If you are staying in this weekend and want to catch up on a real-life horror story, watch Frontline's College Inc. on the booming for-profit higher education system. I mentioned College Inc. to BIDER readers in the Spring, but never got around to embedding the video for those of you who missed it on television.
Some of the facts mentioned in this Frontline program are frightening. The University of Phoenix enrolls close to half a million students, more than the entire University of California system and all the Ivy League schools combined. Mass producing education doesn't make our country smarter or better equipped to compete in the global job market. All it does is sink our country further into debt to obtain a crappy education and a worthless degree. The only people who benefit from the higher education scam currently in place are the scam artists who run the system, their business partners, and their friends on Capitol Hill.
The law scam blogs received a lot of traffic this week from a Slate article that became the most read article on the site for at least several days. I received a letter from one person who found our blog through the Slate article:
I stumbled onto your blogs from the Slate.com article today and thought I would write you both.
A little background first. I graduated spring of '08 in California and finished my thesis about 3 weeks before all hell broke loose. Just to let you guys know, jobs aren't better anywhere. I was unemployed for 8 months and got a job with a large defense contractor. I had to stand in line with 3000 other applicants for whatever they had; think 1930's soup line. The offered me one in Philly and off I went. At this point I think I had applied for about 250 jobs. About 3 weeks into that job, I realized it was largely fraudulent and so decided to continue looking elsewhere. 2089 job applications later, I got a great one out here in Colorado.
I want to highlight that for you. 2089 job applications. It took me 2K applications to get to an interview which was successful. I applied in every major metropolitan area in the US for every job that was even close to my experience in everything that was online or in the classifieds. I mean I cold-called, I faxed, I emailed, I worked it hard. My resume is alright, I can send it to you if you'd like to see. (hey, you never can stop looking these days) But it took 2000 applications to get another job.
I want you both to know that. It is bad out here, and you are not alone in the law profession. You decision to go into law made no difference. It is largely luck and contacts that get you work.The engineering job market is just as terrible, hell, all the job markets are terrible. Every week the Times comes out saying that it's ageism, or sexism, or reverse racism. Fact is, it just sucks period.
So don't get down. Getting discouraged does you no good, You gotta attack it every day. Insert pop-psychology statements. Really, though, it sucks, we all know, but you gotta go for gold.
Good luck to you both. I hope for the best for you and keep up the blogging, I appreciate the work and the words. Thank you.
Thanks to this new BIDER reader for taking the time to write and comment on our blog. I am glad to hear that hard work and perseverance still pays off for a few people out there. I encourage everyone to stay motivated and keep applying even though I know how difficult it is to maintain any energy or hope after being unemployed for a year, two years, or longer. But I also realize that some of our readers will send out thousands of job applications and still never get even an interview. Some will get lucky or have a contact that will help them, but I believe the majority will lose out and end up unemployed for years or in a menial job. That's the risk our generation takes when they invest $100-200k in an education that may or may not help them find a job after graduation.
I stumbled across an article,"Young, Educated, and Unemployed: A New Generation of Kids Search for Work in their 20s", at Good. It just shows that millions out there, even with a degree from a good school, cannot find an entry-level job suited for their level of education.
This is a must-read, so go over to Good and read it in its entirety. Meanwhile, thousands of students unwilling to imagine that this will likely be their future in four years, continue to flood for-profit colleges and TTT law schools at $30k yearly tuition. This situation is like an ongoing nightmare that will never end.
Since January, for 35 hours a week, at a rate of $10 an hour, Luke Stacks has been working for a home-electronics chain. He answers the phone and attempts to coax callers into buying more stuff. This is not how he imagined he would be spending his late 20s.
Like a lot of us, Stacks was given a fairly straightforward version of how his life would unfold: He would go to college and study something he found interesting, graduate, and get a decent job. For a while, things went pretty much according to plan. Stacks, who now is 27, went to the University of Virginia, not far from where he grew up, majoring in American Studies. He later enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa, with the eventual goal of becoming a professor.
Flash forward to the fall of 2008, when the stock market crashed. There were never enough jobs for newly minted Ph.D.s to begin with, and now the likelihood of landing a tenure-track teaching position in the humanities was slim. Academia stopped looking like such a sure bet and Stacks grew disenchanted with his program. Even if he were to finish his doctorate, he reasoned, a job was in no way guaranteed to follow. He wondered, “How bad could it really be out there?” Turns out, it’s pretty bad.
So, in May of 2009, equipped with a master’s degree and a decent amount of courage, Stacks changed course. Shortly after graduation, he moved back in with his mother, who lives in Chantilly, Virginia. And from a desk in his bedroom, still littered with childhood toys and posters, Stacks started over.
What confronted him was not exactly pleasant. What once thrilled him—curating museum exhibits, making comic books, being a curious person—now seemed to make little financial sense. “I’m not confident that schooling has a direct connection with employment anymore,” he says. “But if I hadn’t received the kind of education I did, I would be less of an active citizen and less engaged in the world in ways I would not have discovered on my own.” And while passion and intellectual curiosity can’t be measured in dollars and cents, he expected they might at least secure a paycheck....
Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Labor Market Studies, has discovered that many college graduates are falling back on jobs that don’t require a college degree: waiting tables, bartending, working in retail. Using federal labor statistics, Sum has found that of the more than 2 million college graduates under the age of 25, about 700,000 have a job that doesn’t require a degree. And while unemployment and the lack of full-time jobs are problems, Sum says that having a job for which one is overqualified is worse. People with a job that does not require a degree—even if they have one—earn up to 40 percent less than college graduates whose jobs require their schooling. What’s worse, the longer one spends in a non-degree job, the less likely one is to ever join the college-educated labor force.
And the economic effects aren’t temporary. Lisa Kahn, an economist at Yale’s School of Management, tracked the wages of white men who graduated from college before, during, and after the 1980s recession. Over a 20-year period, those who graduated in the peak of the recession earned $100,000 less than those who finished college before or after the economic downturn.
“Young college graduates are vastly underutilized. They go ahead and complete school and we don’t have anything to offer them once they’re out,” says Sum, referring to the young college graduates who are without work. In the more than 20 years that he’s been studying the issue, Sum says that the current downturn has negatively affected young people the most—and not just in terms of their take-home pay. For some people, the recession has forever altered perceptions of how the world works, creating the impression that success has more to do with luck than with hard work.
For Stacks in particular, the most severe toll hasn’t been a loss of income, but feelings of estrangement and isolation. It’s fair to say that Stacks doesn’t exactly have a lot in common with his coworkers. Many are still in high school. Most of the older ones haven’t gone to college. In general, Stacks veers away from conversations about his education or the number of degrees he has acquired, worried that they’ll think less of him because of it—or worse, think that he thinks he’s better than they are.
Despite his best efforts, the details of his past life have slowly seeped out. “People kept asking me, ‘If you have a master’s degree and you went to UVA, why are you here? Shouldn’t you be somewhere else? Shouldn’t you be more successful than you are?’” The answers don’t come easily. “My younger coworkers want my advice but they think my advice probably isn’t worth that much since we ended up in the exact same place and they don’t have a college education, let alone a master’s.”
Have a Happy Halloween.