Monday, March 26, 2012

College education economics

For previous generations, the dream of a college education for their children was a primary motivation. Gaining access to the teachings of higher learning is certainly a laudable objective. While this goal still holds true, there is a systemic disconnect from attending institutions that cost a king’s ransom and having marketable skills to earn a generous income in the post industrial economy. When government employment becomes the most sought after occupation, the economic future of the country sinks into deep decline. The old correlation with the higher your education, the greater your income, is no more.

Proof for such a conclusion is provided by the following list, Shocking Facts About Student Debt And The Great College Education Scam.

1) Americans now owe more than $875 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards

2) Since 1982, the cost of medical care in the United States has gone up over 200% but that is nothing compared to the cost of college tuition which has gone up by more than 400%

3) The unemployment rate for college graduates under the age of 25 is over 9%

4) There are about two million recent college graduates that are currently unemployed

5) There are about two million recent college graduates that are currently unemployed

6) In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees

7) The Project on Student Debt estimates that 206,000 Americans graduated from college with more than $40,000 in student loan debt during 2008

8) In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail sales persons have a college degree

9) Total student loan debt in the United States is now increasing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second

10) Total student loan debt in the United States is now increasing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second

11) There are 365,000 cashiers in the United States today that have college degrees

12) Starting salaries for college graduates across the United States are down in 2010

In 1992, there were 5.1 million "underemployed" college graduates in the United States. In 2008, there were 17 million "underemployed" college graduates in the United States

13) In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees

14) Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor's degree within four years

15) According to a recent survey by Twentysomething Inc., a staggering 85 percent of college seniors planned to move back home after graduation last May

The incurring debt that saddles students is unsustainable. The Business Insider reports in The $100 Billion Student Debt Bubble May Finally Blow, "As it stands, no matter how deep borrowers find themselves buried in student loan debt, they can't discharge it in bankruptcy court – all because it doesn't qualify as an "undue hardship." As the economy struggles and minimum wage employment becomes the norm, how can attending college retain its glow?

The cost of college is not uniform. The College Board reports,
"In 2011-12, 44 percent of all full-time undergraduate college students attend a four-year college that has published charges of less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees.

At the other end of the spectrum, approximately 28 percent of full-time private nonprofit four-year college students are enrolled in institutions charging $36,000 or more yearly in tuition and fees."

The value of attending a prestigious private institution especially has a real harsh impact, if student loans are necessary to pay for that experience. "College tuition increases about 8 percent annually or doubles about every nine years, according to" The continual increase in college costs is the persistent dilemma that challenges the ultimate benefit of attending university.

America has become a society for elites. The embodiment of success, sold under the mantra of achieving degrees of higher learning, no longer works. For all the "so called" professionals that act as gatekeepers for the establishment, the rewards from the system flow, as long as their loyalty, to the corporatist institutions remains. However, for all the ordinary college graduates that seek a better life through hard work, the prospect of entering the inner circles of the "golden parachute" is elusive.

Earning your way to the top may motivate the most competitive of type A personalities, but the survival of the most ruthless is no standard for a free society. The wisdom that college is supposed to share is not valued much in global business.

Some will conclude that only practical disciplines like engineering, accounting or medicine have pragmatic worth. Nevertheless, the systematic dismantling of the domestic economy is intrinsically responsible for the lost opportunities that can benefit from a work force of college graduates. Look no further than to the study of law for a primary reason for the sharp delineation in the lower ing of living standards.

The economics of college do not work for most students because the costs of the educational electives are void of entrepreneurial content. Transacting business commerce is still the fundamental activity in earning a living. As with any economic deal, both parties need to come away from the undertaking with a sense of satisfaction. Where is the gratification from flipping burgers in order to make your student loan payment?

The knowledge gained from the university exposure of classic studies is invaluable in the life of any adult. However, the cruel costs many colleges charge for that experience, have more to do with inflated institutional egos, than teaching developing intellectual minds.

As long as college graduates are prime victims of declining middle class prospects, the indebtedness of tuition bills will burden their futures. The solution is to grow a domestic economy based upon independence in manufacturing and self-sufficiency. Attending college on loans is a very bad decision. The money spent for a useless degree is better spent on buying or starting a business.


University Under Fire For Forcing Students to Choose Between Celebrating Religious Holidays & Going to Class

Students and faculty who embrace personal faith at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, are in for some tough decisions when it comes to observing faith-based holidays that fall during school hours: Either attend school and forget observance of religious holidays or skip school and risk missing important work and information.

The public university has decided to ditch days off on these special days (aside from Christmas, causing some to charge anti-Jewish bias), leaving students and faculty, alike, with the aforementioned dilemma. Earlier this month, The Jewish Week reported:

"To hear some parents, students and faculty members tell it, Stony Brook University’s new academic calendar in September is withdrawing the “welcome” mat to Jewish students. [...]"

To ensure that some religions are not given preferential treatment, he said, the university is discarding the previously prepared calendar for next year and replacing it with one that keeps school open on Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Holy Week. The discarded calendar had the spring vacation coincide with Passover and Holy Week, wherever possible; the new calendar is crafted to have the spring break divide the second semester in half, no matter when Passover and Holy Week occur. As a result, the break next year occurs one week before the holidays.

Arthur Shertzer, president of United University Professions, which represents 2,500 faculty and staff, said he is mystified by the university’s actions. “The logic is that if we celebrate no one, we honor everyone,” he said.

Now, a debate is heating up both on the Stony Brook University campus and off of it. Norman Goodman, a sociology professor at the university, for one, didn’t hold his opinions back on the matter when asked to weigh in:

“It stinks. It was done without any input except from the administration — and it was done in secret,” he said. “It does not take into account the variety of needs of faculty and students, and it shows no respect for religion. I’m concerned that fellow faculty members and students who are observant will be put at an unnecessary disadvantage.”

But the school’s vice-provost, Dr. Charles Robbins, defended the decision as an element that would bring increased fairness to the entire student body. He also pledged that students who did take off for religious holidays would not be penalized for practicing their beliefs, going on to say that officials will ”…make sure that no exams or papers are due on these religious holidays.”

“Our goal is to maximize available class time for all of our students and to really make a calendar that’s predictable and standardized that makes the most sense academically,” Robbins said.

In a follow-up article, also published in Jewish Week, Robbins penned his own response to the original pieces, calling it “rife with inaccuracies.” He wrote, in part:

"Indeed, the need to redesign Stony Brook’s academic calendar became obvious after the university’s administration received numerous complaints in the Spring 2011 semester when there was only one week between the end of classes and finals due to spring break being scheduled to coincide with Holy Week. The calendar was redesigned to provide maximum instruction time for students in a way that did not favor or punish any religious groups. Stony Brook has always been respectful of all religions, and we embrace and celebrate our diversity. [...]

The bottom line is that religious observance is, and must always be, a personal choice, not an institutional mandate."

Robbins claims that Christmas is off due to a union contract provision.


Schools are 'last bastion' of traditional values in Britain

Feeble though they are

Schools are the "last bastions" of traditional values in a culture where children are increasingly faced with poor role models, school leaders said today.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said that today's youngsters need to be taught to sort out their differences in a "rational and restrained" way.

At the same time they are surrounded by TV programmes, such as soaps, that show people constantly shouting at each other and reality shows that suggest there are "quick" ways to become successful.

Speaking at ASCL's annual conference in Birmingham, general secretary Brian Lightman said: "Children are faced with a lot of different role models these days, not all of which are the most positive. They see examples on TV, in celebrity culture, of people not speaking the right way and not interacting in a way we would expect people to.

"In many ways schools are the last bastions of those traditional values. "We do assert old fashioned standards of discipline and we do that unashamedly because we do see it as our job to educate children in that way."

He said that soap operas show "people shouting at each other, using very, very emotive language, everything's very dramatic, histrionic."

Schools try to teach pupils to "understand people's differences in a much more rational and perhaps restrained way," Mr Lightman added.

In her speech to the conference, ASCL president Joan McVittie suggested that schools are teaching many pupils good values because they are not learning them at home. "Many young people learn their values in schools," she said.

"Sadly some of their parents are unable to provide guidance and often the values provided by their peer groups takes precedence over all else. "This is a huge responsibility for all of us and top of the responsibility of educating.

"It is a great deal to ask of us, and not neatly pinned down and packaged in sound bites and performance tables. "And yet this is what we constantly try to do and for which - perhaps the most important part of our job - we gain so little credit."

She added: "So not only do we have to teach about values and responsibility; we have to try and understand the context in which our young people are living and help them back on to the right path when they fall by the wayside."

Mrs McVittie raised concerns that TV talent or reality shows promote a "quick fix" in terms of how to be successful.

"We've run an assembly looking at statistics of how many people are successful on the X Factor and then at the same time running the statistics on the relationship between attendance in school, how that impacts on overall GCSE results, and how that then leads on to earning power later on in life.

"We try to work students through the fact that, actually, it's mostly through hard work that you're successful and attain the things that you need. "Very few people are actually able to walk on to the X Factor and achieve that instant success."

As well as running assemblies on values, many schools also teach lessons where pupils work through various scenarios and discuss how they would respond to them.

Mrs McVittie, who is headteacher of Woodside High School in Wood Green, north London, close to where rioting took place last summer, said: "When we talk to our students about rights and responsibilities, what they have to remember is that their rights are not entitled to override those of everybody else - they have a responsibility to think of other people."

Mr Lightman said pupils have to learn that sometimes they have to "restrain your feelings, that you can't just sound off every time you're a little bit angry".

"I think that these things are desperately important in terms of employability skills. Because you're going to have to work with all kinds of people, to learn how to work with people who you may not want to have as your best friend."

In her speech, Mrs McVittie told delegates she had experienced behaviour similar to that seen in last summer's riots when she worked in Moss Side, Manchester, in the 1980s.

"The 2011 riots had a very different feel to them," she said. "Watching television and seeing young adults looting and carrying home their spoils made me wonder what has happened in our society."

She added: "I was worried in case my own students had been caught up - perhaps affected by peer pressure and carried away with the intoxicating excitement of the moment.

"Fortunately I discovered that none of my students had taken part. The local area was devastated and the impact mostly on our young people had been to frighten them."

Mrs McVittie also warned that it has become "fashionable to criticise school and college leaders for all the ills in society".

"This is wearing and risky: if we aren't careful it will drive good people out of the profession." Mrs McVittie said there have been "many times" that she has almost walked away from teaching because of such criticism. "We must support our colleagues, particularly when they are experiencing hard times," she said.

Mrs McVittie also told delegates: "Nothing short of walking on water is expected of us on a daily basis.

"Expectations - whether they be from the Government, the media or the Chief Inspector - have never been higher. And the price of failure has never been greater.

"And yet... school leaders are right up there with doctors at the top of the list of people trusted by the public, while our political masters languish at the bottom with estate agents and bankers."


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