Reason Interview Via Youtube: ‘Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe On The High Cost Of College’

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Quite reasonable.

How do we best line-up expectations with aspirations, training with available jobs, and credentials with marketable skills?  Technology and global competition are forcing change rapidly, and Rowe pushes against the oversold idea that everyone should go to college (and many are going into non-dischargable debt to do so, driving-up prices rapidly).

A four-year degree is still worth the investment for many people, and higher annual incomes don’t lie, but there are many escalators leading out of four-year degree programs straight into unrelated cubicle-work, or back to Mom and Dad’s couch in this economy.  Buyer beware.

This blog holds out hope that a reasonable equality-of-opportunity approach can be maintained out of the mess of grade-inflation, watered-down standards, and the kind of competitive meritocracy that has come about.  I suspect the rise of helicopter-parenting and over-monitored kids has a lot to do with fewer perceived opportunities and more intense competition for those opportunities.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Two Americas forming?:  Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

George Leef At Forbes: ‘A Tale Of Two Bubbles-Housing & College’

Full piece here.

‘To recapitulate, in the housing market, government meddling led to a widespread mania that drove up prices and caused many to think, “I’ve got to buy even if I can’t afford it because housing is a sure thing.” Similarly, government meddling in higher education led many to think, “I’ve got to get a college degree no matter the cost, because a college degree is the path to prosperity.”

Even if we’ve seen profound changes in our economy and social structure from previous generations; even if technology and globalization are dramatically changing our lives, people going to respond to incentives, flow through established channels, and pursue their interests accordingly.

The opportunity in D.C. is mostly about politics.  A bigger government is subject to ever more fingers in the pie.

I like this quote by Ira Stoll found here which I keep putting up:

‘Indeed, if there is a single fact that sums up the state of American political economy at the present moment, it is this: the Boston office building once home to Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, which chronicled and celebrated small and fast-growing businesses, is now the headquarters of a publication called “Compliance Week.”’

Many people have been flowing to universities and Washington D.C.  just as they flowed into housing, because that’s where a lot of money and opportunity are.  For my piece, people who are Left-of-Center tend to flow to these places first, gravitating towards health-care and education and other rent-seeking enterprises, but also to activism and government.  No surprise there.

That said, whichever party is in charge would also face municipal bond defaults, farm subsidies, the looming failure of Medicaid, a huge national defense budget with numerous contractors suckling away at the teat, a huge Department Of Education etc.  Our government has been inflated larger and larger over time, and I think we’re getting a terrible return on investment.

Is the situation in our universities similar?

Is government behind the bad incentives or has it simply amplified deeper currents?

Is higher-ed a bubble and will it pop like housing?  Slowly deflate?  Keep right on going?

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Related On This Site:  Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Youtube Via David Thompson: Penn & Teller On Speech Codes On Campus

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Penn & Teller have fun with the ‘diversity’ industry on campuses.

Here’s Dave Barry on the same subject:

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More On The FIRE here. (Foundation For Individual Rights In Education).

Barry, from the video:

‘I just don’t know what has happened to the universities, I mean it’s certainly not an original observation on my part.  The least free area of thought left in the United States seems to be the universities.  The one place where you’d think free thought and free speech and conflict of ideas would be most encouraged has somehow become the most restricted, and constricted and intellectually constipated area of American life.’

From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Greg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

LIbertarianism at high tide against a particularly liberal administration?…Anarcho-capitalism:  Pro-market, anti-state, anti-war…paleo-libertarian: Link To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader…Anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist and sometime blind supporter of lefty causes:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeTwo Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…new liberty away from Hobbes?: Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Inga Saffron At The New Republic: ‘Granite Countertops, Flat-Screen TVs, Fire Pits: How College Dorms Got Luxe’

Full piece here.

Keeping an eye on that upmarket trend in some college amenities.  Meanwhile, the economy’s growing dismally at the moment between 1-2%, and enrollment numbers seem pretty flat:

‘How can student housing be going up-market at the exact moment when we are having a national freak-out over rising college costs and the staggering amounts of student debt?’

Wasn’t there that grad student living in his van a while back?

At least there’s this:

‘Administration officials once managed everything on campus, from the English faculty to the janitors, until they realized they could save money by outsourcing the non-academic stuff. It’s much easier to lease a piece of campus land to a developer than to undertake an arduous fund-raising campaign to pay for a new dorm. It’s also 20 percent cheaper: Private companies are able to shave $16,000 off the per-bed cost in their student residences’

Perhaps fewer administrators in the first-place might be part of the answer, administering fewer students who borrow heavily and incentivize rising tuition-costs with debt, as the government keeps pumping more money in?

A softer landing would be nice for that part of the problem.

Some photos.

From The American Conservative Blog:  The false promise of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). Reihan Salam At Reuters: ‘Online Education Can Be Good Or Cheap, But Not Both’

Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Why Education And Healthcare Cost So Much’

Analagous to old media? What to change and what to keepFrom The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Absurd Lies Of College Admissions’

Full post here.

McArdle links to an open letter in the Wall Street Journal, written by a college-bound girl, to all the colleges who rejected her.   Worth a read.

So much for the blissful averageness of yesteryear, the sons and daughters of middle-America in the boomer generation who weren’t raised in the middle of an admissions ‘arms race.’

The ‘greatness’ model rolls on in many colleges and universities, where it’s slowly sinking in that times have changed, especially regarding student loans and technology.

I tend to favor Ron Unz’ assessment that admissions can be a mix of diversity, meritocracy, favoritism and corruption in many institutions of higher ed.

McArdle:

‘Naturally, this selects for kids who are extremely affluent, with extremely motivated parents who will steer them through the process of “founding a charity” and other artificial activities.  Kids who have to spend their summer doing some boring menial labor in order to buy clothes have a hard time amassing that kind of enrichment experience.’

We’re not exactly instilling confidence in the young, here, with good stewardship.

This blog still maintains that averageness could be aimed for again, as it’s a sign of a healthy economy and a dynamic, open society (not the Great society).  This will take time and good decision-making.  Prep schools as well as colleges and universities will always favor the rich and well-connected to some extent, or at least people with higher expectations and the means to invest in the kinds of suburban public schools and pricey private schools which lead to the best outcomes.

That’s human nature, and the flip side is often the excessive egalitarian’s vision which leads to a culture of ideological conformity, union favoritism, and the politically connected overseeing the budgets (your money, federalized and inefficiently spent).  There’s less for all but a few, and the poor are poorly served.

Politically, in the discussions I’ve had, the Left’s ‘military industrial complex’ is often the Right’s ‘educational industrial complex,’ and both are undergoing important changes along with American society.

The core model of university education can, to some extent, be made available online.  This will disrupt higher ed.  Here’s the venture capitalist angle:

Will half of universities be in bankruptcy in a few decades?  How much will technology disrupt education?

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree, probably, but you also probably shouldn’t lose sight of why you’re going and divorce yourself entirely from the cost:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

Repost: Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’…From The New Criterion: ‘Higher Ed: An Obituary’,,,Ron Unz At The American Conservative: ‘The Myth Of American Meritocracy’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill…or the very few for whom college doesn’t work:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be:  A lot like it is now?: A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Allan Bloom thought about some of this in The Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to what he saw as a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Harvard is no place for Larry Summers, at least running the place: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

Mark Cuban From His Blog: ‘The Coming Meltdown in College Education & Why The Economy Won’t Get Better Any Time Soon’

Full post here.

‘Its far too easy to borrow money for college.  Did you know that there is more outstanding debt for student loans than there is for Auto Loans or Credit Card loans ? Thats right. The 37mm holders of student loans have more debt than the 175mm or so credit card owners in this country and more than the all of the debt on cars in this country. While the average student loan debt is about 23k. The median is close to $12,500. And growing. Past 1 TRILLION DOLLARS.’

Perhaps there won’t be a meltdown, but current debt levels probably can’t be sustained.  Technology, global competition and various other factors are putting pressure on higher education in the U.S, and forcing it to change.

It still seems as though a promise and a wish this past century we Americans have had for ourselves has been extended as far as it will go (education and opportunity for all).  There are a lot of people whose livelihood depends upon keeping things the way they are.

Now, what comes next…and who are the interested parties?

Related On This Site: Should you get a college degree?:  Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?…Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind, at least with regard to a true liberal arts education: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Perhaps some of the problem is due to the ideological interests holing up at our universities; at least in the liberal arts: Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?From The Harvard Educational Review-

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Louis Menand At The New Yorker: ‘Live And Learn: Why We Have College’

Full essay here.

Link sent it. Are we at the tail end of an age of exceptionalism…or egalitarianism…perhaps excessive egalitarianism?:

‘It wasn’t always like this. Before 1945, élite private colleges like Harvard and Yale were largely in the business of reproducing a privileged social class.’

and:

‘If there is a decline in motivation, it may mean that an exceptional phase in the history of American higher education is coming to an end. That phase began after the Second World War and lasted for fifty years. Large new populations kept entering the system. First, there were the veterans who attended on the G.I. Bill—2.2 million of them between 1944 and 1956. Then came the great expansion of the nineteen-sixties, when the baby boomers entered and enrollments doubled. Then came co-education, when virtually every all-male college, apart from the military academies, began accepting women. Finally, in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, there was a period of remarkable racial and ethnic diversification.’

Walter Russell Mead has some ideas.

A perfect storm in undergraduate education.

Related On This Site:  Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’Harvey Mansfield At The City Journal: ‘Principles That Don’t Change’..

Picking up the pieces: Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’Repost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

.Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgements apart in the humanities: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

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Charles Murray At The American: Are Too Many People Going To College?

Full post here.

You’ve probably had the thought that not everyone can go to college.   You’ve also likely been thinking that not everyone can be in the middle class (major driver of the mortgage loan crisis?).  Often, you hear people praise equality and diversity as the highest goals…but…clearly not everyone is equal and diversity is not a goal to be pursued unto itself without broader context.  There are limits.

However…it’s pretty clear that everyone getting at least a fair shot at a better life is a central concept to our republic’s survival…and no matter how smart, creative, independent, rich, or well-educated you may be you’re likely dealing with this idea (and its consequences) on a daily basis.

I like many of the ideas Murray raises:

“More people should be getting the basics of a liberal education. But for most students, the places to provide those basics are elementary and middle school.”

…but I still wonder at the end game…philosophy, education, politics, political philosophy?

Related On This SiteCharles Murray In The WSJ: For Most People, College Is A Waste Of TimeCharles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational RomanticismCharles Murray On The SAT Test: Abolish ItFrom The American Conservative: Going Off The Rawls–David Gordon On John Rawls

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Charles Murray In The WSJ: For Most People, College Is A Waste Of Time

Full article here.

Murray is still trying to infuse interesting ideas, often libertarian ones, into public debate.  One of his challenges seems to be how to save egalitarianism from the egalitarians:

“Here’s the reality: Everyone in every occupation starts as an apprentice. Those who are good enough become journeymen. The best become master craftsmen. ”

Murray is not so extremely individualist as to not advocate hierarchies, but rather argues that they should be primarily based on economic freedoms and the reward of economic motivations. 

He also accepts that:

“…in an increasingly class-riven America…[O]ur obsession with the BA has created a two-tiered entry to adulthood, anointing some for admission to the club and labeling the rest as second-best.” 

Over time, if such a trend is statistically valid, it could become dangerous.  Murray’s solution however, seems a little drastic: 

“The solution is not better degrees, but no degrees.”

Just because the B.A. is becoming over-valued….do we need to scrap it?

Just a thought: In this line of thinking, one could even suggest that one of the reasons why science scores in the U.S. are slipping is because people who aren’t scientists tend to have the most influence educationally and culturally on our youth.   But of course, like many people concerned about education, Murray’s in the social sciences.

See Also:  Charles Murray In The New Criterion: The Age Of Educational Romanticism


 by rsmoffat
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