The College Scam

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by AV8R, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. AV8R

    AV8R Active Member

  2. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    Very interesting. I enjoyed my college experience and probably would do it again, though I'd probably choose a different field.

    I see this first hand every day. Our high school guidance counselors push college like it is the ONLY option. They push a high school diploma like its the only option as well, when many of our students would benefit more from a GED and then trade school. Our division pays thousands each year to participate in a regional vocational program, but it's seen as the "dumping ground" for the bad kids. Students who genuinely want to go to study auto repair or culinary arts are discouraged from doing so because they aren't the "bad" kids. It's pathetic.

    I just wish people would wake up and realize we need to do what's best for the kids.

  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I think that this story has a deliberate negative spin to it. The woman who is featured earned a Bachelors degree in Human Development from a small college in New Hampshire. Did she get good enough grades to go to grad school? Maybe not. What did she think she was going to be qualified to do for employment with such a degree? What sorts of jobs did she try for? Did she even consider relocating in order to get a job or was she determined to live in that small New Hampshire location? None of these very relevant questions are addressed in the article. The fact is that a BA in HD is a "do you want fries with that?" degree. If she had even earned a degree in English or History she could have become a school teacher. I think I've made my point. Bad planning = bad outcome (more often than not). I believe that there are some Bachelors programs that are designed for people to push through into another (grad)degree program. I would not be too quick to blame the school. Students (and maybe their parents) need to be educated consumers of a product (higher ed). The days are long past where you can reasonably expect that if you earn a BA you will be set for life. Now, even people with MBAs are in fierce competition with each other for jobs that are almost entry level (administrative) positions.
  4. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    As the number of college graduates continues to sharply rise, with a corresponding outsourcing of our manufacturing base, we will continue to see a diminished return-on-value of having a garden variety Bachelors degree, more-so for some fields than others i.e. a Bachelors in accounting or nursing will almost always have a good return-on-value, but a Bachelors in underwater basket weaving may not.

    In the old days, things were different. In 1920 if a person had a high school diploma, it was a significant achievement. In the 21st Century, if a person has a high school diploma, it's no big deal. In 1960 if a person had a garden variety Bachelors degree, it was a significant achievement. In the 21st Century, if a person has a garden variety Bachelors degree, it doesn't have the same return-on-value. It has as much to do with the increased availability of Bachelors degrees as it does with the changing economic landscape in the United States. Over the last 35 years, we've been transitioning from a major manufacturing power to a service oriented country. Where do holders of garden variety Bachelors degrees fit into this new service oriented economic landscape?

    Our country still has great R&D, but garden variety Bachelors degrees don't fit into the R&D equation.

    Hard economic times are looming ahead.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2009
  5. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Aw, we shouldn't talk about "do you want fries with that" jobs or degrees. It might make some people feel bad. :D
  6. jaer57

    jaer57 New Member

    While some may think this article has a negative spin, it definitely has a good point; college is not the best option for everyone, especially right out of high school.

    I went to a high school in suburbia where those of us who chose a path other than college, something vocational or military (mine was enlisting in the Marine Corps), were considered the "dumb" kids. My senior year high school English teacher actually told me it was a "very stupid" idea. But I had wanted to join for years, and couldn't wait until after graduation so I could do it. It was 1997, and college didn't interest me in the least, at the time.

    Now it is nearly 12 years later; I have a bachelors degree, a great job, no school debt, and plenty of experience in my field (electronics). Though I may have been able to reach a similar outcome having gone straight to college, I know I wasn't in the right mindset for it. I would have been a horrible student, and not the student I am now. I also would have racked up plenty of debt, since my family couldn't pay much for me, and I didn't qualify for any scholarships. Comparing my relative success to others I graduated high school with who did go straight to college; I think I'm doing quite well.

    So in MY experience, college out of high school was NOT in my best interest. HOWEVER, college has been good to me, because coupled with my military experience it opened some doors that the military experience alone would not have opened. I'm not trying to knock those who go to school right away and rack up debt, though. For some, it may be what they want, and in their best interest.

    I do wish what I did was not so "shamed" by adults when I was 17 trying to do something I really wanted to do. If I would have listened to them and shunned what I really wanted to do, I would have always wondered "what if". Who knows how many adults there are now who caved in during those years and are now wondering the same thing...
  7. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    I view this in simple stark reality 20% of professions demand a four year bachelors degree or higher, that is was the norm for well over a century in most of the world. Teaching high school level classes, engineering, upper level business where your talking strategic business planning, pre-graduate level preperation. And even then there were focused business colleges for business that was generally the route that was taken if not on-the-job training after a good secondary education. Take my field accounting save for someone doing high end work a two year degree is frankly the only education needed, at most, followed by experience. That is true for many professions retail management, culinary arts, law enforcement, fire fighting and the like are ideal for an associates degree. Many other fine jobs one can get with a vocational diploma or apprenticeship and perform well. Others can be easily learned on-the-job like janitorial services or landscaping if its ones desire to do those.

    In fact many student could leave secondary level education ready for many of these if the education was focused well enough. I think business and schools and parents all must focus on each profession to see is an education at the bachelors even necessary - really necessary.

    As for that woman who earned a bachelors in human development where was right she would have been better off in Cosmetology earning a diploma that earning a bachelors degree. Where was the sound advice and information she needed to make an informed decision? In high school and by parents and by the college. You forget a four year degree is pushed its not suggested even when it would make no sense to seek one it seems to me. I remember the comedy Accepted where a student made up his own school because none would accept him. And the parents clearly thought his life was over. Is that really so untrue?

    Last year I was at a career day at a local High School and made the mistake of pointing out college at that level is not likely necessary for many of them, but that a good technical school diploma or associates degree would be a good option. Did I get attacked from the teachers, career counselors, other professionals and parents. I had to defend myself pointing out the real facts that many college graduates make less than a person in a skilled trade or profession who have a lower level degree, with no large debts. To me an accountant can easily make it with even a career diploma if from a good school ,PTEC in my area has a program, and not have much if any debts. And that a minority of them really demand a four year degree we had a doctor present I even argued if a student too the pre-med classes alone they could be educated in medicine possibly. Does that demand a four year degree or maybe a pre-medical focus two year degree if the program was available.

    But I'm silly perhaps I tend to think plainly blame me for being a skilled worker and not an academic like some of you but I just find educational overkill a bad thing to be focusing on.
  8. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    Oh Kizmet, I know and I agree, but colleges SO do push programs on people. Admissions reps have sales degrees, and people (for some reason) think that if a college offers a degree in it- that there MUST be an actual JOB at the finish line. Telling students otherwise would be like suicide. Sure, the school is just
    "meeting a need" and the student should "know better," but who is advising our children???
  9. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    Europe, you're done school @ 15 - you then have to make a choice: either an apprentice program or go on to "high school". It works very well in Europe, but North America is still hellbound on forcing people to attend school until they're 17/18 for a grade 12. If you want to be an electrician why not go into an apprenticeship to learn the trade and then, in tradeschool, learn subjects that are specific to your occupation?
  10. jaer57

    jaer57 New Member

    I don't think all of Europe is modeled that way. I know Germany follows a model like that, but England and France definitely do not.

    Vocational high schools do exist in the U.S., and some students in my hometown deviated from the normal high school to attend our local vocational high school in grades 9-12. I don't know how good it was or what exact trades it taught, but it was geared toward several trades, and the student or parent chose which trade to follow.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Kids want freedom, they want independence they want control of their lives "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" I was a little like that. Maybe you were too. We wanted the authority but when it doesn't work out we want someone to bail us out. Bad school, bad! I remember all those little mailings that would show up in peoples dorm mailboxes. Sign up for a credit card! It's safe! It's easy! I know people who bought into that and went into debt and it forced some of them to drop out. Some had to move home. Some had a Mom or a Dad who just paid the bill. Who is advising our children? It should be you, the parents. Higher education is big business. Think of it differently and you're bound to regret it. I know it's harsh, but it's a cold world.
  12. MichaelR

    MichaelR Member

    I graduated from a college prep high school in 86, and had little to NO desire to go to college. I was interested in DeVry but was talked out of it by my parents, so what did i do? I went to college and barely finished my first semester, came home worked for a pizza place and went to 2 semesters of jr college. barely made through those as well. Then i went back to college and got put on super secret probation so i went back to jr college. Then i went back to the college that put my on super secret probation. 3 hours away from being a Jr. i said screw it and dropped out. Then went on a wild ride for 5 years drinking and doing uhmm other things... Then i met my wife and realized that if she was going to stay with me i should go to school. So i entered an IT vocational program at my local Jr. College. The program never got state approval so i picked up, moved to Austin and went to ITT and carried a 3.0 GPA for 2 years, then i moved to Florida and graduated with a 3.4 GPA at the age of 31. Then i went and worked at dell for 2.5 years, lost that job to a tech slump, spent 6 months un-employed then worked for they next 2 years for a school district as an it guy then went and worked for a start up. Start up started having money problems so entered the family business. The only thing i regret is letting myself get talked out of DeVry.

    Moral of the story.... don't push your kids to go to college if they DO NOT want to go.

    So much waisted money.
  13. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    No, I agree. It's just sad.
  14. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Vocational prestige?

    This is a good post. We should model our American educational system after the German one where kids can be directed into vocational-technical skills where they can make money. The notion that a kid has to go to college to be a financial success or a success-in-general isn't good for our nation, for our economy or for the self-esteem of our future workers and leaders.

    My mother was an advocate of the German vocational system. She explained that certain vocations have a tier system. If you want to enter their vocation, you start from the bottom with a broom. Sweep the floors. Do what you're told. Learn. Progress. Grow. It eventually leads to a lifetime vocation, if the student is willing to learn.

    In the American model, if you're a kid who isn't going to college, then you're classified as being dumb -- which is a grave classification. We need to develop a viable, prestigious, vocational system for our future generation. Why does everyone have to go to college? :rolleyes:
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    We agree on that point. It's one of the reasons I try to highlight the money aspect of degree programs. Going into heavy debt in order to obtain a degree from a specific (expensive) college is not always a good idea. If mom or dad is paying the bill then maybe it's not such a big deal. On these forums people are often paying straight out of their own pockets (I know that's true for me) and so the idea that program A is better than program B is greatly offset by the fact that program A also costs twice as much as program B. One of the things we've learned over the past few years is that research has shown that many employers don't even understand the difference between accredited and non-accredited degree programs. How then can we expect them to know the difference between a program that costs 25K and one that costs 10K. Is there actually a difference? There may be some differnce but is it worth the difference in the pricetag? I say that in many cases the answer is "no."
  16. JimLane

    JimLane New Member

    Of course, this also translates to 80% of the professions do not require a college degree.

  17. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    However, even in vocation fields, degrees are becoming more popular and important. In my field (and my husband's) his last job search (about 4 years ago) was a rude awakening that he would need a bachelor's degree to compete for management level jobs (even though he had over 10 years management experience in a variety of settings). Now, I understand that "you can't say that about every job..." but we found that an OVERWHELMING majority of food service/management related jobs did.

    My husband has excellent executive chef credentials managing large staffs and supervising supervisors, but couldn't walk into (for example) a Panera sandwich shop an apply as a manager (for $10/hr) because he doesn't have a bachelor's degree.
    I could list multiple examples, but you get the idea. This is classic in food service. It's common to see a 22 year old "manager" with a degree and no practical experience managing a work force with decades of experience.

    This presents the other side of the vocational argument- if you want to be a front line worker for the rest of your life, you're all set. But if not? Your screwed. Where is "up" for vocational workers? Management or ownership. Sadly, vocational training usually doesn't prepare you for either.

    I realize this is a specific situation that doesn't apply to all professions, but for once, I wasn't the first one to mention culinary arts in a thread- so I just thought I'd throw in my two cents.
  18. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    cookderosa, you're example is relevant because the American model of education and vocational training isn't set up like the German model.
  19. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    Thats my problem I have a solid A.S. degree and twenty years of pretty much consistant work for just three employers Wisconsin Electric, a Telemarketing Firm and now head the payroll for a large medical service provider network. I of course kept up my skills and added classes to that. But no they want a bachelors degree for many employers even mine is getting pushy. And in my view for the work I do which is practical accounting a degree at that level is silly I learned far more working than I did in school.

    Its sad I think everyone on this needs to wake up and get practical.
  20. Go_Fishy

    Go_Fishy New Member

    Well, the real underlying problem is that people in the US see higher education as a product that can be purchased, consumed, and needs to have a certain ROI. Who can blame them with tuition rates in the thousands of dollars? The value of a "Do you want fries with that" degree goes far beyond resume and job interview, but sadly this is something that many people will never understand. If my kids ever choose their programs depending on the projected income rather than talent and passion, they'll be in serious trouble.

    Actually, I'm not even sure if I buy into that whole fries-with-that story. I know a lot of highly (financially) successful people with liberal arts backgrounds if I think about it...

    And why is that? If your answer was "Because everyone thinks that an MBA comes with built-in automatic success and because, as a consequence, there are so many MBA programs out there so that really anyone - without even the slightest talent for business and management - can get one, which results in the MBA being one of the most generic advanced degrees out there," are right. ;)

    me_again: The German education system is one of the most unfair in the world. I'm too tired now, but I'll gladly elaborate tomorrow if anyone is interested.

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