Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Kizmet, Nov 11, 2015.
to the problem of college affordability
College Affordability Survey: 2 Years Free Proposal Popular
"The second-most popular option among parents: giving students who live at home a free freshman year of online courses."
That's, in a nutshell, Saylor Academy. So already exists.
Solution is to send their kids here,
10 Schools With the Lowest Out-of-State Tuition - US News
and have them study a STEM subject.
Best ROI and they get that stupid "college experience"
I agree with expansion and promotion of low-cost alternatives. I don't agree with making higher education free. The problem there is that, when something is free, it eventually is perceived as having no value. There used to be a time when one could get a modest-paying entry-level corporate job with a high school education. Now, folks are graduating with BBA's by the droves and still working at Starbuck's (because, hey, at least they have good benefits). If everyone has a Bachelor's degree, the Bachelor's degree will become the new high school diploma -- and it's heading in that direction at a fast pace.
Instead of dumping all of this government funding into "free" college -- which, by the way, is a misleading term because you and I are still paying for it via taxes -- why not work on improving our primary and secondary education system? We have high school graduates who can barely compose a legible sentence or work out a basic algebraic equation.
Back when a high school diploma was all one needed to find professional work, the economy was completely different from how it is now. There was much less automation in manufacturing, fewer women in the workforce, and less competition from abroad. Meanwhile, tuition rates have far outpaced inflation for decades. I agree with you that it's not taxpayers' job to pay for everyone to go to college, but that hardly means that restoring affordability to tuition rates would be a bad thing, it wouldn't.
Yes, you've pitched that sentiment before. To a certain extent I think you're right. If college is free and there is no real financial consequence of undertaking frivolous study then, perhaps, my kids will spend four years studying the history of music rather than picking up a discipline that might actually translate to a job. The flip side is that, let's say the state of New York said "all military veterans get four free years at a SUNY school." That's a very valuable thing. Obviously, some veterans might waste it. However, a good many would actually use it well.
A lot of things are "free" that we don't consider to have no value. Public school is a good example. Though we have complaints about public schools from time to time people send their kids there instead of the paid alternative. I also take great pride in exploring the numerous county parks in New York that are "free" (I pay for them with taxes). And I especially enjoy the fact that I can take my family to the local zoo free of charge (veteran benefit) without thinking the zoo has "no value."
But you just said that things that are free are perceived as having no value. How, then, would pumping money into secondary education help? If it remains "free" then won't we all just regard it as being worthless because we don't pay for tuition?
Logical exercises aside, I think that high schools fail us in a number of ways. I think that technical education has been shunned as the thing that "dumb kids" pursue (not true) and a four year liberal arts education is held up as an expected standard for all. High schools don't prepare students for the real world as they once did (at a time, as Steve notes, when the economy was very different). High schools prepare students for four years of studying "stuff." If you can't compose a proper sentence at graduation, that's OK (it isn't, really) because your university will simply add more writing requirements so that you'll appear less of an illiterate dullard upon graduation. There's really two major issues: Colleges and universities bend their standards to suit the needs of incoming students and high schools, ostensibly, cater their education around what those colleges and universities want to see.
The result is sad. High school graduates who can't make change and college graduates who need to be told that "text talk" is inappropriate for work email.
And our secondary schools are decidedly underfunded. However, the bigger issue is that, even with appropriate funding, they would simply continue teaching kids "stuff" rather than anything that might actually inspire vocational interest.
None of this, however, has anything to do with restoring college tuition to an affordable level. Something that could be accomplished if we cut off Title IV funding entirely. Once the weaker schools die a newer, leaner system can rise in its place.
I did note the need for affordable tuition, so there's certainly no argument there. Fair point on the shift in global economics and workforce composition. However, I still don't agree with the current general push for higher education for everyone while ignoring the failures of our primary and secondary education systems. I don't think that a check-the-box Bachelor's degree really solves any of our problems.
In this specific scenario, the education is not "free". There was an investment of public service with an increased chance of death or serious physical/mental injury for the person receiving this benefit. While many young people do go into the military for education benefits, I don't think that many folks see this as a risk-free venture. Therefore, there is some inherent value.
Absolutely, many will still regard it as without value. However, there will at least be an improvement in quality and a reduction in expense with a consolidation of resources.
Your point is not lost that you -- as an individual -- value the free trips to the park and zoo. Yes, these sites have value, or they wouldn't exist. But, are they *perceived* to have intrinsic value by the general public? Perhaps folks in your region are different, but some public parks in my area are often strewn with trash and covered in graffiti. If everyone viewed the park as having value, would they leave trash and spraypaint everywhere? Sure, the majority of people aren't trashing up the park, but the majority aren't volunteering to clean it up, either.
The reason that I spoke to the issue of "free" is that OP's link discussed free college. I don't think we'll find many people -- especially on these forums -- that will disagree that college tuition has gotten out of hand.
I haven't read all those long posts word-for-word but I'd like to introduce another perspective. One point of view is that the product (education) will be seen as having no value if it is cost-free. I understand that idea and do not believe that it is wrong. However, it's an incomplete assessment. The real value of education is in it's transformative power. It changes you. It changes you internally and externally. Once educated you know things and understand things differently/better than before and you are seen differently by others, as more capable. This is the value of education and why it is worth the time and effort. The cost in dollars is just an obstacle to that goal. If the obstacle is removed more people will reach that goal. Some, of course, will squander the opportunity but in that situation the real loss is not the money spent, the real loss is the goal unattained and that loss goes to the individual.
There's a lot of evidence that simply throwing money at public K-12 education doesn't make it better. For example, more money is spent per student in the Washington, D.C. public school system than in the systems right next door in Northern Virginia, yet it's to the latter where parents move when their kids reach school age.
I don't think it's a coincidence that the American higher education system features a lot of competition among institutions and is world class, and its K-12 system has minimal such competition and is closer to the middle of the pack. So while I agree that K-12 is the higher priority, I'd look more closely at improving school choice than increasing funding -- excepting places where it's significantly below average.
(I agree with everything else you just said.)
I've seen students in co-op programs graduate simultaneously with a HS diploma and an Associate's degree. I think that's something that most dedicated high school students could accomplish if given the opportunity. Implemented properly, it should save everyone time and money and reward students who choose to challenge themselves in their high school years with a greater level of distinction from those who don't.
Why not more of this?
I remember when I was in high school I asked the local CC about dual enrollment. I was told that a high school diploma was required to take courses for-credit unless you were over the age of 24. But they did have a summer program that allowed you to take no more than two courses during the summer between your junior and senior year. Those courses were also significantly more expensive than standard tuition because they were offered through this "special program." I did not take them up on such a generous offer.
Fortunately, I think the internet leveled that playing field a bit. You can find a school that will allow you to study for credit. And it is very possible to knock out an associates degree (or at least come close) even without an actual dual enrollment agreement. The problem I have with that is that it further diminishes the value of the bachelors degree (and it renders the associates worthless). So many people send their kids to university for "the college experience" that schools would just cater to them by offering more combined bachelors/masters programs to further saturate the job market.
Personally, I feel that a mandatory two year public service component (military or civilian) would do more for us than making college courses available to high school students. I think that it would help an 18 year old develop a better sense of what they do (and do not) want to do in life, give them a break from full-time education and potentially an opportunity for learning valuable life skills and travel. Aside from the military I feel like there are a number of government agencies that would be able to trim off the lower tiers of their career civil service with a constant influx of youth to save the government money and provide meaningful experiences for young people.
I suspect the thirteenth amendment would spare young people from blowing two years of their lives on mandatory conscripted civilian service to a government agency, even if it's lamentably failed to do so in the past for military conscription.
But I also think it could be structured in a way that you weren't blowing two years. It could be an opportunity to do some interesting work, learn some useful skills and better formulate what you want to do for a living going forward. If, at 18, you want to be an accountant because the potential salary looks good, a two year hitch with the IRS could make or break that dream. If it makes it, you'll probably attack your studies with gusto. If it breaks it, you likely saved yourself a few semesters of agonizing through a discipline you would loathe.
You can get entirely too deep into a BSN program (fresh out of high school) before realizing that you feel "sick people are icky" and switching to Art History. Putting some time in working at a VA might help you hash that out in advance. It might also help you realize that, while nursing isn't your shtick, being a social worker is right up your alley.
In any case, it is almost certainly never going to happen. Just a Neuhausian musing...
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