Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Piece of Advice #105: Realize that "higher education" is now mostly a scam

I realize I'm not covering anything new here (even for myself), but I've been at the ground level for a lot of this excess and have built up a head of steam about it, so patiently lend me your ear, please.

My objections to higher education are primarily three:

  • Academia has become an indoctrination center for leftism/secular humanism.
  • The staggering cost of education has given rise to a new indentured servitude.
  • The college degree itself fools people into believing they now have skills instead of something pretty worthless.

Universities have been hostile places for conservative-minded people for quite a long time now, subjecting students to mandatory reprogramming sessions disguised as orientation sessions, preaching liberalism from the pulpit and reinforcing the message via grading for anyone who might not have realized certain kinds of thought were actually verboten in places devoted to "open mindedness," and hiring only faculty who will advocate the Party message.  It was bad when I went to the University of Michigan in the early nineties, and academia has only marched leftward toward Gomorrah since.  I mean, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't send my son to an institution that brings prostitutes and porn stars on campus to educate him about sex.  He can learn about BDSM and incest on his own time.  Or not.  Please, God, not.

But it's not just the hedonism.  To a certain extent, college campuses have been hedonistic for a century - heck, since they've existed.  It's the government mandated speech codes, and the accusations that cannot be defended against.  Step out of line a little bit - or not - and they'll throw you out (but not your loans; they'll keep those).  The campus miasma is just unbreathable now.

But all that is just sort of frosting on the cake.  Yes, the cake universities are baking is rancid, but the price they are charging for it is obscene.  In a recent "survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2012–2013 academic year averaged $22,261."  $22,261!  For one year of college!  At a state school!  In this unending economic depression!  Who can afford that with wages being cut or frozen, the cost of benefits eroding any raise given, and companies cutting back hours to avoid the penalties of Obamacare?  No one can pay that out of hand, except the very rich.  And that's not most of us.  Up until recently, young people have believed in the long term value of education and have been willing to sign up for an indecent amount of student loan debt just to have the chance to succeed.  But in the last five years, they've seen their older friends and siblings graduate and be unable to find a job making enough money to pay even the interest on those loans, let alone the principal, and are now becoming wary.  Good for them.  Who wants to sign up for indentured servitude with no understanding of the real cost or length of indenture?  These loans will deny them the freedom to form families, to change jobs or careers, to settle down and buy houses or buy anything at all.  They will hang about their necks like weights in perpetuity, unable to be discharged.  It's a national shame that the government has participated in such shackling of our young people for the benefit of banks and insatiable university administrators. 

Finally, the lunacy that a college degree - any college degree - is a ticket to the Big Time - is still being floated, largely, I believe, by Boomers who have been repeating this mantra to themselves and others religiously for decades, assuming that because college elevated them (in a time of prosperity and world economy dominance) it will elevated their children and grandchildren (in a time of austerity and empire decline).  This is almost like a religious belief.  We must confess it.  We must believe it.  Because if we in the bread line were to believe the rumor that, say, the bread was running out and most of the people in line will very likely not get any, that might change how we look at the people in the front of the line still pocketing their loaves.

The fact is, most people don't need a college degree to do their jobs, and they never did.  Additionally, we've created this unbelievably stupid system whereby we assert, in the face of all evidence, that college is like a huge money tree and anyone who comes in contact will be able to grab some leaves and prosper.  Then we watch as college graduates compete desperately for barista jobs and scratch our chins.  We sign high school graduates up for loads of debt knowing full well that they do not understand any of the above unfortunate truths and then shrug when they crash and burn become totally disillusioned and wind up in their parents' basements again.  What if we just let these kids get jobs doing high quality landscaping and work at them? At least they wouldn't have student loans.  What if we encouraged them to get married and have a couple of kids instead of majoring in Afro-Caribbean Studies?  Learning is important, the passing on of knowledge is important.  How much of this is truly being done at today's universities?  Probably just about as much as was going on in 1950 plus some significant scientific research.  Everything else is bloat.  Very, very expensive, morally toxic bloat.

We need a better system.  For the average joe, college is a scam.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Piece of Advice #64: Don't go to college

Did that get your attention?  Good.  Because higher education is a huge racket in this country.  We are creating whole generations of debt slaves one student loan at a time.

I'll get this out of the way - I went to college.  6 years of college, in fact.  And, for the most part, it was a good experience.  I had some boring, pointless, agenda driven classes, but I also was required to take courses outside of my area of interest which proved to be both interesting and educational.  Economics, political science, and sociology would fall into this category.  When I graduated from college with my BA, there was a recession going on, and I had a hard time finding a decent job, so eventually I went back to school and got my Masters in Library Science, and this helped me get a job that paid at least a living wage. I'm grateful to have this degree and the subsequent experience in my skill set for future use or in case of  emergency.

I am not against college or women going to college, but before you even think about going to college, you need to run the numbers.  Look up what the average wage a graduate with your degree can expect to make both starting out and over a lifetime, then see if the industry you're planning to enter is planning to or has already outsourced all the jobs in your field to, say, India (accounting, IT).  Or if your career requires you to continuously update your education while not continuously updating your salary (teaching).

Many college students take on student loan debt without blinking at the numbers, but those numbers will be staring back at you for a lifetime if your field does not pay generously.  Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court either.   They are yours forever.  Here's a real life example: a young woman goes to a good private college and over the course of four years racks up $70,000 in student loan debt.  She graduates with a degree in education and finds she can't get a job unless she moves out of state and takes a job paying $25,000 a year.  The cost of living is higher in her new state, though.  How long will it take her to pay back $70K on her current salary? Answer: a lifetime.  And because she is a teacher, she is required to take more courses in order to keep the same low paying job, courses she cannot afford to take because the coursework she originally took to get this job was so expensive and the job she landed pays so little.  This real life example's job just cut back on wages and benefits too, and finding she could not live on what remained, she quit her job, moved back in with her parents, and is now looking for something else.  She'll have to keep paying on the $70K, though.  The company store always gets paid.

Remember that.  The company store always gets paid.

When I went to college, it was not so catastrophically expensive as it is now.  My parents paid for my undergrad, and I got a scholarship for graduate school, so I got through it all with minimal debt.  If I had been more financially strapped, I would have done two years at community college and then two years at a local state school.  This is a viable option, but I still would advise you to proceed only if you can pay for it out of pocket now and if you are going into a job-laden field that pays.  Think nursing.  Think occupational therapy.  If you graduate from college with more than $10,000 in student loans, you have signed off your twenties and now work for the company store getting whatever work you can get to keep the store happy.  Big debt will affect your ability to marry, to have kids, to decide whether or not to stay home with them, to buy a house or take a different job if you find you don't like the jobs in the field your degree is in.

If you want to go, go.  But pay as you go, and choose wisely.  Higher education is a trap for many.  They get out and learn the jobs that are available don't pay and aren't interesting or fulfilling, but the loans still need to be paid back.  It's quite a comedown after four years of being encouraged to follow your dreams and find a career that fits your needs.