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.
My wife and I both were non-traditional students who obtained Master's Degrees. Blue collar kids with no family help. Over 100k in loans and we worked throughout the process and lived in family housing.
We have payed back half in ten years and are on track to be payed off in five more. I make in the low six figures and my wife works in the public schools. I am thankful for the career but wonder at the expense and the system that funnels cash to the universities. It seems the students are just a byproduct of the game so to speak. Am I wrong?
Well, you can certainly see why they wait until the final year or two of college to teach critical thinking. If the natural tendency to critical thought wasn't educated out kids early on and they had a lick of common sense as my grandmother used to say, then more students would see the higher education for the scam it has become. First off, the whole of formal education is designed to create university professors. Many get off the merry-go-round early and try to find paying work hopefully leveraging the studies they did pursue. Then you have professors advising and influencing students to pursue graduate programs when they as a group depend on a steady supply of students to keep their jobs. So we have more PhDs for dwindling jobs. Then, someone questions the "opportunity," out comes the "educated" argument. Being educated is a fine thing, but going $30,000 in debt without improving your ability to do useful work for which other will pay you is downright idiotic. Finally, we are only a couple decades away from having more people alive with formal education than all the formally educated in prior history combined. So there is the supply exceeding demand problem, just as automation and robotics are replacing expensive human capital.
And just when so many, so educated, could be starting businesses, they run up against local, state and federal government hostility to business formation. Not, an overt policy for the most part, but by bureaucratic indifference. No desire at all for governments to even create a list of all the licenses, permits, tax ids, taxes, etc. that must be complied with to start and operate a business. Much less streamlining the compliance process. To many fiefdoms would be disturbed. To many bureaucrats would be left with no paper to move from one side of their desk to the other.
People starting businesses instead of going to college is not a negative outcome.
MIT once did a study of their graduates. After the 5-year post-graduation point, alumni who were working in a field different than the one their degree was in reported higher satisfaction with their job than those who were still in the same field. Shifting out of the field that you graduated in to get a job is not necessarily a negative outcome.
In 1980 I was 32 and did not own a home. Since then I have bought one and in 4 years it will be paid off. But then I bought a small home with a reasonable mortgage and treated it like a debt to be paid off, not as a bank.
If 6 out of 7 young adults do not delay marriage because of debt and 4 out of 5 young adults do not delay having children because of debt, I don't see a problem.
The problem with critical thinking is not that it's not taught in college. The problem is that it's not taught in high school - and apparently, it's not taught by parents. When a kid is 18 years old and making these decisions, the parents should be telling them "Hey, if you go into debt for $100K you'll never pay that off with an art history degree. Find another way or another college."
And yes - why is it that the colleges are not being publicly held accountable for their cost structures? Perhaps because they are hand-in-hand with the people doling out the money?
Seriously, imagine this problem being taught in Algebra II your Freshman or Sophmore year of high school:
"Johnny went to Ivy-Covered University. Tuition is $40K/year. He had to borrow $25K/year and it took him 4.5 years to graduate. He got a degree in Religion and Women's Studies. Jennifer went to Enormous State University. Tuition is $18K/year. She had to borrow $10K/year and it took her 5 years to graduate. She got a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Johnny got a job at a local library paying $23K/year to start with an average 1% raise every year. Jennifer got a job with a consulting firm paying $45K/year to start and with an average 2.5% raise/year. The loans carry a 5% interest rate and have a 10-year term. How much money will Johnny have to live on? How much money will Jennifer have to live on?
Hint: if you cannot solve this problem, do not borrow more than $25K total over 5 years to go to college.