Regular readers know that my opinion differs from Angel. I have stated in the past that I was very fortunate to have received financial aid and scholarships to attend a top ranked college. I enjoyed my experience and I think I am a better person because of it. I only wish the greedy people who run our country and our universities believed that all Americans were entitled to an education without having to go into life destroying debt. This is why I blog about the higher education and tuition scam and its destruction of both the education system and the people who once believed in it only to be left unemployed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt.
Millions of people my age are rightfully bitter about their return on a $200,000 investment that has destroyed them emotionally and fiscally. I come from a working class family where I was denied a lot of the material objects that the majority of my well-to-do college and law school classmates were fortunate to have growing up. Part of the reason I went to college and later to law school was to not only become more wordly and enlightened but to also improve my life and help my parents and the rest of my family who continue to struggle to this day. I'm sure that most working and middle class students go to college for similar reasons.
So I absolutely hate it when these same well-to-do people, or older people who went to college when it didn't cost $50k a year to attend, tell me that money isn't important compared to intangible things like having an education. Well, you never really had to experience a single day being dirt poor living on food stamps or have Sallie Mae call you everyday demanding their student loan payment, have you? I'm not talking about not being satisfied with just having enough to survive and have a roof over your head and food on the table. I mean bottom of the barrel poor, scared to death that any day now you could be on the street and eating at a homeless shelter. Well, that is the situation millions of Americans are in right now including millions of college educated graduates who thought they did everything right only to have half of their wages garnished to pay for that oh so joyful college experience. And, of course, there is the law school scam that uses fraudulent employment statistics to convince their students that taking out $150k in loans in a field that continues to outsource jobs to India is a good investment.
I do not have rose colored glasses on when I listen to people my age with $200k or $300k in student loans regret never being able to go on a vacation, or treat themselves to a nice outfit, or have children because of this "mistake". When the cost of an education hinders your ability to build a life for yourself: get married, start a family, buy a house, or even qualify for an entry level job - that is when the pro-education crowd must take these complaints against a college education seriously rather than blame the victims for being bitter or resentful. This is not their fault. You wouldn't have people like Angel warning against an education if the expenses weren't so high.
I respect Angel's opinion because her criticisms are valid and many people from the X and the Millenial Generation, which I am a part of, feel the same way because of the corporatization of higher education. Here is part my response to Angel's post earlier this week:
HardKnocks said...This is what I said last month in response to critics of blogs such as BIDER that criticize the current education system:
The majority of Americans would be able to go to college IF colleges weren't so damn expensive, and that is largely the fault of greedy tenured professors and money hungry deans. I also believe that college shouldn't be 4,5,6 years. Most students would be able to graduate in 2 to 3 years if it weren't for ridiculous money making requirements set by their college. It's the same money making scheme that forces law students to spend three unnecessary years in law school.
There is no such thing as a "cheap college" if you are looking to go to most of the schools listed in the top tier of USNWR unless you get a ton of scholarships and financial aid. And the goal for most ambitious and academically gifted is still to get into the highest ranked school they can get into.
Most 18 year olds have no concept of savings and debt. They are just brainwashed by parents, teachers, the media, and USNWR to believe that a higher ranked school equals more prestige and better job opportunities to pay off the high tuition.
Anyway, what is the point of getting good grades so you can attend Podunk University with someone who got a 2.0 in high school? The US does not reward good students who aren't rich. Poor and middle class students are punished either with life crushing debt to go to a prestigious school, or they are told that despite all of their hard work they will never reach the coveted top tier school or Harvard because they weren't born into a rich family. That is NOT how the higher education system should work. The Ivy and top public universities should be accessible to anyone with the grades to get in, not just the rich.
As a starting point for any new readers joining us, I recommend reading Jobless Juris Doctor’s post about a day in the life of an unemployed graduate working a $10/hour part-time job with loans to pay back. Many of the comments are just a small window into the large numbers of young people who are depressed and on the verge of suicide because of student debt, especially in this new jobless era that could last for decades.
Please also read Cryn at Education Matters and put her under your blogroll even if your blog has nothing to do with education issues. Cryn is one of the few education advocates trying to change the system and fight for student loan victims. She regularly posts absolutely heart wrenching stories of educated American families being destroyed by student debt compounded by unemployment and our country not having a national health care system. Cryn herself attended an Ivy League and is now working in South Korea to pay off her student loan debt. Yes, many of us are being forced to flee the country to find anything resembling a respectable and decent paying job to pay off our student loans.
...We are not against education. We are against a system that devalues the importance of education by turning it into a money making scheme. To swindle millions of dollars from hard-working Americans using fraudulent data and myths in order to convince parents and their children that taking out hundreds of thousands in private loans is worth it to become more self-enlightened is despicable and should be stopped.I have also recently blogged about university presidents who receive money from BP, Goldman Sachs, and Nike. These presidents are paid millions of dollars each year while their students drown in student debt. Why should the "little people" even take universities and the crooks who run them seriously anymore? These crooks obviously do not believe in access to education for all if it means their salaries are cut in half so that colleges can once again become affordable places of learning for the masses.
Low-income, minority, and single parent (usually women) students bear the brunt of the higher education scam. Too many of them end up in for-profit schools or low ranked, third tier schools that offer a crappy education and few job opportunities at the same tuition rates as the Ivy League. Many must gamble with the possibility of absolute financial ruin for life by taking out huge loans to attend college. So when someone asks whether or not college (or graduate school) is worth it, they are asking a very serious question that no one in higher education is willing to answer directly. Is taking out $50k, $100k, $150k, $200k – even $300k (I know an Ivy League and T14 graduate who owes more than $300k) in loans worth the risk? Is anything that doesn’t offer a money back guarantee or an absolute guarantee of a good paying job worth taking such a huge financial risk?
Anyone who can justify not questioning these exorbitant costs is either rich, clueless, or profits in some way shape or form from the system currently in place.
More of our critics need to open their eyes, stop blaming the indentured educated class of my generation, and start demanding accountability and change from the higher education industrial complex. Until this ends, the education gap between the rich and the poor will only become wider and there will be more critics besides Angel arguing against college and graduate school.