|January 8th, 2010||#43|
I usually write back, explaining that in this era of grade inflation (and recommendation inflation), there's an almost unlimited supply of students with perfect grades and glowing letters. Of course, some doctoral program may admit them with full financing, but that doesn't mean they are going to find work as professors when it's all over. The reality is that less than half of all doctorate holders — after nearly a decade of preparation, on average — will ever find tenure-track positions.
|January 8th, 2010||#44|
As things stand, I can only identify a few circumstances under which one might reasonably consider going to graduate school in the humanities:
* You are independently wealthy, and you have no need to earn a living for yourself or provide for anyone else.
* You come from that small class of well-connected people in academe who will be able to find a place for you somewhere.
* You can rely on a partner to provide all of the income and benefits needed by your household.
* You are earning a credential for a position that you already hold — such as a high-school teacher — and your employer is paying for it.
Those are the only people who can safely undertake doctoral education in the humanities. Everyone else who does so is taking an enormous personal risk, the full consequences of which they cannot assess because they do not understand how the academic-labor system works and will not listen to people who try to tell them.
Last edited by Alex Linder; January 8th, 2010 at 10:10 PM.
|April 9th, 2010||#45|
Join Date: Jul 2007
New college grads to make less $$$
By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter
April 8, 2010: 2:37 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- College students gearing up to graduate this spring are likely to make less on their first job than those who got their degree last year, according to a report released Thursday.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers said that average salary offers to 2010 bachelor's degree candidates are down 1.7% to $47,673, compared to $48,515 last year.
Students seeking liberal arts degrees may face the hardest blow. Their average initial pay offers are down 8.9% to $33,540, based on data collected from college career services offices.
Starting salary amounts extended to graduates with positions in business management are down 8% to $42,094, and students with jobs in the marketing field have dipped 2.1% to $42,710.
Last year's graduates had a tougher time landing jobs, but starting salaries only slipped 1.2% compared with 2008 graduates, said NACE employment information manager Andrea Koncz.
"This year, graduates are starting to get the jobs but at slightly lower offers," Koncz said. NACE's summer and fall surveys may provide a clearer picture since more students will have secured jobs by then.
Not all grads will be making less.
"Students graduating with more technical degrees are in higher demand," Koncz said.
The average pay for students earning computer-related degrees has climbed 5.8% to $58,746.
Introductory salaries are up 1.6% for finance majors and 0.4% for accounting students.
For engineering students, initial pay offers are 1.2% higher at $59,149. Electrical engineering majors' salaries have jumped the most, by 3% to $59,326. Pay offers for chemical engineers and civil engineers are up more than 1%, but computer engineers and mechanical engineers will only see 0.2%increases.
|April 9th, 2010||#46|
Celebrating My Diversity
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: With The Creepy-Ass Crackahs
Thinking specifically of the South. . .
It always amazes me, this chain of events:
1) Jews and White suck-ups use college perch to push disenfranchisement of Whites in their own country.
2) Local public schools become untenable, ie, a living hell, for Whites due to forced "integration."
3) Private schools established. White adults now pay for both the black (and now) brown at public school and their own children at private school.
4) Highest goal of private education for Whites? To get them into college, which created this nightmare in the first fucking place. Many of their non-White "equals" will be given college degrees--subsidized indirectly by these same White parents--thereby rendering these degrees de facto worthless.
5) Whites in question look down upon other Whites who are not complete fools and choose not to purchase a degree/be psychologically and financially sodomized, as if the situation were its reverse.
You can't help people like this.
|May 14th, 2010||#47|
Join Date: May 2010
As a high school drop out, I wholeheartedly agree that the education system is terribly corrupt. To be honest, the corruption was the entire reason I decided to drop out of school. I always that college was a poor choice for a future. I never agreed with it, and I never will.
Since I've been in the Army, I've made well over a hundred thousand dollars. I have over fifty thousand in the bank. I've been in the Army for about four years. If I had finished high school and gone to college instead, I'd probably be about fifty thousand dollars in debt.
The sad part is, I'm a high school drop out soldier who reads and writes better than a lot of people I know with degrees. Either way, I am better off than I would be if I had gone to college. As for my G.I. bill, I wonder if I can use that towards a technical school to LEARN a profession. I rather not put my hard earned money in the hands of some greedy Jew in a college or university to learn absolutely nothing.
|May 15th, 2010||#48|
Key to college is not to be taken with "college education" like a raccoon with a neato shiny gum wrapper. Question is, what do YOU get out of this 'college education'? If you're studying liberal arts, you generally get some permutation of marxist bs. If you want real education, you can find it on the internet. If you want some specific skill or training, that is more likely to be worth your dollar. Anything general or soft, ie not tied to standards, is likely polluted with the usual suspects teaching the usual lies. Not worth paying for.
|May 15th, 2010||#49|
Join Date: May 2010
Dr. Pierce always said that every TRULy qualified White kid can still get a scholarship. Thing is, nowadays, even if you have the money, if you're talking about any of the humanities, esp. history and english, you're sending your kid to learn "afro-american" "history" and "literature." (which is interesting as they had no written language until Whitey). The Norse Sagas? Eh, nevermind them, let your kid learn 3,000 uses for peanut butter GW Carver supposedly invented.
|May 16th, 2010||#50|
Join Date: Jul 2007
A Lament for the Class of 2010
New college graduates face a labor force that neither wants or needs them; a plum job interning at a street fair
By JOE QUEENAN
A few weeks ago I ran into one of my son's oldest friends. He had attended an Ivy League school, studying drama and music, and was now back living at home. He is a smart, talented, enterprising young man and I have always liked him, in part because he engages with adults in a way many young men do not. (For example, he actually makes eye contact.) I asked him if he had found a job yet and he replied, a bit sheepishly, "Not exactly." He then explained that he was working as an intern at a street fair on the Lower East Side of New York City. An Ivy League education runs around $200,000, not counting meals and transportation. The internship paid about $250 a week. But presumably, it could lead to bigger things, like a full-time job at a street fair in New York. Even so, it did sound like my son's friend was ever so slightly underemployed.
Over the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Millennials will graduate from institutions of higher learning. They will celebrate for several days, perhaps several weeks. Then they will enter a labor force that neither wants nor needs them. They will enter an economy where roughly 17% of people aged 20 through 24 do not have a job, and where two million college graduates are unemployed. They will enter a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas.
They will console themselves with the thought that all this is but a speed bump on the road to success, that their inability to find work in a field that is even vaguely related to the discipline they trained in is only a fleeting setback. They may even spell this out in detail on their Facebook pages, perhaps accompanying it with a pithy quote like "When you're going through Hell, keep on going." They will do this right after they have finished deleting the summer-year-abroad photo where they're shaking hands with Hugo Chavez. In asserting that the sun will soon break through the clouds, they will be echoing what college grads told themselves last year, and the year before. This is only a temporary reversal. Surely, IBM or the State Department or Morgan Stanley will eventually respond to that glittering resume. After all, every company worth its salt needs a few Gender Studies majors! The sun'll come out tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
More sophisticated young people may already suspect otherwise. With the obvious exception of youngsters born during the Great Depression, no generation in American history faces more daunting obstacles. Economists theorize that this may be that very rarest of things—a generation that does not do as well financially as the generation that spawned it. Even the pasty-faced Pilgrim toddlers gamboling around Plymouth Rock in 1620 had better prospects than this one; at least the Massachusetts economy was still expanding back in the 17th century. And kids entering the work force after the Alamo or the Donner Pass Incident or the Crash of 1873 weren't saddled with the kind of debts kids tote around now. Back then, ordinary people didn't go to college. And back in those days, you could always pack up and move west, to California, let's say, where the streets were paved with gold. Now the streets aren't paved, period.
There are three formidable obstacles confronting college graduates today. One, the economy, though improving at a glacial pace, is still a wreck. There are no jobs, and the jobs that do exist aren't the kinds anyone in his right mind would have spent $100,000 to $200,000 to land. Two, nothing in most middle-class kids' lives has prepared them emotionally for the world they are about to enter. Three, the legacy costs that society has imposed on young people will be a millstone around their necks for decades. Who's going to pay for the health care bill? Gen Y. Who's going to pay off the federal deficit? Gen Y. Who's going to fund all those cops' and teachers' and firemen's pensions? Gen Y. Who's going to support Baby Boomers as they suck the Social Security System dry while wheezing around Tuscany?
Americans have never shrunk from adversity, so in the fullness of time young people may put on their game face, create new industries, discover fresh roads to affluence and solve the nation's vexing economic problems. But all that lies far in the future. The immediate problem is psychological: the sudden, shocking realization that work as it is constituted in the early 21st century is going to be hell. In the workplace, you don't get to pick your company. In the workplace, you do not get a trophy just for showing up. In the workplace, the boss gets to scream at you as a perk. Probably your first day on the job. Your boss, who doesn't have an iPad, isn't on Facebook, and doesn't know how to text. Your boss, who doesn't particularly care for Lady Gaga. Your boss, who probably has a night-school degree.
Young people can be forgiven for thinking that the portrayal of the working world in comedies like "The Office" and "Office Space" is completely over the top. Now they're going to find out otherwise. Reality is a mean trick that grown-ups play on the young. Companies really do schedule annual outings where everybody is required to see "Jersey Boys." Managers really do give motivational speeches with lines like, "If we can't enhance value for our shareholders, why on Earth are we here?" Young people really do have to work all day in offices where the plaintive voice in the tinny radio on the adjacent desk ceaselessly pleads, "Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock 'n roll."
And slip away.
If you're a recent grad and you think you're going to hate your bosses, wait till you meet your coworkers. You're going to be working with people who believe in UFOs. You're going to be working with people who play in REO Speedwagon tribute bands. You're going to be working with people who participate in French and Indian War re-enactments every summer. They're going to try to get you to join, mon beau chevalier. You really have no idea how awful this is going to be.
In olden days—say three years ago—young people could suck it up and endure this kind of fleeting torture, knowing that they would rapidly clamber up the ladder of success and leave the dregs of the work force behind. Not today. Economists predict that it could take five years for employment to return to pre-recession levels. Five years of working with Parrotheads. Five years of playing softball with fat, middle-aged drunks. Five years of listening to "You Had a Bad Day" while you're trying to converse with irate customers. Five years of having a bad day.
Or maybe you were thinking of throwing in the towel, giving up on launching your career right away, and spending a year abroad. After all, a year in a foreign country can give you a wonderful perspective on life that will come in handy in the years to come. So where were you thinking of going? Greece, where the unemployed were recently gunning each other down in the streets? Great Britain, which no longer has a fully functioning government? Sweden, which just officially slipped back into recession? Ireland, whose economy has imploded? Spain, whose economy has imploded? Or no, hold on, here's an idea: How about Iceland?
Of course, there's always law school. Never mind that applications are at an all-time high and that thousands of legal positions at investment banking firms have disappeared forever. Never mind that recent Ivy League law school graduates are now working as file clerks, substitute school teachers, census takers. Never mind that in order to pay back the $200,000 it's going to cost you to go to law school, you'll need to land one of those plum legal jobs at Goldman Sachs or AIG or one of those other firms that are no longer hiring because they owe so much to the lawyers they already did hire to defend them from lawsuits brought by the government's lawyers, public prosecutors who only took those jobs because Goldman Sachs and AIG weren't hiring. Good luck getting your parents to pay for that one.
Is there any silver lining in all this? Yes. As of 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny young people coverage because of a pre-existing condition. After Millennials have slaved away at going-nowhere jobs for a few years, and have forked over literally thousands of dollars of their hard-earned cash to support mean-spirited, nostalgia-crazed Baby Boomer retirees who don't even like them, and are probably going to waste a lot of the money on overpriced tickets to attend "Rod Stewart Sings the Billy Joel Songbook and Vice Versa" at Madison Square Garden, those pre-existing conditions will probably include ulcers, inflamed duodenums, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic headaches. But at least the Pepcid will be competitively priced.
Baby boomers get sick of hearing young people bellyache about the grim jobs situation. They cite studies proving that entitled, self-absorbed Millennials make the worst employees ever. They recall with belligerent pride how they themselves withstood the Arab oil embargo, stagflation, the soaring interest rates of the Carter years. But Baby Boomers conveniently forget that it didn't set anyone back a year's salary to go to college in the 1960s and 1970s, and that college graduates back then were not entering a work force filled with other college grads. When I got my first job in 1973, I was surrounded by high-school dropouts. They weren't even especially bright high-school dropouts. So it was possible to make a vertical move quickly. Not today, when everybody in the white-collar world has a college degree. Today, even the idiots have college degrees. And the idiots have seniority.
My son, who graduated from college in 2009, will start law school this fall. During his brief sojourn in what is sometimes mirthfully referred to as "the real world," he worked as a bouncer, a delivery man, a focus group participant and a furniture mover. Ergo, law school. He says that when he talks to his friends, a persistent complaint is that for the first time in their lives his peers have no way of measuring their progress. "All through school, we got A's and B's, so we knew where we stood," he points out. "How do you know where you stand when you're waiting tables or parking cars?"
Good point. It's brutal out there, all right. Blogs and instant messaging and social networking systems don't help much because everyone is using the same cutting-edge tools to compete for the same low-tech jobs. The easiest way to get a job is still the oldest way: To know somebody who can get you a job or give you a job. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for freshly minted graduates is that they are now competing against last year's grads: savvy, wizened pros that already have the most sought-after jobs locked up. For example, let's say you've just finished college, and you're a reasonably creative sort, and you're looking for a job that will free up plenty of time so you can polish your chops as a dancer or a singer or an actor. For example, a job as an intern at a Lower East Side street fair.
Sorry, pal. That job is long gone.
—Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of the memoir "Closing Time."
|May 20th, 2010||#51|
Join Date: Jul 2007
I recently watched a PBS expose of for-profit online colleges (like University of Phoenix). They are obviously a Wall Street-financed scam to got hold of federal student loan money, with no assurance that the degrees will lead to jobs that will allow for comfortable repayment. But it struck me that most of their criticisms apply equally if not more so to regular state and private (nonprofit) schools, which were not criticized. For example, the for-profit schools use high-pressure telephone sales tactics to get people to sign up. Yet how can that, adult on working adult, compare to the universal pressure the entire public school system puts on all children to go to traditional colleges? Is the real problem the left has that the for-profit schools teach only the subject you sign up for, and don’t impose cultural diversity courses on everyone?
If you have an hour to kill:
|May 25th, 2010||#52|
What actually goes on at a "college," I mean THE (Ohio State 'University')?
|May 25th, 2010||#53|
Join Date: Jan 2007
The future of the kwa...
Someone needs to archive this and in 15 to 20 years, mail it back to their kids... I would pay to see how proud that'll make them then !
Thinking... Please wait.
|May 31st, 2010||#54|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Placing the Blame as Students Are Buried in Debt
By RON LIEBER
Published: May 28, 2010
Like many middle-class families, Cortney Munna and her mother began the college selection process with a grim determination. They would do whatever they could to get Cortney into the best possible college, and they maintained a blind faith that the investment would be worth it.
Cortney Munna hoped for the best when she decided to attend New York University. Now she owes $100,000.
Citibank gave Cortney Munna $40,000 in loans, though she had already amassed debt well into the five figures. It was like the “no doc” loans that home buyers used to get in over their heads.
Today, however, Ms. Munna, a 26-year-old graduate of New York University, has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and affording the full monthly payments would be a struggle. For much of the time since her 2005 graduation, she’s been enrolled in night school, which allows her to defer loan payments.
This is not a long-term solution, because the interest on the loans continues to pile up. So in an eerie echo of the mortgage crisis, tens of thousands of people like Ms. Munna are facing a reckoning. They and their families made borrowing decisions based more on emotion than reason, much as subprime borrowers assumed the value of their houses would always go up.
Meanwhile, universities like N.Y.U. enrolled students without asking many questions about whether they could afford a $50,000 annual tuition bill. Then the colleges introduced the students to lenders who underwrote big loans without any idea of what the students might earn someday — just like the mortgage lenders who didn’t ask borrowers to verify their incomes.
Ms. Munna does not want to walk away from her loans in the same way many mortgage holders are. It would be difficult in any event because federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts. But unless she manages to improve her income quickly, she doesn’t have a lot of good options for digging out.
It is utterly depressing that there are so many people like her facing decades of payments, limited capacity to buy a home and a debt burden that can repel potential life partners. For starters, it’s a shared failure of parenting and loan underwriting.
But perhaps the biggest share lies with colleges and universities because they have the most knowledge of the financial aid process. And I would argue that they had an obligation to counsel students like Ms. Munna, who got in too far over their heads.
How many people are like her? According to the College Board’s Trends in Student Aid study, 10 percent of people who graduated in 2007-8 with student loans had borrowed $40,000 or more. The median debt for bachelor’s degree recipients who borrowed while attending private, nonprofit colleges was $22,380.
The Project on Student Debt, a research and advocacy organization in Oakland, Calif., used federal data to estimate that 206,000 people graduated from college (including many from for-profit universities) with more than $40,000 in student loan debt in that same period. That’s a ninefold increase over the number of people in 1996, using 2008 dollars.
No one forces borrowers to take out these loans, and Ms. Munna and her mother, Cathryn, have spent the years since her graduation trying to understand where they went wrong. Ms. Munna’s father died when she was 13, after a series of illnesses.
She started college at age 17 and borrowed as much money as she could under the federal loan program. To make up the difference between her grants and work study money and the total cost of attending, her mother co-signed two private loans with Sallie Mae totaling about $20,000.
When they applied for a third loan, however, Sallie Mae rejected the application, citing Cathryn’s credit history. She had returned to college herself to finish her bachelor’s degree and was also borrowing money. N.Y.U. suggested a federal Plus loan for parents, but that would have required immediate payments, something the mother couldn’t afford. So before Cortney’s junior year, N.Y.U. recommended that she apply for a private student loan on her own with Citibank.
Over the course of the next two years, starting when she was still a teenager, she borrowed about $40,000 from Citibank without thinking much about how she would pay it back. How could her mother have let her run up that debt, and why didn’t she try to make her daughter transfer to, say, the best school in the much cheaper state university system in New York? “All I could see was college, and a good college and how proud I was of her,” Cathryn said. “All we needed to do was get this education and get the good job. This is the thing that eats away at me, the naïveté on my part.”
But Cortney resists the idea that this is a tale of bad parenting. “To me, it would be an uncharitable reading,” she said. “My mother has tried her best, and I don’t blame her for anything in this.”
Sallie Mae gets a pass here, in my view. A responsible grownup co-signed for its loans to the Munnas, and the company eventually cut them off.
But what was Citi thinking, handing over $40,000 to an undergraduate who had already amassed debt well into the five figures? This was, in effect, a “no doc” or at least a “low doc” subprime mortgage loan.
A Citi spokesman declined to comment, even though Ms. Munna was willing to sign a waiver giving Citi permission to talk about her loans. Perhaps the bank worried that once it approved one loan, cutting her off would have led her to drop out or transfer and have trouble paying back the loan.
Today, someone like Ms. Munna might not qualify for the $40,000 she borrowed. But as the economy rebounds, there is little doubt that plenty of lenders will step forward to roll the dice on desperate students, especially because the students generally can’t get rid of the debt in bankruptcy court.
The financial aid office often has the best picture of what students like Ms. Munna are up against, because they see their families’ financial situation splayed out on the federal financial aid form. So why didn’t N.Y.U. tell Ms. Munna that she simply did not belong there once she’d passed, say, $60,000 in total debt?
“Had somebody called me and said, ‘Do you have a clue where this is all headed?’, it would have been a slap in the face, but a slap in the face that I needed,” said Cathryn Munna. “When financial aid told her that they could get her $2,000 more in loans, they should have been saying ‘You are in deep doo-doo, little girl.’ ”
That’s not a role that the university wants to take on, though. “I think that would be completely inappropriate,” said Randall Deike, the vice president of enrollment management for N.Y.U., who oversees admissions and financial aid. “Some families will do whatever it takes for their son or daughter to be not just at N.Y.U., but any first-choice college. I’m not sure that’s always the best decision, but it’s one that they really have to make themselves.”
The complications here go well beyond the propriety of suggesting that a student enroll elsewhere. Colleges don’t always know how much debt its students are taking on, which makes it hard to offer good counsel. (N.Y.U. does appear to have known about all of Ms. Munna’s loans, though.)
Then there’s a branding problem. Urging students to attend a cheaper college or leave altogether suggests a lack of confidence about the earning potential of alumni. Nobody wants to admit that. And once a university starts encouraging middle-class students to go elsewhere, it must fill its classes with more children of the wealthy and a much smaller number of low-income students to whom it can afford to offer enormous scholarships. That’s hardly an ideal outcome either.
Finally, universities exist to enroll students, not turn them away. “Aid administrators want to keep their jobs,” said Joan H. Crissman, interim president and chief executive of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “If the administration finds out that you’re encouraging students to go to a cheaper school just because you don’t think they can handle the debt load, I don’t think that’s going to mesh very well.”
That doesn’t change the fact, however, that the financial aid office is still in the best position to see trouble coming and do something to stop it. University officials should take on this obligation, even if they aren’t willing to advise students to attend another college.
Instead, they might deputize a gang of M.B.A. candidates or alumni in the financial services industry to offer free financial planning to admitted students and their families. Mr. Deike also noted that the bigger problem here is one of financial literacy. Fine. He and N.Y.U. are in a great position to solve for that by making every financial aid recipient take a financial planning class. The students could even use their families as the case study.
The balance on Cortney Munna’s loans is about $97,000, including all of her federal loans and her private debt from Sallie Mae and Citibank. What are her options for digging out?
Her mother can’t help without selling her bed and breakfast, and then she’d have no home. She could take her daughter in, but there aren’t good ways for her to earn a living in Alexandria Bay, in upstate New York.
Cortney could move someplace cheaper than her current home city of San Francisco, but she worries about her job prospects, even with her N.Y.U. diploma.
She recently received a raise and now makes $22 an hour working for a photographer. It’s the highest salary she’s earned since graduating with an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women’s studies. After taxes, she takes home about $2,300 a month. Rent runs $750, and the full monthly payments on her student loans would be about $700 if they weren’t being deferred, which would not leave a lot left over.
She may finally be earning enough to barely scrape by while still making the payments for the first time since she graduated, at least until interest rates rise and the payments on her loans with variable rates spiral up. And while her job requires her to work nights and weekends sometimes, she probably should find a flexible second job to try to bring in a few extra hundred dollars a month.
Ms. Munna understands this tough love, buck up, buckle-down advice. But she also badly wants to call a do-over on the last decade. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back,” she said. “It feels wrong to me.”
|June 11th, 2010||#55|
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: FUCK YOU!
I hate compulsory brainwashing more than ever these days! 'Schools' are not even fit to turn into pig pens these days and they are fucking gulags. Even in my day, I knew that schools were nothing but brainwashing centers and thought control.
Xuxa, a friend of real Education and a mortal enemy of compulsory "education!"
4 Words! 14/88!
|July 9th, 2010||#56|
Join Date: Jul 2007
American Dream Is Elusive for New Generation
By LOUIS UCHITELLE
Published: July 6, 2010
GRAFTON, Mass. — After breakfast, his parents left for their jobs, and Scott Nicholson, alone in the house in this comfortable suburb west of Boston, went to his laptop in the living room. He had placed it on a small table that his mother had used for a vase of flowers until her unemployed son found himself reluctantly stuck at home.
The daily routine seldom varied. Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.
Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.
Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.
“The conversation I’m going to have with my parents now that I’ve turned down this job is more of a concern to me than turning down the job,” he said.
He was braced for the conversation with his father in particular. While Scott Nicholson viewed the Hanover job as likely to stunt his career, David Nicholson, 57, accustomed to better times and easier mobility, viewed it as an opportunity. Once in the door, the father has insisted to his son, opportunities will present themselves — as they did in the father’s rise over 35 years to general manager of a manufacturing company.
“You maneuvered and you did not worry what the maneuvering would lead to,” the father said. “You knew it would lead to something good.”
Complicating the generational divide, Scott’s grandfather, William S. Nicholson, a World War II veteran and a retired stock broker, has watched what he described as America’s once mighty economic engine losing its pre-eminence in a global economy. The grandfather has encouraged his unemployed grandson to go abroad — to “Go West,” so to speak.
“I view what is happening to Scott with dismay,” said the grandfather, who has concluded, in part from reading The Economist, that Europe has surpassed America in offering opportunity for an ambitious young man. “We hate to think that Scott will have to leave,” the grandfather said, “but he will.”
The grandfather’s injunction startled the grandson. But as the weeks pass, Scott Nicholson, handsome as a Marine officer in a recruiting poster, has gradually realized that his career will not roll out in the Greater Boston area — or anywhere in America — with the easy inevitability that his father and grandfather recall, and that Scott thought would be his lot, too, when he finished college in 2008.
“I don’t think I fully understood the severity of the situation I had graduated into,” he said, speaking in effect for an age group — the so-called millennials, 18 to 29 — whose unemployment rate of nearly 14 percent approaches the levels of that group in the Great Depression. And then he veered into the optimism that, polls show, is persistently, perhaps perversely, characteristic of millennials today. “I am absolutely certain that my job hunt will eventually pay off,” he said.
For young adults, the prospects in the workplace, even for the college-educated, have rarely been so bleak. Apart from the 14 percent who are unemployed and seeking work, as Scott Nicholson is, 23 percent are not even seeking a job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total, 37 percent, is the highest in more than three decades and a rate reminiscent of the 1930s.
The college-educated among these young adults are better off. But nearly 17 percent are either unemployed or not seeking work, a record level (although some are in graduate school). The unemployment rate for college-educated young adults, 5.5 percent, is nearly double what it was on the eve of the Great Recession, in 2007, and the highest level — by almost two percentage points — since the bureau started to keep records in 1994 for those with at least four years of college.
Yet surveys show that the majority of the nation’s millennials remain confident, as Scott Nicholson is, that they will have satisfactory careers. They have a lot going for them.
“They are better educated than previous generations and they were raised by baby boomers who lavished a lot of attention on their children,” said Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center’s director. That helps to explain their persistent optimism, even as they struggle to succeed.
So far, Scott Nicholson is a stranger to the triumphal stories that his father and grandfather tell of their working lives. They said it was connections more than perseverance that got them started — the father in 1976 when a friend who had just opened a factory hired him, and the grandfather in 1946 through an Army buddy whose father-in-law owned a brokerage firm in nearby Worcester and needed another stock broker.
From these accidental starts, careers unfolded and lasted. David Nicholson, now the general manager of a company that makes tools, is still in manufacturing. William Nicholson spent the next 48 years, until his retirement, as a stock broker. “Scott has got to find somebody who knows someone,” the grandfather said, “someone who can get him to the head of the line.”
While Scott has tried to make that happen, he has come under pressure from his parents to compromise: to take, if not the Hanover job, then one like it. “I am beginning to realize that refusal is going to have repercussions,” he said. “My parents are subtly pointing out that beyond room and board, they are also paying other expenses for me, like my cellphone charges and the premiums on a life insurance policy.”
Scott Nicholson also has connections, of course, but no one in his network of family and friends has been able to steer him into marketing or finance or management training or any career-oriented opening at a big corporation, his goal. The jobs are simply not there.
The Millennials’ Inheritance
The Great Depression damaged the self-confidence of the young, and that is beginning to happen now, according to pollsters, sociologists and economists. Young men in particular lost a sense of direction, Glen H. Elder Jr., a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, found in his study, “Children of the Great Depression.” In some cases they were forced into work they did not want — the issue for Scott Nicholson.
Military service in World War II, along with the G.I. Bill and a booming economy, restored well-being; by the 1970s, when Mr. Elder did his retrospective study, the hardships of the Depression were more a memory than an open sore. “They came out of the war with purpose in their lives, and by age 40 most of them were doing well,” he said, speaking of his study in a recent interview.
The outlook this time is not so clear. Starved for jobs at adequate pay, the millennials tend to seek refuge in college and in the military and to put off marriage and child-bearing. Those who are working often stay with the jobs they have rather than jump to better paying but less secure ones, as young people seeking advancement normally do. And they are increasingly willing to forgo raises, or to settle for small ones.
“They are definitely more risk-averse,” said Lisa B. Kahn, an economist at the Yale School of Management, “and more likely to fall behind.”
In a recent study, she found that those who graduated from college during the severe early ’80s recession earned up to 30 percent less in their first three years than new graduates who landed their first jobs in a strong economy. Even 15 years later, their annual pay was 8 to 10 percent less.
Many hard-pressed millennials are falling back on their parents, as Scott Nicholson has. While he has no college debt (his grandparents paid all his tuition and board) many others do, and that helps force them back home.
In 2008, the first year of the recession, the percentage of the population living in households in which at least two generations were present rose nearly a percentage point, to 16 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. The high point, 24.7 percent, came in 1940, as the Depression ended, and the low point, 12 percent, in 1980.
Striving for Independence
“Going it alone,” “earning enough to be self-supporting” — these are awkward concepts for Scott Nicholson and his friends. Of the 20 college classmates with whom he keeps up, 12 are working, but only half are in jobs they “really like.” Three are entering law school this fall after frustrating experiences in the work force, “and five are looking for work just as I am,” he said.
Like most of his classmates, Scott tries to get by on a shoestring and manages to earn enough in odd jobs to pay some expenses.
The jobs are catch as catch can. He and a friend recently put up a white wooden fence for a neighbor, embedding the posts in cement, a day’s work that brought Scott $125. He mows lawns and gardens for half a dozen clients in Grafton, some of them family friends. And he is an active volunteer firefighter.
“As frustrated as I get now, and I never intended to live at home, I’m in a good situation in a lot of ways,” Scott said. “I have very little overhead and no debt, and it is because I have no debt that I have any sort of flexibility to look for work. Otherwise, I would have to have a job, some kind of full-time job.”
That millennials as a group are optimistic is partly because many are, as Mr. Kohut put it, the children of doting baby boomers — among them David Nicholson and his wife, Susan, 56, an executive at a company that owns movie theaters.
The Nicholsons, whose combined annual income is north of $175,000, have lavished attention on their three sons. Currently that attention is directed mainly at sustaining the self-confidence of their middle son.
“No one on either side of the family has ever gone through this,” Mrs. Nicholson said, “and I guess I’m impatient. I know he is educated and has a great work ethic and wants to start contributing, and I don’t know what to do.”
Her oldest, David Jr., 26, did land a good job. Graduating from Middlebury College in 2006, he joined a Boston insurance company, specializing in reinsurance, nearly three years ago, before the recession.
“I’m fortunate to be at a company where there is some security,” he said, adding that he supports Scott in his determination to hold out for the right job. “Once you start working, you get caught up in the work and you have bills to pay, and you lose sight of what you really want,” the brother said.
He is earning $75,000 — a sum beyond Scott’s reach today, but not his expectations. “I worked hard through high school to get myself into the college I did,” Scott said, “and then I worked hard through college to graduate with the grades and degree that I did to position myself for a solid job.” (He majored in political science and minored in history.)
It was in pursuit of a solid job that Scott applied to Hanover International’s management training program. Turned down for that, he was called back to interview for the lesser position in the claims department.
“I’m sitting with the manager, and he asked me how I had gotten interested in insurance. I mentioned Dave’s job in reinsurance, and the manager’s response was, ‘Oh, that is about 15 steps above the position you are interviewing for,’ ” Scott said, his eyes widening and his voice emotional.
Scott acknowledges that he is competitive with his brothers, particularly David, more than they are with him. The youngest, Bradley, 22, has a year to go at the University of Vermont. His parents and grandparents pay his way, just as they did for his brothers in their college years.
In the Old Days
Going to college wasn’t an issue for grandfather Nicholson, or so he says. With World War II approaching, he entered the Army not long after finishing high school and, in the fighting in Italy, a battlefield commission raised him overnight from enlisted man to first lieutenant. That was “the equivalent of a college education,” as he now puts it, in an age when college on a stockbroker’s résumé “counted for something, but not a lot.”
He spent most of his career in a rising market, putting customers into stocks that paid good dividends, and growing wealthy on real estate investments made years ago, when Grafton was still semi-rural. The brokerage firm that employed him changed hands more than once, but he continued to work out of the same office in Worcester.
When his son David graduated from Babson College in 1976, manufacturing in America was in an early phase of its long decline, and Worcester was still a center for the production of sandpaper, emery stones and other abrasives.
He joined one of those companies — owned by the family of his friend — and he has stayed in manufacturing, particularly at companies that make hand tools. Early on, he and his wife bought the home in which they raised their sons, a white colonial dating from the early 1800s, like many houses on North Street, where the grandparents also live, a few doors away.
David Nicholson’s longest stretch was at the Stanley Works, and when he left, seeking promotion, a friend at the Endeavor Tool Company hired him as that company’s general manager, his present job.
In better times, Scott’s father might have given his son work at Endeavor, but the father is laying off workers, and a job in manufacturing, in Scott’s eyes, would be a defeat.
“If you talk to 20 people,” Scott said, “you’ll find only one in manufacturing and everyone else in finance or something else.”
Scott Nicholson almost sidestepped the recession. His plan was to become a Marine Corps second lieutenant. He had spent the summer after his freshman year in “platoon leader” training. Last fall he passed the physical for officer training, and was told to report on Jan. 16.
If all had gone well, he would have emerged in 10 weeks as a second lieutenant, committed to a four-year enlistment. “I could have made a career out of the Marines,” Scott said, “and if I had come out in four years, I would have been incredibly prepared for the workplace.”
It was not to be. In early January, a Marine Corps doctor noticed that he had suffered from childhood asthma. He was washed out. “They finally told me I could reapply if I wanted to,” Scott said. “But the sheen was gone.”
So he struggles to get a foothold in the civilian work force. His brother in Boston lost his roommate, and early last month Scott moved into the empty bedroom, with his parents paying Scott’s share of the $2,000-a-month rent until the lease expires on Aug. 31.
And if Scott does not have a job by then? “I’ll do something temporary; I won’t go back home,” Scott said. “I’ll be a bartender or get work through a temp agency. I hope I don’t find myself in that position.”
|September 15th, 2010||#57|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Colleges: Where the money goes
Athletic teams, administrators and tenured professors soak up huge chunks of colleges' budgets, and tuition and fees rise to keep up.
September 12, 2010|By Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus
At Pomona College, a top-flight liberal arts school, this year's sticker price for tuition and fees is a hefty $38,394 (not including room and board). Even after adjusting for inflation, that comes to 2.9 times what Pomona was charging a generation ago, in 1980.
This kind of massive tuition increase is the norm. In New England, Williams College charges $41,434, or an inflation-adjusted 3.2 times what it did 30 years ago. USC's current tab of $41,022 is a 3.6 multiple of its 1980 bill.
Tuition at public universities, in a time of ailing state budgets, has risen at an even faster rate. The University of Illinois' current $13,658 is six times its 1980 rate after adjusting for inflation. San Jose State's $6,250 is a whopping 11 times more.
If you look at how that added revenue is being spent, it's hard to argue that students are getting a lot of extra value for all that extra money. Why? Colleges aren't spending their extra revenues, which we calculate to be about $40 billion a year nationally over 1980 revenues, in ways that most benefit students.
One thing colleges are spending more on is athletic teams, which have become a more pronounced — and costly — presence on campuses everywhere. Even volleyball teams travel extensively these days, with paid coaches and customized uniforms. Currently, 629 schools have football teams — 132 more than in 1980. And all but 14 of them lose money, including some with national names. It's true that alumni donations sometimes increase during winning seasons, but most of those gifts go specifically to athletics or other designated uses, not toward general educational programs.
And meanwhile, the cost of sports continues to rise. The average football squad has gone from 82 to 102 players, due to sub-specialties required by esoteric coaching strategies. The number of women's sports teams has also risen sharply. Since 1980, for example, the number of women's soccer programs has soared from 80 to 956. And teams cost money — often lots of it. Varsity golf at Duke, open to both genders, costs an estimated $20,405 per player per year. Because there are no revenues for most sports, the deficits often have to be covered by tuition bills.
Another source of increased expense is administration. Since 1980, the number of administrators per student at colleges has about doubled; on most campuses their numbers now match the number of faculty. Here are some of their titles: senior specialist of assessment; director for learning communities; assistant dean of students for substance education; director of knowledge access services.
Needless to say, these officials claim that they offer needed services. Who can be opposed to ensuring access and assessment? But let's not forget that tuition pays for all these deans and directors; having more of them means higher bills for students.
Added tuition revenue has also gone to raise faculty salaries. Yale's full-time faculty members now average $129,400, up 64% in inflation-adjusted dollars from what they made in 1980. (Pay in other sectors of the U.S. economy rose only about 5% in this period.) Stanford's tenured and tenure-track professors are doing even better, averaging $153,900, an 83% increase over 1980.
We're told such stipends are needed to get top talent, but we're not so sure. Faculty stars may raise prestige, but they are often away from the classroom, having negotiated frequent paid leaves and smaller teaching loads — underwritten, of course, by tuition. At Williams College this year, for example, three of seven religion professors are taking off all or part of the academic year.
Complete data on college presidents' pay is easily accessible only back to 1991. Yet even in that relatively short span, many college leaders have seen their salaries double in inflation-adjusted dollars. Carleton's president today gets 2.4 times more than the president did 19 years ago; at NYU, pay has risen by 2.7 times. Measured another way, it takes the tuitions of 31 Vanderbilt students to cover their president's $1.2-million annual stipend. We have yet to see evidence that lofting more money to the top enhances the quality of instruction.
In theory, all this extra tuition money should permit the hiring of more junior faculty, which might mean smaller introductory courses. But on many campuses, huge classes remain the norm. One reason is that most teaching budgets are consumed by senior professors. Amherst's tenured professors absorb 77% of the cash available for full-time faculty. At Berkeley, they sop up 73%. At Northern Arizona, it's 75%. The little that's left is parceled out among junior professors and underpaid adjuncts, who despite rising tuitions are doing an increasing portion of the teaching.
The cost of room and board has gone up sharply too, with charges often double or more in inflation-adjusted dollars. At Bowdoin and UCLA, they have gone up three times. Most college tours will show that student living standards have risen too. Rooms once had only iron cots, military mattresses and battered desks. Now suites are wired for electronic gear, with fully-equipped kitchens down the hall. Penn State enables students to legally download music — at last count about 2 million songs a week.
As to dining, food costs may be lower than ever, but not on college campuses, where the quality of campus dining has become a marketing tool. If your memories of dorm food include mystery meat and overcooked vegetables, you'd be in for a shock on today's campuses. Here were some recent choices in the Middlebury College dining rooms: sun-dried tomato pizzas, African couscous, tandoori chicken, orange-ginger tofu steak, red beans and basmati rice. Whether these more elaborate menus make students more studious is not known.
The travesty of high tuition is that most of the extra charges aren't going for education. Administrators, athletics and amenities get funded, while history departments are denied new assistant professors. A whole generation of young Americans is being shortchanged, largely by adults who have carved out good careers in places we call colleges.
Andrew Hacker is on the faculty of Queens College and Claudia Dreifus teaches at Columbia University. Their book, "Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids and What We Can Do About It," came out last month.
|September 15th, 2010||#58|
Join Date: Jun 2009
they want the money
Google on "why college costs so much"
See if the prof/whores will tell you. Is it do to GOVERNMENT meddling, like the LOAN PROGRAMS? No. It'z do to everything else.
The argument- college costs so much, loans must be made available so all may attend. Say tuition is $40k. This is the "price" and would allegedly prevail even if the loans were stopped. Then the students would be deprived. That the $40k figure is bloated due to FEDERAL FUNDS floating around is not to be acknowledged.
Why? The folks who write books on this subject are in on the take. Prof's salaries have doubled, after inflation. . .
Last edited by Rick Ronsavelle; September 15th, 2010 at 01:15 PM.
|September 15th, 2010||#59|
Join Date: Jun 2009
higher education subsidies
by Neal McCluskey and Chris Edwards
The Department of Education spends about $30 billion a year on subsidies for higher education. The bulk of that funding goes toward student aid programs, with the balance going toward grants to educational institutions. In 2008, grants to institutions cost $2.3 billion and aid programs cost $27.6 billion, which included $17.4 billion for student grants, $9.6 billion for student loans, and $0.6 billion for administration.1
In the next section, we explore the origins of federal subsidies for higher education and its rapid growth since the 1960s. Following that we focus on the harmful effects of higher education subsidies. Those effects include education cost inflation, increased regulatory control of colleges and universities, and huge fraud and waste in student aid programs.
Origins and Growth of Subsidies
Federal subsidies for higher education began in 1862 with the Morrill Act, which provided grants of federal land to the states. The states were supposed to use the proceeds of land sales to create colleges focused on agricultural and mechanical studies, but “many states squandered the revenue from this endowment.”2 In 1890, a second Morrill Act began regular appropriations for the land-grant colleges.
In 1917, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act, which funded the salaries of vocational education teachers. The Act imposed a range of detailed rules on funded schools, which created an early precedent for today’s huge burden of federal regulations on state and local education systems.
The first major subsidy for students in higher education was the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944—the G.I. Bill—which allowed World War II veterans to attend college at no cost. The G.I. Bill is widely admired legislation, but like all subsidy programs it led to substantial wasteful spending and abuse. Some colleges and universities used federal funds for extraneous purposes, such as swimming pools and stadiums, while others increased tuition rates charged to veterans.3 There were also cases of outright fraud by schools aimed at garnering extra federal funds.
In 1958, the National Defense Education Act was approved in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, which spread fear that the communists were getting ahead of Americans in technical skills. The Act authorized funding for higher education loans and fellowships, vocational teacher training, and programs in the K-12 schools, including math, science, and foreign language activities.
The year 1965 was a landmark for federal expansion into both the K-12 schools and higher education. The Higher Education Act of 1965 is the basis for many of today’s postsecondary education subsidies, including student loan and grant programs, college library aid, teacher training programs, and other subsidies.
Since 1965, the federal government has provided increasing amounts of funding for higher education as grant and loan programs have been expanded, and new programs added. Federal aid for higher education soared from $10 billion in fiscal 2000 to $30 billion in fiscal 2008.4
Of the total $30 billion in 2008, $2.3 billion went toward higher educational institutions, including large shares to Gallaudet College and Howard University. The remaining $27.6 billion went toward student aid: $5.5 billion for direct student loans made by the government, $4.9 billion for federally guaranteed loans made by private lenders, $15.7 billion for grants, and the rest for federal administration.5 Note that the figures for loans are the net amount of federal support, based on assumptions about loan repayments. The gross amount of loans is much larger—in fiscal 2008, the gross amount of loans was $110 billion.6
In recent years, Congress has expanded subsidies for higher education. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 cut interest rates on federally subsidized loans in half, thus encouraging more student borrowing. The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 increased the borrowing limits on certain student loans and gave the Department of Education new authority to fund student lending. In 2008, Congress increased Pell Grant maximums from $5,800 to $8,000 over time, authorized forgiveness of up to $10,000 in federal loans for people working in an area of “national need,” and expanded other subsidies.
In 2009, President Obama proposed to eliminate all student loans through private financial firms guaranteed by the government, and thus make all federal loans “direct loans” from the Treasury. He also proposed to increase Pell grants and to budget for them as an “entitlement” program, thus putting spending on automatic pilot and not needed annual budgeting action from Congress.
Outside of the Department of Education, the federal government offers other aid programs for higher education, such as tuition assistance for military personnel in the Department of Defense. Also, the federal government funds more than $30 billion of research at the nation’s universities through various departments. 7
Finally, a growing part of federal support for education comes through the tax code. In 1995, there were just 7 special breaks in the income tax code for K-12 and higher education. Today, there are 16 breaks, including the lifetime learning tax credit, Hope scholarship, education savings accounts, and education facility bonds. Politicians of both parties continue to offer more breaks, so the tax code will likely get more crowded with such giveaways.
Subsidies and Education Inflation
There are numerous problems with federal subsidies for higher education. For one thing, such subsidies benefit people who will earn higher than average incomes during their careers. Thus, the effect of subsidy programs, in part, is to impose taxes on blue collar workers, who have not attended college, to pay for the tuition of future white-collar professionals. Why should the government subsidize future high earners at the expense of average working people?
Supporters of student aid subsidies argue that higher education is a “public good” that would be underprovided in a free market. However, that is probably not the case. People have a strong incentive to invest in their own education because it will lead to higher earnings. Those with a college degree will earn, on average, 75 percent more during their lifetime than those with just high-school degrees.8 That is a big incentive for people to save or borrow in private markets to pay for their own college costs. There is no “market failure” here.
Interestingly, the main effect of federal student aid programs may not be to transfer wealth from taxpayers to students as mentioned, but from taxpayers to academic institutions. That’s because the rise in student subsidies over the decades appears to have fueled inflation in education costs. Tuition and other college costs have soared as subsidies have risen.
It is matter of supply and demand. More and more Americans have sought a college education, which has pushed prices higher. Ordinarily, such upward pressure would be restrained by consumers’ willingness and ability to pay, but as government subsidies have helped absorb tuition increases, the public’s budget constraint has been lifted.9 Peter Wood, a professor at Boston University noted that federal subsidies “are seen by colleges and universities as money that is there for the taking . . . tuition is set high enough to capture those funds and whatever else we think can be extracted from parents.” f10
One can look at average cost data to see the inflationary effect of rising student aid. From 1987 to 2007, there was a strong upward trend in average per-student costs of private and public universities (tuition, fees, and room and board). However, if you subtract from those costs federal grants, loans, and tax benefits, there has been only a modest increase over two decades.
Consider four-year private colleges and universities. The average real cost (in 2006 dollars) per student rose from $18,122 in 1986 to $30,497 in 2006, a 68 percent increase. But students didn’t bear that large increase because of grants, loans, and tax benefits. After these benefits, the cost grew from $10,943 to $14,158, a much more modest 29 percent increase. A similar pattern holds for price increases and public institutions.
Nonetheless, even after taking inflated prices into account, federal aid has probably helped increase student enrollment. Total U.S. college and university enrollment increased about 48 percent between 1986 and 2006. But have those enrollment increases been an entirely good thing?
Many of those additional students may not have been ready, or suited, for college. As evidenced by the rising shares of college students who require remedial work. Further evidence of the problem is that institutions have lowered their standards to adapt to the rise in second-rate students. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences reported that from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, college grade point averages grew steadily but Scholastic Aptitude Test scores declined.11 The share of entering college students who complete degrees has also fallen over the decades.12 In addition, while college attendance is up, overall adult literacy has barely budged over the last 15 years.13
With all this in mind, phasing out federal aid would probably not result in reduced accessibility for truly college-ready students. Indeed, college cost inflation induced by federal aid probably hurts low-income families—the people that federal aid was supposed to target—more than others. Further, many private philanthropists support promising, low-income college kids, and they would have greater interest in doing so if the federal government was not in the aid business.
The value of a college education is very real, so young people and their families have a strong incentive to invest in higher education themselves, and private lenders have an incentive to lend to them. By cutting federal subsidies, tuition and related costs would fall as students shopped around for the best deals, which in turn would force schools to reduce their bloated cost structures.
There is plenty of evidence of bloat in academia. Consider congressional earmarks, which often fund dubious projects at colleges and universities. The number and value of educational earmarks has soared in recent years.14 In 2008, earmarks included $140,502 “to maintain healthful interscholastic youth-sports programs” at the University of Maine; $98,000 to build a “Student Wellness and Recreation Center” at Heidelberg College in Ohio; and $1,915,934 for the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service at the City University of New York.
Here are some other signs that both students and institutions could tighten their belts:
College students devote 3.2 hours to education on an average weekday, versus 3.9 hours to “leisure and sports;”15
The six-year graduation rate for bachelor’s students is only about 56 percent, indicating that many students are not very serious about education;16
Almost half of full-time college students binge drink or abuse drugs, and the incidence of such behaviors is rising.17
Between 1983 and 2007, energy consumption costs at America’s colleges rose twice as fast as energy costs in the private business sector, indicating that colleges are not very cost-conscious.18
Rising Federal Regulatory Control
Even with its problems, the American postsecondary education system is considered to be the best in the world. Driven by freedom of choice by consumers and competition between independent institutions, it has an unmatched vibrancy.
However, increasing top-down control and subsidization from Washington is creating a threat to the strength of the American system. As we have seen in K-12 education, the growth in federal subsidies is usually accompanied by calls for more oversight, micromanagement, and rising levels of red tape imposed by Washington.
A classic case of top-down federal control coming as a package deal with federal money was Title IX of the education amendments law of 1972. It banned discrimination on the basis of sex for any education-related program receiving federal assistance. Title IX has created many dislocations in activities such as college athletics, and it has generated large bureaucracies of lawyers to administer, enforce, and litigate the complex rules. The law is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education, which had 629 employees in 2008. Title IX is a regulatory octopus with arms in education programs, athletics, cheerleading, the Boy Scouts, fraternities, and many other activities. Whole books have been written about its broad-ranging and problematic effects.19
Today, a growing regulatory threat to higher education are the calls for “national standards,” similar to the top-down rules imposed on K-12 education. In 2005, then secretary of education Margaret Spellings created a commission to formulate a “comprehensive national strategy” for higher education. The Bush administration signaled that it wanted to tighten federal control over higher education as it had done over K-12 education under the No Child Left Behind Act. The commission’s final report stopped short of advocating outright federal imposition of standards and tests, but it did call for the creation of “a national strategy for lifelong learning” and a federal database with information on every college student in the country.20
Secretary Spellings also tried to impose outcome-measurement requirements on colleges through the regulation of accreditors, which are organizations whose stamp of approval is needed for the receipt of federal aid. In her plan, accreditors would be required to have schools report explicit outcome measures, which would probably mean standardized tests for incoming and outgoing students.
For the time being, Congress has rejected these proposed advances of federal intervention into higher education. However, Americans need to be aware that federal subsidies and regulations create a growing threat to academic independence, and would jeopardize the nation’s outstanding system of autonomous and competing institutions of higher learning.
Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Just about every federal program that hands out subsidies to individuals or businesses suffers from large waste, fraud, and abuse problems. Those problems are an ongoing issue in Medicare, Medicaid, housing subsidies, food stamps, farm aid, and other budget areas. When programs hand out billions of dollars of grants or loans, they attract cheaters and fraud artists. What makes it worse is that federal policymakers have shown themselves to be incapable of standing up for taxpayers and ending the waste.
Federal student loan and grant programs have been subject to waste and fraud for decades, and have taken many forms. One problem with needs-based student aid, for example, is that it creates incentives for families to misreport their income to garner excess federal cash. With the Pell grant program, this fraud problem costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year.21 Another ongoing problem is the high default rate on student loan programs. In 2001, the Government Accountability Office found that there were about $22 billion of student loans in default.22
Students aren’t the only culprits in education aid abuse. Under most student loan and grant programs, the aid is sent directly to thousands of educational institutions, which are supposed to distribute it to the eligible students. However, that distribution system has attracted swarms of shady school operators, who have lined their own pockets with funds meant for students. A related type of waste that has grabbed news headlines recently regards the large returns earned by the financial institutions that are subsidized to service student loans.
The magnitude of waste and fraud in federal student aid programs became clear in the early 1990s. One scandal at the time regarded the trade school American Career Training Corporation in Florida. The school recruited new “students” at food stamp offices and housing projects, and helped them take out loans.23 The school owners received tens of millions of dollars in federally guaranteed student loans, and simply pocketed much of it.
Many similar rip off schemes came to light. In 1991, a year long Senate investigation found that the federal student loan program is “plagued with fraud and abuse at every level,” robbing taxpayers of billions of dollars.24 The investigation accused the Department of Education of “gross mismanagement, ineptitude and neglect” and found that it had a “dismal record” of dealing with loan abuses.25 The report found that losses from the student loan program totaled an enormous $13 billion between 1983 and 1990.
Another fraud scheme at the time involved 21 Jewish schools in New York State, which received millions of dollars in federal Pell grant money. The schools spent hardly any of the money on education. For example, one of the schools pocketed $3.2 million in Pell grants in a year and spent just $21,000 on education.26 Another scandal involved employees of Advanced Business College in Puerto Rico, who used Pell grant monies to buy high-end sports cars and real estate, wasting more than $3 million of taxpayer funds. Once again, auditors fingered the Department of Education for its poor management and oversight of loan programs.
In 1994, the department admitted that it was losing a staggering $3 billion or more annually to waste, fraud, and loan defaults, accounting for more than 10 percent of its entire budget. Education Secretary Richard Riley called the department’s oversight “worse than lax.”27 For years the department had been wiring billions of dollars of loans and Pell grant funds to obscure trade schools based on unproven claims about how many enrolled students were qualified. Students and schools had to fill out paperwork to get the aid, but the Department of Education never verified it.
Some program changes have reduced the extraordinarily high fraud rates of the 1990s, but large amounts of funding are still wasted. One 2002 investigation revealed how easy it is to scam student loan programs: the GAO created a fake university in London with three fake students, and then applied for, and was awarded, $55,000 in federal student loans.28 And a 2005 investigation revealed that owners of a company called the CSC Institute stole $4.3 million of the $13 million it received in Pell grants.29
Student aid scandals have continued in recent years. In 2007, Secretary Spellings testified to Congress, “federal student aid is crying out for reform. The system is redundant, it’s Byzantine, and it’s broken. In fact, it’s often more difficult for students to get aid than it is for bad actors to game the system.”30 One issue is the very large return earned by some financial institutions using a loan program loophole. Under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, dozens of loan originators figured out how to earn a 9.5 percent guaranteed return from the government, even though market interest rates were much lower. The 9.5 percent rate was supposed to have been eliminated in the 1990s, but lenders figured out how to revive it, which caused subsidies on guaranteed loans to explode and lenders to earn billions of dollars at taxpayer expense.
The Democrats have used this latest scandal to try to reduce or eliminate private student loans in favor of direct loans from the government. The Republicans have reflexively supported private lenders over government-sourced loans. Our view is that the Department of Education has been a terrible financial manager of all its aid programs, including Pell grants, direct loan programs, and loan guarantees to private lenders. All of those programs should be scrapped, and students ought to rely on grants and loans from private financial institutions and philanthropic sources.
In theory, it is possible to improve federal management of higher education subsidies, but programs that hand out billions of dollars to a vast array of recipients will always be vulnerable to major rip-offs. As the Inspector General of the Department of Education noted, “the department’s student loan programs are large, complex, and inherently risky … the loan programs rely upon over 6,000 postsecondary institutions [and] more than 3,000 lenders.”31 There is no reason for taxpayers to support such a large, complex, and risky scheme, especially when private alternatives are available.
Federal aid to students and higher educational institutions is harmful on many fronts. It drives up tuition costs, encourages bloat and inefficiency, and is an unfair burden on taxpayers. It also poses a threat to the core strengths of American higher education, including institutional autonomy, competition, and innovation. All efforts to impose top-down federal regulations on colleges and universities should be rejected, and federal subsidies to students and institutions should be phased out and eliminated.
|September 25th, 2010||#60|
Join Date: May 2010
An absurd waste of time.
Pretty much every degree can be learned on your own time nowadays. Even computer programming.
I contemplated a degree in physics, thinking maybe it would be "cool" to get a doctorate in such a brainy topic. Maybe I'd have some insight into creating something amazing.
Then I look at all of these physicists in academia, who are left-brained chalkboard drones that never do anything. The ones at that CERN overpriced particle accelerator, whoopdie doo. Let's draw up giant bullshit math equations while we look for this Higgs particle. Seriously, with the money going into these things, I think it's more of a racket than anything that these "scientists" think would actually bear any fruits.
Modern Physics isn't worth it, along with the rest of the college degrees these days, YES, including the ones in the science, which are mostly bullshit science, which is why you don't see any real advancements. Waste of time. I suppose we should let the Germans rebuild and get a hardass dictator again that will fund public works and real scientific advancement that can be seen in the real world, so society can advance as soon as we conquer them and do Operation Paperclip 2.0.
Instead of this bloated bureaucratic joke today where the "cutting edge" of science and technology is the 200th space shuttle trip... uh.... with WWII German rocket technology.
I'd gladly go to college and bust my ass for a doctorate, if I could find an area worth it, where I didn't feel like I'm twiddling my thumbs to be on track for a life of chalkboard-dwelling retardation. Yeah... That's not an exciting enough motivator.