Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Parents Must Protect Students, Higher Ed Won’t

By Professor Doom

      So I’m looking at a post by a reader, explain how she’s helping her child not become a victim of predatory higher education. It’s disturbing that so much effort must be made to protect a child from administrators that prey on the innocent and vulnerable in much the same way pedophiles and tobacco companies do.

      Like so many, she’s realized that higher education doesn’t quite make as much sense as it used to:

My husband and I are in our 50's and went to college before the internet. Back then, college was the best way to gain knowledge. Today, college no longer holds the monopoly on knowledge that it once had. As a secondary teacher, college is also not the only way to make a decent living. In fact, many trades pay better than the jobs the more liberal arts type of majors end up working.

     It is nothing less than astonishing how much the world has changed in the last 30 years. I can ask the most obscure trivia question in the classroom, and dozens of students will whip out their phones and get the answer for me in seconds. Knowledge probably needs to be measured differently today, and I concede maybe we should consider having more job skills taught in higher education. 

      No administrator will consider this, however, since selling that mandatory “gen ed” coursework generates such sweet student loan loot.

We also want her to come out with some real job skills based on her preferences. She had no idea what she wants to do other than write children's mystery books, but has decided that she wants to work regular day hours and be seated most of the time, so a business certificate it is.

      Note the above carefully. The parent actually asks the child what she wants, and puts together a plan for that goal. This is so “old school.” Every semester when I was in college, I was asked about my major by my advisor, had to consider what I wanted (I was a chemistry major and almost a computer science major before settling on mathematics)…and had to register for courses towards that specific goal.

     In today’s higher education, administration screws the students. “Just take these bogus courses for a few years and figure it out yourself” is the primary “planning” that administration gives students. I’ve had countless students, years into their degree programs, “just one semester away from graduation”  the students tell me, who still haven’t taken even the introductory courses for their major yet.

      Again: parents need to work with their children now to figure out what they want, as administration has no more interest in helping kids succeed than a pedophile or a tobacco company executive.

     Our administrative caste in higher education has expanded, and expanded, and expanded. The entire purpose of our college system is education and research, supporting students and faculty. What are administrators for?

      Faculty loathe them, because all too often, administration makes things more difficult for faculty. It’s very clear these guys aren’t there for the faculty.

       Our students are getting deeper in debt than ever before, take longer to graduate than ever before, and are dropping out more as well. It’s very clear the administrators aren’t there for the students, either.

      The reader describes her own experience in higher education:

I am a graduate of a JC in California. It allowed me to save a boatload of money. I transferred 69 units after two years going both summers. I was a very motivated student and the transfer system worked well for me.

      I’m hard on community colleges (also called Junior Colleges, or JCs) because I’ve seen firsthand how they’re rife with corruption and incompetence, and how integrity among the faculty there is penalized to an alarming degree. That said, I admit it’s possible to use a JC in the way it’s intended, to get a good budget education. It’s rare for a student to really benefit in these places, however, as administration puts up so many roadblocks to student success.

      How did she get so lucky?

However, my father had gone to college and sat down with me and showed me in the college catalog EXACTLY what I needed to do and how general ed worked (regarding transferring AND earning an AA/AS). He explained what regional accreditation was and what did and did not transfer from junior college to a 4 year institution. I did not get this info from the JC; I was fortunate enough to get it at home.

     Her father knew what the college system actually was and walked her through it. Sadly, this explains why our predatory “leaders” in higher education, especially at the community college level, are so motivated to hunt down kids from families with no college experience: they’re much easier to exploit, because their parents can’t warn them of the traps.

     The mother finishes up by mentioning her old JC is now being plundered:

San Francisco's JC recently almost lost its accreditation because it DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH ADMINISTRATORS!!!!!! I kid you not. Jerry Brown, our governor played hard ball and threatened to pull all 111 of California's JC out of WASC. I am not sure what happened, but if he hadn't stood up to them, the 90,000 student at SF's JC would have been failed by WASC.

       I’ve covered this school before, showing how accreditation actually helped plunder the school. Accreditation, instead of assuring the legitimacy of an institution, is now in on the fraud. The people running our institutions are the same ones that run accreditation, so it’s little wonder the whole system is set up for fraud on ever increasing levels.

       Higher education used to be about education, but thanks to the student loan scam, it now has a need to be about job skills instead. This is a shame, but with so much money on the table, I respect albeit dislike this reality.

       Higher education used to be about integrity, but, again thanks to the loan scam, there is little integrity. Administration’s avarice exponentially expanded into integrity’s absence. No more can you count on the institutions to treat our kids fairly…instead it’s up to the parents to watch over them some more.

       Please, gentle readers, if your kids or a neighbor’s kids are just starting out in college this year, or the next, or the next…consider exposing them to this blog, or my book (which addresses the higher education system in detail, with documentation).  Please, help them, do what you can to keep them out of acquiring deep debts for useless course credits.

      A higher education system with integrity would do as I ask of the gentle reader, but that system is fading fast. It’s up to you now.


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