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?


    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.

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