. That’s exactly the reaction that you get. Something that roughly translates to “I’ve never heard something so ridiculous”.Next time something like that blindsides you just say “ok why not” and have the person defend what they think is an obvious problem with the solution.

      5. ShanaC

        NYU would not be able to continue on. Their students have a huge debt load (it was one of the big reasons why I didn’t go there)

    2. LE

      Your “Womyns Studies” degree is going to get you nothingGotta read this one in the NYT this weekend:…Ms.Cerasoli, a former New York City schoolteacher, currently teaches two Italian classes at Mercy, splitting time between its Westchester and Midtown Manhattan campuses. For her, the professorial lifestyle has meant spending some nights sleeping in her car, showering at college athletic centers and applying for food stamps and other government benefits.After being unable to keep several apartments, Ms. Cerasoli began couch-surfing a year ago, relying on friends. There was the unheated basement in Bronxville, and the room in the Bronx with no hot water. Sheis currently living in a small room in a Co-Op City apartment, also in the Bronx, courtesy of a friend — who is about to be evicted.Best part (my bad decision is now your problem):But on Wednesday, during spring break, she was using stencils and ink and abbreviated English to write her current message — “Homeless Prof.” —on a white ski vest she planned to wear on a solo trip to Albany two days later to protest working conditions for adjunct college professors.

    3. Emily Merkle

      Not everyone pursues higher education for the money.

      1. andyswan

        That’s fine then they can pursue it in their own dime and so will my kids

        1. Emily Merkle

          Why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t anyone? I do not believe in taxpayer monies funding degree pursuits they have deemed worthy.

  15. Emily Merkle

    “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” — Albert Einstein

    1. Vasudev Ram

      The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.- Herbert Spencerhttp://www.quotationspage.c…

  16. pointsnfigures

    Not everyone can be an engineer. I agree with Fred, it’s a hugely valuable degree. I’d love to see the kids in sociology and other paths switch to engineering or business. We need more engineers in the US. NYC isn’t the only town starved for them.I don’t think the world would be a better place if everyone majored in engineering. Engineers are trained to see the world one way-and it’s beneficial to look at it other ways too.Neither of my kids majored in engineering. One doesn’t think that way, and got a classic liberal arts degree with a major in History. She also did a two year intense Humanities core curriculum. She can critically think with the best of them and is smart as a whip. The other is a finance major.I lived with engineers when I was in college. They do think differently. Very resourceful. Had a lot of fun with engineers.

  17. Salt Shaker

    When I look at that chart I see a mountain of debt, which is a fund problem w/ higher ed today. Interestingly, the engineering programs w/ the highest tuition costs have the lowest grad rates, and vice versa on the lower costing programs. Coincidence or correlation? The system is terribly broken.

  18. jason wright

    “Error establishing a database connection” – since 11:00 GMT.I can only get here by typing “fred wilson avc” in google.

    1. LE

      Yeah. I got that also.But I was able to reach the site by using an anonymous proxy. 3 out of 4 of the proxies work and brought up the site.Then I did this test which also cleared the error: up an old post).After you do that it will bring up the root site at repeated this on two different browsers..)From the diagnostic tests I’ve done it appears to be a cloudflare error [1] actually cloudflare is caching the database error that Fred’s wordpress hosting is throwing.[1] Which you could consider a cloudflare bug since it should be smart enough to know not to cache the site in that manner (see attached).(Click to enlarge)

      1. jason wright

        thanks./a works, kind of. it takes me to one of Fred’s 2011 posts. i then click the AVC logo at top left and… here i am, finally. phew!

    2. Rob Underwood

      Also getting this error when I type directly into browser. If got to straight to a longer URL (a route) it seems to work ok.

      1. jason wright

        yes, this is exactly what i get. thx for the image.

    3. ShanaC

      me too….drove me crazy

      1. jason wright

        i’m still getting it.

    4. Susan Rubinsky

      My son was getting a loading error last night as well via Droid

  19. kirklove

    Know you care about this a lot. Great to see your work along with many others paying off. Speaks volumes of your character and walking the walk about paying it forward. Kudos Buster.

  20. LE

    In typical John Sexton fashion, he got up, gave me a big smile and a big hug, and said “I will do it but I need your help”. And that is how I found myself on the board of NYU Poly and NYU.Forgetting for a second that being on the board is pretty cool something bugs me about the way that is related. (Don’t know John but he seems like a great guy of course.)It would be one thing if John reached out to you (or someone else) and said “I need your help”. It’s another thing to take the time to give someone some advice (whether self serving or not) and have the person throw it back in your lap and say “great idea can you help me with that”. And to boot someone who has a budget the size of a University. And wants your most valuable resource, your time.Of course I’m sure the way this went down my narrative isn’t correct. The actual details would show something different (perhaps you offered or implied you wanted to help etc.)But as a general rule the fact that you give someone an idea (for something that is their full time well paying job) isn’t an invitation to then get an assignment for you. [1] Perhaps this might even be one reason why people keep their mouth shut instead of giving ideas. [2]That said I think it’s great you are on the board and doing this. (I’d love to do something similar.)[1] This is also a way to turf people. When someone wants something from you you give them an assignment which stalls the process.[2] Example: When I saw the robotics event at Javits that you mentioned I was wondering if I should mention it to my wife. She might say “great let’s go up there for the day” and if I didn’t go then she might get upset. I decided to mention it but it would be nice if every suggestion didn’t come with an obligation.

  21. Guest

    I’m a little skeptical of the reality of those numbers. Do they include interest on the average student loan for each school over that 20 year period? What values are they using for opportunity cost?Maybe I didn’t dive deep enough. I think those numbers make sense for comparing one school or degree to another but it’s a bit unclear to me if they can say anything about the actual ROI.I’d be more interested to see the point at which interest from loans no longer make it worth while. With that data we can start making better decisions around how to fund education.

  22. LE

    Here’s the thing I know. Engineering schools and engineering degrees are the most valuable degrees you can issue in higher ed.Otoh this becomes a “skate to where the puck is going issue”. Engineering is good now for sure. [1] But any good profession will end up over time having more qualified job seekers than it needs (law as an example). So a parent with a child who is ten years old add 25 years and then are at 35 years old and what will the market be at that time?No answer to this of course.The case for entrepreneurship vs. “a job”:The thing about entrepreneurship (vs engineering or law) is that you can pivot into a new business opportunity when the market shifts. You can also see well in advance (because you are close to the action and decision making) when to pivot and get out. Or hopefully and most importantly build equity so you are well cushioned against any downturns in the market.JLM is over 50. Would you rather be JLM at that age or an out of work engineer who has a specialty and can’t find a job?That said not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Just like not everyone can be an engineer, lawyer or doctor.

  23. John Revay

    Thanks for posting, I did not know that Babson had an engineering program.

  24. Twain Twain

    My mother went to Engineering School which later enabled her to work for Sanyo and my grandmother was an entrepreneur (small business owner) who did not graduate high school, so I was lucky to get insights into the different ways they approached problem-solving as a child.One systematically and the other with more intuition and communicativeness.The “unicorn” startup successes have all been marked by strong technicals combined with equally strong arts (design, branding, communication, an inherent interest in people and their diversity).

    1. Emily Merkle

      Bingo on the “unicorn startups”…

  25. Dave Pinsen

    “There are more technical jobs open than qualified candidates to fill them.”If this is true, why are only half of STEM getting jobs in STEM?

    1. Donald E. Foss

      I think the issue is “qualified candidates”. Graduating with a degree in a field does not mean that you are perfectly suited for the field or even really qualified. You just have the paper. The graduate still needs to be able to prove themselves.This is an even more common issue in some of the “highest performing” Asian countries where the students are fabulous at taking tests and rank among the highest in the world, yet the employers say that they are not suited for the job market. Too much focus on technical studies is nearly as bad as not enough. There is a LOT of value in having a broad view of people and society in addition to a highly technical degree.For what it’s worth, I do not consider a candidate’s degree or school when sifting resumes or interviewing. I’ve hired/recommended History majors for technical Product Management roles, English majors for coding jobs, and Philosophy majors for QA roles. I like broad analytic skills that sometimes get missed when solving the discrete, well bounded problems found in technical curricula, but can be found in History and Philosophy departments.

      1. John Terrence

        non engineers for PM and QA i understand, but learning to code well takes time. How do you train those english graduates ? how long does it take ?

        1. wyclif

          It takes time like any other complex skill would take a commitment to acquire. But several of the best programmers I know have humanities degrees, and some of the worst have CompSci degrees. I’m not sure why this is, but if you interview a kid with a CompSci degree from an engineering school and he tells you he’s studied Java, but can’t write a class or an if/then control flow statement, something is very, very wrong with the state of computer science.

        2. Donald E. Foss

          I didn’t train English majors from scratch–they had good, solid experience before I interviewed them. I was as rigorous with them as anyone else on their skill set and competency; they proved to be innovative in how they approached problem solving and I found that interesting.

        3. colinlee

          I am an English major coder. I’ve been coding since age six.I only chose my degree since most of the students I knew in CS classes when I was going to school had no real interest in the subject, had only heard about high salaries, and couldn’t code their way out of a wet paper bag. I used to take elective CS classes and CS grads would try to cheat off of me.I wanted to be a writer and could always fall back on my coding skills. Today, I write Android software.

          1. Emily Merkle

            I can relate. I pursued my PhD in school psychology for 3 years post-undergrad until life happened and I have spent the last 13 years as a digital media entrepreneur. It has certainly paid more than the PhD would have, but it is too often soul-sucking in comparison to my true passion, psychology.

        4. Ernest

          Re learning to code I think encouraging the student to build (side projects) as they study and use the free distribution channels (itunes/google play) to show case their work is the 1st step. I wish those existed when I studied! Massive opportunities today. Also getting an internship at a startup will help. The side projects will help with getting the internship and the internship and side projects will help to get a job after graduating. Instead of graduating with just a degree they now graduate with x years of experience on top. Win!?Maybe same could be done for english majors i.e. show case their work via their blog or some form of contribution (writer) for online news/content sites?

          1. Emily Merkle

            Just because you’re not an engineer doesn’t mean you’re an English major. Though I suspect you use that designation as a catch-all for liberal arts studies.I also think you are confusing English majors with journalism scholars. Those are the ones that write….I totally agree on applying your learning to use as a bolster for “fresh out of college” – applies to any and every field of study.

  26. Matt Zagaja

    I went to a tech school (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and did an interdisciplinary major there before law school. Maybe a mistake because I’m not making a lot of money at the moment. My roommates are all fairly successful in that they’ve had steady jobs for the past several years and one even bought a nice mansion in western MA.The thing to keep in mind is that these are all averages. I have a friend who is an engineer and passed his patent bar and interned for an IP firm in CT but cannot get an IP related job in spite of shopping his resume to all the major firms in CT in this supposedly booming field. He toils away in the courthouse as a clerk for now. Another law school classmate majored in political science and was hired by a big firm to do patent litigation and does not have the greatest understanding of the subject matter he is tackling (or so he says).

  27. jason wright

    as a young kid my toys were Lego and Meccano. i think they helped to ‘program’ my mind.Scratch Jr would have been quite awesome.

  28. Peter

    I’m more surprised that Harvey Mudd is at the top of the list. Until recently, I’ve never even heard of the Claremont system and until that article, I never even heard of Harvey Mudd. Yet it ranks number 1. I would have assumed Stanford or MIT at the top of the list.

  29. CamiloALopez

    Fred, thank you for investing your time in empowering kids inthe low/medium class who do not have as much resources but have raw talent andbig dreams. Schools like Polytechnic/NYU,Stevens or NJIT give a chance to these kids.I’m an alumni from Stevens in engineering physics, I’m an immigrantand grew up in the low/medium class in Colombia and New Jersey. My technicaldegree opened many doors, allowed me to move up the income ladder and become acontributor to local communities and the economy. All thanks to a school thatgave me a chance and the right skills.

  30. Mesh Lakhani

    Fred and AVC Community, do you have an opinion on whether the Common Core State Standard, adopted by NY, can help towards getting kids to these engineering schools? Are you in support of the Common Core?

    1. ShanaC

      No. Its assessment standards aren’t actually helpful, and they aren’t being phased in in a way that works for the students (why are high school students being assessed according to standards that assume they were educated under those standards from first grade…crazy)

      1. Emily Merkle

        …which is why the 5 of us went to Catholic school.

  31. ikaraev

    Look into NEST+m. It’s a great k-12 public school in NYC (Stands for New School of Science Technology + math) on the lower east side, but not many people know about it. It deserves a lot of support and promotion for what it attemps to do.

  32. sachmo

    Fred, I’ve seen you come out strong for Columbia, NYU – Poly, Cornell tech campus, etc…. what about Cooper Union man? They also crack the top ten list in net ROI for a degree, they accept *only* based on merit (i.e. grades / scores) and up until recently offered all students a free education.They educate talented designers and engineers… And USV is maybe a 5min walk away. Seriously, would be worth checking out their end of the year show if you ever wanted to get hardware ideas.

  33. Lucas_Cioffi

    I’m a believer in college, but it seems the data behind that chart may not actually make a strong case for going to the top schools. The chart left me curious so I dug into the data. It was surprising to me that in many cases, not going to college can have the same ROI as going to some of these top schools. That’s certainly against conventional wisdom, so I wonder what’s missing in this line of reasoning…In short, I found that if a prospective student had all the money to pay for the Harvey Mudd degree up front, it seems that it’s better to invest it in the stock market and take a job that pays half as much (as long as you were not going to get more than $60k as a starting salary out of college).This also works if you could get $41k without going to Harvey Mudd compared to the $73k starting salary for a Harvey Mudd grad. I used them in the example, because they were at the top of the list above.Here’s the Google doc I made to explore this simulation in case you’d like to comment or copy & edit for your own use:…LONGER VERSION:If you invested the full cost of a degree in the stock market at a 9.5% (or greater) annual rate of return, went to work immediately yet only earned half as much as a college grad would ($30k vs $60k), and even if had a salary that rose more slowly (3% rather than 4% per year with the degree– my assumption), you would still have more money at every point in a 20-year simulation.Am I missing anything important? I factored in the IRS progressive tax rates which was part of the reason the non-college grad ended up with more money (they would pay $97k in taxes over 20 years compared to the college grad who would pay $286k).To get the initial data point, I went to the interactive widget referenced in this blog post (and then went to the interactive PayScale widget referenced in that blog post) and selected “without financial aid” to use the full cost of that Harvey Mudd degree: $229,500.How the college grad would do better: 1. When the cost of the degree is lower 2) if their starting salary after college was much higher than it would be had they not gone to college, or 3) if they had a scholarship.If the starting salaries of the two grads are $40k and $80k instead of $30k and $60k, then college grad would do better than the high school grad with those initial conditions.Some assumptions: This simulation assumes the student has the full tuition on-hand to invest in the stock market– and that’s very rare in the real world. The simulation also assumes that 100% of income will be invested in the stock market for both the college grad and the high-school grad, however I think that has no effect on the difference between the values that the two individuals have at the end.Inflation rate doesn’t seem to affect which person does better. Another factor to consider for what it’s worth is that without a bachelor’s degree, the high-school grad won’t be able to go for a Master’s. For simplification purposes, I didn’t factor in state taxes and I didn’t factor in student loans.I think this is instructive to think about, because if we think about a 17-year old self-starter who teaches themselves a programming language using inexpensive online courses, and then goes to work for $30k out of high school for a development team with great mentors, they would probably do far, far better than this simulation would indicate (by learning at a rapid rate and seeing their salary increase to what they might have otherwise gotten with the degree). By age 21, they would have more specialized depth (but probably not breadth or understanding) than they would after four years studying CS in college.Of course, college teaches social and other skills outside academics and I’m not factoring those in this simulation. The purpose is just to show that if you have the money, an expensive degree does not seem to necessarily be a better deal from a purely financial standpoint. However, if I was 17 and I had the money to pay full tuition for a Harvey Mudd degree, I’d go for the degree.I thought that doing this was useful because the original graphic left too many questions unanswered. I’m glad that PayScale published their methodology for those that want to dig deeper:

    1. Lucas_Cioffi

      Are there any studies of how much a smart prospective student would make if they chose to learn on the job for four years instead of going to a top school which accepted them? I think that’s a critical missing statistic and without it, it’s not intellectually honest to compare starting salaries of grads to non-grads– they are different groups of people, after all– one of which was selected for intelligence, presumably.So saying that students of School A will earn 2X what a person with a high school diploma will earn isn’t comparing apples to apples. The *average* person who goes for the degree would probably have a starting salary that is higher than the average person who didn’t consider getting a degree, right?

  34. TeddyD

    Fred – what’s your best guess on what higher education looks like in 20 years? A) similar to todayB) trade schools disrupt traditional universities, creating masters of one thing, orC) all online – ala Phoenix UAnd is that the best thing for people’s development?Lastly, will spring break be virtual and just one big Skype call using 3D goggles?

  35. GodLikeMouse

    A degree doesn’t really determine how much you will make in the real world. It’s really a matter of what you do with your degree after college, your willingness to learn and how aggressive you are with regards to negotiating a good position. I can tell you first hand, I don’t have an engineering degree and yet my 20 year ROI is much higher than what is listed in the above chart. More and more I’m finding this the new norm amongst my peers. Most of the companies that I have dealt with pay for experience and know how, very few get locked into the “must have a BS degree or higher” trap unless they are government related.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Very well-said.

  36. Tejbir Wason

    I am studying to become a software engineer at a top school, so I just love hearing this 🙂

  37. AlexMcduffMiller

    Talking about the investment in k-12 education for STEM, check out the FIRST Robotics Competition. They have 4 distinct programs for the different ages:

  38. Sean Hull

    I think it’s an excellent idea to measure ROI for education.Very good SUNY schools might increase that return even higher. A sort of John Bogle of education if you will. 🙂

    1. Ellie Kesselman

      Hi @hullsean:disqus It is nice to see you again. I lol’d at John Bogle of education! That was cute. Fortunately, this isn’t Stack Overflow (though I like it there, a lot!) and I need not worry about being rebuked for socializing here ;o)

      1. Sean Hull

        Thx Ellie. The Twitter Influence post on your blog is excellent. You’re right, much of the influence of twitter is hard to measure & quantify.http://myindigolives.wordpr

  39. BittyBalls

    I’ll be graduating in 39 days from a state university with a BSME degree. I’ve had several employment offers, ranging from engineering to management. Going back to school at 24 years old for engineering was the best decision I’ve ever made.

  40. Matthew Parrilla

    This is a payscale study:…The link to the data should probably be to payscale, not Quartz (who just grabbed a screenshot from payscale and made a few simple graphs)

  41. ND

    Can someone explain why NYU-Poly, where apparently the working class kids go, is the costliest?

  42. Ryan Eberhard

    NYU-Poly above Carnegie Mellon University in engineering?

  43. Akira Hirai

    The value of an engineering degree extends far beyond job prospects in the engineering field. It’s basically a degree in problem solving, and everybody has problems that need to be solved.

  44. Alan

    I wonder if you and other VC’s guffaw over Babson Graduates the same way you will for Stanford or Harvard grads?

  45. Bishwajit Halder Mugdho


  46. kearth reynolds

    Something is very wrong with that chart. The costs of Harvard and Caltech are certainly not correct by any measure. I will assume the rest are just as wrong (off by ~2x).Harvard…Tuition and Fees$42,292Room and Board$14,115Subtotal – billed costs$56,407 vs $53,910 reportedCaltechhttp://admissions.caltech.e…Tuition $38,085Student Fees $1,503Room: $6,798Board (5 days/week): $5,286*Additional Meal Allowance (est.): $1,413 *Books and Supplies (est.): $1,323*Personal Expenses (est.): $1,974Total: $56,382 – *4,710= $51,672 vs $80,710 reportedI guess the Atlantic doesn’t fact check either…(edit) The article mentions that it uses a correction for “weighted net cost”, but either this article makes factually incorrect statements, or the correction is outrageous and the description of its calculation is misleading.Stanford 2013 tuition was only $14k rather than $236k/4yr so they must be including room and board of ~$45k/year (!!?? that’s very unlikely) and subtracting the $40,500/year in average aid. No one gets that much aid… they get LOANS! Loans count against the ROI so that’s just dumb.https://studentaffairs.stan…Either this article makes factually incorrect statements, or the correction of “weighted net cost” is outrageous and the description of its calculation is misleading.

  47. Susan Rubinsky

    Thanks for posting this. I showed it to my 17 year old son who is a junior in high school. It prompted him to do some research about both NYU Poly and Stevens Institute. We’re going to visit NYU Poly next week 🙂

    1. fredwilson


  48. Ellie Kesselman

    I have some doubts about those relative cost figures, but for now, that isn’t my focus. Rather, I wanted to mention what Fred doesn’t, which is that he has a mechanical engineering degree himself. I still believe that that prepares you for a lot, and a good start in the working world: programming, math, physics, problem-solving skills galore! What’s not to like?

  49. Tim Chavez

    The unwritten story here is that engineering degrees from B schools can probably be more valuable than A schools in terms of annual ROI as these schools are cheaper to attend and not so obscure that they close doors. I did not go to a University on that list and the cost of my Computer Science degree, even adjusting for inflation, was a fraction of the cost of the cheapest of these schools. My annual ROI is more than 20%.

  50. JLM

    .Exception. Rule. Fries?JLM.

  51. JLM

    .Bit of tough love, CC.Spin it as you want but English majors are a prelude to something else not English. Engineering degrees are engineers.The demand for poets is fairly limited.JLM.

  52. LE

    The question is not whether being an english major has value or not. The question is whether if you are spending 4 years at college is there something that will give you the most value for the time spent.Let’s look at it in terms of musical instruments.What provides more value, learning to play guitar, piano or learning to play one of those big heavy things (cello?).How many people can tote around a cello or a set of drums?

  53. LE

    they make very good programmers and product designers.This may be a variation of why I think Indians and Asians are so superior.Because I only see the ones that have made it to this country. Or were raised by those with enough umph to come to this country in earlier years.Also similar to children of Holocaust survivors (my group). There are no children of the jews that perished over here.Survivorship bias in other words.By the way back in the day there was the “a law degree is always a good thing to have” as if 3 years of work is trivial.

  54. JLM

    .You prove my hypothesis, no?An English major who codes is an English major who learned to do something else useful.An Engineer does engineering.The ability to code may become a core competency which transcends education. No college expects to have to teach anyone how to use Word these days.And I agree completely as it relates to a high quality liberal arts education leading to high quality employees. The demand in the fast food industry for high quality employees is unquenchable. A barista is a noble profession also.Thank goodness.Liberal artists are thin skinned, no?JLM.

  55. JLM

    .The moment of recognition when one realizes they are incapable of being anyone’s subordinate is a moment of both liberation and consternation.It is a curse but it also incredibly empowering.I am a very good partner. I am genetically no longer able to be an employee. I am not good at it.It is not something to be proud of but it is real.JLM.

  56. Alex Wolf

    I got those same genes. I’ve been my own boss since graduation day.

  57. Emily Merkle

    With. You. 100%.

  58. LE

    An English major who codes is an English major who learned to do something else useful.Nothing like juxtaposing something negative to give someone motivation and inspiration.When I had my first kid I didn’t want to have a strange woman hanging around the house helping out. Then the baby arrived and it was clear that it was going to be plenty of work for me. So at that point the woman became a positive not a negative in my mind. Just like that.Here is another example. Let’s say your wife wants you to go to the opera but you find that boring. So instead she starts out by asking you if you’d fly her to NYC for a broadway shows. Let’s say for arguments sake you don’t have the time, don’t want to spend the money, and don’t like Broadway. After you feel the initial negative reaction (it has to sink in) she says “or we could just see the Opera this Friday night”. All the sudden your mind is at ease. As if you found out you only needed a dental visit instead of a bypass operation.

  59. timraleigh

    I have 2 brothers and 1 sister who are engineers. None of them are really doing engineering, per se. One is a marketing product manager albeit for a telecommunications company, one is an analyst and the other is a consultant. The Geophysicist lives in Paris.

  60. thebigmix

    Haha!….you had a field day with this blog post….cracks me up

  61. ShanaC

    there are more art students who start companies than engineers….

  62. Anne Libby


  63. Dave Pinsen

    There are probably more art students with rich parents.

  64. JLM

    .That’s a lot of engineers.JLM.

  65. timraleigh

    I forgot to mention my father who is also an engineer, who would prefer to discuss economics. He’s the one to blame. 🙂