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There is absolutely a bubble.

You can't even get (or keep) a job teaching grade school without a Master's degree these days.

I graduated from a highly regarded journalism & filmmaking program and I have to say that as far as getting a career, it was actually a net negative. People who had gone straight from high school to internships or volunteer work were light-years ahead of people who had been wasting their time in classes. (I was one of the few who did both, so I wasn't as badly off.)

And yet they graduate several hundred people a year from this program, most of whom will never get a paying job in their field.

That's really interesting. Out of curiosity, why do you think it's so hard for you to get a job in the industry, despite graduating from a well regarded program? Or maybe to rephrase, since you didn't say didn't get a job, why is having a well regarded degree a negative?

I'm different -- by the time I graduated, I didn't want a job in that industry. I'm speaking about everyone else.

The arts degree glut is pretty simple. They train too many people for too few jobs.

In the case of communications and journalism, there are other issues. What they teach is largely irrelevant to the coming era of journalism. Furthermore, although technology skills are sine qua non, most of the time you spend is in classes, learning from people who can't get jobs in the industry. You have to beg and plead for even a little time with outdated equipment. (My degree was in the late 90s to early 2000s, so things may have changed now -- but can you imagine a worse preparation for the last decade then learning to cut tape on reel-to-reels? In a single week, on a home computer, you could get more experience using audio editing equipment than I did in an entire year.)

If you were truly fascinated by media studies then I'm not going to say it's a waste of time. But in all honesty we just don't need that many academics that study media.

Also, on the journalism side, the news industry is contracting and unionized, so it is highly unlikely you can get a career by traditional routes. Again, the better education would have been to throw up a website or blog in your spare time, or get a camera and start shooting something -- anything. Or offer to work for free at a local TV station right out of college. People who did this got jobs later. I happened to do that kind of thing too, and I could have leveraged it into a real job in that industry, but didn't because programming was more interesting.

Most of those kids enter the program with dreams of working on TV or film or making music videos and such. A smaller number actually want to be journalists.

Mostly, the closest they get to working in communications is doing PR or possibly advertising. Few of them are doing anything related to their degree after five years.

I don't want to put too many words in his mouth, but I think the point he's getting at is that there's an opportunity cost to education, above and beyond the (significant) direct costs.

If you spend 4 years studying something, that's four years you can't spend studying something else. If it turns out that you studied the "wrong thing", you are going to be four years behind the people who took the other path. So it's not hard to see how that education program could look like a net negative.

Yup. We knew that even going into the program.

There were people who were so into making films they'd shot music videos and such before their very first film class. Mostly these people were there for pro forma reasons -- they just wanted the piece of paper.

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