We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, September 7. 2010
Our friend Roger asks:
Yes, it is a bubble, a scam, and a rip-off. And the government subsidizes it too, adding to the problem. As it always does.
Related: Retired Prof VDH has an amusing yet penetrating rant about academics: We Are Ruled by Professors. He concludes:
Related, from Barone: The Higher Education Bubble: Ready to Burst? Quote:
The daughter of a friend, who I spoke with in August, will be a college Freshman about now. She complained to me about being required to take Algebra in college. "I don't do math," she said.
"I don't do windows." Guess what? I do windows whenever She Who Must Be Obeyed asks me to.
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It appears to be a matter of what price for a seat at the govt/corporate job table.What they don't control outright,they subcontract.
A college/university degree moves one to the top 25% of the workforce,leaving the other 75% to scramble for the remaining crumbs...(Bubbleland?)
It's a mystery to me why anyone who wants to go to a prestigious university would chose American ones over a McGill University or University of St Andrews -- unless the financial aid offer is fantastic and does not contain loans..
What exactly do you get from buying American for your B.A.?
Some great commentaries.
I would add that there needs to be more attention given to department bloat: unnecessary, and counterproductive departments. Women's Studies, Leisure Studies, etc.
And focus should be on the state schools. Private schools can do what they want, the market will sort that out.
The daughter of a friend, who I spoke with in August, will be a college Freshman about now. She complained to me about being required to take Algebra in college. "I don't do math," she said
Her being required to take a high school junior course in college is evidence of her not doing math.
I hated English courses in high school probably as much as she hated math courses, and finagled taking only two English courses in college as a result. I read plenty of literature on my own in my college years. I just didn't want English teachers to ruin the books. Though the second course, in Shakespeare, I enjoyed and did well in. Read each play twice, and they make more sense.
I agree that a lot of the "...Studies" fields and courses will fall by the wayside. A lot of administrators will also lose jobs. College dorms constructed in the future will probably not be as luxurious as now constructed. Perhaps there will be a return to the utilitarian linoleum and cinder block- painted pink- dorm of my freshman year.
I fully believe, that w/ the possible exception of fine arts majors, that everyone w/ a college degree should be required to pass coursework in calculus.
Don't do math? Fine, the HR departments of the world really don't need your resume added to the pile they have to review and toss.
I was disgusted to see that Taleo, the job application software, lists an English major as "English studies." Thanks guys, for completely de-legitimizing my four years of critical reading, analysis and writing about the Western Canon.
PS I took calculus, chemistry, physics and differential equations as well.
You got yourself a real education. I wish that one could combine STEM courses with a St. Johns Great Books type approach.
Well, businessweek.com lists the rate of return on college costs for several hundred American schools. Go to,
As it happens, the top ten are in order: MIT, Cal Tech, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, Dartmout, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Notre Dame and U. Penn.
MIT and CIT offer very high value, high tech degrees that are in great demand. The Ivys offer social networking for the ruling class.
A 12 to 13% return looks awfully good. So, yes, those schools are worth it.
Of course, fraudulent degrees (women's, black, gender, sociology, literature, etc.) from miserable diploma mills are not. The worst school at 852 is Black Hills State Univ. of South Dakota, which offers a ROI of 4.3%.
Many of the universities and colleges in the US are engaged in criminal fraud. But serious degrees from selective schools will always be valuable.
I do not think there will be any shake out because many if not most of the fraudulent schools are operated by the states, and these serve the interests of the state politicians, not the students.
A good example is Central State University in Xenia, Ohio. This is an historically black school with a long sordid history of academic fraud and theft by its administrators. When it was severely damaged by a tornado in the 70s, many people wanted to shut it down and transfer the students literally across the street to Wilberforce U, another historically black school. WU has always had a good academic reputation, and it is well-run. Such a move would have benefited CSU's students. However, this did not happen because CSU is the patronage pet of black representatives and senators in Ohio's state legislature. Satisfying their greed took precedence over students' education.
That is one of the worst 'interactive tables' I have ever seen...there was not an obvious search function. I was looking to see how they handled the ROI of the service Academies (West Point, Naval Academy etc). You get paid to go there, get a great education, have a guaranteed job on graduation, and generally very good post military earnings.
But I wasn't going to flip through pages to find them, if they were even listed.
Your friend's daughter doesn't "do math", but I'll bet money that she would be more than willing to tell you how wrong you are about opposing climate change legislation because the "science" is settled.
My daughter is in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Montana State. She has "done math" and other hard science, rather better than I expected her to do them. She has also "done windows", or, at any rate, hotel rooms this summer. Grumbled, but she did them. She's working on a pretty specific career-related track, although she's filling in a few "studies" courses as well. She has also done college-level German to follow up her high school German and she took international music to fill a square. She is getting some of the liberal arts curriculum. In her case, the give-or-take $50k will pay off, I'm pretty sure.
I'm hoping she'll take almost any job in a clinic or hospital next summer for the exposure to how the real world operates. As a former medic, I think people should get thrown up on before they get too deep into the field. It's a good screening test.
A big part of the problem is that too many people in business--manager, executives, HR people---mindlessly stick educational qualifications on jobs rather than doing a better job of seriously thinking through the requirements for a particular position (and improving their own interviewing skills).
It's tempting, because every open position gets such a flood of resumes, so one wants to establish definitive screening criteria so a lower-level employee or a keyword-scanning program can sort through the resumes before you have to do it. Excessive experience requirements are often added for the same reason.
"They aren't taught the basics of literature, history or science. ACTA reports that most schools don't require a foreign language, hardly any require economics, American history and government 'are badly neglected,' and schools "have much to do" on math and science."
Gee golly, then what are they teaching?
Just kidding. I've noticed a phenomenon of Facebook of all places. My old friends who stayed in my hometown and maybe got a BA at most post stuff about how much they love their wife and kids and maybe some stuff about the Steelers. My "intellectual" college friends with multiple degrees post bitter rants about Sarah Palin, "health care", the evils of whatever private company is the target of the week etc. The difference is striking. Needless to say, my kids going to college is not an automatic by any stretch. Maybe for engineering.
Assuming Obama took math and/or economics, he got the concepts very wrong. Considering where he went to college, he was probably taught the concepts in a "liberation economics" sort of way and lapped it up happily.
To be fair, gauging his math skills by his economic policies is a poor measure. He may be able to do calculus and still have a distorted view of economics, social justice and all that nonsense.
Graduated from MIT, myself. I think it's stood me in good stead. When HR gets that pile of resumes, one that says "MIT" on it gets put into the "let's talk to this guy" pile.
Both my kids got engineering degrees - one at a private school that's quite liberal, the other at Enormous State University. But in both cases you learn even if you hire enough left-handed lesbian Wiccans and regardless of how you treat any endangered species on the site, if you don't use the right steel and do the math right, that bridge will fall down.
Ah, the assault on education. Hadn't expected that from someone who's not a leftist...
While I fully agree that the cost of a top college/university like Yale is excessive, they produce some of the finest minds on this planet (and sadly also people like the current US administration, but I like to believe those are the minority).
If you want to live in a country without higher education, you can always move to Cambodia or Zimbadwe.
"they produce some of the finest minds on this planet"
Could you point to any recent examples of that?
The daughter of your friend doesn't do math? Then let her wait tables until she does. Once she does math, she can go to college, but not a moment sooner. A university education is wasted on her. She's not a student; she's a spoiled brat.
1.I knew a high school senior who hadn't passed the state standardized math test required for graduation. He was annoyed that College X wouldn't admit him until he had passed the test.
The state standardized math test tested at the 8th grade level.
Fortunately, he passed the test in May of his senior year. Did he graduate from college? Dunno.
2. I knew a first grade teacher who switched professions. He had problems completing the training course for the new job because he couldn't handle 9th grade algebra, which was required for some of the work on the new job.
If the daughter of the friend tests out at needing 11th grade math, she is better off than the people in the two above examples.