Archive for January, 2011

13
Jan
11

Learn This

I’ve had a busy couple months, so I haven’t updated this blog in a while, but I’d like to write out some ideas about our education system and see if anyone has any comments.

This is going to be a two or maybe three part series on what I think is wrong with the education system in this country. In part one, I want to write about college and how it’s becoming a scam and will very likely lead to another financial bubble.

Everyone today is encouraged to go to college. College is great and extremely worthwhile if you know what you want to do and are driven to achieve it. College is a lot of money. After room, board, tuition, books, and any spending money, you’re looking an investment that could cost $200K+. That is serious. Most high school kids have no idea what they want to do with their lives except make money/be successful. If you were an investor, would you invest tens or hundred of thousands of dollars in a business who’s model is “be successful” without any sort of plan? Of course not. So why does society pressure high schoolers to make that same investment on themselves? There are only two reasons I could think of.

1) This is some sort of scam/ponzi scheme/conspiracy involving the university system, banks and the government. There are so many BS “universities” and “colleges” out there I wonder what sort the accrediting procedure is like. When is WikiVersity and the University of Reddit getting accredited? Every time I see a resume where “Devry” is listed, I throw it away. Sorry you wasted your money on that degree. It is not a competitive degree. It proves almost nothing other than you are able to be duped into believing it’s going to make you attractive among the masses of traditional degrees.

So, maybe these BS schools realize that their degrees are worthless and just hope their marketing campaigns are more effective than word of mouth.  The real money makers are the holders of the loans. There is about a trillion dollars worth of student debt in this country. A trillion dollars. That’s a lot of money that can be repackaged, restructured, and blown into more money, aka 2008’s smash hit; the mortgage crisis. Do you think Sallie Mae is any more ethical than Fannie Mae? Sallie Mae is both the lender and the collector. Shady.

Basically, there is a lot of money to be made and more students mean more business.

2) I think the more likely reason is that the United States knows it’s declining and we’re stuck with this idea that college=success. This is a  old, ingrained idea. Watch “The Pride of the Yankees” around the 6 or 7 minute mark. That’s how it used to be. People think if everyone goes to college, we’ll have a country full of “Uncle Otto”s, i.e. engineers, doctors and bankers. That’s because in 1942, the only people who went to college were those who were brilliant and serious about a specific path, aka today’s doctorate candidates. In reality, there are so many people in college that it dilutes the quality for those that really should be there. More students mean more money. More students mean a need for a bigger infrastructure to deal with people who aren’t ready for college. Less money for professors, more money for anti-drinking campaigns.  By including everyone in the college experience, everyone gets hurt.  Having more college graduates does not necessarily help the country. It actually hurts the country. We now have an a huge segment of the population that can’t find jobs but have huge debts to pay. We no longer have a section of the population that is willing to accept manufacturing jobs.

College is an awesome and great thing for many people, but it is a huge investment that we shun people into accepting. This needs to stop. I don’t know how we’re going to pay back that debt, but what’s done is done. Let’s not make it any worse.  It’s alright if colleges remain a business model but the government needs to stop telling people they need to go to college if they want a future. That being said, I think that takes me to Part 2.

K-12 education is designed to prepare student to get into college. That is the goal. We prepare kids to take standardized tests, encourage students to take a ton of extracurricular activities, and memorize a lot of information they’ll never need so they can have a good GPA.  Isn’t it a little ridiculous to provide absolutely no financial training to students and then demand that they make the biggest investment of their lives?

The whole K-12 experience is about getting into a good college, but shouldn’t it be about making sure students will be successful and ready to contribute to our society?

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