Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Truth Of “A Degree Is Worth A Million…”

By Professor Doom

     My conscience is bothering me too much to let it slide…I’ve been deceptive. In a recent post I noted that a study showed a university education actually lowers your income, and I just went with the flow there, instead of clarifying what’s really going on.

     My justification/rationalization is simple. Our criminals leaders in higher education have shamelessly promoted the studies showing “college degree holders make a million dollars more over a lifetime” to justify charging ridiculous amounts of tuition, money that just flows into administrative bank accounts, to the detriment of our students.

      So, under the assumption admin is being honest (bear with me) about believing the causal effect between having a degree and making more money, it was a fair enough rationalization to then accept the causal relationship in the new study showing having a degree and making less money.

     But the causal relationship? It’s rubbish, in regards the studies showing degree holders make a million bucks more over a lifetime. It’s also rubbish regarding the more recent study showing having a degree reduces income, but first things first.

     The old study determined its results by looking at graduates from 1960 or so—you have to give people 30 years to say you have a result that applies over “a lifetime” after all. Even if there is a causal effect, there’s still no reason to believe in any of it applies today.

      Today’s economy is nothing like the economy of 1960—there was actual manufacturing and production in the United States back then, we didn’t have all our production jobs shipped overseas. I could go into great detail on the economic aspects here, but I want to focus on what changed in higher education since 1960.

     The big change? You couldn’t just walk onto campus in 1960. “Open Admissions” campuses were as rare as Diversity Fiefdoms in 1960. The way how you got admitted into university in 1960 was your application was reviewed carefully. You needed good grades (demonstrating a work ethic). You needed public service (demonstrating character). It was a good idea to show you had a particular ability (demonstrating talent). And, of course, it sure didn’t hurt if your parents went to that school, or were wealthy (demonstrating a genetic track record of success, if you will).

     The point? To get into university of 1960, you needed to demonstrate that you already had what it takes to become successful (incidentally, when I went to State U in the 80s, I still had to do the same even though it was a party school). Once you showed you were going to be successful anyway, the university accepted you…and took credit for your success.

     In terms of success, university was a rigged game back then—they only took people that were likely to make a lot of money (the definition of success in America), and so there’s no causal relationship claiming “having a college degree”’ leads to “making a million more dollars over a lifetime.” The only way to get that college degree was to first demonstrate you were likely to make a lot of money.

     You may as well say there’s a causal relationship claiming “having a 50’ yacht” leads to “making a million more dollars over a lifetime.” A relationship (correlation) is there, mind you—I sure hope government doesn’t read this and start handing out 50’ yachts to everyone!—but a yacht won’t cause you to make money.

     So now let’s go back to the new study showing having a university degree lowers your income, to the point that you’ll make less than if you didn’t have the degree at all.

     Again, we could point to current economic conditions, but that doesn’t work—the guys without degrees are making more, and they’re in the same economic conditions. 

      On the other hand, I can totally point to the changes in higher education since 1960 to identify why getting a university degree from a lower tier school (as  identified in the study), or getting a degree in a lame field (as identified in the study), is related to making less money.

     The biggest change, by far? Open admissions. While open admissions schools might not even get accredited 50 or more years ago (because old accreditation required restrictions on admittance), they’re a dime a dozen today, and there are many more bogus degree programs as well.

      In the past, you had to demonstrate you had potential for success to get into university. Now, you have to demonstrate you have an opposable thumb, because all that’s required is to hold a pencil to check a box saying you want loan money. Heck, you don’t even need that, as the explosion of the administrative caste means there’s a $100,000 a year administrator available to hold the pencil for you, if need be.

     Now, there still are legitimate schools, mind you, and that’s where the people likely to be successful will go—again, successful people, or people from a successful family, are going to have the tools to stay away from the scammy schools and bogus degrees that are now quite common to higher education today.

      This is what the study is really saying: the scammy schools are luring in suckers, and, bottom line, suckers are going to make less money than people who are less likely to be ripped off. This is every bit as obvious as why people that got degrees from universities 50 years ago made more money.

      Going to a fake school, getting a fake degree, is basically the equivalent of putting a giant red “L” on your forehead: getting such a degree labels you as a mark, a sucker, a loser…the only kind word used to describe this kind of person is “victim.” Bogus accreditation and the student loan scam has exploited legions of these people, to create millions of victims. 

     It’s not that getting a degree from a scammy school lowers your income, it’s that getting such a degree marks you as a fool. When you put that you have a Sexual Deviance Communications degree from JoeBob’s Fully Accredited Fly-By-Nite University on your resume, you’re telling your employer “I was stupid enough to borrow $100,000 to get an utterly useless degree where I learned nothing at all.”

     Good luck getting a high paying job with such a black mark, proudly displayed, on your resume.

Deanling: “We showed improvement in the test scores, so we know the program works.”

Me: “Looking at your data, I see you have a p-value of 0.37.”

Deanling: “What does that mean?”

Me: “It means that the improvement you have, half a point on a 100 point test, is just luck, you cannot claim your new student service program is making any difference.”

Deanling: “That’s not true.”

Me: “Yes, it is, it’s how statistics works.”

Deanling: “You’re not being collegial.”

--the Deanling, incidentally, has a Ph.D. in Administration, a research degree, where the curriculum alleges statistical training (I checked to see with my own eyeballs). And sure enough, she managed to get a pile of money to extend the program and hire more administrators, so might does seem to make right after all. I’m so glad to be away from community college…

     No university Poo Bah will tell the truth of the study, but few of them really understand research well enough to follow my argument here even if I explained it to them. 

      Even if they did, none of them have the balls to do as I have done, and tell the truth about what current studies reveal about higher education. I’ll break it down into two cases:

     Higher education of the past identified people who were likely to be successful, and educated them. 

     Higher education of today identifies the vulnerable, and screws them over.

     It’s that simple.