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Education: Realistic Yardstick

2 minute read

Although college educators today are less prone to boast of the cash value of a college education than they were before 1929, most candidates for a degree still are more interested in cash than culture. Last week two professors waggled warning fingers at money-minded optimists, gave prospective graduates a “realistic yardstick” to measure their financial prospects.

Inquisitive Dr. Alvin C. Eurich (a co-author of TIME’S current affairs tests), who used to be at University of Minnesota and is now a professor of education at Stanford University, and Minnesota’s Dr. C. Robert Pace investigated what had become of Minnesota men and women graduates, vintages of 1928 to 1936. They tracked down nearly 6,000, came to the sad conclusion that “a bachelor’s degree is not an insurance policy against the effects of an economic depression.” Chief findings:

> Before Depression 80% of graduates got jobs immediately, but at its bottom in 1932 only 65% of men and 52% of women did so. Teachers, engineers and lawyers had the hardest time getting jobs.

> Of those who got jobs, some 40% had to take others than those they had prepared for.

> First-year salaries of men graduates dropped from $1,900 in 1928 to $1,200 in 1932. Women got much less.

> By 1936 graduates found as many jobs as before Depression. But they found salaries lower. Men averaged only $1,350 the first year out of college in 1936. Eight years after their graduation, salaries of 28 men averaged $2,600. Their salaries were probably higher, however, than those of their non-college contemporaries, for a much larger proportion of employed college men were in the professions or managerial jobs.

>Dr. Eurich’s forecast: “Barring war or a recurring depression, present college graduates can reasonably expect to earn between $2,000 and $3,000 eight years after graduation.”

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