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sailingpj

To many kids going to college?

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Education is not something you get it's something you take.

 

In other words: always expect your professor to be inept at communicating or your school to slack. Be happy for the ones where the "connection" is made in the classroom. For the others, dig the book on your own. Meet them for office hours. Hold a study group. Maybe even look for a different school that offers a more challenging program. Whatever.

 

So, are there a lot of kids in college who are sitting around expecting to "get" educated? Yep. Hopefully not as many as were in high school. The only question is: are you among those that are going to "take" whatever your educators have to offer? If you're not, there's no harm in working for a living until your ready to "assault the the bastions of academia, breach the threshold, and rob from them knowledge." (Yes, my scouts do give me funny looks.)

 

Regarding textbooks, by the time I started taking upper level classes, I stopped buying books for the first day of class. After listening to a few lectures I would go a week later and get the ones really being referenced, find out which upper classmen took the course, buy used, etc ...

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The problems with textbook costs include:

 

great competition in textbooks. So publishers have to constantly "update" even basic stuff, in order to appear relevant.

 

textbook committees. School teachers, gym teachers, etc., who made a consensus decision. This favors just keeping much of the same.

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Boyce,

Also add in author costs. The authors do a lot of research on their topics. I remember one author I met who's works were a vital paert of understanding the Cold War era, but the price of the books were so high b/c of his research, that you only found them in academic libraries.

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Too many kids are indeed going to college. This is the reason that college tuition rates keep on rising-- supply and demand curves = price, etc. If more people are demanding the good, then prices will rise.

 

This is because as a society we've decided that a college degree means that you're going to "make it." As we continue to use the Bachelor's degree as a proxy for intelligence, aptitude, and initiative, and more people who have few of those things earn it, it becomes devalued--but because it's still used as a signal, people have to continue to seek it, like in an employment arms race. This trend was started in Griggs vs. Duke Power CO where the Supreme Court obligated companies to prove a distinct relevance of a test to employment. Since employers can no longer use general IQ tests to determine aptitude, they then start looking for proxies for desirable qualities in their hiring process--of which the Bachelor's degree is one. So, because the Bachelor's used to be the mark of intelligence and ambition, it's become sought after by so many people that it's lost its original meaning--see large numbers of students in "X Studies" programs, communications, and so on.

 

If you care to, you can dig into 4-year graduation rates and see how dismal the situation is... but it keep going, because of school loans and the financial incentives of banks and colleges to keep bringing students on.

 

However, part of this situation that is often ignored is the easy availability of college loans, guaranteed by the government, and non-dischargeable in most bankruptcy courts. These loans encourage students who wouldn't otherwise seek out a college degree to go to school and incur massive debts, all the while enabling schools to keep raising their tuitions. I believe the total amount of school loan debt recently exceeded mortgages in the US... don't have a source for that right now though.

 

There's been increasing popular backlash against this, but we haven't seen the bubble burst yet...

 

Paul Lukehart

http://www.scoutspirit.com

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Wow, I actually was an employee at that time. I remember it well. At levels beyond custodial or similar tasks, 'The Company' was the whitest I've ever seen and it was almost explicit to everyone that black persons would only be employed at those lower-paying jobs. They had added an IQ test after the Civil Rights Act was passed in order to make sure this situation remained as it always had been.

I recoil at the memories of some of the things I heard managers say about this in their hushed, concerned tones. I guess I was among the first wave of new employees who broke some of those barriers because my unit hired who I think were some of the first minorities at levels which required college training. The IQ test went away as a result of that court case. This was not the only case in which Duke Power affected policy and law for the entire country. I can add several more. It was, as the Chinese say, interesting.

 

Are you saying that the practices back then were good, or fair, or just?

 

But thanks for bringing back a rush of incredible memories.

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@PackSaddle:

 

Hm, no, not so much saying the practices were good or fair or just, particularly in the way they were used--but that the court-ordered actions afterwards had the effect of robbing companies of objective, low-cost means of measuring employee potential. So now we have bachelor's degrees from schools costing $40k/year as a legally valid means of judging individual worth--the aforementioned proxy for ability. Not the intended outcome, but an outcome nonetheless.

 

I feel this is a tragedy that has had the effect of misleading many kids and making them believe that they HAVE to go to college to be worth a darn to an employer. Which, if you look at job pre-reqs for many employment positions, they aren't so far off in believing. Which if you follow it further, with companies prohibited from administering other than very high-correlation-to-job-duties tests, and college prestige closely linked to the cohorts admitted on tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT... means that employers are still administering the same tests and hiring the same people as they would with other testing mechanisms, but just 4 years later and at considerable cost to the student.

 

Fortunately, Peter Thiel (with his 20-Under-20 initiative, and uncollege.org, and others) and some others have started trying to open peoples' eyes to the fact that people have potential beyond what their sheepskin says. I don't think it'll take hold, because we're still too deeply bought into college as a gateway to a good life.

 

Anyway, would love to hear your impressions. I've done a bit of reading on this topic and find it intriguing. Thanks for the reply!

 

Paul Lukehart

 

http://www.scoutspirit.com

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USMA

 

Your entire scenario is based on either false data or overly flawed data. You can not blame the mismanagement of college loans, most of which are government controlled on the college. Or the stupidity of students who maximize their loans to not only pay their college costs but all of their living costs as well as living high on the hog until they graduate and have to pay it back, but they are in the minority. Colleges with low graduation rates are very few and usually of low quality. Besides now you have online universities where a kid never has to leave their bed to take classes. Loans are NOT the reason for higher tuition, mismanagement of the schools resources, overpaid faculty and administration,unecessary building projects, and a really overinflated sports budget are the usual culprits. You really ought to do more research before you spout out such false claims.

 

The people who I hear constantly complaining about too many kids in college are those who never went themselves due to poor grades or a lack of ambition to better themselves.

Ignorance loves company as much as misery I guess.

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USMA_Eagle, The Thiel Fellowships are a bold attempt and I hope he succeeds. If he chooses the recipients well it could work well. I'm not sold on uncollege. I guess I'd like to see some evidence that they are effective at what they claim.

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As a hiring manager in the engineering field, we do not hire engineers anymore that do not have a degree. Earning a degree is not a job guarantee. However, it does show a prospective employer that the student was able to overcome at least one obstacle - getting a degree. Some are easy to obtain, others not so much. Granted, it is easier for some than others due to intelligence, drive, motivation, money, etc.

 

I also know that what makes a good student does not always make a good employee. For example, working in teams is call cheating or plagurism in school and studiously working alone is called being uncooperative at work. :)(This message has been edited by acco40)

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acco, I think the team thing is very dependent on field of study, school, and time. I teach in a liberal arts discipline where "group work" is fairly rare, and students loathe it when we do require it. But I spent most of last week hanging around with some folks in the School of Technology (engineering, software stuff, some architecture, info systems, even construction management - stuff I didn't know we even taught, in some instances). They were ALL ABOUT group projects and their students evidently expect that, too.

 

 

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@BadenP:

 

I welcome the critique... Here are my sources for perusal

:

Regarding student loans being marketed as low-risk non-dischargeable securities, which entice students to take on debt they can't afford:

http://nplusonemag.com/bad-education

Notable quote: "The Project On Student Debt estimates that the average college senior in 2009 graduated with $24,000 in outstanding loans. Last August, student loans surpassed credit cards as the nations single largest source of debt, edging ever closer to $1 trillion. Yet for all the moralizing about American consumer debt by both parties, no one dares call higher education a bad investment. The nearly axiomatic good of a university degree in American society has allowed a higher education bubble to expand to the point of bursting."

 

On validity of college as an investment for the majority of students:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-question-youre-not-asking-should-you-go-to-college/

 

Which is written a bit tongue-in-cheek, but still has a large number of valid points.

 

On 45% of students demonstrating no value gained from college:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09books-t.html?_r=2

The implication is that those 45% would have been better off going straight to the workforce or vocational school instead of incurring the debt and opportunity cost of lack of job experience.

 

 

On higher education as an investment akin to the housing bubble, due to social expectations, proxy value, and the loan structure:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/node/80276

 

More on (lack of) value added to most college students:

http://chronicle.com/article/A-Perfect-Storm-in/126451/

 

There are others I have not included, but after reading these I tend to agree with the conclusions that:

1) There are too many unsuitable students in college, encouraged by a social milieu that has traditionally designated a bachelor's degree as a proxy for smarts and hard work when other tests have been made legally unavailable

2) These students' educational pursuits have been unnecessarily encouraged by tuition available through loans made possible by market-distorting regulation

3) Banks and schools have an incentive to keep this going to get that low-risk loan money

4) Those students that should not be in college are being permanently damaged financially, in their job-worthiness (years in school vs years on a job), and quite possibly in their self-esteem and most future prospects by being sold on the unsuitable (for them) investment in undergraduate education

5) An undergrad degree by itself is no longer necessarily a marker of smarts and perserverance--although a degree in hard sciences from a credible school is.

 

As always, I welcome feedback-- thanks much!

 

Paul Lukehart

http://www.scoutspirit.com

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The people who I hear constantly complaining about too many kids in college are those who never went themselves due to poor grades or a lack of ambition to better themselves.

Ignorance loves company as much as misery I guess.

 

badenP,

I resent your remark. I never went to college, never saw anything that interested me. I was in the top 100 of my graduating class and had plenty of ambition, just did not see college as the answer. For 25 years I have worked at a company whose plant manager had the sick way of thinking like you. Watched college grads come and go. I was constantly on my plant managers back to promote me. Always said the same thing you do no degree no promotion. Two years ago his back was to the wall and he needed someone to take over as foreman to run our shipping dept. To tell you the truth I think he was trying to set me up and prove I did not have the brains to do the job. Well in the first quarter from when I was promoted overtime was down, tons shipped were up, customer complaints were cut in half. I know it really bothered him to admit he was wrong for all those years. To make the remark you did is just another example of the closed minded attitudes that seem to fuel the run on attending college. Its whats inside the person heart that matters not what degree he has hanging on the wall.

 

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Eagle77

 

Object if you will but you just made my point. Look the reality of todays work force is that without a degree you will never be selected for a top management position, no matter "whats in your heart", thats just a cold hard fact. Your mindset of the workplace was what it was like prior and just after WWII, not anymore. That "piece of paper", as you call it represents the ability and desire to go further, dedication to a 4 year commitment with the goal of preparing to take on additional responsibility and having gained the knowledge to make your future workplace a better and more productive one. That is what employers want, and in this high tech economy without a college degree these days the only thing you will be prepared for is asking a customer,"Do you want fries with that?" You can complain or object all you want but that is the cold harsh reality of todays world.

 

USMA

Thanks for your resources however none of them are really all that credible or have done any real in depth study of the subject, you might as well have quoted People magazine or the National Enquirer. You know I agree that college is not for everyone but without that degree you better plan to go to a good trade school or into the military otherwise you will be working for less than minimum wage for the rest of your life.

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Actually, the Chronicle of Higher Education is among the most widely read "insider" sources in existence. Some of the others Paul mentions, maybe not so much, but this one is generally considered legit by those in the business.

 

That doesn't mean everything in it is received Truth, though. There are plenty of problems in higher ed these days, and there is fierce debate (and research and claims and counter-claims, some better supported by evidence than others) about why these problems exist and what to do about them.

 

 

 

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