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View Diary: Student Loans: a bubble waiting to burst (214 comments)

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  •  ROI (17+ / 0-)

    Return On Investment

     Most parents, and kids, never do the math.
    It's not the 1970's anymore. College is MUCH more expensive, and entry-level jobs (even for college graduates) pay MUCH less, and are harder to find.

     In some ways this attitude, that you HAVE to get a college degree, reminds me of the housing bubble.

    1) panic buying: people buying because they are afraid they will be priced out of the market forever because they assume prices will go up forever, and

    2) people not doing the math: For instance, with houses the question is "if you rent it can you get enough to pay the mortgage and upkeep"

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 05:54:06 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Education is about more than dollar signs (23+ / 0-)

      While what you say makes sense, I find it very sad to simply reduce the experience of higher education to a cost/benefit analysis. There is so much more to be gained than just whatever salary uplift you may or may not get with a degree.

      That said I more than understand having to make that analysis with costs as they are, but viewing education solely (or even mainly) as having an economic benefit, is a dangerous road either for individuals or society as a whole to go down.

      hope springs eternal

      by ahyums on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:44:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  exactly (12+ / 0-)

      the only reason this problem exists is this nonsense about college being necessary.  it was bullshit when the meme started and it's bullshit now.

      when administrative assistant positions are asking for bachelor's degrees, houston, we have a major !@#$%& problem.  you don't need a degree to man phones and run an office, for crying out loud.

      there are really only, like, five or so degrees that directly pertain to careers. everything else is education just to be learning, which is what education should always be about.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:02:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Supply/demand (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, cynndara

        The availability of college is paradoxically what is driving the inflation you speak of.

        If you have several applicants for your administrative job and several of them have bachelor's degrees, why wouldn't you just require it?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 09:57:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  inflation...exactly (6+ / 0-)

          since everybody and their brother has a degree anymore, they've come to be quite meaningless.

          If you have several applicants for your administrative job and several of them have bachelor's degrees, why wouldn't you just require it?
          why on earth would you require something that has NOTHING to do with the position at hand?  and since when does graduating college by the skin of one's teeth make one proficient at anything unrelated to said degree?

          requiring a college degree just to have some kind of weeding mechanism is just lazy.  and stupid.  and part of the whole warped mentality problem.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:22:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cynndara

            I don't think it's worthless.

            With no other information and for the same salary I would always hire the college grad over the non-college grad. At least the college grad has the demonstrated wherewithal to complete a degree.

            Remember, a business owner is not trying to right all the world's wrongs. They just need a position filled with the best candidate. You have to have some method of culling 40 resumes down to 5 or so.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:33:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  fine...then set a minimum number of years (5+ / 0-)

              with the relevant experience.

              anyone who uses a college degree as a screening mechanism for a job to which a degree could not apply less is, frankly, a piss-poor personnel person.  and lazy. either you want the best candidate for the job, or you want to use meaningless metrics like a degree as a prerequisite for office work.  again, it's part and parcel of the whole warped mentality that is part of the problem.

              like some legacy frathole who went to college because that's what you do, by god, and barely scraped by with a C average learned much more than how to scrape by.  puhleeze.

              there are only so many doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. that any one community, or even society, needs.  this ridiculous notion that one needs to go to college to get a "good" job presupposes that the supply of said jobs remains commensurate with the nubmer of college grads.  it's risible on its face.

              i'm sorry, but not everybody can have, or is suited for, those high-end jobs.  the answer, of course, is to value labor again like we once did, where a factory job would buy you a house and put your kids through school, if that's what they want.

              but the idea that getting a college degree is all about future employment and all but entitles one to a high paying job is just pure unadulterated bullshit.

              hopefully, this "bubble" is a sign the pendulum has started to swing back.
               

              Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

              by Cedwyn on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:52:27 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                i'm sorry, but not everybody can have, or is suited for, those high-end jobs.  the answer, of course, is to value labor again like we once did, where a factory job would buy you a house and put your kids through school, if that's what they want.
                I don't think it is possible to 'value' something the way you are suggesting.

                Labor just 'has a value' in a society like rock has a weight. Skilled craftsmen were valuable in the past. Now you just push the button on a machine and get an item of far superior quality for a lower cost.

                You can choose to overpay for labor if that's what you wish to do, but that doesn't really do anything to establish a new 'value' for it. If what you can do can be duplicated by a machine, your 'value' can never be more than that of the machine.

                I think the real public policy question here is "what do we do with the increasing numbers of people whose skill set commands a low to nonexistent market value?" Not sure I know the answer.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:03:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  You don't teach at a college (12+ / 0-)

              I do. Let me tell you a little about our graduates...

              1.) they're there not because they're smarter or better workers than the average person, but because they have the privilege to afford college. Often this is due to student loans which will drive them into debt.

              2.) they're not in college to learn how to turn widgets into cogs. We teach them crazy stuff like how to read Russian Novels, how to critically think about economics and ethics, how to assess sources for bias, how to become fluent in five languages, and how the Holocaust came to happen, by what means, mechanisms, and xenophobic patterns.

              3.) many college graduates complete degrees with no particular competence; many have coursework and/or diplomas filled with "F's" and "incomplete work," plagiarized work (I think that's at, what, 50% or higher these days) and cheating.

              4.) many colleges, particularly the for-profits, will sign off on just about anyone. Same goes for many credential type programs.

              I am biased toward college graduates for many things, but unless it is imperative that someone has a degree for a particular job -- like they want to become a Physicist or a Molecular Biologist or a Linguist -- I'm unclear that most jobs need college degrees whatsoever.

              Prior to my BA, I was an excellent manager for a very good-sized company, as well as a Realtor, for example. I kicked ass. The end. I went back to college for personal interest and wound up becoming a teacher.

              Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

              by mahakali overdrive on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:13:38 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't disagree with any of your points (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mahakali overdrive

                But if it's truly correct that most jobs don't "need" a college degree, then your points would seem to indicate that we should not have a lot of people currently in college there at all.

                2.) they're not in college to learn how to turn widgets into cogs. We teach them crazy stuff like how to read Russian Novels, how to critically think about economics and ethics, how to assess sources for bias, how to become fluent in five languages, and how the Holocaust came to happen, by what means, mechanisms, and xenophobic patterns.
                Are these economically useful skills? Why should any college student pay money to read Russian novels (can do that at home), think critically about economics (is this learning economics, or merely "thinking critically" about it... again, you can just buy a book!), fluent in five languages (most jobs require English, maybe a little Spanish... the marginal value of speaking five languages is close to zero), etc etc.
                Prior to my BA, I was an excellent manager for a very good-sized company, as well as a Realtor, for example. I kicked ass. The end. I went back to college for personal interest and wound up becoming a teacher.
                I don't think we're saying different things. I'm just saying that on balance all other things being equal, I'd rather have someone trained in ethics and read in Russian novels than not.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:05:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thinking skills (7+ / 0-)

                  People love to mock the silly courses offered in colleges and universities, particularly in Humanities departments, and conclude that studying or teaching these things is worthless.  It's not.  What these classes teach is a whole range of what can be called "thinking skills" -- organization, history, and many kinds of analysis, among them.  These are real skills, portable from the original class, and undeniably "economically useful."  

                  They may not be required for all kinds of jobs, and everyone may not be well suited to learning these kinds of skills, but they are very very real.

                •  It's a complicated position I suppose (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  atana, nchristine, Cedwyn

                  Yes, I think we need less people in college because many are there due to employment demands, not genuine educational desires. In turn, because many students don't really want to be in college and rather just feel they have to be to be economically competitive, they tend to do less well or be in situations that are less helpful (multiple jobs, outrageous loans, lack of innate motivation) to get strong grades. In turn, because a higher number of students are inadequate in college, Professors have to dumb down their classes or grade inflate. In turn, this devalues what it means to receive high marks. It also leads to the inevitable employer's complaints that colleges don't adequately prepare students for work, which then makes the job market yet more competitive, which in turn leads to students conversely seeking higher degrees, particularly those who really can't get jobs, many of whom probably never wanted to be even undergraduates in the first place!

                  All of this is costly too, so it leads to outrageous student debt. Often, this leads to students simply dropping out partway through a degree but still stuck with the debt. Or, many who graduate with the debt wind up having to work unreasonable hours (law sharply comes to mind; this happened to my sister-in-law) working like 100 hours a week to make up for that debt.

                  It's a mess. It's a bad cycle.

                  I'm advocating for college because I love college, and I know that it does fantastic things for students when they want to be there and are engaged. When they're there because they feel they have to be, many have the same shitty attitude towards it that they have toward High School.

                  Where to fix this cycle?

                  There are many places it could be improved. I think the whole discussion thread in this diary is chock full of exemplary suggestions.

                  But as long as employers look at a degree like a prerequisite rubber stamp, and worse, college administrators also do, and as long as we have a huge student loan bubble looming, and then these privatized, pro-corporate, predatory colleges and likewise loans, all of it is a freaking nightmare.

                  Again, I realize that my point is very complicated and could seem like I'm arguing for multiple and even contradictory things. But I am not: I just have an extremely comprehensive view of how this works, systemically, and that troubles me very much.

                  Like you, I'd rather hire someone trained in reading Russian novels. I am a huge fan and teach such sorts of things specifically! But if I were an employer looking for someone to fill an admin assistant position, I wouldn't expect that or the loan burden that comes along with it. Likewise for dozens upon dozens of other jobs. And that's just for the Liberal Arts! Tech training in 4-years is even stranger in many cases since the nature of these skills is not static, although the degree itself is.

                  Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

                  by mahakali overdrive on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:51:07 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Well, actually (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eru, seefleur, Papuska

            As one of those degreed administrative assistants, I've got to say that there is probably no profession which is MORE related to what you do in school other than teaching high school.  Following directions.  Being polite.  Saying "Yes,sir" and "Yes, ma'am" thirty-four times a day.  Preparing paperwork, and making it all very neat.  Sitting at a desk and not getting up except at specified times so you're always there.  And being able to write and spell better than the computer so you can fix it when it makes a mistake.

            Secretaries originated as the managers of noblemen's correspondence and finances, the "Secret Keepers" who had all the paperwork in a time when literacy was at best about 5%.  The person who keeps your files and writes your letters has to be more literate than average, as well as more responsible, reliable, and obsessed with detail.  Because we have delegated most of the EASY things that secretaries and admins did thirty years ago to computers, what is left to pay a live human to do are the things that actually require some intelligence and (gasp!) education.

            •  i work as an editor (0+ / 0-)

              i majored in biology.  one does not need a college degree to be proficient in spelling, grammar, etc.

              people have been doing office management without degrees for decades.

              Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

              by Cedwyn on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 08:30:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Because the college degreed applicant has (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn

            loans outstanding and can be abused. They need the job to pay the loans. It's a vicious cycle.

          •  In some markets (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mahakali overdrive, Cedwyn

            They do it to justify paying lower salaries to employees who lack degrees... In some markets what they are asking for relative to what they are willing to pay is outrageous... When I was living in the tidewater area, pretty much every IT job is looking for a TS/SCI Clearance, a master's degree and 15+ years of experience...they could save a bunch of people a lot of time by just being transparent and saying they are looking for a retired military senior enlisted or officer... The really pathetic part is they often are paying around 45-50K for someone with those qualification...

            Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

            by awesumtenor on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 02:47:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  But they ARE asking for that degree. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, gjohnsit

        So what exactly can a senior in high school do about it?

      •  That's exactly what I was saying downthread (8+ / 0-)

        and honestly, given that I and my husband both teach in Higher Ed, my bias should be for more students... so what does this say about this issue? That for those of us in Higher Ed, we see the disconnect very, very clearly between what we do and what employers wish we did:

        http://chronicle.com/...

        A few key points from this must-read article:

        In survey after survey, employers seem to agree that the skill they most want in future workers is adaptability. Those who hire complain that they often find today’s college graduates lacking in interpersonal skills, problem solving, effective written and oral communication skills, teamwork, and the ability to think critically and analytically. Employers say that future workplaces need those skills as well as degree holders who can come up with novel solutions to problems and better sort through information to filter out the most critical pieces.

        --cut--

        In one survey, 45 percent of hiring managers said they preferred that students get an education that specifically prepares them for the workplace; 55 percent favored a broad-based education.

        --cut--

         Take smart college graduates, put them through apprenticeships, and of course it doesn’t really matter what they majored in.

        --cut--

        ...The people on the front lines of hiring these days are lower-level managers who want jobs filled by people who can do the work immediately.

        “This plays on the prejudices of the hiring manager,” [Capelli] says. “If they think they need someone with a master’s degree, they’ll ask for that. If they think it will take too long to train a liberal-arts graduate, they will toss those applications aside. All without evidence of what’s really needed to do the job.”

        cont...

        For me, the bottom line is that employers are inflexible about deciding who they should hire, and worse, view college's not as a place for advanced learning (although corporate CEO's often seem to see this), but rather as pre-professionalization mills which are nothing more than participants in consumer markets or, as Bill Readings calls these, techno-bureaucracies.

        This is probably due to their own lack of creative thinking, and their total immersion in corporocratic culture which has blinded them to any notion of what the fuck a University even is or does, let alone a college degree.

        Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

        by mahakali overdrive on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:05:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  To hiring managers, degrees are just evidence (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive, Cedwyn

        of high frustration tolerance. And the job market is so bad they can demand a bachelor's degree for an admin assistant and get one.

        •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

          all a degree proves is that you can jump  through a few hoops.  whoooptifuck!

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 08:32:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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