Monday, July 04, 2011

The College Scam?

Last night, I saw John Stossel's show on Fox on the college scam that featured Naomi Schaefer Riley, the author of The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get The College Education You Pay For. I have been reading her book which just came out a couple of weeks ago, so I watched with interest as she and Stossel discussed why college is not always worth the money. From Stossel's blog:
How can college be a "scam"?

We hear that young people need to go to college.

"Your future depends on it!"... "It's the only way to get a good job!"

Hillary Clinton says: "Graduates from 4 year colleges earn nearly twice as much as high school estimated one million dollars more."

Many experts agree.

But I argue that for many students, if not most, college actually is a scam. Clinton's $1,000,000 earning disparity is deceitful because it's based on a census study that doesn't factor in the fact that kids who apply to college are already more motivated.

The truth is that many colleges don't teach much. Many students are not right for what is taught. Yet this decade, college tuition rose 92% (the CPI was up about 27%).

Tonight, I expose blaring liberal bias on campuses, and lazy tenured professors, who spend little time actually teaching America's kids.

I assume the show will be re-run many times on Fox Business channel, so check it out if you know someone who is college-bound. Or take a look at Riley's book, it has some ideas for what parents and students can do to secure the best education at schools "that are committed to teaching real subjects to undergraduates."



Blogger Cham said...

My question would be, what can one do other than go to college to adequately prepare for a competitive work world? With colleges now offering luxury suites for their students for a price and automated course enrollment through a computer, college students aren't quite getting the experience students got 30 years ago when it was a bit more dog eat dog. Kids still need to learn English and they need to know their way around a computer, but how can they acquire the necessary organization skills and a work ethic with out spending $200,000? There has to be a way.

9:13 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger MarkD said...

Griggs vs Duke Power effectively killed aptitude tests, so a college degree became the only substitute. Thank your government. They're here to help.

9:35 AM, July 04, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MarkD sez: "Griggs vs Duke Power effectively killed aptitude tests, so a college degree became the only substitute."


Aside from the tests, an educational qualification was also required of the black applicants.

"Negro employees at respondent's generating plant brought this action, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, challenging respondent's requirement of a high school diploma ..."


They GOT RID OF (not opened the way for) the requirement of an educational status if it (supposedly) didn't matter.

9:44 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Southern Man said...

And the view from the other side is that my classes (computer science) are full of kids who are unprepared, disengaged, have no interest in the subject, and plagiarize like you wouldn't believe. All they care about is getting that MS in CS and a job. It's taken them twenty-five years but they have beaten the joy of teaching out of me. I do my job - and I do it well - but it's now just a job. The next time a headhunter calls with a juicy long-term programming contract I just might take it and leave higher ed behind for good.

9:51 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Trust said...

@ Cham said...
My question would be, what can one do other than go to college to adequately prepare for a competitive work world? With colleges now offering luxury suites for their students for a price and automated course enrollment through a computer, college students aren't quite getting the experience students got 30 years ago when it was a bit more dog eat dog. Kids still need to learn English and they need to know their way around a computer, but how can they acquire the necessary organization skills and a work ethic with out spending $200,000? There has to be a way.

Fair point. Even if someone learns little in college -- and college is no substitute for real life experience -- many jobs won't even interview people without the degree.

My advice is to not waste one's money on an expensive college. Start off at a dirt cheap community college for a couple years, then go some place affordable to finish off the degree. A bachelors is still a bachelors regardless of where, and most of us don't know where our doctors or lawyers went to school at, we just know through their reputation and our experience with them how good they are at their job.

10:30 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The other thing they only quickly allude to is the horrendous cost of college nowadays. In 1969, my first quarter at the University of Tennessee cost $110 in tuition ($330 a year). It's more than ten times that now. Far past the rate of inflation.

Certain trades and technical occupations make more than I do with a M.S. degree. (My income is right in the average for M.S. degrees according to the Census study.) I know lots of people with less than a B.A. that make more than I do. College definitely shouldn't be considered the automatic goal after high school.

10:41 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

My Theory re The Problem With College:

The students are overwhelmingly teenagers and 20-22 y.o.s.

That's the problem.

Now, if I, a 50-year old man who has been around the block more than twice were to enroll in a college course, what do you think the life span would be of the first sniveling little liberal prick who tried to shovel Marxist bullshit down my throat?

Not long.

Kids get dominated by losers with Ph.D.s, and the system merrily rolls along.

Put about 6 or 7 middle age men and women in those classrooms...and watch the fur fly!

Prob solvd.

10:58 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Colleges began the scamming when they figured out they could harvest taxpayer cash in the form of government guaranteed student loans that cannot be defaulted on, rather than having to meet a market price that consumers could actually afford.

11:14 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

SGT Ted has a very good point!!!

11:18 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Oh, not to mention the fraud of entire departments devoted to cultural Marxist theories that are little more than propaganda indoctrination centers with sinecures for leftwing radicals. It's as if there were departments for the KKK to spout off about race theory.

11:24 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

I mean really, we are spending money to provide academics with jobs who think that Marxism/ Communism actually is a type of government that protects human rights, despite the long history of murder committed by Marxists who gian power. Some of those professors have pictures of Che Guevarra and other leftwing mass murderers on their walls, who consider themselves "enlightened".

It's as if there were pro-fascist Nazi Studies departments complete with pictures of Hitler and Himmler on the walls at our universities and no one cared about it on campus. Which is why I won't set foot on one that has those totalitarians employed.

11:31 AM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

i dare not enter into into any sort of meaningful conversation with any of my wife`s co-workers because they all hold masters in social work....which is feminist /lesbian ideology held together with marxist baling wire.
oh yeah, and their union is partly a pro-pot lobby much for family values.

my step-daughter took a two year vet technician course (and a surprise vet tech. association exam+fees.) only find jobs for $10.50 an hour...exactly minimum wage.


2:54 PM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

"Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role."
-William Torrey Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1889-1906.

Nothing has changed. Just a lot more of them out of the closet, and in control.

3:20 PM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Jerry said...

I had plenty of lazy conservative professors as well as lazy liberal professors.

I do think there are multiple problems with college.

It is not clear that any liberal bias is responsible for *this* problem.

More likely, as Sgt Ted suggests the problem is the vicious circle that as tuition increases, congress automatically okays increasing debt, which provides no negative feedback into the system.

That, and tenure.

3:28 PM, July 04, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

High school was 100% a waste of time. After a stint in the U.S.Army I went to a community college and then a university in the early 1990s. I recently earned 32 of 40 credits toward a master in an online program. I feel safe in guessing that 50% of my time was wasted.

I read a book by a Methodist preacher from the American 1800s. I wish I could find it to cite it. Anyway, this book painstakingly detailed the history of universities from the Reformation in Germany through to the schools in America during the author's time. This book led me to pre-modern, modern, and post-modern thought in schools. Very interesting.

Indoctrination and social engineering through schools by an old world education social system is facing a screaming end with the all consuming mass communication of the internet. I say good riddance to all of those sad tiny professors who have zero business in the education system punishing people for existing outside of their boxes.

Um, it is the system which needs to be addressed. That is the issue.

7:02 PM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Roy said...

ZorroPrimo, I went back to college when I was in my 40's. Most of the professors were run-of-the-mill liberals who just couldn't resist getting their politics into their class time. I generally ignored them and finished the course work just to get the credits.

However, I had one communications professor who was an obnoxious flaming Marxist. Him, I couldn't ignore. So what I decided was that if you can't beat him, join him. So I became a pseudo Marxist myself - during his class at least. I would pretend to be on his side. But occasionally, I would ask very pointed questions which were logic traps in disguise. The biggest problem was trying to feign seriousness and not to laugh out loud as he tied himself in knots trying to explain the unexplainable. To this day, I believe he still thinks I was on his side. I got an "A" in his class, so apparently he never caught on. And since all he ever taught was bullshit, as far as I am concerned, that was all that counted.

Now, another scam - a real live fraud - is the college textbook racket. My daughter is attending university right now, and the price of the textbooks is appalling. One of her *required* books was less than 1/2 inch thick - SOFT bound - and cost over $400. And to add insult to this financial injury, they change them at least every two years - if not more - in order to eliminate most of the competition from the used book market.

11:31 PM, July 04, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

as the internet has become an increasingly viable way to educate and credentialise one`s self, the traditional bricks-and-mortar environments have begun to struggle, leading to more fees, increased book costs, etc.

there are some fields that necessitate labs, equipment and instruction that is unavailable to the autodidact and so universities and colleges will continue to provide that service, albiet at an ever-increasing cost.

my step-daughter graduated this spring and we dutifully attended her commencement. the president of the colllege went on long-windedly about the excellence of the education they had recieved at his hand and how excited he was for their collective futures.

i though to myself how sheltered a life he must lead as an academic and intellectual to be excited about the $10.50 per hour that most of these people will be looking at earning while he makes his $200 thousand+ per year plus honourariums for lectures and so on.

10:43 AM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger David Foster said...

Southern Man, speaking of computer science students who are "unprepared, disengaged, have no interest in the subject, and plagiarize like you wouldn't believe...all they care about is getting that MS in CS and a job"

And the jobs that they aspire to get involve things like managing large amounts of money for banks, providing the customer service interfaces that we all use, and writing life-critical code and medical systems.

Some of these losers will be screened out in the interview process, some will be gotten rid of early in their careers...but others will slip through and write code that will do significant economic or even physical harm.

10:55 AM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

David - Not as much harm as you might imagine. In places where the code is actually critical, there's QA and bad code can't pass QA. If there's no QA, that's an institutional problem, not the programmer.

11:12 AM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger Der Hahn said...

Cham, you can always do what my son has done quite successfully so far - get a job to get your foot in the door, and then advance yourself.

1:26 PM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger Aurelian said...

Doesn't college act as a class separator (to coin a phrase). You may not need college to know exactly what you are doing in your given field, but, the fact you may not have gone to college sends up red flags to HR in many fields. Also, say the overwhelming majority of employees in a field (sociology, engineering, etc) have gone to college and you have not. I think you are gonna be far down the totem pole....permanently. A degree from a costly engineering school should hold more truck than one from a not so special school. I realize I am painting with a broad brush but just trying to make a point.

1:26 PM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

The real problem in education is a top-heavy administrative structure, and that's across all levels. Teachers and professors earn little compared to principals, superintendents, deans, and presidents.

Yeah, a lot of teachers and professors are leftists and that is a problem but not an insurmountable one. What is desperately needed is curriculum reform.

When I got my teaching certificate, I took a class on history and philosophy of education. You should look at the curricula from the early 1900s, the reading assignments, the tests. It's all so far above what is being taught today, it's pathetic.

When I went to school in the 60s and 70s, it was hard. Everyone had to take grammar. There were spelling and vocabulary tests every week, sentences to diagram. We all had to read the great books, and don't even get me started on the math and science problems.

When I became a teacher in the 80s, I was stunned at how much the curriculum had deteriorated, become less rigorous and demanding. Whole language, new math, politicized science. There is a reason why kids these days are disenchanted--they're bored.

My teachers challenged me. Their teachers don't.

Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Literature, Mathematics, Science, Music, and the Arts. That's the traditional liberal arts curriculum, and it's not a scam. If that were the curriculum today, the crisis in education would not be a scandal.

2:15 PM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger David Foster said...

Onigoncella..QA testing cannot find all problems, especially in real-time systems where virtually infinite numbers of timing sequences can occur.

(Also, of course, some of these people will themselves become QA specialists)

Bad design and code is not always manifested in the form of bugs per se...sometimes it takes the form of poor performance or cumbersome user interfaces. And there have been many accidents in which poor interfaces in a safety-critical system played an important role.

2:41 PM, July 05, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SEEMS no one here likes the American college system...and yet, people from all over the world still come here because they believe it is the best there is...Americans badmouth their system, yet send their children on to college; non-Americans hope for a chance to come here to attend our schools.

5:25 PM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

Fred, unfortunately much knowledge is based solely on perception.

6:20 PM, July 05, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...unfortunately much knowledge is based solely on perception."

How true. In this case a misperception resulting in price inflation and the misallocation of capital on a scale that's only possible with government intervention. And that's what's turned what would otherwise have been merely a quality issue into something far more ruinous.

Ordinarily the consequences of this sort of government folly are simply piled on the national debt and charged to the account of future generations - the people who will be paying for the Farm Credit System disaster of the 70s, the S&L debacle of the 80s, and of course Fannie and Freddie and the rest of the housing fiasco, etc. But in this case the government is dealing not in subsidies, but loans to *teenagers* - who blithely sign their lives away without thinking twice. You see, kids buy the conventional wisdom that their degrees will pay for themselves within a few years of graduation, when in fact if they they can find jobs at all they've got to structure their lives and careers around servicing their student loan debt, which not even bankruptcy can free them of. Few people can decide they don't want to do what they went to school for because they want to make themselves useful elsewhere.

But here's where Sisyphus must laugh, as Camus would say. Those "future generations" I mentioned? The ones who will be paying the bill for the stupidity and profligacy of their parent's and grandparent's generations? Well, these are the same people who signed their lives away when they were 18, and now have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt hanging around their necks like a bus stop toilet seat.

9:14 PM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

"hanging around their necks like a bus stop toilet seat."

Debt: The cure for self-esteem.

11:27 PM, July 05, 2011  
Blogger Kim said...

Speaking as a man who enrolled in a community college at age 55 and will get his BA at 59 (postgrad should only take me a further year or so), I'll be interested to see whether the "new" degree will make a jot of difference in the workplace by then.

As for the profs: most aren't too Marxist, although the tiresome liberal agitprop does wear on me sometimes. Fortunately, I've learned not to confront them as such; I simply ask them really challenging questions to expose either their bias or (in a couple of cases) their lack of knowledge on the topic.

But I'm lucky in that the comm college is in one of the most conservative counties in the entire country (let alone the state), so quite a few profs, I've learned, are actually closet conservatives.

We'll see what happens when I get to a 4-year school; watch this space.

1:44 AM, July 06, 2011  
Blogger Tscottme said...

Students need to consider how college debt can prevent them from working in their chosen field. Those loan payments after graduation may be high enough to make your starting pay below poverty-level.

The consumer affairs radio show host Clark Howard suggests keeping total college debt at/below your expected first year salary in your new job.

In my case I deferred repayment for some time while I was earning $900 per month and then started repaying loans as my pay increased to $1200/mo. As unexpected financial problems arose my savings depleted until my final emergency upon which I had to leave the field.

Don't get a degree unless you need it. Recognize that the constructive social contacts during college may be more valuable that the actual college education during those years. Don't take the money just because it's easy during college, you will repay it and then some.

3:00 AM, July 06, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Speaking as a man who enrolled in a community college at age 55 and will get his BA at 59 (postgrad should only take me a further year or so)...."

I have a great deal of respect for that, Kim. Most people your age are counting down the days til their Sweet 65th Birthday, when they can crack open the retirement account, start collecting social security, enroll in Medicare (God bless Bush for that prescription drug benefit), and lay about obese and useless for the next 30 years. The last thing they're thinking of is an ambitious second career (unless they've just retired from the military, that is - those boys achieve).

If we are people who *do*, then our work - the things we create and discover, what we invent and build, the lives we touch and the people we help, all that we accomplish - has meaning beyond just what we're paid for doing it. That's why none of the heroes of capitalism or any other person of greatness ever took early retirement no matter how rich they got. Unfortunately, doers are relatively rare, while the obese and useless clutter up the earth.

In any case, good luck to you at your new school. You will earn a 4.0.

6:18 AM, July 06, 2011  
Blogger Larry J said...

ZorroPrimo said...
"hanging around their necks like a bus stop toilet seat."

Debt: The cure for self-esteem.

Except when the kids are too stupid to realize their debt is a problem: (emphasis added to highlight the utter stupidity)

Debt has become a way of life for American college students. The average student loan debt among graduating college seniors was more than $23,000 in 2008, according to In addition, the student lender Sallie Mae says the average graduating senior with at least one credit card had $4,138 in debt on the card.

Yet, instead of feeling stressed about owing all that money, many students actually feel “empowered,” says a new study from Ohio State University, based on data collected for the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The study, published in the journal Social Science Research, surveyed 3,079 students, the majority of whom were in their early- to mid-20s.

That’s right. The more college loans and credit-card debt that young adults 18 to 27 have, the higher their self-esteem — and the more control they feel they have over their lives. They tend to view debt positively, rather than as a burden.

This is what passes for economic education today. More debt means you have less control over your life, not more like these idiots claim.

9:12 PM, July 06, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

I watched a documentary called "Maxed Out" and I have since cancelled all of my credit cards. I live on my debit card and the odd pocketfull of cash.

The credit industry is the new Mafia.

9:36 PM, July 06, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Except when the kids are too stupid to realize their debt is a problem: (emphasis added to highlight the utter stupidity)"

Jesus H! Who's raising these kids?! Imbeciles, obviously. Probably the same people who ran up the national debt to $14.4 trillion and incurred off-budget unfunded liabilities of $120 trillion (CBO's low-ball estimate).

It so happens that this $120 trillion is primarily for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. So it's a good thing young people stupidly "view debt positively, rather than as a burden". It certainly works out well for the greedy geezer crowd. Too well.

But then perhaps it's simply a matter of genetics, where the stupidity of the parents has been passed to the children.

11:05 PM, July 06, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

after being forced to live on credit during my divorce, i vowed to never find myself in that position again and got rid of them.

my wife applauds my tenacity in that regard and has learned not to let her daughter take her card for the week-end anymore...thankfully.

11:41 AM, July 08, 2011  

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