Skip to comments.Backlash brews over media’s focus on value of college
Posted on 06/18/2011 6:17:16 AM PDT by Halfmanhalfamazing
A San Francisco State University instructor writes in Poynter today that the media is misrepresenting some basic features of the debate over the value of a college education. In reviewing recent coverage, Sarah Fidelibus argues that journalists are taking surveys out of context in making the case that a college education isn't worth young people's time and money anymore. The critique comes on the heels of a piece in the New Republic titled "Why the media is always wrong about the value of a college degree."
In the latter article, Education Sector's Kevin Carey mocks media stories that profile woeful Ivy League grads who haven't landed the prestigious jobs they'd hoped for right out of college. He points out that these stories have been running in newspapers for decades--while also noting that an Ivy League education has only become more coveted (and lucrative) over the same period. "They always feature an over-educated bartender, and they are always wrong," Carey writes about the stories.
While The Lookout, too, has noticed a rash of over-hyped headlines about the value of college (ahem, New York magazine), we think these critics are too quick to brush off scholars' concerns about the higher education industry. The often overheated tenor of debate on both ends of the higher-ed question may make it harder to carry out an honest accounting of an industry that already tends to shy away from transparency.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
It’s not the value, it’s the damned price.
If the Ivy League “public servants” we are afflicted with are any measure of the value of a college education today...its hard to NOT question its value.
I think colleges and universities are pricing themselves out of the market. My son is a grad student at Stanford and my head about exploded when he told us how much a year there costs. Fortunately he is a teaching assistant and it is all on his dime.
...we think these critics are too quick to brush off scholars' concerns about the higher education industry. The often overheated tenor of debate on both ends of the higher-ed question may make it harder to carry out an honest accounting of an industry that already tends to shy away from transparency.The problem is the same as it always has been -- some people get to go to the college or U of their choice based on parental connections and cash, wind up with degrees and but no smarter than when they were chaffeured to their freshman year dorm, and wind up doing very little in inconsequential jobs well suited to their abilities.
I have felt that way a long time, there is much wisdom in what you have stated.
College is GOOD!
It keeps folks OUT of the job market for 4 years, lowering the apparent jobless rate.
Y’all said it better’n me.
All good points but I think there’s another and overriding problem of a higher education model that went out with Andy Hardy. And it’s government funding that creates the stasis.
If the students spent their time learning, instead of being forced into piles of indoctrination sessions, a four year degree would A) be more worthwhile and accurate and B) would only take 18 months. :’)
The higher education nonsense will continue until States put their foot down and make some common sense decisions.
1) Universities cannot have unlimited growth. Students from other States and nations cannot have State taxpayer support for their education, and must pay their own way.
2) States subsidize education so that students will have better quality employment. Thus majors that have significant job placement in their field of study within six months after graduation are worthy of subsidy, and those with little or no job placement within six months after graduation should not receive taxpayer subsidy. If students wish to study in those majors, they must do so out of vanity, paying the full price for their education. If not enough students are willing to do so, that major should no longer be offered. Importantly, this applies as well to post-graduate studies. PhDs with no chance for employment are little more than deeply indebted unemployed persons.
3) Majors have a core curriculum essential to that major. Classes taught in an “employable” major are worthy of a taxpayer subsidy. Classes that are elective to a major are not worthy of a taxpayer subsidy. If enough students see an elective as valuable to their education to fully pay for it, it should continue. If not, then it should no longer be offered by the university.
4) Community colleges are a cost effective alternative to lower division (freshman-sophomore) subjects, and students should be encouraged to take such classes there, which are then transferred to universities when the student wants to take upper division classes. Doing so will save countless millions for the State, and permit significant reductions in the size of universities.
5) Many universities actively recruit far too many students, even though they have 50% attrition rates of their freshman class, solely to get one or two semesters tuition from them and the associated State subsidies. States should create diversion programs both to community colleges and trade schools before these students are denied an education altogether, as well as being in debt $10,000-$30,000 for an education they didn’t get.
6) States also need to create far more comprehensive pre-college State examinations, to insure that no student who is not capable in *all* essential studies is admitted to school. Both the SAT and ACT tests have consistently failed to eliminate unqualified students from entering college.
7) Though very popular, college athletics neither provide job placement nor employable skills. As such, calling college athletes “students” is foolish. There is no reason that the State should subsidize it at all. If a school wants a football team as a money raising effort, it should hire professional athletes as minor league teams, and pay them a salary, dispensing entirely with the notion that they are students.
Not only would they get better athletes, and better sporting events, but by paying them a salary, they would no longer have to compromise their educational standards to maintain the illusion that they are students. And if they made more money than they cost, it would help to support the school.
“But...but you can’t do this. This...this is my job!”
Moreover, while the gap between grad school and high school is about $60k, to complete grad school is about 10 years from your high school graduation. So, put another way, a graduate student has to work about five years just to catch up with the high school graduate. If there is debt involved---and the average grad school debt is about $30k---then you add another year before you catch up.
There is no question a professional degree-holder will earn a ton more over a lifetime (about $110,000 per year avg.) but you start your career much older and much poorer, and a kid who is an entrepreneur can not only eliminate that differential but greatly exceed it.
I am going to argue with you on number 6. The problem comes in when a college admissions office starts doing things like weighting the score based on race, first time college student, class ranking, etc.
It’s not the test itself, but how it’s used that’s the problem.
I do agree with encouraging freshman/sophomore class taking at Community Colleges. The strongest indicator for obtaining a 4 year degree is a g.p.a. from a community college after 60 hours. Anyone with a 3.5 and above generally makes it. Anyone with a 2.5 and below generally doesn’t.
I would like to see some resources (and maybe they are there) for effective career counseling at community colleges. If some students are steered towards a trade certificate, paraprofessional program or other opportunities it would be a better use of everyone’s time and money.
That actually depends on you field, my nice just graduated, had a job before she graduated and the company will pay off her student loan if she stays with them five years. But you cannot get that deal in a fields of underwater basket weaving with a minor in queer studies.
That's because they're even more heavily subsidized than the public four-year colleges.
The universities brought this on themselves.
No federal policies needed, just a demand for scholastic achievement that stems from the head of the school, on down through the teachers and deans, to the students. No more laws necessary.
Yep you touch on the subject of how many degrees are useless in the job market after graduation.
The worst examples may be fields such as Women’s Studies or Gay Studies, or Black Studies. On some level, these courses and majors could be interesting. The study of women could be interesting as an academic interest. HOWEVER, how many employers have job openings for women’s studiers, or black studiers, or philosophers who have majored in Philosophy?
Even those who major in traditional fields such as history or English literature have great difficulties in today’s job market. The business world just doesn’t care that you majored in such subjects.
They like to point to studies that show how much more college grads make over their working lifetime as proof of their worth... but that is a red herring.
Let just say that I create a club today called the super success club... and only the smartest, hardest working, most driven young people in America are allowed to join (let say the top 5% of each high school graduating class are automatically members of the club) Then after 30 to 50 years or so I start releasing data showing that members of the super success club average $2,000,000 more in earnings over their working lifetime, which proves that being a member of this club is very important to your future success ... so important in fact that we are going to start charging for memberships....
and the rest is history.
You see, when you get to select the best of the best, it doesn't mater you if have them draw doodles on plywood for 4 years, when they finish and eventually enter the work force they are still going to outperform their peers. because they are the best.
SAT scores would eliminate me from possibly going to college. I scored under 1000, before they doubled the score count. I did pretty abysmal on it, especially the math portion. Conversely, I scored a 70 on the ASVAB in 2004.
Standardized tests are pretty poor for testing a person’s core intelligence. If a certain subject doesn’t require niche knowledge about it in an argument, I can leave anybody in the dust. This is coming from somebody that spent 5 years in high school, and had to finish in another state’s specialized program.
Education today only teaches a certain set of skills. It cannot make somebody smart. Probably the smartest ones out there are those that self-educate in certain areas. My friend taught himself how to work a computer, and he’s going to tech college for it; he’s even told me he could teach a few of the classes he’s learning right now because he advanced beyond them in his own learnings.
“The study of women could be interesting as an academic interest. “
Yes, actually I did a great deal of that when I was in college.....
Yes, but that is a niche situation. For the most part, if a student is competent in English reading, writing, library skills and speaking; mathematics; economics; government and the law; and basic science and popular technology; they will be able to accomplish a college degree.
And these can be objectively determined for the most part before admission. As you pointed out, however, the SAT and ACT are not the best way of doing so.
That is because CCs are directly reliant on subsidies, whereas 4 year colleges often have vast endowments that provide much of their funding. However, States are now realizing this and pointing out that if 4 year colleges have multi billion dollar endowments, then why do they need so much State subsidy?
But compelled to use those endowments, it will not be long before 4 year colleges need just as much subsidy as do CCs.
Exactly! Our sons did not graduate with debt but their parents went without proper savings for retirement. It was a choice we made knowing we and our employers had “invested” in social security and medicare to help offset our losses at retirement.
People with parents unable to do this, end up screwed all around and it is wrong. Their parents have no retirement beyond what they “invested” in social security and medicare and their children have a mortgage sized debt that assures they get to serve as debt slaves to those who issue debt.
No; they don't. That's the rationalization/.
The education INDUSTRY has them by the balls, telling them that unless they spend 16 years of their lives listening to a bunch of stuff; they'll end up with nothing but ditch diggers.
And we have MACHINES to do THAT!
That ain't FAIR!
We HAVE to send a lot of folks off for advanced babysitting, because we’ve EXPORTED our mnaufacturing jobs outta this country.
Those assembyline folks are NOW in grad school, awaiting the perks of working the driveup window!
Let the PRO's subsidize these 'farm teams' instead of the TAXPAYERS!
(We're giving the pro's a play to PLAY their little games in anyway!)
College would have more value if it taught the ability to apply logic, and be able to argue rationally and persuasively. But doing so might result in students who would question Marxist orthodoxy, and so it has been rooted out of academia.
“Its not the value, its the damned price.”
It’s both, for all that money the universities (there is hardly such a thing as a college that doesn’t call itself a university any longer) turn out far too many graduates who wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in a blast furnace of passing a public high school final exam from fifty years ago. The whole system is grievously flawed from first grade right on through college.
media promotion of “education” = more tax money flowing into “education” = more money in the pockets of leftists = more money in the pockets of the Democrat Party = more elected Democrats = more money flowing into “education” =
“Even those who major in traditional fields such as history or English literature have great difficulties in todays job market. The business world just doesnt care that you majored in such subjects.”
I have talked to some who majored in history at our local university, they don’t know the history I learned in public elementary school, yes I said elementary, they couldn’t qualify to ENTER the public high school history class at a freshman level in my time. This makes me wonder what those who majored in other subjects are actually learning.
“As a college prof, I know that we could provide our education at 1/3 to 1/4 the cost if not for federal student assistance.”
And this is the key to the solution. This problem would go away and institutions of higher learning would reform themselves if student load debt were dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Lenders would be forced to ask “...and can you get a job with that degree and pay me back?”
it would transform everything for the better. No programs necessary.
You’re on, Ripsawyer.
I’m a history major. BA. No masters, nothing else but the BA.
I’ll take your challenge.
I didn’t issue any challenge, I reported my experience with local graduates. If I were going to issue a challenge I certainly would not do it on line where the answer to any history question is available in seconds just for the asking.
"Knowledge is Good" - Emil Faber.
Scouts honour. Why would I have anything to gain by cheating?
I’m curious as to what types of questions would be on an exam back then. I’m not saying I am disputing your claim, I’m just saying, not all of us are like this.
My daughter got her Masters @ Stanford last year. Soooooo glad she, too, did some TA and fellowships, etc. No way would I consider laying out (or borrowing) that kinda $$$. She now has a fabulous job she would never have gotten without that degree.
I think my son will benefit greatly as well, but he will have some debt from his first year. He could have stayed here in FL and done the program as a distance program and let his employer pay for it...but he wanted to be there. I’m proud of how he has sacrificed to do this and we enjoyed our recent visit out there!
One of my daughter’s classmates had a situation similar to your son .. I think he was able to work X hours or days a month and get some pay from his employer back in Chicago.
In most cases, given the intensity of the programs at Stanford, it’s best to be on campus, and if you gotta be on a campus, Stanford’s as good as any to be on! In fact, one day my daughter said she was biking to a class during her final quarter, stopped at a crossroads, when it hit her .. this is one beautiful campus! So intense had been the work, she hadn’t had time to stop and smell the roses, as it were. I hope your son takes that time.
Attendance at college may be correlated to having a higher ( on average) income. The attendance at college may not at all be the cause of that success. The fact that those who do finish college have higher IQs and are more driven and organized is the cause of their success.
By the way, Charles Murray, author of the “Bell Curve”, recommends that the B.S. degree be completely abandoned. He recommends that students take privately administered qualifying exams or certifying exams.
First off I don’t know if I made myself clear but I meant to refer to recent graduates of the university here where I live. If you are much more than thirty years old you wouldn’t be in that group and I have no idea of your age or where you went to school so I will give you a sample of questions that I have asked of recent history majors here.
1. Who was the president of the Confederacy?
2. What year did the American civil war start?
3. Who was president of the USA when the civil war started?
4. What political party did Abraham Lincoln belong to?
5. What nation did the original colonies revolt and go to war against to gain independence and form the USA?
6. What was the battle of Hastings?
7. What was the Magna Charta? (Charta is the spelling used when I was in school, not Carta)
8. Who was president of the USA when we entered WWII?
9. Who was the American president who ordered the bombing of Japan with nuclear weapons?
10.What countries formed the “Axis powers” of WWII?
Those are some of the easier questions I was expected to answer by seventh grade. When I asked these and got only one or two correct answers I didn’t bother to go on to such things as who were the Saxons, who were the Angles, who were the Franks, what was the Feudal system and much much more that I studied before my thirteenth birthday. We were expected to be able to write an explanation of what happened at the Battle of Hastings and how power shifted and changed the world and the same for a lot of other battles and wars. We could write a decent history of the American colonies including a description of trade with other countries and give an account of the entire American Revolution which I doubt could be matched by any young history major I have met recently, I could go on but I don’t want to spend the next hour at this keyboard. I hope that you are not like our local history majors.