Thursday, March 26, 2015

Unaccredited, For Profit…And Very Legitimate




By Professor Doom

     So a new type of school has popped up to fill the enormous demand for people with computer skills, a demand that is completely unmet by the many bogus “computer science” programs in our schools of higher education.

      Let’s go over some of Hack Reactor’s policies, which are fairly comparable to other such schools:

     First, not everyone with a pulse gets in. A student has to demonstrate that he’s interested in learning, and has already learned the basics, to the satisfaction of Hack Reactor, before they accept the student. Open admissions--in exchange for sweet, sweet, student loan checks!--has done much to destroy higher education. Like old school accreditation, Hack Reactor has real admission requirements. If higher education would tell students up front “hey, you need to have an interest in learning to come here”, our institutions could do more than just jerk students around for years until the loan money runs out, and we’d do better than the 10% or so graduation rates that are so common to our state/non-profit/for-profit schools.

     Second, the curriculum is legitimate. There’s none of this idiocy where students are only expected to spend maybe 2 hours a week sitting in a classroom, with no studying or anything like that after they leave the classroom. In the legitimate, unaccredited school, students spend 8 hours or more a day (wow, that’s almost like real work) actually DOING and LEARNING relevant things. This concept is completely alien to higher education, which has been taken over by a broken student as customer paradigm that doesn’t dare ask students to study, that actually adjusts its programs to facilitate student partying, and that punishes faculty who actually try to push students ahead to become something better. 

     These “real job” schools don’t need student/customers, since they only accept students that legitimately come to learn. They also don’t waste time on history, or philosophy, or the like. Nothing wrong with such subjects, mind you…but this is about job skills. There’s just no reason, if the student is there strictly to learn job skills, to teach anything besides job skills.

Admin: “We’re going to address the budget shortfall from hiring the new Associate Student Resources Dean by increasing the cost of a parking tag by $5. We sell about 20, 000 tags a year, and that should cover most of it…”

--Quality education is just never on the table, admin thinks only of growth. If the student base doesn’t grow, the school won’t have enough money to pay the new deanling’s guaranteed pay raises (faculty get no such guarantee). If the student base shrinks, well, then, guess they’ll have to let go of faculty, because you obviously need less faculty if you have less students. Meanwhile, coding schools have no bloated, overpaid caste of administrators to support…

     The third highlight is cost: between $5,000 and $20,000, for a 12 week program. Yes, that’s steep, but still far below a university education, which runs around $100,000 for four years (and with that much time involved, lost wages is a very legitimate part of the cost, tacking on another $50,000 at least…then add 50% more since 6 years is the average amount of time to get a degree). Rather than waste 4 years of students’ lives learning endless worthless material, these guys focus on job skills, and make the students actually work for those skills. 

     Since they’re not accredited, coding schools have to actually get the money legitimately, without the student loan scam. Unlike “accredited” schools, Hack Reactor has the balls integrity to finance tuition themselves, getting their tuition money back within six months of graduation (heh, compare that to the nightmare of endless student loans that drag on for a lifetime—more people have student loans outstanding than there are college students right now!). 

     Restricted admissions, students perform legitimate coursework, decent cost, no overpaid Poo-Bahs. All of these things are the exact opposite of higher education today’s model of “open admissions, bogus coursework, high price”. Educationists have warped higher education to the monstrosity it is today; by their theories, going back to these abandoned ideas would be a disaster.

     So how do these unaccredited schools perform? Amazingly well! These schools are ridiculously successful; job placement rates can break 90%, and starting graduate salaries can break $80,000 on average. As mentioned before, they do well enough to give guarantees:

--why would anyone go to university to learn computer programming job skills with this kind of deal on the table? 20% of the cost, 15% of the time, and a freakin’ job…or your money back. You think they’ll go ‘open admission’ anytime soon? You wanna bet their graduates are respected in the industry? What do you reckon the odds are they have effective teachers, and not a lot of crappy exorbitantly paid deanlings running Institutes of Sexually Sustainable Partying and other bizarre fiefdoms?

    You really think the grossly overpaid Poo Bahs that control higher education are paying any attention to these types of schools? You think they’ll copy the obvious, successful ideas of “restrict admission, make students work, and make the work relevant” to their job training degree programs? You think they’ll stop taking all those sweet Federal student loan money checks? Of course not, every single one of those ideas would cut into receiving government money that doesn’t care in the least about quality.

     Higher education insists the only way to keep afloat is to have courses with hundreds, even a thousand students for each course. What do the unaccredited schools manage?


--I doubt there’s a university anywhere with a 1:4 ratio, not with schools adding more administrators than students or faculty.


      No, Poo Bahs won’t turn down Federal checks under any circumstance, and the money comes so easily that there’s just no need to be legitimate, or to care in any way about education. Meanwhile, private enterprise can and will do what the broken higher education system cannot do, even with hundreds of billions of dollars handed to the latter.

      Oh, one more kick in the jimmies: you’d think these high tech computer “schools” would do it all online right? They’re run by computer guys with the skills to create online sites, so they totally could do it if they thought it was effective. Most of them don’t do anything online. Only one of the top schools has online training—but it’s 1 on 1 with a personal mentor, instead of the idiotic “multiple choice test you take at home, and we beg you not to use your smartphone to get the answers” nonsense that accredited schools use. 

     Even the computer guys know online coursework is bogus, and that the fastest way to learn advanced skills is to have another human being show you how. You think these guys waste a lot of time with Powerpoints and fill-in-the-bubble foolishness? They’ve got a guarantee of a job to keep, after all, and so they know that such “education” methods just create bogus graduates that nobody will hire. 

     Hmm, it really becomes more and more obvious what a scam higher education is today the more and more you look at legitimate schools.

     These for-profit schools are engaging in policies that are the exact opposite of our state, “non profit” schools, are incredibly effective, and their graduates are desired in the modern workforce, to the point that they can guarantee their graduates actually know something worthwhile in the marketplace of jobs.

     The unaccredited schools, not so coincidentally, are engaging in the policies of accreditation of a century ago, back when an accredited school was a good school. Back then, accreditation meant small classes and “respectable entrance requirements”, and graduates from accredited schools were respected. Accreditation of today requires nothing relating to education…and we have graduates from accredited schools standing in the streets with signs, because nobody wants them, and these graduates have no hope of paying back their student loans.

      Today, standard higher education moves more and more material online, has less and less instructors available to help students, tuition goes ever and ever higher…and moves further and further away from any relevance or desirability at all.








Sunday, March 22, 2015

Unaccredited Schools Doing What Our Colleges Will Not





By Professor Doom

     While our institutions of higher education are failing so badly that even Starbucks is setting up schools for its employees, new “bootcamp” schools are opening up to teach actual relevant job skills to our college graduates. What’s happened?

     Wayyyy back in the past, a university education and degree was a big deal. To get one, you had to take 45 or so classes, and to pass those classes, you had to freakin’ WORK. Spending 15 hours a week in the classroom, and 25 or more hours a week studying (more when it was time for exams), was typical…and a student had to maintain this level of effort for years to get that degree.

      Higher education has been so diluted today that students scarcely spend a minute more on classwork beyond simply showing up for class, if that much. Administrators in higher education want it that way, I promise you.

Admin: “Our Tuesday/Thursday courses have a much lower retention rate than our Monday/Wednesday/Friday courses. Why is this so?”
--admin doesn’t care about education, but does care about retention, passing rates. So the community college does surveys and interviews to find out the answer to this question. This is a multi-part anecdote demonstrating what happened in higher education: first, admin sees retention is low.


      Now, back in this mythic past, it was very clear that degree holders, any degree, generally made more money in high paying jobs, and so it came to pass that “You need a degree to get a high paying job” became a cliché for our culture, even though it’s a lie. The truth? The kind of people what will work very hard for four years to learn and understand the thoughts and skills of the greatest of humanity’s thinkers just tend to be more successful, is all.

     Anyway, because of this lie, “higher education” became more and more associated with “jobs” even if the reality is nothing of the sort. Higher education degrees in the past were designed to give people the skills that the “great men” (apologies for any implied sexism here, just bear with me) of history had.

Faculty: “Based on the responses so far, we’ve found that many students skip Friday classes, and, because they don’t come to class on Friday, they also tend to skip Thursday classes.”
Admin: “They’re skipping a class a week from either type of course. Why is this an issue? Retention should be the same either way.”
Faculty: “Uh, because ultimately these students are missing half of the Tuesday/Thursday courses, but only 1/3 of the Monday/Wednesday/Friday courses.”
Faculty: “There’s another factor….”
--Second, admin tries to figure out why retention is low. They usually need help.


     These great men tended to be well read…so a degree holder had to read many books. Great men tended to speak, read, and write more than one language….so a degree holder had to have the ability to do the same. Great men tended to have knowledge of science, mathematics, politics, and history…and so a degree holder had to know these things, as well. It takes years of study and hard work to know the things the great men of the past knew.

      But, none of this stuff is particularly useful for a “job”, which we’re trained from childhood to want to get, given to us by an “employer” (curiously, our children receive no training in how to be self-sufficient…I encourage the gentle reader to consider on his own, why that is the case).


Faculty: “The other reason students do poorly in the Tuesday/Thursday classes is because most students spend no time whatsoever in study outside of class. Effectively, this means that students have more opportunity to forget material over the 5 day “break” between Thursday of one week and Tuesday of the next, as opposed to the three day “break” between Friday and Monday.”
Admin: “Good. Have the faculty reduce content to allow for this, with most material on Monday/Wednesday, and the same material in those two days being as much as on Tuesday.”

--Third, admin does what it takes to improve retention. Yes, reducing the material really did improve retention rates (and the sweet, sweet, student loan checks flowing into administrative pockets), but I really didn’t think it was giving the “real” students a fair deal. I stupidly opened my mouth on this issue, and was penalized for it. This is all higher education is today, at most schools.


      And so higher education has become something of a shell game: students are told they need higher education to get a job, but very little of what goes on in a university really helps for getting a job.

      This “education means jobs” mythology is particularly exploited on community college campuses, where much fraud and lies are used to cover up the simple fact that college doesn’t really have that much to do with a job.

      My own favorite example of the shell game involves a course called “Business Calculus”. That sure sounds like a math course for business majors, right? Nope; it’s a very watered down calculus course, and nothing in it helps to run a business (I used to be part owner of a restaurant, and I PROMISE you, nothing in that course relates to business). It has better retention than “real” calculus, though is pretty useless overall.

      Anyway, the “college for jobs” fraud isn’t just a problem because of the massive student loan debts that are destroying our youth, it’s also a problem because, well, businesses actually do need students with skills. I mentioned before that McDonalds, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart are getting around the fraud by offering their own jobs training “universities”, which should really be a red flag to the “titans of industry” getting paid a million a year apiece to run our institutions of higher education…but it is not.

      Really, we should cut student debt by firing these Poo Bahs, but that’s not today’s topic.

      Today’s topic is the real world is finally waking up to the massive scam of higher education, realizing jobs training is not going to happen in higher education, and the corporate world is responding.

       If you have a job, then hopefully your employer will see to the training that you can’t get in higher education…but this does nothing for the many unemployed.
     One of the biggest gaps in job skills right now is in computers. Higher education has failed here; I used to be a computer science major, but once I saw that every semester I was going to learn another dead computer language (Fortran, Lisp…and can’t even recall the others) that would do me no good with my computer at home, much less in the “real” world, I switched to mathematics—a topic that’s been pretty stable the last few thousand years. But I digress.

     Any viewing of the want ads shows there’s a HUGE demand for people with computer skills. One more anecdote: the IT department at one school I was at had no trouble finding people with computer degrees, but we fired these guys every year because they had no skill. The only time we kept an IT guy more than a semester or two was when he was self-taught what to do--but we paid so little that keeping them once they had some experience was tough. And, yes, the school had a computer science program…our own students couldn’t do a thing to help the school.

      You really, really, think the Poo Bahs would take the fact that they wouldn’t even hire their own graduates to do the job as a hint that they are failing, badly. I mean, the school boasted of how their computer science program would get people jobs…but wouldn’t hire those poor suckers. But I digress, again.

      So, a huge market for computer skills, and higher education does nothing. Can a “school” open up to train students in computer skills, successfully? The Pooh Bahs of higher education say it’s impossible, because of all the regulation. They’re paid so much, they must know what they’re talking about right?

     Nope.

     Consider Hack Reactor as a template for how this is working, although there are others. These guys, coding schools, aren’t part of the accreditation scam, so no free money from the government: the only way they can succeed is to be legitimate.

      It’s so funny to read how these specialized schools are using all the ideas that higher education used to use, before the student loan scam flooded it with money and plundering administrators.

      Next time we’ll take a look at these unaccredited, for-profit schools, and see how they operate. From the media, the gentle reader has doubtless been trained to believe that “unaccredited” means “bogus” and “for-profit” means “fraud”. This blog has shown, many times, that “accredited for-profit” schools are typically the most bogus, most fraudulent schools around (followed with alarming closeness by community colleges).

      The reality of what education can be when you take out the student loan scam is amazing. We’ll see next time, but I’ll drop one more hint: 90% job placement rate (they guarantee jobs or a tuition refund for a reason!).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Students Pay Extra For Real Skills





By Professor Doom

    I’ll be the first to admit that higher education need not be about job skills, that learning, as an end, is a perfectly legitimate pursuit for a human being. But, I must qualify this:

      As soon as you take loan money for education, you MUST justify how that education will be used to pay back the loan. Somewhere in our education of our children, we’ve lost the teaching of a critical, basic idea of personal finance: the only justification for taking out a loan is if the loan will give you a means to pay back the loan, and hopefully some profit.

     So, taking out a huge loan for a home can make sense: even if you spend 30 years paying off the mortgage, it still might be a better deal than paying rent for 30 years, and ending up with nothing. It’s not a sure thing, mind you, but at least it’s possible.

      On the other hand, taking out a loan for a car really only makes sense if you need to have that car to get a job. It’s a shame that our society is built upon the necessity of having the immense expense of a car before a human being can support himself (in most cities), but that’s the facts. Most people don’t run the numbers, however, and I remember many friends from high school getting a job just to pay for the car…then finding out the job didn’t really pay enough to support a car, eventually losing both car and job.

      So, back to higher education, where students are going deep into debt for degrees, degrees that, presumably, are going to help them get a job…the only reason to get the loan in the first place. This is why many “liberal arts” degrees like art, philosophy, pure mathematics, and such are dying on campuses, but that’s for another article.

      With so many degrees being all about “getting a job”, and with tuition skyrocketing to insane levels, shouldn’t the degrees already include some level of basic job training?

     That’s a large enough sample that it’s safe to say 90% of the hiring “real world” has figured out that higher education isn’t doing the job. The other 10% is only paying minimum wage anyway, and doesn’t care.

      Students aren’t stupid, however, not the legitimate ones, and so they realize that they need to learn some job skills, and that these skills are not to be learned on college campus. So what are they doing?

So he gave up his winter break just a semester before graduating and paid another $3,000 to take a three-week business boot camp designed to teach him how to work a full-time job.
The course, offered by a company called Fullbridge, covered problem-solving, collaboration and communication

     Hmm. Students are taking out loans to cover some $100,000 for a degree, and even at this level of expense, still aren’t learning critical skills. So, they pay extra to learn the things they need to know…somewhere else.

     Wonder if any college administrators are connecting any dots there? Nah.

     I want to point out that “somewhere else” is teaching critical skills, and yet isn’t accredited…and is doing a better job than any accredited school, because that’s the ONLY WAY they could possibly justify (and get!) those prices. Accredited schools don’t need to be legitimate (I was flushed away as soon as my school received accreditation), while un-accredited schools have to actually be effective. Anyone else think that’s a little backwards?
     
“…that many liberal-arts colleges and universities aren’t keeping up with the ever-evolving, hyper-competitive demands of the workplace. That’s provided an opening for companies like Fullbridge, which holds workshops in cities including New York and San Francisco at a cost of up to $8,500 per student…”

     The article I’m quoting from has it a bit wrong. It isn’t that liberal-arts colleges and universities, “aren’t keeping up”, not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, higher education is slow to change, but there are good reasons not to rewrite programs to follow the latest fad. The good reasons are irrelevant here, however.

      The real issue is: these schools don’t care. Yes, with loan money on the table, a school with integrity would care about making sure graduates learn job skills. Our schools of higher education don’t care, for reasons very similar to why our banks no longer pay interest in deposits. Allow me to digress:

       It’s hard to believe there was a time when I was getting 8% on my savings account, while today to get even 0.5% would be nice. Banks used to pay interest, because they wanted deposits. Since the federal government is flooding the banks with money, banks don’t need money from “the little guys”, and so there’s no interest in paying interest. End digression.

      Similarly, our schools in higher education are being flooded with student loan and grant money via the Federal government. This money comes through (bogus) accreditation, not through offering real education or job skills. All our institutions of higher education care about is selling courses to students…it’s why we have courses on Gilligan’s Island, or Lady Gaga, or Star Trek. 

      These courses sell well, but have little to do with job skills, or academic skills for that matter. Of course, the real world doesn’t give a whit if a student can talk about Gilligan’s Island, and so it has to teach employees what the schools won’t:

Walmart employees who want to move up can take free online college-level classes in business administration. McDonald’s has its own Hamburger University at its Oak Brook, Ill., headquarters, where managers and prospective managers spend a week a year learning not how to flip hamburgers but how to sharpen their business and leadership skills. And Starbucks workers can take two custom courses designed for them…


     Higher education is now at the point of such uselessness that even places like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Starbucks—employers with negative reputation for employee treatment, and in industries neither high tech nor inscrutably complicated—are feeling the need to set up their own education programs…even as our universities and community colleges expand and expand with irrelevant programs, paid for via student loan money. That these expansions are for buildings filled with useless administrators or bogus coursework is irrelevant in the face of the massive student loan checks.

     Is there a bigger signal of the worthlessness of the “jobs training” aspect of higher education that even the cashiers and greeters of StarBucks and Wal-Mart need extra learning after blowing $100,000 on a jobs-specific degree?

     Yikes.

    So, now students pay an extra few thousand to go to an unaccredited school to get real job skills. How well do the unaccredited schools perform? We’ll look at it in detail, but just a hint, below:


--any universities want to step up and make the same offer to their students? Keep in mind, these coding schools are for-profit. Accredited for-profit schools that get federal student loan money are scams generating clueless graduates that only a fool would hire. For profit schools that that aren’t accredited have no choice but to be legitimate to the point that they can GUARANTEE jobs. So, yeah, once again it’s clear the student loan program really needs to stop…and accreditation could use some legitimacy, too.