Build a Fence Around the Bubble

Looks as though a lot of The Occupation could use a good college-level education.  Someone’s noticed that The Occupation of those without an occupation is as much about the Higher Education Bubble as much as anything else (h/t Instapundit), only those involved don’t even realize it.

There’s just one thing that confuses me: a lot of these POWS seem to be mad that they were forced to accumulate a ton of debt with the stew-dent loans that they were tricked into taking to support them for 7 years while completing their degrees in Recycling Studies and beer pong. Now they find out – not only can they not get a job in the field that they picked to “follow their bliss” butt they’re expected to pay their loans back too! That is so unfair. No wonder they want to spread the the other 1%’s wealth around.

Butt seriously: why are they occupying Wall Street? Shouldn’t they be occupying the administration buildings of the universities? Aren’t they the ones cranking out worthless degrees that they’re charging $10-100,000 a year for? How, exactly, is this Colgate-Palmolive’s fault? Other than the fact they’re successful, greedy capitalists?

Actually, the American Association of University Professors noticed, too:

The dedicated students whom we teach at institutions of higher education are being forced to pay more for tuition and go deeper into debt because of cuts in state funding, only to find themselves unemployed when they graduate.

The majority of college and university faculty positions are now insecure, part-time jobs. In addition, attacks on collective bargaining have been rampant throughout the nation, as our job security, wages, health benefits, and pensions have been either reduced or slated for elimination.

Therefore, it is time to stand up for what is right.

Evidently, what’s “right” doesn’t include university faculty – or their former students – having to live in the real world, where all jobs are always insecure, health benefits have been disappearing for decades, and most of us have had to provide for our own pensions for our whole working lives.  We actually accept these economic realities for ourselves, and bristle at the notion that someone else feels entitled get a lifelong scholarship for them, on our dime.

In fact, they’d like the laws of economics not to apply to higher education at all.  Heavily subsidized, colleges have not necessarily put this money towards decreasing class sizes or improving instruction.  Instead, they have raised tuition to match the subsidies, and put the money towards branding and administrative bloat.  In Colorado, at least, they’ve managed to avoid accountability for their spending.  Look at the University of Colorado website, and while you’ll have no trouble at all finding out where the money comes from, good luck figuring out how it gets spent.  For years, the legislature has tried to get a straight answer to the question, “how much does it cost to educate a student from enrollment to awarding of a bachelor’s degree?”  No dice.

Worse, as far as the students are concerned, colleges & universities have been marketing the generic bachelors degree as the key to lifetime employment security, regardless of the degree.  This, at the same time as they have been marketing themselves to the taxpayers as the engines of technological growth.  That 25%-30% of CU’s bachelor’s degrees over the last decade have been in psychology, the social sciences, or area & ethnic studies somewhat undermines both claims.

Now, I know of some sociology majors who, after have complete four years of college, have returned home to help out with the family business, and find the work fascinating.  That’s fine if you’re expecting a $50,000 debt for finishing school.  But I’m guessing that most people don’t have that opportunity.  They, like their parents, have to work for someone else, and “Bring Your Kids To Work Day” is pretty much over by the time they’re 22.  So they need a degree that will help prepare them for that.

This is not an attack on the liberal arts, or to suggest that math and science be studied solely in preparation for an engineering career.  The wild success of The Teaching Company is proof that adults, with real financial obligations, can be enticed to pay hundreds of dollars for quality courses in history, philosophy, literature, music, and science.  It’s proof that adults, with real world experience, realize the value of those subjects in helping them make sense of the world and grapple with tough issues.

The whining of the professors and their former students is, on the contrary, evidence of how the modern university instead cheats its current students by utterly failing them in this regard, and how easy it is to prey on college-bound students and their parents who only want the best for them.

That they have been the victims of a swindle almost as colossal as Social Security is undeniable.  Too many students have been sold a bill of goods by their government and the universities they attend.  Too bad they don’t have the critical thinking skills to be protesting at the right address.


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