What is known is that a degree from an elite institution, such as Harvard, can open doors. Also, while matriculating, high-level networking can take place.
But, aside from that, investing in any academic credential, just like many other kinds of investments, has no guarantees.
Take the sad situation of Tamara Wyche. She had received her JD from Harvard Law School. Twice she failed the New York Bar Exam. Her BigLaw employer Rope & Gray forced her out. Since then she had earned a living as a temporary attorney and in contract positions.
After that significant achievement of earning a degree from a top school, life can intervene.
There are those whose emotional issues prevent their passing the bar exam. Even after psychotherapy and tutoring, they still can't pass. Of course, they cannot practice law. Unless they can land a plum job along another career path, the ROI on the degree will not be good.
Also there is the operation of the reality of supply and demand.
I was part of the Lost Generation of Scholars. We were penning out dissertations in the humanities at elite universities. That was the early 1970s. The market for full-time college professions in literature collapsed. The world was not kind in assessing how I had invested seven years of my youth matriculating for a Ph.D. in a discipline with low market value. When I applied for non-academic positions, some employers smirked.
The latest development in the Wyche saga, reports Staci Zareksy at Abovethelaw, is this: Parts of her lawsuit against the New York Board of Law Examiners can proceed. In that litigation, Wyche argues through her lawyer Jo Anne Simon that she failed the bar and lost her job because she hadn't been given adequate testing accommodations back in law school.
That lawsuit had been filed in 2016. Litigation is a slow-moving process. Meanwhile, Wyche will probably not be earning a bundle of money in the jobs she can get. So, as things stand, she might conclude she had made a questionable investment in the money, time, and opportunity cost of going to law school.
Less and less do we perceive education in itself as of significant value.
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