Why did 17 million students go to college?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by iloveemoticons, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    So glad that I went to college long before student loans became seemingly mandatory. I went to a state university (with a very good academic reputation) when in-state tuition was a real bargain (barely 1/100 what tuition was for a good private school). It probably would have been better had I had some real career goals when I was an undergrad, but for the most part I enjoyed my courses, which ranged widely across the liberal arts curriculum (the only two courses I detested were statistics and quantitative analysis :scream:). I likely would be more financially advantaged if I had been more "career focussed" back then, but then again, I could have made a lot more money and lost much of it through bad investments, like some I know. I'm probably just rationalizing because I liked being a student. :shuffle:
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  2. SceneIt

    SceneIt DoneIt

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    My niece just graduated from college with a $130,000 student loan (for a bachelor's) degree - and she is without a job! I hear so many people are now defaulting on their student loans because they don't have jobs to pay them back, and its gonna be tougher for future students to get loans at all.
     
  3. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    I feel so bad for my students at this one private college. They are taking on significant debt to pay for their education, and I'm just like, "Pssst... You know I teach this same class over there at that SUNY and it'd cost you, like, $300, right?"

    This issue isn't unique to liberal arts. I remember talking to one kid who was an engineering student at Drexel. He told me he'd have $100k in student loans by the time he graduated. Even as an engineer, there is no way he could comfortably pay off that amount of debt. Even if he was in one of the highest paid engineering fields out there - petroleum - he couldn't comfortably pay off that debt. He's at very high risk of defaulting on those loans. He wasn't quite ready to hear my advice (transfer to a public uni in his home state.)
     
  4. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    She is at high risk of default, even if she gets a job. I'm guestimating that her monthly loan payment could be $1,500. That won't leave her much money for things like food and housing.

    She needs to take control of this now. She may need to contact the loan companies and see if she can put them in forbearance. She may need to see if she can consolidate the loans and extend their terms, to bring the monthly payment down to a level she can handle. If she extends the term to 30 years, her monthly payment might be (guestimate) $650, and... she'd still be paying her student loans when her kids are in college. Ouch.

    At that level of loans, she's got some private loans involved, and those have special issues that she'll need to gain a full understanding of, and I mean *now*. I don't know, for example, if those can be consolidated. She needs to get her co-signers (likely her parents) involved, because if she defaults, they're on the hook.

    If she defaults, it's really serious. That debt will escalate as interest and fees come into play. It'll bury her (as if she's not buried already). If she defaults, they'll take her tax refunds, garnish her future paychecks, and they can even go after her social security benefits. This is a lifetime debt, and it needs to be a priority for her.

    This is seriously going to constrain her future. I'm sorry, that sucks.
     
  5. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    I went to college with a 1/2 loan & 1/2 grant scholarship. When I graduated, I could have taught at public school or county college for 5 yrs & my debt would have been forgiven without me paying a cent. Is something like that now available for students?

    The scholarship I had is now not offered because so many people defaulted. I paid mine off although it wasn't near the amt students incur now.
     
  6. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    There is a scholarship available to people who plan to be teachers - maybe just math and science? - who are willing to spend five years teaching in an under served school system. If they don't end up working in such a system, the scholarship turns into a loan.

    When you agree to take the scholarship, they give you the list of schools in your region, so you know and can make a somewhat informed decision. The scholarship, I think it was for $8000 per year, which is not a bad amount if you're going to a public college. It really helps.
     
  7. Auntie

    Auntie New Member

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    Reading about all this student load debt reminded me of something that happened years ago. My husband and I had been out of college a few years and he decided to go to grad school in Massachusetts. I think it was 1988 or so. We got a small student loan (probably 5k?) and then moved, so he never finished his degree.

    After paying about 1/2 the loan, we got a letter from the loan program that basically said "the state is so well off that we are going to forgive all loans of this type". :confused: :cheer: I'm sure I still have the letter somewhere because I was convinced that it was a mistake and someone was going to come after us for the money. Can you imagine that happening nowadays?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  8. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    YES, YES, YES.
     
  9. Hannahclear

    Hannahclear Well-Known Member

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    Yup. Underemployment is part of the past, present and future around here. Whatever, we're not going to let it ruin our lives.
     
  10. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    I think a lot of parents reasonably thought that the check list was the way to go because that worked for a few decades. Just check the items off the list, get a college degree, get a job, buy a house, etc. The environment has changed on everyone though. It is like we are in a hustle economy where street smarts are worth a lot in figuring out how to get that job or find income. A friend who is an attorney got laid off and she is making a go of it with her own business - a combination of her own legal clients and public speaking. It really didn't come down to credentials or degrees as much as she just hustled to get something done for herself.

    ETA: I think those with hustle skills with or without a degree will be the best off in terms of income for near term.
     
  11. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Good point. Honestly I believe a lot of skills cannot be easily learned just by going through formal education. People skills, organization skills, etc. You can learn them without going to college.

    And not every subject can be taught effectively in a semester time frame, and definitely not by mostly reading and writing papers. For example, political sci degrees don't breed politicians. :) In many subjects it's up to the students to figure out how to apply what they learn by seeking internships and experience on their own, and it's just not as effective as, say, learning theories and doing it side by side. For instance, I know speech therapy students who have to do lab work every week with kids after classroom training. Of course I'm tossing this out as a theory too; in real life, too many obstacles stand in the way of having "labs" offered in some subjects.
     
  12. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    This sounds flippant but is pretty true. Imagine you have millions of 18 year olds, suddenly without the structure and guidance of being in high school, trying to figure their way around the "real world". They would be trying too hard to keep their heads above water that they wouldn't have time to think about who they are and what they want. Mistakes would often not be forgiven. What adults can they turn to for guidance in a hard time? Probably not their bosses. How would they meet peers who haven't grown up exactly like they have, in the same towns?

    College allows these 18 year olds to transition gradually. Work part-time jobs to prepare yourself for working full time ones. Failing an exam from partying too hard sends a message without potentially severe consequences, as might happen from failing to show for work. Ideally, you would find faculty role models you can talk to. You get exposed to people you haven't grown up your whole life around. All in a secure setting.

    In other words, college provides a semi-structured semi-independent transition period that many 18 year olds absolutely need.

    By the way, what would happen if all those 18 year olds entered the workforce? Unemployment rates galore!

    Because you're smart, articulate, good at thinking, and relatively lucky (at minimum, not unlucky). I know plenty of people who are all those things but unlucky.

    That's my biggest issue with higher education--the cost. College is invaluable for many reasons, especially the ones I mentioned above, but it can cost a lot. For most--certainly not all--students, their best option is a state school or low cost private school, unless they have a scholarship or wealthy parents. The booming for-profit colleges disgust me.
     
  13. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    The for-profit colleges make me extremely uncomfortable. And yet... and yet, in a place like California, where the community colleges are so backlogged with students that the colleges have said that an associates degree, normally two years, could take most current students four years due to lack of availability of classes, a lot of students are turning to the for-profit colleges because they see them as their only option. I am not loving that situation.

    And there are some for-profit colleges that are reputable and of good quality, but the big-guys give the entire sector a bad name.
     
  14. iloveemoticons

    iloveemoticons Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the links! I actually didn't know who Murray was before this, but after reading some of the stuff, I ditto your :scream:

    I don't buy Vedder's argument that because college grads aren't getting jobs, that they shouldn't have gone to school or higher education should be cut in some way. I think college is a great experience for anyone who wants to go and I don't think higher education is only worthwhile if one can get a job out of it, but it's also a great place to learn more about oneself and the world, which is just as important IMO.

    Of course there's no problem if that's what people want to do; the problem is that many college grads don't have the opportunities to pursue what they want to do (I don't know the exact data but probably a higher % now than before). And I think part of that is due to the terrible economy right now, but I think part of it is systemic and global. The same thing is happening in India and China right now, maybe on an even bigger scale. They're pumping out a million new engineering grads a year by some estimates and struggling to find ways to open up more opportunities for these grads, because many of them are un/underemployed as well.
     
  15. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Most people do go to college to get an education but they want a middle-class job too.

    I actually find formal education -- I mean the system through which you get formal degrees -- to be overrated and for liberal arts I actually learn just as much reading and even experiencing (like travelling and living in different places). For example, I don't think studying a sociology course on poverty helps unless you actually visit and live among the poor for a while. Nor do I think you can grasp cultural studies without living in that culture for some time.
     
  16. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    I think people with hustle skills are always best off. They thrive in good times and bad, in and out of college.

    Since this has come up......it will be interesting to see what is going to happen with community colleges in the next ten years or so, as the scrutiny that for-profits have been experiencing is spreading into nonprofit education. Ohio has decided to base state funding not on enrollment, as was traditionally the case, but on course and degree completion. This is going to create a very interesting situation for community colleges in particular, as their completion rates are not high, for a whole lot of reasons. At the same time, Ohio CCs are probably going to become, for want of a better word, dumping grounds for students from universities who need developmental or remedial classes, which have a very high failure rate. This is actually a plan, not something that will evolve; the state government wants state universities to stop offering remedial classes altogether and leave it to the CCs.

    My prediction for this is that Ohio state schools and especially CCs will start lowering standards in order to get as many students to completion as possible, but we shall see. I may wake up to a new governor tomorrow morning and then all of this may or may happen (but is predicted to go on). Or state colleges may set their admission standards very high to eliminate the struggling student pool and CCs will massively raise taxes on their home counties. I don't know.

    Now you can say, well, that's just Ohio, and well, that's just community colleges. But not so fast. Ohio's education overhaul (there's a lot more to this) is being watched with great interest by other states because all states are struggling to fund higher education and the idea of pay for performance is very attractive to many legislators. California, for example, is looking at the problems of funding CCs when half of all new students need remedial courses and most of them fail, in more ways than one. Something has got to give, indeed.

    The federal government has just convened a panel to define "success" for community college students with the intent of possibly using that definition to determine federal funding. Universities are taking note of that as well, because guess who is next. And all of that basically started because the same issues that affect for-profit schools affect colleges as well. The bottom line is that government does not want to give loans to people who aren't going to be able to pay them back or grants to people who aren't likely to graduate, regardless of the type of school. This makes sense. But oy, the implications.

    President Obama has said:

    "I've called for...producing 8 million more college graduates by 2020 so we can have a higher share of graduates than any other nation on earth. In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first to twelfth in college graduation rates for young adults. That’s unacceptable, but not irreversible. We need to retake the lead."

    Colleges are thrilled. Enrollment is way up. Everybody is happy, because the more educated people are, the better, right?

    Again, not so fast. South Korea has a lot more college graduates than we do, which means, in competitive American terms, that they are better than us and we need to catch up. Right? And even worse, the South Koreans tend to scorn the "soft" degrees in things like economics or sociology or literature; they study engineering and hard sciences, all the areas where we are behind and need to catch up. And what has this gotten them? Crippling debt and high unemployment for young people.

    So many good intentions...so many possible roads to hell. Or not.

    I'm just glad I am not in charge of any of it.
     
  17. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    Murray is the co-author of The Bell Curve, a book that many people see as racist. So when Murray starts talking about how most people aren't capable of doing college-level work and so shouldn't be there at all, the response of many who know this is, "Oh, and just which 'people' do you have in mind there, Dr. Murray?"

    He's also a devout libertarian, which is pretty rare in academia, and it shows in everything he says about college.
     
    PRlady and (deleted member) like this.
  18. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Or potentially severe consequences, not necessarily for yourself, if you do show up at work hung over or still intoxicated. Depending on the type of work.
     
  19. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    This is not unique to Ohio. In NYC in 1999, the CUNY four year colleges stopped offering remedial classes, and now all students who would need remedial classes must take them at a community college. The CUNYs determine who needs remedial classes (and thus who is eligible for admission to a "senior", four year college) via things like SAT scores or placement tests.


    The CUNYs did raise their admissions standards, but not to a "very high" point at all. IMO, the SATs needed for the CUNY senior colleges are still fairly lowish - CR 480, math 480/500. But the colleges feel that at that level, the kids don't need remedial classes in math and English.

    I don't have any problem with four year colleges (public and private) turning away students who are not ready for college-level work, so long as there is a place for those students to get caught up. So long as the ccs (or something else) are there for such students, I'm not opposed to this idea.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  20. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    Does CUNY gets its funding based on its student success rate? If not, then the situation is not the same at all. The remedial classes thing is not, by itself, a particularly worrisome issue. Having funding depend on student success when the dropout/failure rate in remedial classes is so high, however, is.

    Again, unless the funding at CUNY is tied to student success, the issue is not the same. The standards would have to be raised not just enough to prevent remedial students from getting in, but also to ensure that the students have a high likelihood of staying in school and completing all their classes--if that is the route the universities choose to take. It's only one possibility of many.

    And speaking of funding.....there is a lot of talk these days about an education bubble. Student loan debt is not just a problem for students.

    Student-Loan Debt Surpasses Credit Cards.
    Higher education's bubble is about to burst
    Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst?
    The Bursting of the Academic Library Bubble
     
  21. skaternum

    skaternum Grooving!

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    Um, why? That's over $32K per year. If average in-state tuition to a public university is about $11K and fees and books might run another few thousand, what did she use the remaining almost $18K for? Living expenses? On the surface, this seems like another case of poor decision-making. If the student and/or family has to borrow that much for college, maybe they need to look at other options. Did she work through school? Did the parents contribute anything? Was it a private school?

    Unrelated to the above: I just don't buy the argument that students have to incur so much debt. If you're looking at it as a purely financial decision, then it's a bad decision for most students to incur massive student loans, given how long it will take to recoup the investment. If you're looking at it as a personal fulfillment / enrichment decision, you have to be willing to pay the price for your enlightenment without an expectation of payoff.
     
  22. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    You make an excellent point.
     
  23. PRlady

    PRlady Smoking

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    My daughter who graduated in May, and who is making 8 something an hour at Barnes & Noble, just got her notification of her first student loan payment this month. $100 a month for ten years, for about 11K in loans. And she is complaining that this burden will be on her "forever"!

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry. She went to a private college that now costs $55K a year, half of that was covered with grant scholarship and her dad and I paid the other half. (And I saved for her college from the time she was seven and one lucrative job gave me most of the money.) She's my only child and her half-siblings on her dad's side are much older, she didn't have to split the pot with another near-age sibling. I am glad she owes that money and has to pay it back, she should contribute to her expensive education and she is damn lucky she owes that little.

    As to whether that expensive education was worth it, well, she's well-educated and underemployed. Time will tell what comes of all this. It took me eleven years to pay off my student loans, undergrad and graduate, because I was making so little money my first six years out of college I was basically in default, but I turned out to be a good risk for a philosophy major. It is just too hard to predict what's going to happen to whom, which is the only reason I don't agree that "too many" are going to college.
     
  24. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    http://www.campusgrotto.com/colleges-with-the-highest-total-cost.html

    Rather depressing, isn't it? Both of my kids went to a school on this list :(. We paid for it, now we're done!

    My son was a philosophy major too. But had a double major - philosophy and political science. He just started law school. That he had to cover. He got about 60% in a school given in merit scholarship, for the rest, he got a loan.
     
  25. iloveemoticons

    iloveemoticons Well-Known Member

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    You know what I realized from the experiences of some of my friends? If one wants to go to grad school, going to a pricey school is not really the best value. My friends who decided to go on to grad school said they didn't feel going to a pricey school really gave them a significant advantage when applying to grad programs. From what they said, the undergrad "brand" can help, but that can be balanced by the fact that being in a top undergrad program can make harder to get a high class rank, etc. and actually put them at kind of a disadvantage with grad school admissions.

    Oh noes :yikes: Wall street had often pointed to student loans as a model of how securitization is done right, etc. But they've been wrong before (understatement of the century!) so I really hope this student loan situation doesn't develop further...
     
  26. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    My son did go to a top undergrad school. And he is in a very good law school. But, it is not as "top tier" as his undergraduate school. For several reasons. Foremost is that he wants to practice in NJ or NY, so it was necessary to go to a school where he would learn local laws. The school he is in is a smaller school, but many of the NJ judges went there and it has an excellent reputation in NJ/NY/CT. It really doesn't matter what it's position is nationally, since the system he wants to work within is here. Obviously a school like Yale, Harvard, or Cornell would be nice, but not necessary ($$$$) for his purposes. The second reason we chose the school he is in, was that they gave him a huge amount of money :):):):):)!
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  27. Civic

    Civic New Member

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    One of my former neighbors started college with the intention of being an opera singer. She majored in music with a specialization in vocal performance. She has a lovely voice but by the time she graduated she realized just how competitive a field opera is. She applied to every opera apprenticeship program in the US with no luck.

    After graduating from college, she worked for a couple of years at a library while auditioning with regional opera companies when she could scrape together the money to travel to the auditions. After two years of this, she accepted that she wasn't going to have a career in opera. She was dating a law student at the time, and decided to give law a try.

    She attended law school at a large public university in the Midwest, made the law review and went to work for law firm in the Chicago area. She didn't like the work but it paid very well and she had over $30,000 in student loans to pay off. After 5 years as an associate, she left the law firm and began working in public interest law. It doesn't pay as well as corporate law but she enjoys the work, she's respected by her peers and her salary affords her a comfortably middle class lifestyle.

    My former neighbor is an African-American woman who grew up in a blue collar family. Perceived wisdom would dictate that she major in something more practical like business administration but that wasn't her dream at the time. Her dream was to be an opera singer. She has never regretted majoring in music. Even though the opera career didn't work out for her, she is glad that she at least tried. I can't help but wonder how Murray would have viewed her choices had he encountered her when she working as an interlibrary loan clerk.
     
  28. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Civic, you would be surprised (I certainly was) at how many music and art(s) undergrads wind up in law school. Something to do with that side of the brain :D.
     
  29. SceneIt

    SceneIt DoneIt

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    To answer your questions above: No, she did not work through school - she babysat a little in the summer months, she was too much of a prima donna to get a job; her parents contributed nothing but her mom co-signed on student loans; it was a private out-of-state college and supposedly she did get some sort of rowing scholarships but they must not have been for that much obviously. But her father would always brag about how prestigious her schooling was compared to my child who goes to an in-state public college.
     
  30. skaternum

    skaternum Grooving!

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    :violin: Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought. But you get the last laugh now, huh?