Conventional wisdom has gone all in for the "It's All About The Degree!" meme in the past two decades or so. Supposedly the fact that we have put in place tax, tariff, and economic policies that encourage "job producers" to produce jobs overseas is offset by the new excitement among Americans for going to college, getting degrees and thus moving into the Exciting World of the Real Middle Class. As opposed to those yobbo rivetheads who just ACTED middle class because their union jobs paid them so well.
Well, Ed over at Gin and Tacos has a nice little rant on the effect that this explosion of student bodies has had on the Grove of Acadame:
"The cost of higher education, either for students or state legislatures, isn't going to go down until they stop putting politically expedient Band-Aids on their problems (furloughs, larger classes, pay/hiring freezes, more temp labor in the classroom) and decide to focus on what is supposedly their core mission: educating people. The new $100 million MultiTainment Complex and the Orrin Hatch Learning and Instructional Center are expensive frills. Athletic programs are money-losing albatrosses. Administrators exist mostly to perpetuate the need for administrators. Teaching and research should be 99% of what we do. But mention that on the Campus Tour and watch the eyes start to glaze over…"My experience teaching at community college mirrors his only without the research. My observation is that many, many of the students there were thoroughly unprepared for their junior college entry, that the community college did nothing, or next to nothing, to try and make things go better for the poor Powerpoint Fodder - in particular, most CCs and JCs are staffed with overwhelmed, overmatched adjunct faculty because the administrations know perfectly well that there are waaaaayyyyy more people out there with advanced degrees than there are teaching jobs for them - and their primary job seems to be to act as a revenue generator through monstrous tuition increases.
But on of Ed's commentors makes what I consider to be the most trenchant observation about this entire fucking mess; it's the credit, stupid.
"Comrade Luke has it right,"he says,
"the root of the matter is the guaranteed student loan system that allow 18 year olds to amass debt beyond their comprehension that they will not be able to discharge even in bankruptcy.I know a young woman who is a tremendously bright, motivated person. Right now she is out of work, her unemployment is running out (she got temporary employment with the Census but that is going away, obviously) and she is crushed, completely buried under the student loans. Part of her problem is that she majored in a humanity that offers her little in the way of employment except in truly lush economic times.
If there aver were an argument for the free market it would be this. You can't charge more than your customers are willing to pay. The ready access to limitless credit to people who would never qualify for a loan of any kind is what has driven tuitions to the ludicrous levels they are today.
Perhaps someday when we acknowledge our third world status it will change but until then let's all celebrate the future of online education that costs just as much but without bothering with such things as classrooms, professors or even dorm rooms.
Bring on the future."
But the other part is that she should never have been accorded the sort of credit it took for her to spend two years at UVA. It starts her off with a huge rock on her shoulders that will perforce warp her life as she struggles to carry it and has to find ways to pay it down.
Perhaps it's the curmudgeon in me. But it seems as I grow older that we have either found more perfect ways to do simple things wrong...or those ways were always there and it just took me that long to recognize them. Either way, it's like hitting oneself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop