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(NPR)   Senator Tom Harkin warns his fellow senators of a coming student loan bubble, finally realizes that what the media has been discussing for nearly a year is true   (npr.org) divider line 63
    More: Scary, economic bubble, student loans, Higher Education Act, savings and loans, students, private colleges, for-profit college, health education  
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1377 clicks; posted to Politics » on 27 Mar 2014 at 10:17 AM (38 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-03-27 09:39:39 AM  
On investigating for-profit colleges
We found that a lot of these for-profit schools were going after the poorest students so they could get the maximum Pell Grants and loans. A lot of the students were not getting a good education; they were dropping out and ... defaulting. But the for-profits got to keep the money.

Comparing for-profit colleges and the savings-and-loan crisis
I think that's an apt comparison. The housing program started out with, I think, good intentions. But then financiers and others found out how to make a lot of money, so they created this housing bubble. I think what we have now is another bubble in the student loan sector with these for-profit colleges.

I have a solution for this.

thecommonsenseshow.com
 
2014-03-27 10:22:34 AM  
Solution: retroactive athletic scholarships for all. Turns out I could run a pretty good four-forty and had a good crossover dribble, so I should have received a free education based on those scholastic merits alone.
 
2014-03-27 10:33:44 AM  
Wrong.  Student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy or default.  Therefore it will never magically disappear from the books, therefore it cannot be a bubble.

Problem, yes?   Bubble?   'fraid not.
 
2014-03-27 10:38:53 AM  
It's going to be an extremely tough problem to solve. We now have so many degree holders in this country that degree requirements have completely exploded. We have secretaries, small-store retail managers, and bank tellers with 4-year degrees (or more). Associate degrees are now useless... we have licensed architects and engineers taking jobs as draftsmen.

The long-term goal should be fewer 4-year university admissions, a higher percentage of Bachelor-level graduates from those admissions, and a refocus of degree programs into fields that have proven long-term growth and stability. Then we can refocus our community colleges on practical technical trades. I think, in an ideal world, there would be 2 or 3 entry-level jobs requiring an AA/AAS for every job requiring a BA/BS.
 
2014-03-27 10:40:05 AM  

Altman: Wrong.  Student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy or default.  Therefore it will never magically disappear from the books, therefore it cannot be a bubble.

Problem, yes?   Bubble?   'fraid not.


If the money isn't there, it isn't there, no matter what it says in the ledger.
That's like saying there couldn't be a housing bubble because the houses still exist.
 
2014-03-27 10:45:32 AM  
Ok, you know what? you and your little friend Congressman Petrie are at least TALKING about this, but your plan is insane.

Here's how we fix student loans

1) Make them discharged in bankruptcy five years after graduation. Suddenly, Sallie Mae stops issuing an 18 year old $120k for a major in "undecided".

2) No Federal Funds for any school with a default rate higher than say, 8%. Sorry University of Pheonix. Your 33% default rate is absurd.
 
2014-03-27 10:55:05 AM  

what_now: Ok, you know what? you and your little friend Congressman Petrie are at least TALKING about this, but your plan is insane.
Here's how we fix student loans
1) Make them discharged in bankruptcy five years after graduation. Suddenly, Sallie Mae stops issuing an 18 year old $120k for a major in "undecided".
2) No Federal Funds for any school with a default rate higher than say, 8%. Sorry University of Pheonix. Your 33% default rate is absurd.


The Department of Labor does studies every year about what careers/fields/degrees will have the best long-term employment prospects. I've always wondered if federal student loans shouldn't be tied to those studies. Like every year there is a list of majors that you can choose from for full federal loans (no repayment necessary if you change majors, as long as those majors are still on that year's list), another list for 50% tuition loans, and another list that just isn't qualified. Individuals seeking degrees in those majors would have to apply for other scholarships or private loans.

Is that too much like "picking winners and losers?" It seems sensible to me, but I'm probably missing some glaring flaws in that logic.
 
2014-03-27 10:56:21 AM  

Sergeant Grumbles: Altman: Wrong.  Student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy or default.  Therefore it will never magically disappear from the books, therefore it cannot be a bubble.

Problem, yes?   Bubble?   'fraid not.

If the money isn't there, it isn't there, no matter what it says in the ledger.
That's like saying there couldn't be a housing bubble because the houses still exist.


I get what you're saying, but its not the same thing at all.  When all those home-owners declared bankruptcy or default, their debts were wiped from the books (because of the laws we have in place for defaulting on such debts).  Because of that, money the banks think they were owed suddenly disappeared from the books, causing the assets they own to suddenly and dramatically decrease.  Hence the bubble popping.

In this case, that can't happen.  The books will always say that the banks are owed X dollars from Y number of students, even if they can't get them to pay up.  As far as Wall Street is concerned, their assets will not have dropped, and that is the key point.  I don't know whats going to happen when a larger number of students stop paying their debts, but it really can't be compared to previous bubbles.  Its uncharted waters.
 
2014-03-27 11:10:40 AM  
clkeagle:
The long-term goal should be fewer 4-year university admissions, a higher percentage of Bachelor-level graduates from those admissions, and a refocus of degree programs into fields that have proven long-term growth and stability. Then we can refocus our community colleges on practical technical trades. I think, in an ideal world, there would be 2 or 3 entry-level jobs requiring an AA/AAS for every job requiring a BA/BS.

Two failures here:

1. People are getting these degrees because employers demand these degrees. There are indeed people who will enter university for the sheer joy of learning and all that rot, but the main reason people go today is that part of the qualifications for middle-class job "A" happen to be a certain level of academic achievement. You want the job, you get the degree. That's how it works.

2. Herding people into careers they do not want is a sure recipe for disaster. Those who are the best at what they do are the best because they want to do it. Taking a major at university simply because it's "hot" rarely turns out the best people for that major, and makes the others have to deal with - at their own cost - subject matter they're not interested in and will not be successful with.

Your doctor is your doctor because they want to be a doctor. Would you want someone trying to cure your ills to have gone to medical school just because "it was a good job"? Which is preferable, an excellent artist or historian, or a piss-poor engineer or computer programmer? Remember that even the guy at the bottom of the class still gets his degree.

I do agree that there need to be more opportunities for those with tech or associate degrees, but until employers stop asking for baristas with masters degrees, that's not going to happen.
 
2014-03-27 11:12:44 AM  

what_now: Ok, you know what? you and your little friend Congressman Petrie are at least TALKING about this, but your plan is insane.

Here's how we fix student loans

1) Make them discharged in bankruptcy five years after graduation. Suddenly, Sallie Mae stops issuing an 18 year old $120k for a major in "undecided".

2) No Federal Funds for any school with a default rate higher than say, 8%. Sorry University of Pheonix. Your 33% default rate is absurd.


How about instead we go to a system where private lenders put their own money at risk? No federal guarantees. Mom and dad or anyone else can cosign if they want.
 
2014-03-27 11:13:13 AM  
So, we gonna bail out the banks AGAIN this time too when it pops?
 
2014-03-27 11:16:57 AM  
A good deal of the non-profit colleges are just as bad as the for-profit colleges. Locally, Chicago State University comes to mind.
 
2014-03-27 11:17:25 AM  

TV's Vinnie: So, we gonna bail out the banks AGAIN this time too when it pops?


Do you think it would even be discussed if the students who got suckered into this shell game were the proposed recipients of a bailout?
 
2014-03-27 11:19:07 AM  

rewind2846: clkeagle:
The long-term goal should be fewer 4-year university admissions, a higher percentage of Bachelor-level graduates from those admissions, and a refocus of degree programs into fields that have proven long-term growth and stability. Then we can refocus our community colleges on practical technical trades. I think, in an ideal world, there would be 2 or 3 entry-level jobs requiring an AA/AAS for every job requiring a BA/BS.

Two failures here:

1. People are getting these degrees because employers demand these degrees. There are indeed people who will enter university for the sheer joy of learning and all that rot, but the main reason people go today is that part of the qualifications for middle-class job "A" happen to be a certain level of academic achievement. You want the job, you get the degree. That's how it works.

2. Herding people into careers they do not want is a sure recipe for disaster. Those who are the best at what they do are the best because they want to do it. Taking a major at university simply because it's "hot" rarely turns out the best people for that major, and makes the others have to deal with - at their own cost - subject matter they're not interested in and will not be successful with.

Your doctor is your doctor because they want to be a doctor. Would you want someone trying to cure your ills to have gone to medical school just because "it was a good job"? Which is preferable, an excellent artist or historian, or a piss-poor engineer or computer programmer? Remember that even the guy at the bottom of the class still gets his degree.

I do agree that there need to be more opportunities for those with tech or associate degrees, but until employers stop asking for baristas with masters degrees, that's not going to happen.


The logical conclusion to an employers' job market.

Doing away with vo-tech school programs didn't help, either.
 
2014-03-27 11:19:54 AM  

clkeagle: Is that too much like "picking winners and losers?" It seems sensible to me, but I'm probably missing some glaring flaws in that logic.


Big glaring flaw #1 - Ever think that maybe shoehorning a person a person into a major they're not good at just because it's paid for might not be a good idea?

That indeed would be like picking winners and losers. As an example, people that happen to be good at *hot field* because they are already interested in *hot field* and would have succeeded in *hot field* anyway now have the added bonus of graduating with no debt because their education was paid for. Now not only are they making buttloads of cash in *hot field*, but they are doing so debt-free. Anyone who is interested in or good at anything else is just sh*t up the creek.

Not good.
 
2014-03-27 11:22:20 AM  

rewind2846: Two failures here:

1. People are getting these degrees because employers demand these degrees. There are indeed people who will enter university for the sheer joy of learning and all that rot, but the main reason people go today is that part of the qualifications for middle-class job "A" happen to be a certain level of academic achievement. You want the job, you get the degree. That's how it works.


Agreed - sorry if I misstated my point. It's definitely not the degree-seekers' faults - the US has become an upward-climbing spiral between employers and job-seekers when it comes to degree requirements.

rewind2846: 2. Herding people into careers they do not want is a sure recipe for disaster. Those who are the best at what they do are the best because they want to do it. Taking a major at university simply because it's "hot" rarely turns out the best people for that major, and makes the others have to deal with - at their own cost - subject matter they're not interested in and will not be successful with.
Your doctor is your doctor because they want to be a doctor. Would you want someone trying to cure your ills to have gone to medical school just because "it was a good job"? Which is preferable, an excellent artist or historian, or a piss-poor engineer or computer programmer? Remember that even the guy at the bottom of the class still gets his degree.
I do agree that there need to be more opportunities for those with tech or associate degrees, but until employers stop asking for baristas with masters degrees, that's not going to happen.


Absolutely, and this is the part where it gets ugly. We'll take the stereotypical example of the art history major (I know - everyone's favorite target). There is very low demand for that degree (especially compared to the number of degrees awarded), but there is some demand. For degrees that don't appear on those "hot" lists, there would have to be more ways for talented, capable, yet poor kids to earn them. In the art history example - museums and galleries would basically have to award full scholarships to high schoolers, or they would only end up with kids from rich families qualified to apply for jobs.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be universities offering low-demand degree programs. Every degree awarded has a potential career path. I'm saying freedom of choice has coupled with the ease of admission/loans, and is leading to a disproportionately high number of graduates in those low-demand degree programs.
 
2014-03-27 11:26:05 AM  

what_now: Ok, you know what? you and your little friend Congressman Petrie are at least TALKING about this, but your plan is insane.


The reason so few people in Washington talk about this is because they red the Washington Post.  The Washington Post won't talk about the high price of a college education since they own a for-profit school.  Maybe that changes after Bezos bought them.
 
2014-03-27 11:27:17 AM  

rewind2846: Big glaring flaw #1 - Ever think that maybe shoehorning a person a person into a major they're not good at just because it's paid for might not be a good idea?
That indeed would be like picking winners and losers. As an example, people that happen to be good at *hot field* because they are already interested in *hot field* and would have succeeded in *hot field* anyway now have the added bonus of graduating with no debt because their education was paid for. Now not only are they making buttloads of cash in *hot field*, but they are doing so debt-free. Anyone who is interested in or good at anything else is just sh*t up the creek.
Not good.


The list of eligible degrees wouldn't have to be so sharply focused as to completely shoehorn someone into a program they aren't qualified for or interested in. If a school offers 150 Baccalaureate-level programs (Iowa State, my closest school, currently offers 148), maybe 75 of them would be on the "100% Loan" list, and another 50 are on the "50% loan" list, with only 25 or so programs that don't make the cut. And even for those 25 programs, there is nothing to stop the university from awarding scholarships, the state to offer its own guaranteed loan program if it disagrees with the federal "list," etc.
 
2014-03-27 11:29:31 AM  
Follow the Dutch system: pepper them with aptitude tests from an early age.  Put them on an academic track or a trade track.  If they go to the trade track, they go to a specialized community college and choose from a group of majors that suit their skills.  Those that go to university do the same.  The government can keep track of the ebbs and flows of careers of need in the country and create more opportunities.

I see a whole bunch of students at my college who are there, but have no idea why, and, if they have chosen a program, have little to no aptitude for it.  Sometimes, American individuality and freedom of choice is a bad thing.
 
2014-03-27 11:32:10 AM  

Altman: Sergeant Grumbles: Altman: Wrong.  Student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy or default.  Therefore it will never magically disappear from the books, therefore it cannot be a bubble.

Problem, yes?   Bubble?   'fraid not.

If the money isn't there, it isn't there, no matter what it says in the ledger.
That's like saying there couldn't be a housing bubble because the houses still exist.

I get what you're saying, but its not the same thing at all.  When all those home-owners declared bankruptcy or default, their debts were wiped from the books (because of the laws we have in place for defaulting on such debts).  Because of that, money the banks think they were owed suddenly disappeared from the books, causing the assets they own to suddenly and dramatically decrease.  Hence the bubble popping.

In this case, that can't happen.  The books will always say that the banks are owed X dollars from Y number of students, even if they can't get them to pay up.  As far as Wall Street is concerned, their assets will not have dropped, and that is the key point.  I don't know whats going to happen when a larger number of students stop paying their debts, but it really can't be compared to previous bubbles.  Its uncharted waters.


There is a reason they student loan industry had to get the "no discharge" rule that the mortgage industry did not need.  It's called recoverable assets.  Mortgages are backed by the value of the house.  Even at the height of the mortgage crisis, except for Detroit and Camden the value of houses didn't go to zero.  Yes, the bank took a loss, but not for the full value of the loan.  They got the house and recovered a good percentage of the money loaned.  Their rate of return went in the shiatter and they lost money, but didn't get wiped out completely.

What can get recovered from a student loan?  Nothing.  You can't take that degree and sell it at auction like a house.  Can't short sale it.  The most that can be done is term modification - and given how the student loans are structured there isn't much modification that can be done.  So student loans sort of are things that should be non-dischargable. Without that behavior, the number of student loans would drop like a stone.

Please note I'm not saying that we have to have all these student loans.  We've arrived at subsidizing higher education through a student loan system - I'd do it through funding public institutions for more teaching positions and buildings, and lowering tuition at those institutions.  But then I'm a liberal pinko commie, so you might disagree with me.  By creating the environment where student loans are the vehicle to fund higher education, we've created a rent-seeking friendly environment.  But we (and by we I mean the oligarchs, not me) also want productive slaves, so there we have it - slavery based on student loans, not chains and a whip.
 
2014-03-27 11:34:49 AM  

clkeagle: Is that too much like "picking winners and losers?" It seems sensible to me, but I'm probably missing some glaring flaws in that logic.


Bigger flaw, economics. What happens when you have an abundance of labor? Cost goes down, as in wages, and suddenly those in demand jobs are not in demand and now we have a bunch of people with skills they can't use.  Any entry level management class will teach you that you need a diversity of backgrounds to make a team successful. If you bring in a bunch of business / comm majors into your department you'll get a bunch of people who can type good, but you'll also have group think. You don't need specific skills to do a lot of jobs, the important thing is that you can learn, and anyone with a degree has proven they can learn.

Where did this idea that college was a tech school that taught white collar trades? Do some schools not have gen ed?
 
2014-03-27 11:35:21 AM  
I heard something, on NPR I believe, about how much money the government is projecting they're going to make off the interest on student loans and it was in the billions over the next decade or so.

I'm not expecting any real political will to turn that much money down. The only way this "bubble" pops is if people stop paying their loans en masse, which actually may start to happen if the middle class (the class with the majority of student loans) continues to suffer economically and simply can't pay their student loan debt. Would you pay a student loan bill or your mortgage? If it comes down to that, and enough people start defaulting then, and only then, will we see government action.

I also question the "for profit" designation of colleges. I know they may be legally classified as non profits, but that strikes me as a legal fiction as opposed to reality. It's not just Acappella University Online that's taking advantage if students, it's your local private school that charges 50 grand a year, your in state public school that charges 5 grand for in state students and 20 grand for out of state students (who want to go there because the sports teams are good...). I doubt any of them operate at a loss or just breaking even.
 
2014-03-27 11:37:49 AM  
To the picking degrees to back crowd -

All you'd do is shove more people into that field, most of whom wouldn't be great at it, this devaluing the degree AND the jobs. You'd have a bubble of that degree entering the job market at the same time, causing a decrease in wages, and decreasing the average competency of people in the field. In essence, you'd be trying to fix a large scale bubble by creating super big, super fast popping smaller ones all over the place.
 
2014-03-27 11:41:07 AM  

GodComplex: Where did this idea that college was a tech school that taught white collar trades? Do some schools not have gen ed?


Employers decided that they didn't need to train and expect colleges to do that for them, on the employee's dime.
Look at most of the "solutions" to skyrocketing college costs. It's not to improve the quality or value of the education or two produce more well-rounded, critically thinking graduates, it's to train people for specific, in-demand skills and nothing else.
 
2014-03-27 11:42:45 AM  

Deneb81: To the picking degrees to back crowd -

All you'd do is shove more people into that field, most of whom wouldn't be great at it, this devaluing the degree AND the jobs. You'd have a bubble of that degree entering the job market at the same time, causing a decrease in wages, and decreasing the average competency of people in the field. In essence, you'd be trying to fix a large scale bubble by creating super big, super fast popping smaller ones all over the place.


I agree that it would create market gluts in certain fields.

The Dutch system described up-thread sounds better, but that requires more willpower and cultural change than I think the US is capable of. That, and it would take at least a generation or two to see it fully realized.
 
2014-03-27 11:43:07 AM  
rewind2846:
1. People are getting these degrees because employers demand these degrees.

Except that's not really true.

Employers often demand degrees, sure. But they mostly demand specific degrees, not any old degree at all. I've known too many art history majors compared to any rational market for that specialty, for example. Heck, I've known too many untalented plain-vanilla art majors.

When you get right down to it, a lot of people end up in college when they have no inclination towards academia, and would be better off taking a short course in welding or carpentry or cooking. Even the folks who would need actual advanced technical skills should probably be in one or two year courses in whatever they're studying - programming, accounting, or business - without the huge extra cost of "filler" courses.

Yeah, that "people should be well-rounded and study all sorts of things" theory is fine, but that's not really happening in the vast majority of cases, is it? They take the mandatory classes in the normal subjects - and promptly forget all about it after they finish each semester.
 
2014-03-27 11:43:21 AM  

Sergeant Grumbles: GodComplex: Where did this idea that college was a tech school that taught white collar trades? Do some schools not have gen ed?

Employers decided that they didn't need to train and expect colleges to do that for them, on the employee's dime.
Look at most of the "solutions" to skyrocketing college costs. It's not to improve the quality or value of the education or two produce more well-rounded, critically thinking graduates, it's to train people for specific, in-demand skills and nothing else.


Yup. Critical thinking has gone right out the window.
 
2014-03-27 11:45:02 AM  

MadHatter500: Please note I'm not saying that we have to have all these student loans.  We've arrived at subsidizing higher education through a student loan system - I'd do it through funding public institutions for more teaching positions and buildings, and lowering tuition at those institutions.But then I'm a liberal pinko commie, so you might disagree with me.  By creating the environment where student loans are the vehicle to fund higher education, we've created a rent-seeking friendly environment.  But we (and by we I mean the oligarchs, not me) also want productive slaves, so there we have it - slavery based on student loans, not chains and a whip.


I like this idea. It would create a system where you could actually pay for college by working through it... it hasn't been that way for at least a generation.
 
2014-03-27 11:49:51 AM  

clkeagle: MadHatter500: Please note I'm not saying that we have to have all these student loans.  We've arrived at subsidizing higher education through a student loan system - I'd do it through funding public institutions for more teaching positions and buildings, and lowering tuition at those institutions.But then I'm a liberal pinko commie, so you might disagree with me.  By creating the environment where student loans are the vehicle to fund higher education, we've created a rent-seeking friendly environment.  But we (and by we I mean the oligarchs, not me) also want productive slaves, so there we have it - slavery based on student loans, not chains and a whip.

I like this idea. It would create a system where you could actually pay for college by working through it... it hasn't been that way for at least a generation.


What's funny is how much the previous generation forgets that they had that luxury.
 
2014-03-27 11:52:02 AM  
As if 18 year olds have any idea what they want to do in life... we should be pushing for some sort of national service for two years with a GI Bill-like benefit after completion. Give these kids some life experience before they decide on schooling.
 
2014-03-27 11:56:20 AM  

Deneb81: To the picking degrees to back crowd -

All you'd do is shove more people into that field, most of whom wouldn't be great at it, this devaluing the degree AND the jobs.



This is what I'm trying to 'splain to folks. It doesn't matter if people are "needed" in a particular field, what matters is if people want to be in that field. That is why the idea of grading the size of student loans by the major they're applied to will never work.
University is part of the process of finding out what you want in this world, not what someone else wants.
 
2014-03-27 11:59:40 AM  

rewind2846: University is part of the process of finding out what you want in this world, not what someone else wants.


It's just coincidence that I found I wanted future-crippling debt while at university, I guess.
 
2014-03-27 12:03:57 PM  

justinguarini4ever: A good deal of the non-profit colleges are just as bad as the for-profit colleges. Locally, Chicago State University comes to mind.


Largely it's a function of the Financial Aid department.  If they're a bunch of shiatheels that have no incentive to get grants or loans with low percentage then they're going to go for what's easy.  If easy happens to be gouging by banks then so be it.  Students largely allow themselves to be at their mercy since they're busy trying to get through college and are willing to trust them.

Best advice I ever was given in college was to befriend the Financial Aid department.  I took an Independent Study my first semester making electronic versions of Financial Aid documents to put online and it was clear sailing for the rest of my collegiate career.  Every year at the end of the semester I would get a call to come in and see what they'd worked up for me.  Most of it was stuff I didn't have to pay back.
 
2014-03-27 12:04:19 PM  

pxlboy: What's funny is how much the previous generation forgets that they had that luxury.


Half forget... the other half think that situation still exists. Because they have no idea about the discrepancy between tuition and wages for young workers. Didn't Mitt Romney try to use that argument?


shmashmortion: As if 18 year olds have any idea what they want to do in life... we should be pushing for some sort of national service for two years with a GI Bill-like benefit after completion. Give these kids some life experience before they decide on schooling.


I've thought the same thing for a long time. Our public infrastructure would be in much better condition if we still had a CCC instead of contracting construction/maintenance jobs out to private firms. But nobody on Capitol Hill would allow for the employment of 12 million additional federal workers. Even when those workers would accomplish more for the same money awarded as contracts.
 
2014-03-27 12:07:40 PM  
. And while a bachelor's degree has become increasingly valuable


lol
 
2014-03-27 12:08:12 PM  

cirby: Yeah, that "people should be well-rounded and study all sorts of things" theory is fine, but that's not really happening in the vast majority of cases, is it? They take the mandatory classes in the normal subjects - and promptly forget all about it after they finish each semester.


No, they don't. I happen to be one of those "Art Majors" (Graphic Design) and the things I learned in my writing classes, my history classes, my social science classes, and many other classes I had in my time at university have helped me immensely in my design work, in writing proposals, in dealing with clients, in my career as a whole.

An example: A couple I designed a wedding invitation package for wanted a mythological theme. Since they liked boats and the sea I suggested a Greek deity theme based on Poseidon. Went back to some ideas from a sociology class on myths and creation stories from around the world, dug up my notes, and did some more research. Did some sketches, presented my ideas, got the bid, and was invited to the wedding.

Being "well-rounded" can have it's advantages... you never know when you will use what you have been taught.
Of course that works best when you pay attention.
 
2014-03-27 12:12:00 PM  

clkeagle: Half forget... the other half think that situation still exists. Because they have no idea about the discrepancy between tuition and wages for young workers.


This.
 
2014-03-27 12:19:49 PM  
rewind2846:
An example: A couple I designed a wedding invitation package for wanted a mythological theme. Since they liked boats and the sea I suggested a Greek deity theme based on Poseidon. Went back to some ideas from a sociology class on myths and creation stories from around the world, dug up my notes, and did some more research. Did some sketches, presented my ideas, got the bid, and was invited to the wedding.

The thing that slightly boggles me is that you didn't have a working knowledge of the Greek myths before you left middle school. Why did you have to go to college to learn about something you could have picked from a middle-budget Hercules movie, or a book from the local public library? This isn't obscure or restricted information, and you shouldn't have had to go to college to get a basic knowledge of "art based on Greek myths."
 
2014-03-27 12:24:04 PM  

rewind2846: cirby: Yeah, that "people should be well-rounded and study all sorts of things" theory is fine, but that's not really happening in the vast majority of cases, is it? They take the mandatory classes in the normal subjects - and promptly forget all about it after they finish each semester.
No, they don't. I happen to be one of those "Art Majors" (Graphic Design) and the things I learned in my writing classes, my history classes, my social science classes, and many other classes I had in my time at university have helped me immensely in my design work, in writing proposals, in dealing with clients, in my career as a whole.
An example: A couple I designed a wedding invitation package for wanted a mythological theme. Since they liked boats and the sea I suggested a Greek deity theme based on Poseidon. Went back to some ideas from a sociology class on myths and creation stories from around the world, dug up my notes, and did some more research. Did some sketches, presented my ideas, got the bid, and was invited to the wedding.
Being "well-rounded" can have it's advantages... you never know when you will use what you have been taught.
Of course that works best when you pay attention.


Honest and non-snarky question - do you think the majority your classmates have similar stories about their success? For you, it sounds like the four-year degree worked exactly as intended, and you truly benefited from a well-rounded education. That doesn't seem to be the norm for those who have earned similar degrees, but my experience is probably different from yours.
 
2014-03-27 12:25:13 PM  

cirby: The thing that slightly boggles me is that you didn't have a working knowledge of the Greek myths before you left middle school. Why did you have to go to college to learn about something you could have picked from a middle-budget Hercules movie, or a book from the local public library? This isn't obscure or restricted information, and you shouldn't have had to go to college to get a basic knowledge of "art based on Greek myths."


Really? That's what you're going with? Ridicule? And the idea that there couldn't possibly be more to art, design, and Greek mythology than comes in a middle school social studies text?
 
2014-03-27 12:27:15 PM  

what_now: Ok, you know what? you and your little friend Congressman Petrie are at least TALKING about this, but your plan is insane.

Here's how we fix student loans

1) Make them discharged in bankruptcy five years after graduation. Suddenly, Sallie Mae stops issuing an 18 year old $120k for a major in "undecided".

2) No Federal Funds for any school with a default rate higher than say, 8%. Sorry University of Pheonix. Your 33% default rate is absurd.


I'd be cool with an actuarial table-like system for rates on loans, with viability for gainful employment (measured by the Department of Labor's unemployment statistics by education level) against cost to achieve a degree for that employment with a respective interest rate applied to "riskier loans" (consider it a return on investment for human capital). The system allows tweaking loan preferences to allow some social benefits - like teachers and nurses getting a lower rate for cost of loans. It also indirectly rewards community colleges/geography-state schools rather than the ultra-private Jesus schools.

For your undergraduate degree, no one cares where you went. It's the graduate level degree or certifications that names matter.
 
2014-03-27 12:42:54 PM  
I didn't think "bubble" meant "society-destroying boa constrictor".
 
2014-03-27 01:17:47 PM  
And as we've all known for a while, the problem is disproportionately with for profit schools.

Here's an idea: tie the maximum a student is allowed to borrow with some kind of performance metric of their school (or even as specific as their field of study at that school), such as the default rate of students. If a school's student's have a high default rate, than limit how much its students can borrow from the government. If the schools want that money, than they need to solve that problem.
 
2014-03-27 01:22:07 PM  

cirby: This isn't obscure or restricted information, and you shouldn't have had to go to college to get a basic knowledge of "art based on Greek myths."


What I leaned in high school with the mind of a child, I forgot. What I learned at university, in much greater depth and with the mind of an adult, I remember.
That is the difference.
 
2014-03-27 01:42:20 PM  

clkeagle: Honest and non-snarky question - do you think the majority your classmates have similar stories about their success? For you, it sounds like the four-year degree worked exactly as intended, and you truly benefited from a well-rounded education. That doesn't seem to be the norm for those who have earned similar degrees, but my experience is probably different from yours.


Depends on their field. As a Graphic Designer I'm asked to come up with ideas for the most esoteric and obscure subjects to be used in design, from all types of people. One client wants a demonstration of electrical flow in a circuit (physics class) while another wants an explanation on how alcohol affects the brain (chemistry of drugs on the brain - biology) to how paragraphs in books, stories and articles can be verified for truth using algebra (logic). Then there are those who want designs that look like 12th century Chinese bronze vessels, 10th century Greek mosaics, or a stained glass window just like the one from the cathedral at Chartres. That's also why I love my job.

There are some fields where the rounded part of that well-rounded education doesn't seem to have any direct influence... but I believe it still does. While that class on European art may have seemed like a waste of time, suppose you were tasked by your supervisor with chaperoning a British client around for the day, one of those private Eaton school types who think all americans are fat slobs with the culture of a watermelon. Being able to converse with this person on a multitude of subjects they might be familiar with will impress them to no end, and when that raise or cushy overseas assignment comes up, you will be remembered.

Learning is never wasted, and universities, whose goal is not only to teach you what you need to know but to teach you what you didn't know you needed to know, also have as part of that purpose to expose their students to things and ideas they might never seek out on their own. You never know what you're going to use, so it's best to have everything you can get in that swiss army knife called your mind.
 
2014-03-27 01:49:08 PM  

Sergeant Grumbles: cirby: The thing that slightly boggles me is that you didn't have a working knowledge of the Greek myths before you left middle school. Why did you have to go to college to learn about something you could have picked from a middle-budget Hercules movie, or a book from the local public library? This isn't obscure or restricted information, and you shouldn't have had to go to college to get a basic knowledge of "art based on Greek myths."

Really? That's what you're going with? Ridicule? And the idea that there couldn't possibly be more to art, design, and Greek mythology than comes in a middle school social studies text?


It's the usual tack taken by those who choose to dismiss what benefits higher education may have in one's working life. Everything a person needs to know they can learn just by watching a movie, reading a book from the local public library, or in middle school. Might as well just stop at eighth grade and be done with it.
 
2014-03-27 02:08:32 PM  

rewind2846: Sergeant Grumbles: cirby: The thing that slightly boggles me is that you didn't have a working knowledge of the Greek myths before you left middle school. Why did you have to go to college to learn about something you could have picked from a middle-budget Hercules movie, or a book from the local public library? This isn't obscure or restricted information, and you shouldn't have had to go to college to get a basic knowledge of "art based on Greek myths."

Really? That's what you're going with? Ridicule? And the idea that there couldn't possibly be more to art, design, and Greek mythology than comes in a middle school social studies text?

It's the usual tack taken by those who choose to dismiss what benefits higher education may have in one's working life. Everything a person needs to know they can learn just by watching a movie, reading a book from the local public library, or in middle school. Might as well just stop at eighth grade and be done with it.


If it's any consolation this isn't a new debate. There's a Rudyard Kipling story about a public school in the mid 1880s where the masters have (more or less) exactly this argument. One side ridicules the Latin and Greek that the boys are required to learn. The other defends it on cultural grounds. (The school was largely a prep school to get candidates into Sandhurst although Kipling went on to job in journalism.)
 
2014-03-27 02:59:46 PM  

whizbangthedirtfarmer: Follow the Dutch system: pepper them with aptitude tests from an early age.  Put them on an academic track or a trade track.  If they go to the trade track, they go to a specialized community college and choose from a group of majors that suit their skills.  Those that go to university do the same.  The government can keep track of the ebbs and flows of careers of need in the country and create more opportunities.

I see a whole bunch of students at my college who are there, but have no idea why, and, if they have chosen a program, have little to no aptitude for it.  Sometimes, American individuality and freedom of choice is a bad thing.


While I agree we need Vo-Tech programs in high school, we shouldn't deny said students from taking Academic classes. It's very discriminatory, vo-tech doesn't mean you're a moron.

For example, my High School was a joint Academic/Vo-Tech school, where everyone picked a Vo-Tech "major" and you could take AP to "Count to Potato" level classes.

It set up my career, I took the computer programming and networking Vo-Tech "major" and honors/AP level classes. With this I was able to land a temp office job and wow them with my Microsoft Office skills while going to school full-time.

I was able to get a bachelor's degree with virtually no debt, now I have my MBA in IT and sitting pretty. A lot of my friends who went to the academic-only school are suffering because they didn't have real world application for their skills.
 
2014-03-27 03:09:44 PM  

clkeagle: The long-term goal should be fewer 4-year university admissions, a higher percentage of Bachelor-level graduates from those admissions, and a refocus of degree programs into fields that have proven long-term growth and stability.


This is a very bad idea.

This treats B.A.s like trade school programs.  They are not and never have been - very few English majors become English teachers, Econ majors don't become economists and Art History majors very seldom make any money in art history, etc.

The primary goal of a B.A. is to train the student in research, analysis, writing and thinking in general, in ways that will apply to any future field that person eventually goes into.

If we restrict 4-year university admissions, we're just shutting the door for millions of people who want to be better thinkers in general.

On the flip side, even Cal Tech, while training people to be engineers, mandates that they get 108 credits in humanities - art history, philosophy etc.  That's because Cal Tech is not a trade school, it's a 4-year B.A. program.
 
2014-03-27 03:23:49 PM  

Altman: Wrong.  Student loan debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy or default.  Therefore it will never magically disappear from the books, therefore it cannot be a bubble.

Problem, yes?   Bubble?   'fraid not.



Not so much a "bubble" as an accumulating pile of rubble.
 
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