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?
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!).