Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Less School Earns Students More Money

If you want a good education and a pile of money, you do not need a college degree. At least, not if you’re an American. Modern-day higher education is failing students both in terms of life-long earning potential and overall educational quality. Today, I will explain why college degrees are becoming inconsequential and offer a set of possible solutions.

When your college funds are going to professors like sex toy demo guru, John Michael Bailey at Northwestern University, it’s probably a good time to look at what your investment is really getting you. The cost of college tuition is rising significantly faster than inflation and wages are not keeping up with inflation, reports The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, the average salary for college graduates dipped 1.7 percent from 2009 to 2010, says The New York Times.

More School, Less Pay, Fewer Jobs

Government policies such as high taxes and Clinton-era loose home-ownership policies led to the current economic downturn and have created a situation where a higher education yields higher debt and fewer high-paying job opportunities for college graduates.

Today, a plumber with a high school diploma can out-earn a teacher, an MBA-holder, and, even a doctor. This is due to factors like rising tuition and student housing costs, the greater number of pre-retirement years spent studying instead of making money, mounting student loan debt and the way the progressive income tax hits a doctor harder than a plumber who will spread his or her wealth over more years in the workforce, Boston University Professor Laurence Kotlikoff explains in Bloomberg.

Even before the government-induced economic downturn, U.S. entrepreneurs proved that a college degree is unessential to success. Consider billionaire college dropouts like Bill Gates, Ralph Lauren, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Michael Dell. Or, look at Taylor Swift. The 21-year-old country pop artist didn’t need a college degree to earn $45 million and the title of 2010's 12th Most Powerful Celebrity from Forbes. Yes, Charlie Sheen didn’t go to college either, but let’s just assume that he’s an outlier.

When students graduate from college today, they have a hard time finding well-paying jobs in the private sector. After long searches, many college grads give up on landing a job in their preferred career paths. This month, The New York Times reported that young college grads are joining the public sector in droves. Young people are settling for government jobs, because, at the end of the day, they need to pay the bills.

In February, the President tried to motivate the business community to create jobs with a “neighborly” fruit cake. Unfortunately, businesses can’t magically create jobs from desserts. U.S. corporations have less buying power in the U.S. today due to the 35 percent corporate income tax rate. It is simply more profitable to do business abroad.

For example, by using completely legal income shifting strategies such as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich,” Google lowered its tax rate to just 2.4 percent and cut its taxes by $3.1 billion over the past three years. Less-educated or more business-friendly populations are increasingly taking "knowledge" jobs from the U.S. and the U.K., including teaching jobs, the Guardian reports.

More school, meager gains in knowledge

The quality of a college education is deteriorating while the price is going up. Studies prove that students show essentially no gains in learning during their first two years of college. College is so easy that most students can surf through college by spending 50 percent less time studying than previous generations and still achieve a 3.2 grade-point average.

Even Ivy League colleges are resting on their laurels and failing to live up to their reputation of greatness. “Many other university programs have caught up with them academically,” W. Kent Barnds, vice president of enrollment, communications and planning at Augustina College, told USA Today.

Potential Solutions

1. Eliminate anti-business policies. For example, slash the corporate income tax rate so that U.S. corporations will retain and create well-paying jobs in the U.S. that outweigh the costs of rising tuition and inflation.

2. Encourage innovation by making entrepreneurship culturally acceptable. Not everyone needs to go to college. Sure, Steve Jobs dropped out of college, but now we have iPads. Certain young people will excel by putting the $55,000 a year that they would have spent on tuition at a prestigious institution towards building a small business.

3. Reduce college bureaucracy. Is it necessary to have fluffy positions like the “Dean of Student Life” or the “Director of Campus Diversity?” Leave these roles to student volunteers in campus clubs and students will see the savings on their tuition bills.

What do you think? What are your ideas for preventing college degrees from becoming an unessential debt burdens on young Americans and their parents?


To America's hot-to-protest college students

Not sure about you, but I was absolutely thrilled last week when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the legislation ending most collective bargaining rights for government worker unions. The more these government employee unions get slapped around by reality, the happier I am.

I want to talk about the college students we saw protesting in Wisconsin ... but first, let me remind you that this whole stink wasn’t really about collective bargaining rights. The real foreign object in the punch bowl for the unions and for Democrats was the end of dues check-off; the end of the union’s ability to have dues deducted from member’s paychecks rather than relying on the members to pay those dues voluntarily. Some surveys have shown that over 50% of government union members would stop paying their dues if they had to actually write their own checks. Some of these union members pay more than $1000 a year? Big money.

Think about this: When 50% of union members stop paying their dues this means a lot less money in the pot to pay union leaders. Not only that … it means much less money for union leaders to donate to political parties. Last year about 46% of union members in Wisconsin voted Republican, yet the government worker unions sent 93% of all union campaign contributions to Democrats. Maybe those union members might want to stop paying dues if the contributions are going to go to a political party they don’t support! This would certainly not be good news for Democrats … and now perhaps you have a clearer understanding of just why The Community Organizer sent his “Organizing for America” troops to Wisconsin to keep things in check!

OK … now for the college students. Surely you saw them at the protests last week. For the most part their more cogent moments were spent standing in the Wisconsin Capital waving their fists in the air and screaming “Shame! Shame! Shame!” Now you gotta love a bunch of college students yelling “shame.” The benefits of higher education on display. Shame? Just how much under-age drinking, bong hits and Gawd-knows-what-else went on in Madison the night before?

I’m here to help. I’m here to speak for you and to send a message to these college students -- with your permission of course. If you agree that I have spoken for you then just forward this column by email to a favorite college student of yours. You can also print this and send it by snail-mail. The USPS could use the cash. Here we go:
To America’s hot-to-protest college students:

With all due respect … would you please just …..

Sit down and shut the hell up!

Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? It really ought to be one of the first things you study in college. Wikipedia has an entry for you to read if you want to actually learn something. Here’s your link! Dunning-Kruger is about illusory superiority … illusory because a person rates their ability much higher than it actually is. This would pretty much address your pompous positioning in Madison ... this idea that since you are now an actual college student you suddenly are imbued with some superior knowledge that other people – if they just realized how brilliant you are – should tap for the benefit of all mankind. You, and only you, had all the answers to the union vs. the taxpayers impasse in Wisconsin. Congratulations.

You really need to – like -- get a grip on your bad selves. You and the rest of your pampered protestor posse are, at best, three or four years away from your parent’s complete control. You’re still not on your own. Since leaving home you have like existed in the protected environment of a college campus where harsh punishment awaits the slightest utterance that might like hurt your feelings or cause “offense,” God forbid.

Tell you what: When you’ve like been away from your mommies for a while; when you’ve shown that you can handle the rigors of academia … and, most important, when you’ve actually like spent some time on your own like earning your own living, taking care of your own needs, filing out your own tax forms, and living free of the parental and academic umbilical cord … then maybe we’ll be willing to listen to something you have to say.

Until then, please like spare us the spectacle of your moronic moral exhibitionism. Simply put, you don’t have a clue. You know it, and we know it. We also know that your participation in these protests is seen by you as some sort of a like right of passage. Maybe you should try passing some classes instead of passing your ignorance off to the taxpayers who are shouldering the cost for a huge part of whatever education you will actually receive before the harsh, cold winds of reality hit you right in the face.

If you really want something to do … gather together the student body presidents from our country’s 100 largest universities and go over there and like fix Haiti. Do that and maybe we’ll listen. Till then … well, just go back and like read the bold print.


Poor students 'excluded' from race for top jobs in Britain

Students from poor backgrounds are being excluded from the “hour-glass” jobs market after being pushed into taking worthless qualifications at school, according to research published today. Thousands of young people are unable to compete for highly-skilled graduate positions after being “mis-sold” GCSEs and A-levels in practical subjects, it was claimed.

Elizabeth Truss, the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, said Britain’s poor social mobility record would only improve if pupils from low-income families were given a “fighting chance” of qualifying for top jobs.

In a study for the CentreForum think-tank, she told of increased polarisation in the employment market. The number of positions in middle-ranking skilled trades or clerical jobs has dropped in recent years because of improved technology and a move towards automated manufacturing, the report said.

At the same time, more jobs have been created in highly-skilled or unskilled positions, creating an “hourglass economy” in Britain, it was claimed. Since the mid-90s, more than 1m extra people have been employed in professional occupations such as the law and medicine, while the number of skilled tradesmen has dropped by 300,000.

But the report – Academic Rigour and Social Mobility – said poor students were increasingly unprepared for the changing jobs market after being pushed into taking vocational qualifications such as media studies at school and college. It meant they were only eligible for unskilled employment opportunities.

The study said: “The middle of the job market is being squeezed and in order to secure the growing number of professional, managerial and technical jobs, applicants require respected formal qualifications. “Low income students who don’t receive the ‘Morse code’ emanating from employers and top universities have been ‘mis-sold’ low quality GCSE and A-levels and find themselves on the outside track.”

The comments follow the publication of guidance earlier this year by the Russell Group, which represents 20 leading universities. It that said pupils taking large numbers of "softer" options, such as media studies, art and design, photography and business studies, would have less chance of securing places than those taking traditional academic courses.

According to figures, students from private schools are one-and-a-half times more likely to study maths at A-level than those in state education. In addition, only four-in-10 pupils in state comprehensives study foreign languages at GCSE, while the subjects are compulsory in more than eight out of 10 private schools up to the age of 16.

Mrs Truss suggested that schools should be measured on how many “Russell Group ready” students they produce. They could be ranked based on the number gaining three academic A-levels, she suggested.


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