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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Dave Ramsey goes off on the stupidity of borrowing money for a useless degree (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Dave Ramsey goes off on the stupidity of borrowing money for a useless degree
philnotfil
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I thoroughly enjoyed this yesterday, I'm glad they transcribed it and put it online.

daveramsey.com

quote:
I’ve got to tell you that I’m about to blow a gasket. I’m about to go into orbit. I’ve taken so many calls like this. Where are the parents here? If your kids are that stupid, jack them up! Seriously—$130,000 to get a degree from Columbia in divinity to get a $40,000 job as a minister. Spending $130,000 to get an undergraduate degree in psychology—that’s crazy!! So when you have babies, you go home to be a stay-at-home mom.

I love stay-at-home moms. But you know the number one reason I’m finding out now that people can’t stay home with their kids? It’s their freaking student loan stupidity! I’m not mad at this particular lady that just called. This concept is driving me bananas!

quote:
This is what’s going on! You’ve lost your ever-loving minds, America. You are stupid about education—how paradoxical is that? You wander in, spend any amount to get a degree and act like the student loan tooth fairy is going to come in and pick up your stuff. There is no student loan tooth fairy! You have to think.

Your stupid degree in a stupid field does not have a marketplace value and it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get a job! As a matter of fact, it’s an indicator that you’re too stupid to hire! Do not allow your 18-year-old to go $200,000 in debt so they can get a good Christian education in underwater basket weaving. That’s stupid! Stop it!

If you want to listen to it, here is the podcast, the fireworks start flying around the 35 minute mark.

Dave Ramsey Podcast 3/13/12

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Your stupid degree in a stupid field does not have a marketplace value and it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get a job!
Unfortunately, that statement doesn't reverse itself well. The degree doesn't guarantee that you'll get a job, but not having the degree on the paper is a good bet for your application for anything that pays decently being tossed in the trash without a second glance.
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Grant
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Well, I wish Dave Ramsey had been around when I was in college so I wouldn't have wasted my time getting a history degree. The flip side to that is at the time I wouldn't have cared, the degree was only a means to an ends, in my case the ends being a gold bar. I take full responsibility for wasting the money of my parents and of the state. I take full responsibilty for wasting my own time and taking away opportunities for my family. I'm not going to gripe, just do the best I can with what time I have left. It is my own curse to have a fetish for useless (in this case, non-profitable) information.

But I will have to slap any of my children who want to get a history or divinity degree, unless they really have their eye on getting a masters or PhD.

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LetterRip
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quote:
Spending $130,000 to get an undergraduate degree in psychology—that’s crazy!! So when you have babies, you go home to be a stay-at-home mom.
Part of the woman's motivation in going to college might be to attract a higher quality of mate. People in general want a mate of similar social quality - which generally means of similar education background. Without her overpriced degree from an overpriced school - her mate options are significantly curtailed.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Part of the woman's motivation in going to college might be to attract a higher quality of mate.

I'd prefer it if the woman simply offered me her college tuition up front. That's what I would do if I had been dating a woman in medical or law school when I was 19.

"Here, this all of my money for tuition. It's my dowery. Just marry me so I can be at home with the kids all day playing playstation and going to the driving range." I cac you not. I would have done it.

Of course, tuition exemption from the National Guard does not quite work that way.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
quote:
Spending $130,000 to get an undergraduate degree in psychology—that’s crazy!! So when you have babies, you go home to be a stay-at-home mom.
Part of the woman's motivation in going to college might be to attract a higher quality of mate. People in general want a mate of similar social quality - which generally means of similar education background. Without her overpriced degree from an overpriced school - her mate options are significantly curtailed.
I think one of the points is that going into debt to get the overpriced degree greatly reduces the probability of success in the future relationship.

When I was a teacher, I had colleagues who had to quit because they couldn't afford it.

Your financial decisions can limit your future. Going to college is a financial decision that many people get wrong. If you go $100,000 into debt for a degree in education, you aren't going to be able to pay it off with a job in education. Either get a degree in something else, or find a way to get the degree without the debt. Same thing for the stay at home moms.

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Wayward Son
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quote:
Just marry me so I can be at home with the kids all day playing playstation and going to the driving range.
Obviously you've never been the primary caretaker of children. [LOL]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
If you go $100,000 into debt for a degree in education, you aren't going to be able to pay it off with a job in education. Either get a degree in something else, or find a way to get the degree without the debt. Same thing for the stay at home moms.
That's a sunk cost and cart before the horse issue all in one. To make a call like that you have to be able to peek 10 years into the future to see where you're going to end up or how smaller costs are going to end up piling up on your way to where you're trying to get.

What we really need to be doing is treating education as a public investment and removing debt from the equation entirely, instead focusing on the benefits that accrue from a well educated population.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
Just marry me so I can be at home with the kids all day playing playstation and going to the driving range.
Obviously you've never been the primary caretaker of children. [LOL]
For 50% of the year I guess I could be described as being the "primary caretaker" for my son. That's just the way my job works. In all fairness of course I have the ability to drop him off at daycare. The flip side is that I actually can spend more time with him then my wife does since she works and drops him off every day, wheras I often keep him around so we can play together.
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
If you go $100,000 into debt for a degree in education, you aren't going to be able to pay it off with a job in education. Either get a degree in something else, or find a way to get the degree without the debt. Same thing for the stay at home moms.
That's a sunk cost and cart before the horse issue all in one. To make a call like that you have to be able to peek 10 years into the future to see where you're going to end up or how smaller costs are going to end up piling up on your way to where you're trying to get.
Except for the part where you know up front what different schools charge, and how much you can get from scholarships/grants/working, and for most careers you have a pretty good idea of what your salary will be when you graduate, especially if you get a degree in education.

quote:
What we really need to be doing is treating education as a public investment and removing debt from the equation entirely, instead focusing on the benefits that accrue from a well educated population. [/QB]
I agree.
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KidTokyo
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I don't know what's worse -- that people think having a liberal arts degree is "useless" because it does not make your rich, or that we've normalized going into heavy debt for education which should be available to anyone who wants it.

Yes, spending a bazillion dollars for a degree with low earning potential is questionable. But the solution is to make state education available to everyone at a reasonable cost, just as it was for many, many decades. Belittling anything that doesn't involve differential calculus is immensely destructive.

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jasonr
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The problem is that lazy employers use education as a means of weeding out applicants, even in fields where education means very little to your ability to do the job, and 99% is acquired through on the job training. This creates a form of credential inflation that makes it impossible to secure even dummy jobs without an education.

I'll tell you honestly, even with a profession like law, I'm not sure law school makes much difference. 99% of training is on the job; law school is almost superfluous. If I hadn't gone to law school, but did the same work at the same firm for the same people I'd probably be pretty much in the place in terms of professional ability.

Alot of higher education seems to be a scam.

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KidTokyo
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That's the thing -- education isn't just about your job. It's what you need to be a complete person and a useful citizen. We need to stop acting as if one's "job" is the most important measure of their worth.

Law school, I partially agree (having just finished it). You don't need three years to practice. However, I found the first two years fairly helpful, and I can't say that there's a single class I can look back on and say "I'd be just as happy not knowing that..."

Yes, you could do you job without law school. Could you do it as well? It may help in ways that are not obvious.

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kmbboots
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I agree, KidTokyo. I may not be rich, but my life is richer for my education. Even though it didn't snag me a classy mate. [Roll Eyes]
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
That's the thing -- education isn't just about your job. It's what you need to be a complete person and a useful citizen. We need to stop acting as if one's "job" is the most important measure of their worth.

Education isn't just about your job. But if you are going to go into debt to the tune of $100,000, you are making a financial decision.
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KidTokyo
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Phil,

I already said as much. But we shouldn't be forced to make a choice like that. It should not cost that much. It's not a necessity -- rather a failure of social distribution.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
That's the thing -- education isn't just about your job. It's what you need to be a complete person and a useful citizen. We need to stop acting as if one's "job" is the most important measure of their worth.

Law school, I partially agree (having just finished it). You don't need three years to practice. However, I found the first two years fairly helpful, and I can't say that there's a single class I can look back on and say "I'd be just as happy not knowing that..."

Yes, you could do you job without law school. Could you do it as well? It may help in ways that are not obvious.

Everything you need from law school could be taught in three semesters, other than externships, which technically aren't in the law school anyway. It's wrong to force people to incur unnecessary debt and to spend time that could be spent earning.

Yes I enjoyed the time. But I could have found better use for it, not to mention the money.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
Everything you need from law school could be taught in three semesters, other than externships, which technically aren't in the law school anyway. It's wrong to force people to incur unnecessary debt and to spend time that could be spent earning.
I agree, though the externships are useful. There should be an option of a two-year degree -- a masters instead of a J.D. -- after which you could take the bar. The third year should be optional, should one want the more advanced degree for whatever reason. Requiring that third year really is just taking our money.

Like I say, I enjoyed "Law & Economics" and "Transnational Business and Human Rights," but I do not claim that either will be of much use for 99.9% of my clients.

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LetterRip
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kmboots,

quote:
I may not be rich, but my life is richer for my education. Even though it didn't snag me a classy mate.
I wasn't saying that was the purpose on all women attending university [Smile] If you look at how many women actually follow this behaviour - (go to college, find a husband, become stay at home mom) - that equates to around 30%.

quote:
Interviews done with 138 female students at Yale in 2005 indicate that over 60% of them planned to cut back on work or leave the workforce entirely when they have children, and a 2001 survey of recent Harvard Business School alumnae shows that 31% of them were working only part-time, and another 31% were no longer working at all.
quote:
know you are focusing or state schools in this article, but having a ring by spring is normal at my college and at many religious or evangelical bible colleges.
http://www.hercampus.com/career/husband-hunting-college-getting-your-mrs-degree

Also I've heard that schools in the south tend to have a high focus on 'getting ones MRS. degree'.

LetterRip

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
If you go $100,000 into debt for a degree in education, you aren't going to be able to pay it off with a job in education. Either get a degree in something else, or find a way to get the degree without the debt. Same thing for the stay at home moms.
That's a sunk cost and cart before the horse issue all in one. To make a call like that you have to be able to peek 10 years into the future to see where you're going to end up or how smaller costs are going to end up piling up on your way to where you're trying to get.
you don't have to be Svengali to see the impact of $100,000+ student loan debt on degree plan that leads to an average salary.
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
[QUOTE]
What we really need to be doing is treating education as a public investment and removing debt from the equation entirely, instead focusing on the benefits that accrue from a well educated population.

yeah, this approach worked out so well with the housing industry. [Roll Eyes]
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
But the solution is to make state education available to everyone at a reasonable cost, just as it was for many, many decades.

It is. You can get a Community College degree for a reasonable amount. If you choose to go to a high priced university then you are making a financial choice and must deal with the consequences.
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KidTokyo
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JW,

I'm talking about state colleges, which for a very long time were free or available at a low cost to residents. You don't get the same resources at a community college.

I'm not disputing that people have to make a choice. I'm saying the options suck, financially speaking, and for no good reason.

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KidTokyo
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G2,

It worked very well for education until policy changes in the past couple of decades essentially ruined it.

Also, your comparison to the housing industry makes no sense. The housing problem had nothing to do with "removing" debt, but rather increasing it, compounding it, while simultaneously pretending it wasn't there. Pretty much the exact opposite of removing it.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
JW,

I'm talking about state colleges, which for a very long time were free or available at a low cost to residents. You don't get the same resources at a community college.

I'm not disputing that people have to make a choice. I'm saying the options suck, financially speaking, and for no good reason.

Most state colleges, outside of the flagship schools in a handful of states, are available at a low cost to residents (and some states have scholarship programs that cover tuition for residents whose high school achievement indicates that they will be successful).

Not everyone can afford to go to a R1 university, but everyone can afford to get an education that will improve their earning potential.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
Most state colleges, outside of the flagship schools in a handful of states, are available at a low cost to residents
Cheaper for people in state, but not always cheap enough. It brings us back to the original issue -- yeah, you could go to a state school, but you would have to owe lots of money afterward. It shouldn't be that way. Culture should be available to everyone. Maybe not Harvard, but a first-rate state education for everyone in that state, without heavy debt.

In Massachusetts, where I was born, even UMASS Lowell will run you about $20,000 per year for instate residents. $12,000 if you live at home. Not all schools are that bad, but they aren't cheap.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
If you go $100,000 into debt for a degree in education, you aren't going to be able to pay it off with a job in education. Either get a degree in something else, or find a way to get the degree without the debt. Same thing for the stay at home moms.
That's a sunk cost and cart before the horse issue all in one. To make a call like that you have to be able to peek 10 years into the future to see where you're going to end up or how smaller costs are going to end up piling up on your way to where you're trying to get.
you don't have to be Svengali to see the impact of $100,000+ student loan debt on degree plan that leads to an average salary.

The $100K doesn't come all at once. It comes in bits and pieces over several years, maybe from needing to repeat a few classes, maybe from losing a certain grant or scholarship, maybe from changing majors mid course, until you find (in the type of extreme case we're talking about here) yourself 6-8 years in and a few classes away from any degree at all, at which point (per what "sunk cost" refers to) you may as well go the last mile and get it done to have something to show for your effort.

quote:
yeah, this approach worked out so well with the housing industry. [Roll Eyes]
I didn't say that we should teach everyone to think that it's a personal financial investment that they should make. That damage is already done anyway.

I said that we should treat it as a _public_ investment. As in fund it entirely at the public level, and even pay students a stipend while they're in school to help them meet expenses.

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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
I said that we should treat it as a _public_ investment. As in fund it entirely at the public level, and even pay students a stipend while they're in school to help them meet expenses. [/QB]

Public investment and a free education, good idea. A stipend for students, bad idea. It's really easy to work part time during the year and more over the summer to pay enough for living expenses while in college. The public would be well served by providing for free tuition but the living expenses should be covered by the student/family. If a college or scholarship wants to provide need or merit based money to pay for living expenses then that is fine but there is no good reason to provide a stipend to all college students.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:

In Massachusetts, where I was born, even UMASS Lowell will run you about $20,000 per year for instate residents. $12,000 if you live at home. Not all schools are that bad, but they aren't cheap.

The state college I went to ran me $3000 a semester, including a room in the dorm, meal plan at the cafeteria, books, and money for beer. This dropped to $1000 a semester with tuition exemption and pay from the Nasty Guard.

But then again, I don't think we got as much CULTURE as you fellas get up there in Massachewsuts [Big Grin]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
A stipend for students, bad idea. It's really easy to work part time during the year and more over the summer to pay enough for living expenses while in college.
During breaks, perhaps, during the time when their supposed to be studying, being a student should be their full time job, and they should be apid for the effort just like any other job, not be expected to heap irrelevant distractions on top of their work. If you want to suggest relevant internships, apprenticeships, and coop positions as a more integrated part of the process, that's one thing, but if we actually want them to be learning to operate in the real job market, we should be giving them grade adjusted salaries for the work that they should be devoting most of their time to.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
But then again, I don't think we got as much CULTURE as you fellas get up there in Massachewsuts
You'll be pleased to learn the locals refer to the Amherst campus as "Zoo Mass." [Smile]
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LinuxFreakus
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College, for the most part is a waste of time and a complete rip off. Having many years of experience as a software engineer under my belt, I can safely say that I have never really used anything I learned in college. Zip, nada, zero. It makes me sick to think how much money it costs for no practical reason other than to have a piece of paper which proves nothing, but which will prevent your resume from getting trashed without even being read by a human.

You would think computer science would be a great example of a useful degree... but it is worthless, in fact I have worked with plenty of people who are great software engineers who got degrees in things like history, political science, psychology, music, etc. It makes no difference, you just need to have the aptitude for it, and be able to pick stuff up easily.

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LinuxFreakus
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I think it would help immensely if people would give up on the notion that everyone actually *needs* a college education to do most jobs, because you don't. Then people would not be obligated to fork over 60k or 100k or more simply because they have no other choice if they want to compete with everyone else doing the same thing.

Having the government help pay for it really only makes things worse, because then suddenly the colleges realize they can charge even more since the students are now paying less. It is a huge drain on the economy, most people could buy a house (or two) for what they waste paying for college they don't need... I wonder why the housing market struggles to recover? Hmm...

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KidTokyo
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Linux! Wow! I haven't seen you around in a while...or have I just not been paying attention?

Totally off-topic, but lately I've been experimenting with Linux. The OS, I mean, not an imaginary friend. I have on old laptop with a bunch of partitions and various flavors of 'buntu. It's cool! Really like it. Never touching Windows again if I can avoid it. Anyway, just thought you should know.

Back to the topic -- I agree, Linux, that autodidacts are always the most creative and interesting folk to work with, and most smart people self-teach far more than they learn in school. However, I think there is a value to a good core lib arts education (which probably doesn't exist much now in the age of 101 electives) that is far beyond the monetary. Reading difficult, old books is good for you because its good to have your mind bent. Wittgenstein, I'm sure, will make any good programmer better, in ways not easily anticipated (for instance).

[ March 20, 2012, 11:33 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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KidTokyo
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quote:
Having the government help pay for it really only makes things worse, because then suddenly the colleges realize they can charge even more since the students are now paying less.
State and city governments used to be the primary backers of public universities, and they did so because it benefitted their economies in innumerable ways. The problem you cite is more recent (two decades) and results from the overuse of loans backed by the federal government.

It's good to make this distinction. There is no "the" government. In our country, we have thousands.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
G2,

It worked very well for education until policy changes in the past couple of decades essentially ruined it.

Also, your comparison to the housing industry makes no sense. The housing problem had nothing to do with "removing" debt, but rather increasing it, compounding it, while simultaneously pretending it wasn't there. Pretty much the exact opposite of removing it.

Check this:
quote:
The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year.
See the parallel?
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KidTokyo
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Sure, G2. That's a potential parallel in the future. But that's not what happened before, and not what you were talking about.
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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
Linux! Wow! I haven't seen you around in a while...or have I just not been paying attention?

Totally off-topic, but lately I've been experimenting with Linux. The OS, I mean, not an imaginary friend. I have on old laptop with a bunch of partitions and various flavors of 'buntu. It's cool! Really like it. Never touching Windows again if I can avoid it. Anyway, just thought you should know.

Back to the topic -- I agree, Linux, that autodidacts are always the most creative and interesting folk to work with, and most smart people self-teach far more than they learn in school. However, I think there is a value to a good core lib arts education (which probably doesn't exist much now in the age of 101 electives) that is far beyond the monetary. Reading difficult, old books is good for you because its good to have your mind bent. Wittgenstein, I'm sure, will make any good programmer better, in ways not easily anticipated (for instance).

Yeah I don't get around to posting much these days, with two kids, work, running, etc.. and yes some of the more recent developments in the linux desktop options have resulted in some pretty nice interfaces. Many decry the new wave of Gnome3, Unity, etc... and while I do get annoyed with the immovable dock bar thing in unity, I've gotten used to Gnome3/gnome shell and with some customizations, I actually like it a lot better, but it is still a bit unstable IMO (though admittedly I tend to use the latest source so I can get the latest features without waiting and compile it myself which means it isn't part of a more thoroughly tested distro like ubuntu). I tend to use nothing but the command line for the most part anyway though. Just give me my text editor of choice, and screen or tmux and I'm good to go [Smile]

Back on topic, I have no doubt that there are things which may subtly enhance your critical thinking etc... but what should be a fair price to pay for such intangibles which really don't matter to employers anyway as long as you can get your job done?

Seriously, the stuff they teach in computer science courses is so basic and so worthless that people who couldn't code their way out of a paper bag can easily (still takes a lot of work obviously) end up with masters/doctoral degrees, and yet be unable to find success as software engineers.

Some people have aptitudes for certain things and others do not. They have it whether they go to college or not, and having a degree or not really is not and indicator which measures aptitude in any meaningful way. For the most part a college degree says you are good at taking exams. Most jobs are not about taking exams.

[ March 21, 2012, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
It's good to make this distinction. There is no "the" government. In our country, we have thousands.

True, but wherever the subsidies come from the result is higher prices, and in many cases I believe schools engage in outright fraud/abuse because of desire to increase profits/endowments, etc, yet they receive little scrutiny because for some reason higher education seems to hold some sort of moral high ground somewhat analogous to religions, but not nearly the same fanaticism.

Personally, I think it goes back much further... the post WWII era with the GI Bill is what opened the flood gates IMO. What ends up happening is that institutions see all these subsidies as free money, and the more these subsidies are increased, colleges simply raise costs to make sure they are pulling in the most "free" money they can (essentially fraud/abuse) and then tack on whatever they think they can extract from the students or their parents which would normally be the actual free market price. All we are doing is funneling tons of public money into academic institutions, most/many of which have no need for it anyway.

[ March 21, 2012, 07:41 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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KidTokyo
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quote:
Many decry the new wave of Gnome3, Unity, etc... and while I do get annoyed with the immovable dock bar thing in unity, I've gotten used to Gnome3/gnome shell and with some customizations, I actually like it a lot better, but it is still a bit unstable IMO (though admittedly I tend to use the latest source so I can get the latest features without waiting and compile it myself which means it isn't part of a more thoroughly tested distro like ubuntu).
I'm a raw newbie, just learning the ropes. I like Unity too. My fave in terms of graphics is the KDE/Kubuntu variety, but that distro is the most fussy, I find, though I could just be incompetent. I may email you for tips down the road.

quote:
Back on topic, I have no doubt that there are things which may subtly enhance your critical thinking etc... but what should be a fair price to pay for such intangibles which really don't matter to employers anyway as long as you can get your job done?

Seriously, the stuff they teach in computer science courses is so basic and so worthless that people who couldn't code their way out of a paper bag can easily (still takes a lot of work obviously) end up with masters/doctoral degrees, and yet be unable to find success as software engineers.

I think computer science is a bit atypical in this regard. It's intuitive, it rewards creativity and happenstance in both solitary tinkering and communitarian info-sharing, and one can self-teach and experiment for a low cost, with minimal consequences. It's a profession that attracts brainy people who like analysis and wordplay, and where one can easily demonstrate skills to a potential employer. Not all of this is true, for say electrical engineering, or indeed most other professions.

Liberal arts has never been about "job skills," but rather "thinking skills." Philosophy, English, History, etc...at the bachelors level the choice is arbitrary from a career perspective but they all do teach thinking skills, provided the courses are rigorous enough, which granted may not always be the case. But you can't be an A student as an English major at a decent school without reaching a fairly advanced level of facility with the written word, and with analyzing text on a more than superficial level. Those are skills. They are useful. For many, they are in fact acquired in college. And they do make people better workers and citizens.

quote:
For the most part a college degree says you are good at taking exams. Most jobs are not about taking exams.
Not true in liberal arts. You have to be able to write and think well. The point is lost, of course, if teachers resort to multiple choice tests for everything.

quote:
wherever the subsidies come from the result is higher prices, and in many cases I believe schools engage in outright fraud/abuse because of desire to increase profits/endowments, etc, yet they receive little scrutiny because for some reason higher education seems to hold some sort of moral high ground somewhat analogous to religions, but not nearly the same fanaticism.
No. Traditionally, the subsidies lower the prices. The risk is that the institution will spend more on itself without regard to market forces. But with a state or city-owned school, this problem should be avoided because, as a state entity, spending is regulated by the state as well as the cost of tuition. As long as there is isolation from the market on both ends, you shouldn't have that particular problem.

The problem you cite arises when private or "semi-private" institutions enjoy government subsidies, or government-backed loans, without a consequent regulatory check on their spending and tuition policies. That clearly will inflate cost, and that is what has happened over the last 25 years.

quote:
Personally, I think it goes back much further... the post WWII era with the GI Bill is what opened the flood gates IMO. What ends up happening is that institutions see all these subsidies as free money, and the more these subsidies are increased, colleges simply raise costs to make sure they are pulling in the most "free" money they can (essentially fraud/abuse) and then tack on whatever they think they can extract from the students or their parents which would normally be the actual free market price
The GI bills did a lot to democratize who could go to college -- it help build a meritocracy. It worked very well. The problem with inflating costs occurred much later, as a result (primarily) of expanded Stafford loans. The fundamental problem is that federal policy viewed the university as an engine of international competition, and so shifted its focus to nurturing an elitist mentality throughout higher education rather than a public service mentality. The result was distorted "market competition" for federal largesse. This could have been avoided if the priority had been kept at keeping all state schools, including the very best, low-cost or free for residents, and leaving the ivies for the wealthy. We had a good system before, and we ruined it.

[ March 22, 2012, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
I think computer science is a bit atypical in this regard. It's intuitive, it rewards creativity and happenstance in both solitary tinkering and communitarian info-sharing, and one can self-teach and experiment for a low cost, with minimal consequences. It's a profession that attracts brainy people who like analysis and wordplay, and where one can easily demonstrate skills to a potential employer. Not all of this is true, for say electrical engineering, or indeed most other professions.

I disagree, it is quite difficult to demonstrate skills to a potential employer unless you have a significant body of open source work directly attributed to you (for example). But it is hard to have time for that when you get paid to spend all your time writing proprietary code (for most people anyway).

Also, electrical engineering is definitely something which can be self taught. Many fantastic books are out there. Sure there is a lot of ridiculously expensive equipment many EE use for their jobs, but you can *understand* and learn the vast majority of what you would need without it. The same goes for many professions. There are self taught lawyers even, and some states allow people to pass the bar without a JD. I'm not sure I can even think of many professions which couldn't be self taught at least to entry level. Surgeons and many other types of doctors come to mind.

quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
Liberal arts has never been about "job skills," but rather "thinking skills." Philosophy, English, History, etc...at the bachelors level the choice is arbitrary from a career perspective but they all do teach thinking skills, provided the courses are rigorous enough, which granted may not always be the case. But you can't be an A student as an English major at a decent school without reaching a fairly advanced level of facility with the written word, and with analyzing text on a more than superficial level. Those are skills. They are useful. For many, they are in fact acquired in college. And they do make people better workers and citizens.

I couldn't disagree more strongly here. For the vast majority of people, if they haven't already developed a natural interest in learning before college, they will probably never change. The people who have this innate curiosity will get the experience/skills you describe whether in college or on the job, and if society was more open minded about such things, they would be much better served by getting paid to do it rather than going deeply in debt.

quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
Not true in liberal arts. You have to be able to write and think well. The point is lost, of course, if teachers resort to multiple choice tests for everything.

In my experience, sadly, the standards have fallen sharply. I was horrified by the writing abilities of my classmates in such classes and I'm not even a great writer myself. Many of these students had no business passing with such poor skills. They not only passed, but received good grades as well. One of my pet peeves were people who used apostrophes after every "s", and I encountered more than a few.

Unfortunately, schools are more interested in collecting money by the truckload than with academic standards. If they really held themselves to the standards they should, they would have a much smaller enrollment.

quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
No. Traditionally, the subsidies lower the prices. The risk is that the institution will spend more on itself without regard to market forces. But with a state or city-owned school, this problem should be avoided because, as a state entity, spending is regulated by the state as well as the cost of tuition. As long as there is isolation from the market on both ends, you shouldn't have that particular problem.

They *might* lower the price to the consumer in the short term, but they do not generally decrease the real price. Are you alleging that state governments do not allow colleges to waste money or misuse public funds? I find that laughable.

quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
The GI bills did a lot to democratize who could go to college -- it help build a meritocracy. It worked very well. The problem with inflating costs occurred much later, as a result (primarily) of expanded Stafford loans.

Not true, the abuse was rampant and widespread after the GI bill, schools built stadiums, extravagant complexes, charged excessive tuition rates to veterans, pocketed kickbacks and otherwise engaged in outright fraud.

Many universities these days have so much money they could probably operate indefinitely without even charging tuition at all. It is quite a racket, but people keep paying, and everyone seems to think it is necessary.

The only reason most people need college is because employers are allowed to use it to screen potential hires and believe (mistakenly) that it is an important measure of how good someone will be at a particular job.

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