Fed Reserve Bank (San Francisco ) Ask: Is It Still Worth Going to College?

In today’s Federal Reserve Bank (San Francisco) Economic Letter, the value of a 4 years university/college degree is questioned, and findings are rather shocking : it will take 15 to 20 years in order to return the investment on average.

Table 1 Maximum tuitions by breakeven age and discount rates

Maximum tuitions by breakeven age and discount rates

The article concluded:

Earning a four-year college degree remains a worthwhile investment for the average student. Data from U.S. workers show that the benefits of college in terms of higher earnings far outweigh the costs of a degree, measured as tuition plus wages lost while attending school. The average college graduate paying annual tuition of about $20,000 can recoup the costs of schooling by age 40. After that, the difference between earnings continues such that the average college graduate earns over $800,000 more than the average high school graduate by retirement age.

Although there are stories of people who skipped college and achieved financial success, for most Americans the path to higher future earnings involves a four-year college degree. We show that the value of a college degree remains high, and the average college graduate can recover the costs of attending in less than 20 years. Once the investment is paid for, it continues to pay dividends through the rest of the worker’s life, leaving college graduates with substantially higher lifetime earnings than their peers with a high school degree. These findings suggest that redoubling the efforts to make college more accessible would be time and money well spent.

Academic Investment and Engineering Careers Guides

Generation Jobless from CBC

The documentary Generation Jobless from CBC, caused quite a stir recently in university discussion:

… delves into why so many young Canadians are overeducated and underemployed.  The reality is that today’s twenty-something’s are entering  an economy in the throes of a seismic shift where globalization and technology are transforming the workplace. Automation is replacing tens of thousands of jobs at a time.  Companies fixated on the bottom line are outsourcing jobs and wherever possible getting computers to do the work.  Employers are placing a higher premium on experienced workers, unwilling to invest in training new entrants to the workforce……

Another two interesting readings: Speech in University Of Toronto by JD Clark and the Youth Unemployment in Canada: Challenging Conventional Thinking, published by CGA Canada.

ROI for University Degree

In the productive conversation from National Post titled Canada must streamline education to turn degrees into jobs, it sounded an alarm bell:

The overabundance of general degree graduates in Canada has led to dismal underemployment figures, Ms. Bell explains. “What statistics don’t tell you is that the system is churning out more BAs than we can possibly absorb. In fact, OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] ranks Canada as No. 2 in underemployment of youth. Only Spain is ahead at 50%.”

In another conversation titled When does a university degree really pay off, it stated:

Everyone has heard the argument that education begets fortune and career success. But there are countless graduates who have invested tens of thousands of dollars in a university education, only to find themselves starting on a career path that barely covers their loan payments, or lining up with hundreds of other similarly qualified hopefuls for a job. … The question that looms large for many is: When is the return on investment (ROI) worth the effort? … The problem, however, is that education costs more and more, while graduates are getting jobs that pay less and less, Mr. Swail says. “The only things visibly increasing are engineering and medical degrees. Those do pay off. But, overall, society has done a poor job of linking the job market to what higher education is doing. More and more people come out of school asking, ‘What do we do now?’ ”

Engineering degree seems to be a good investment

The WSJ has some public available data mined from PayScale Inc for the past 10 years, and it clearly shows the engineering degrees really worth the investment in general, at least for now. However, there is no 100% certainty in any investment, including an academic degree.

Furthermore, although the ROI is somehow related to the major / subject of degree, it will also depending on the tech skills acquired by the person during years.  There is an interesting post on Business Insider claiming that 30 Tech Skills That Will Instantly Net You A $100,000+ Salary. Another list is the dice high paying skill lists.

How to become an engineer

I am studying engineering and find this ( Engineer Career Guide ) is useful. It is career-focused, rather than course-focused. It can immediately connect you with the job situation in the market. Another non-nonsense ebook is from TalentEgg.com.

UWaterloo class selection

class selection guide: http://www.quest.uwaterloo.ca/docs/classselectionguide.pdf

winter term courses: http://quest.uwaterloo.ca/docs/wintercourses.pdf

timetable planner: http://quest.uwaterloo.ca/docs/timetable_planner.pdf

course selection worksheet: http://quest.uwaterloo.ca/docs/class_selection_worksheet.pdf

 

Deep Dive of Computer Related Degrees

ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the highest professional body governing computer science and engineering related careers published the detailed report in 2005 : Computing Curricula 2005 The Overview Report covering undergraduate degree programs in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology, Software Engineering which is the only formal source of descriptions of various streams. Please don’t rely solely on those marketing documents from universities and colleges. Use the above document to make well-informed decisions when choosing universities / colleges and comparing them in how they implement the courses and degrees. You will see the how much those degrees worth, and which one is the most cost-effective school.

ACM and IEEE will make updates in the upcoming Computing Curriculum: Computer Science 2013 (CS2013) ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force

The following is the detail areas of the  specialization (please always refer to the original document for any clarification)

Area Performance Capability

CE

CS

IS

IT

SE

Algorithms Prove theoretical results

3

5

1

0

3

Develop solutions to programming problems

3

5

1

1

3

Develop proof-of-concept programs

3

5

3

1

3

Determine if faster solutions possible

3

5

1

1

3

Application programs Design a word processor program

3

4

1

0

4

Use word processor features well

3

3

5

5

3

Train and support word processor users

2

2

4

5

2

Design a spreadsheet program (e.g., Excel)

3

4

1

0

4

Use spreadsheet features well

2

2

5

5

3

Train and support spreadsheet users

2

2

4

5

2

Computer programming Do small-scale programming

5

5

3

3

5

Do large-scale programming

3

4

2

2

5

Do systems programming

4

4

1

1

4

Develop new software systems

3

4

3

1

5

Create safety-critical systems

4

3

0

0

5

Manage safety-critical projects

3

2

0

0

5

Hardware and devices Design embedded systems

5

1

0

0

1

Implement embedded systems

5

2

1

1

3

Design computer peripherals

5

1

0

0

1

Design complex sensor systems

5

1

0

0

1

Design a chip

5

1

0

0

1

Program a chip

5

1

0

0

1

Design a computer

5

1

0

0

1

Human-computer interface Create a software user interface

3

4

4

5

4

Produce graphics or game software

2

5

0

0

5

Design a human-friendly device

4

2

0

1

3

Information systems Define information system requirements

2

2

5

3

4

Design information systems

2

3

5

3

3

Implement information systems

3

3

4

3

5

Train users to use information systems

1

1

4

5

1

Maintain and modify information systems

3

3

5

4

3

Information management Design a database mgt system (e.g., Oracle)

2

5

1

0

4

(Database) Model and design a database

2

2

5

5

2

Implement information retrieval software

1

5

3

3

4

Select database products

1

3

5

5

3

Configure database products

1

2

5

5

2

Manage databases

1

2

5

5

2

Train and support database users

2

2

5

5

2

IT resource planning Develop corporate information plan

0

0

5

3

0

Develop computer resource plan

2

2

5

5

2

Schedule/budget resource upgrades

2

2

5

5

2

Install/upgrade computers

4

3

3

5

3

Install/upgrade computer software

3

3

3

5

3

Intelligent systems Design auto-reasoning systems

2

4

0

0

2

Implement intelligent systems

2

4

0

0

4

Networking and Design network configuration

3

3

3

4

2

communications Select network components

2

2

4

5

2

Install computer network

2

1

3

5

2

Manage computer networks

3

3

3

5

3

Implement communication software

5

4

1

1

4

Manage communication resources

1

0

3

5

0

Implement mobile computing system

5

3

0

1

3

Manage mobile computing resources

3

2

2

4

2

Systems Development Manage an organization’s web presence

2

2

4

5

2

Through Integration Configure & integrate e-commerce software

2

3

4

5

4

Develop multimedia solutions

2

3

4

5

3

Configure & integrate e-learning systems

1

2

5

5

3

Develop business solutions

1

2

5

3

2

Evaluate new forms of search engine

2

4

4

4

4

Cost of University Degree

University of Waterloo

For example (2012, Winter Term) :

Biotechnology/Chartered Acct. Co-op Year 1A => $3,273.43

Eng Co-op 1A =>$6,587.68

Business Admin. & C.S. Double Deg. Year 1A => $6,106.35

Computer Science Co-op Year 1A =>$6,107.35

University of Toronto

Bachelors (Eng), Entering 2011 => $10,903

Computer Science (Domestic Fees)

1) Students entering these programs pay the Arts and Science tuition fee in Year 1. They begin to pay the program fee in Year 2.

2) For the 2010 Cohort, the tuition fee for students in Year 2 of the Computer Science, CCIT/VCC and Bioinformatics programs in 2011-12 will be $8,791, which represents a 8% increase over the 2010-11 Year 2 fee of $8,140.

3) For the 2011 Cohort, the tuition fee for students in Year 2 of the Computer Science, CCIT/VCC and Bioinformatics programs in 2012-13 will be $9,494, which represents a 8% increase over the 2011-12 Year 2 fee of $8,791.

Undergraduate
  2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Bachelors – Computer Science, 2008 Cohort (see Note 8) $8,101 $8,424 N/A
Bachelors – Computer Science, 2009 Cohort (see Note 8) $8,140 $8,466 $8,804
Bachelors – Computer Science, 2010 Cohort (see Note 1&4) $5,216 $8,791 $9,142
Bachelors – Computer Science, 2011 Cohort (see Note 1&5) N/A $5,450 $9,494

Medical School Requirements in Ontario

Discussion Forum: http://www.premed101.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=3

1. UOT

Undergraduate Applicants Minimum requirements:

  • at least 3 years of study towards a Canadian university bachelor’s degree in any discipline (equivalent of 15 credits)
  • minimum GPA of 3.6 / 4.0 on the OMSAS scale
  • minimum MCAT scores of 9 in each section and N on the Writing Sample
  • applicants educated outside of Canada must complete the equivalent of a Canadian four-year university bachelor’s degree (please see the section for International Applicants)

Prerequisites:

  • two full-course equivalents (FCE) in any life science
  • one FCE in any of social sciences, humanities, or a language 

General Information

Students attending a Canadian university taking programs leading to degrees in any discipline (e.g., Arts, Engineering, Pharmacy, Science, etc.) may apply for admission during the third or higher years of university study provided they have fulfilled the prerequisite course requirements. 

Undergraduate academic achievement is assessed through MCAT scores and GPA. The coherence and rigour of the program of study, and the relative standing of the applicant in that program, where available, will be assessed in the interpretation of GPA. Prospective applicants are encouraged to pursue challenging and rigourous courses of study, as this will not jeopardize their chance of successful application. Applicants are expected to have taken courses at a level corresponding with the year of their program. For example, a student who applies for admission while registered in the third year of undergraduate work should have at least three third-year or higher courses in his/her program.  Applicants in the fourth year of their program should be enrolled in a majority of courses at the third- and fourth-year levels.

The calculated grade point average used to fulfill the academic requirement will not include the candidate’s current year of study, as this information is not available to us during the application period.

All applicants are asked to explain their choice of undergraduate study in their personal statement. Applicants who are not following a prescribed program are required to submit an explanation and focus of their chosen program. Applicants registered in cooperative programs are advised to submit a separate letter detailing the schedule of their academic and work terms, if this information is not clear from their transcript.

Students applying in the final year of a three- or four-year degree program must complete the degree requirements and provide proof of completion prior to the date of enrolment. Students applying in the third year of a four-year degree program must provide proof that they have completed the requirements of that year of their degree prior to the date of enrolment in the medical program.

NOTE: Applicants accepted from the third year of a four-year degree program will not be considered for deferred admission.  The decision whether or not to first complete one’s undergraduate degree should be carefully considered before application to medical school is made.

Non-Academic acheivements are assessed through the personal essay, autobiographical sketch, and reference letters.

2. McMaster

sources from http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/mdprog/academic_requirements.html

Academic Requirements

Applicants must report on the OMSAS Academic Record Form all grades received in the undergraduate credit courses in which they have ever registered. Failure to report courses, programs or grades on the OMSAS Academic Record Form will result in the disqualification of the application. All grades are converted by the applicant on the Academic Record Form to a 4.00 scale according to the OMSAS Undergraduate Grading System Conversion Table. (The Conversion Table is provided with the OMSAS Application.)There are four absolute requirements for eligibility to apply to the program:

  • By May 2012, applicants must have completed a minimum of three years of undergraduate degree level work (30 half year credits or 15 full year credits or a combination). There is no requirement that applicants carry a full course load. Applicants who do not have 30 credits complete at the time of application must submit their final undergraduate transcript with course codes and grades to McMaster by June 30, 2012 as evidence that this requirement has been met;
  • By October 3, 2011 applicants must have achieved an overall OMSAS converted average of 3.00 on the 4.00 point scale.
  • All applicants to the MD Program are required to write the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) prior to the deadline date of October 3rd and must release their scores to OMSAS by October 11th. The score from the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT will be used in both formulae (offer of interview and advancement to Collation). A minimum score of 6 on the Verbal Reasoning component is required. The Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Writing Sample scores will not be considered in the selection process. MCAT test results will be accepted provided the test was written no more than five years prior to the application deadline. The most recent test result will be used for those applicants who attempt the MCAT more than once. For information on the MCAT, click here.
  • On Wednesday, October 19, 2011 or Sunday, October 23, 2011, all applicants to the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University will be required to complete a 90 minute computer-based test, called CASPer, as part of the selection process. CASPer, the Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal characteristics, is a web-based assessment of interpersonal skills and decision-making, to be completed at a computer.  Successful completion of CASPer is required to maintain applicant eligibility.

No other aspects of the application will be considered if these requirements are not met.

***

Please note: Only degree courses taken at an accredited university will be considered. To satisfy the minimum requirements, academic credentials from a Canadian University must be from an institution that is a full member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) or the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

An applicant who has completed a diploma at a CEGEP (Province of Quebec) must have completed by May, 2012 at least two additional years (20 half year credits) of degree credit work at an accredited university.

Applicants who have satisfactorily completed the requirements for a baccalaureate degree in less than three years by the time of the application deadline, and who meet the “3.00” average requirement, are also eligible.

An overall simple average will be calculated using the grades from all undergraduate degree level courses ever taken (with the exception of credits taken on exchange outside of Canada/USA). Work of different years is treated equally. This average is calculated by the applicant on the OMSAS Academic Record Form and verified on the OMSAS Verification Report which is sent to applicants. McMaster University may also review and revise this average. The marks from supplementary and summer courses will be included in the GPA calculation. Courses for which a “Pass” grade is assigned are counted for credit, but will not be included in the GPA calculation. In order for the GPA to be evaluated, independent grades from a minimum of 5 half-year or 5 full-year courses are required, without which the application will not be considered.

3. University of Western Ontario

Admissions Requirements

Abstract from http://www.schulich.uwo.ca/admissions/medicine/requirements

The following are requirements for admission in Fall 2011.  Please note that the admission policy is reviewed annually and the admission requirements from previous years may not apply.  The University reserves the right to review and change the admission requirements at any time, without notice.Applicants to the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Undergraduate MD program are considered on a number of levels.  The first review of applicant information takes into account the candidate’s academic history and performance: completion of honours degree; GPA in 2 best years; and MCAT scores. 

For applicants from outside Southwestern Ontario, the MCAT minimums for the 2010-11 application cycle are as follows:

Biological Sciences:   10

Physical Sciences:       9

Verbal Reasoning:     11

Writing Sample:         P

The minimum GPA is 3.70

Some flexibility is given to applicants from Southwestern Ontario. In the 2010-11 application cycle, a minimum score of 8 in any one section of the MCAT is acceptable as long as the combined score for Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning is 30 or more. The minimum score for the Writing Sample is O.

The minimum GPA is 3.7 as for applicants outside Southwestern Ontario.

Admission to the Doctor of Medicine Program is highly competitive and possessing the minimum requirements does not ensure an interview or offer of admission. 

4. University of Ottawa

source from http://www.med.uottawa.ca/Students/MD/Admissions/eng/eligibility_criteria.html

Eligibility Criteria

Applications will be accepted from students in good standing who will have successfully completed, prior to the beginning of June preceding registration, in a recognized university, three years of full-time studies (five full-year course/year) in any undergraduate program leading to a bachelor’s degree, including four specific prerequisite courses: 1. one full year course (or two semester courses) in General Biology including laboratory session; 2. one full year course in Humanities or Social Sciences (or two semester courses in separate disciplines; 3. and 4. the equivalent of two full-year courses (or four semester courses) of the following Chemistry courses: i) General Biochemistry without laboratory session; ii) General Chemistry with laboratory session; iii) Organic Chemistry with laboratory session.

A full-time academic year where the equivalent of four (4) full-year courses is taken is accepted and counted in the WGPA calculation only if the missing course/credit is completed either as an additional course within another academic year or as a summer course. Individual courses taken during a summer session are accepted for the credit value in this instance however the mark obtained is not counted in the calculation of the WGPA. Any year with less than four full-year courses will not count as a full-time year of study. A full-time summer semester does not replace a semester of studies within an academic year.

Candidates are allowed to complete missing prerequisite courses during the academic year preceding admission but, as with all courses, not during the summer before their registration in the MD program of studies.

The description of the prerequisite sciences courses offered at the University of Ottawa can be found in the last step of the eligibility requirements.

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa determines equivalences.

Language courses are not recognized towards the Humanities or Social Sciences prerequisites.

N.B. Meeting the above requirements does not guarantee admission.

Furthermore, in selecting students, the Admissions Committee reserves the right to assess, in the applicant’s program, the level of difficulty of completed courses and their relevance to future medical studies at the University of Ottawa; the Committee also considers the candidate’s results in these courses.

5. Queens University

source from http://meds.queensu.ca/education/undergraduate/prospective_students/academic_requirements

Academic Requirements

In order to qualify for the Queen’s Medical School, you need to have:

  • a minimum of 90 credits in any university program by the end of the academic year (September–April) in which application is made. (For further information, go to Credit Requirements)

The following academic requirements have been eliminated and will not be required starting with applications for admissions to the program in September 2013:

  • the equivalent of a full‑year university course in each of the following groups:

biological sciences (eg. anatomy, biochemistry, biology, botany, genetics, immunology, microbiology, physiology, zoology)

physical sciences (eg. general chemistry, geology, organic chemistry, physics);

humanities (eg. classics, English, French, foreign Languages, film studies, drama, music, history, philosophy, religion) OR social sciences (eg. anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology)

With the elimination all prerequisite courses, applicants are able to select a program of study and courses which best meet the goals of their undergraduate degree program.  We do not recommend any particular course or degree program since no preference is given to applicants who have studied in any particular university program. Applicants are encouraged to consider all of the undergraduate programs available to them and to embark on the course of study in which they have the greatest interest and that would prepare them for an alternate career should they not gain a place in medicine.

  • All applicants are required to write the Medical College Admission Test prior to the deadline for submission of applications to OMSAS. (For further information, go to MCAT)
  • Candidates must be Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents (landed immigrants).  (For more information, go to Residency Requirement)

Engineering, Combined / Double Degree/Majors/Options

The list of interesting discussion forums:

1. University Of Western Ontario

Combined Degree Options
The combined degree program is similar to concurrent degree but is offered with one of Western’s professional Faculties: the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Richard Ivey School of Business, and Western Law. Combined programs with Western Engineering include:

  • The Richard Ivey School of Business with Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Software, Mechanical and Integrated Engineering (BESc and HBA)
  • The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry with Biochemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Integrated Engineering (BESc and MD)
  • Western Law with Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Software, Mechanical and Integrated Engineering (BESc and JD)

MD/BESc Program

Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry together with the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Western Ontario offers a seven-year program leading to a Bachelor of Engineering Science degree and an MD degree. The program is aimed at high-achieving students and requires high admission performance standards. Combined studies in Engineering and Medicine prepare students for a career in technology-dependent medicine.

Three seats will be set aside each year for applicants to the MD/BESc Program.  Please note only applicants who are pre-registered in the MD/BESc program in the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Western Ontario are eligible for these seats. The combined program is available in conjunction with the Biochemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, and Integrated Engineering programs.

For further information, please visit the combined programs websites at

http://www.eng.uwo.ca/undergraduate/Chemical/BiochemicalwithMedicine.pdf

http://www.eng.uwo.ca/undergraduate/Civil/CivilandMedicine.pdf

http://www.eng.uwo.ca/undergraduate/Electrical/ElectricalwithMedicine.pdf

http://www.eng.uwo.ca/undergraduate/Integrated/IntegratedandMedicine.pdf

http://www.eng.uwo.ca/undergraduate/Mechanical/MechanicalandMedicine.pdf

2. Mcgill University

Major Computer Science and Biology

3. UOT

Skoll BASc/MBA Program

4. University of Waterloo

Engineering programs:

with program options eg life-science option