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KevinDW78

The Damage of Government Student Loans

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I just had it pop into my head that there has been incredible damage done in this country by the granting of "help" by the government for young people to go to college. Wow, everything just snapped into place in my head! When I look around the country, and specifically at my own university, I see an endless ocean of addlepated flap-dragons who shouldn't have enough brain power to tie their shoe - yet somehow they are being handed university diplomas. There use to be a time when having gone to college MEANT something. It was a representation of intelligence and accomplishment. These days, everyone has been to college. Now we're at a point where having a bachelor's degree is practically meaningless, because everyone has one. Now you have to have a masters or doctorate to really have a decent career. How did this all happen? Why is there this liberal mentality that everyone has the right to go to college - NO THEY DON'T! Have you ever LISTENED to these people you want to give degrees to? They don't even have the ability to form coherent sentences! In all my classes, I read what other students write - and out of courses with several dozen students in them, I can count on one hand the number of students who can even form a complete thought! I am starting to think that government granting of financial aid to college students has enabled people who otherwise would not have earned the privilege of higher education to go to college - and of course the schools let them in simply because they want the money. *sigh* oh well.

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I agree with everything you said except for this point:

Now you have to have a masters or doctorate to really have a decent career.

How do you justify this position? There are plenty of college drop-outs that have been massively successful in their careers (for example, Penn from Penn & Teller, and Bill Gates).

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Have you ever LISTENED to these people you want to give degrees to?
Actually, yes. Although government loan subsidies should clearly be eliminated, that won't eliminate the problem, which is caused by (1) prior content and (2) standards. The writing problem (and the associated epistemological problem -- inability to structure knowledge) is striking, but I don't see evidence of it correlating with personal or family income. The solution really is to be serious about admission standards, but also come to grips with the fact that 50% of the college-age population is not actually suited for academic training.

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How do you justify this position?

Sorry I mean as far as getting a job (as opposed to being a self-made individual such as us Objectivists)

This comes a lot from personal experience too. As a director, I have had to pour through countless resumes in my years and conducted many many interviews. But I have found that people who have degrees can still be complete morons.

The solution really is to be serious about admission standards

I agree completely. And like I said, I think it is the fact that schools can get their hands on the government subsidizes that make them throw their standards out the window. If that money wasn't there, perhaps admission would be based more on who deserved it and would bring value and prestige to the school.

Edited by KevinDW78

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I think student loans merely worsen the problem rather than create it. I think the problem is one of an epistemological nature that is caused by people's choices and by the standards of universities and colleges. Scraping student loans won't fix that problem (though it should still be done); creating proper entry standards will.

On a side note, does anyone here think having to pass your last year of high school or study an equivalent at the university is a good enough standard? I am not sure.

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I am starting to think that government granting of financial aid to college students has enabled people who otherwise would not have earned the privilege of higher education to go to college - and of course the schools let them in simply because they want the money.

Student loans and government subsidies in general have also contributed to large increases in the cost of education. I don't have the statistics for the entire country at hand, but tuition increases at state schools in Michigan are routinely two, three and four times the overall rate of inflation. This has made it very difficult for most people to afford a college education without dipping into the trough of public money. Government subsidies like these have an insidious way of creating dependency.

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I don't have the statistics for the entire country at hand, but tuition increases at state schools in Michigan are routinely two, three and four times the overall rate of inflation.
Actually I think the tuition increases are more closely related to decreased subsidy by state legislatures, expansion of the "mission" of universities (so-called outreach), and (drum roll) increases in institutional aid to students, covered by tuition.

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There use to be a time when having gone to college MEANT something. It was a representation of intelligence and accomplishment. These days, everyone has been to college. Now we're at a point where having a bachelor's degree is practically meaningless, because everyone has one.

I don't completely agree with this. Of course there was a time when far fewer people had bachelor's degrees, which made it more impressive on a resume. But can you point to ANY time in history when having a bachelor's in mass communications EVER meant anything? :P

What universities have done to get more of that government money, is to simply create a selection of fake majors. Things like mass communications, african studies, women's studies never would have existed fifty years ago because no one would spend all that cash on something so useless. All the idiots you refer to just go into these degree programs.

This may dilute the value of a bachelor's degree in general, but it has had no effect at all on "real" majors. Engineering, medicine, law, and business do not produce idiots with degrees. If a university graduate builds a bridge that falls down, it will reflect poorly on the university. You can get away with handing out degrees in other fake majors, but schools won't do that as much for degrees that require a quantifiable level of competence.

At my university, the freshmen class in the engineering college were all complete idiots. You could tell very quickly who would survive and who wouldn't. They had two levels of classes designed to weed out the idiots. The freshman first year track would get rid of the first round. Then they had one operating systems class that would filter out a huge number of them. I believe the dropout rate in the engineering college was something like 60%. These students would either drop out completely or go into information systems (the fake version of computer science).

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This may dilute the value of a bachelor's degree in general, but it has had no effect at all on "real" majors. Engineering, medicine, law, and business do not produce idiots with degrees.
Law and medicine are irrelevant since those are not undergraduate majors. The general effect comes via general degradation of education and infiltration of studies-studies into real academics. Here are some examples of how this comes about: a requirement to take 4-6 fluff classes in e.g. "the plight of the third world"; the new cutting-edge trend towards "interdisciplinarity" which leads to obscenities such as "a feminist perspective on socially-relevant welding"; the redistribution of science resources to fund "socially-relevant" quasi-science (more competition for the same pie). And remember that in the university, quality is not what determines who gets the pie, social consequence is.

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Actually I think the tuition increases are more closely related to decreased subsidy by state legislatures, expansion of the "mission" of universities (so-called outreach), and (drum roll) increases in institutional aid to students, covered by tuition.

I don't doubt that's the case in the last couple of years. However, I was thinking more along the lines of back when subsidies given directly to the universities and indirectly through student loans, were increasing. If everyone can get funding for college, you have more money chasing the same amount of goods and that's a sure fire recipe for inflation.

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I just had it pop into my head that there has been incredible damage done in this country by the granting of "help" by the government for young people to go to college. Wow, everything just snapped into place in my head! When I look around the country, and specifically at my own university, I see an endless ocean of addlepated flap-dragons who shouldn't have enough brain power to tie their shoe - yet somehow they are being handed university diplomas. There use to be a time when having gone to college MEANT something. It was a representation of intelligence and accomplishment.

That was a different era, before universities became corporatised (as in, only being interested in money) entry scores were different, you had specific degrees, and knew what field you'd be in after you graduated, the general mentality concerning university was different too; not everyone thought themselves to be 'smart' or 'intelligent' enough to study at a university level, or not everyone could afford it. These days it's the opposite, you have a wider range of degrees and an even wider range of majors, students want to make something more of themselves so you have universities who offer them that opportuniy and there's nothing wrong with that. Btw you're not specific at all: "yet somehow they are being handed university diplomas" in regards to what? Medicine? Law? I don't think so.

How did this all happen? Why is there this liberal mentality that everyone has the right to go to college - NO THEY DON'T!

Yeah they don't have the right, students earn it by getting the entry score into their desired degree/program. So if they're there, then that must mean that they're competent and intelligent enough to be there.

Have you ever LISTENED to these people you want to give degrees to? They don't even have the ability to form coherent sentences! In all my classes, I read what other students write - and out of courses with several dozen students in them, I can count on one hand the number of students who can even form a complete thought! I am starting to think that government granting of financial aid to college students has enabled people who otherwise would not have earned the privilege of higher education to go to college - and of course the schools let them in simply because they want the money. *sigh* oh well.

You sound like you're over generalising. Is it really that bad where you are? Sure, i've come across people whom fit your description of being unable to form a complete thought, but they've always been the ones who are studying business or something Arts related (not saying that there aren't actual intelligent people in those areas).

What universities have done to get more of that government money, is to simply create a selection of fake majors. Things like mass communications, african studies, women's studies never would have existed fifty years ago because no one would spend all that cash on something so useless. All the idiots you refer to just go into these degree programs.

Wow that's harsh, referring to people whom you don't even know as 'idiots', based on what they study. I know people who study such 'useless' degrees/majors, and they pursue that path because that's what interests them, that's their passion. They're not idiots, they're very smart people whom don't have a complex about what they study.

At my university, the freshmen class in the engineering college were all complete idiots. You could tell very quickly who would survive and who wouldn't.

Really? I remember seeing what i thought were idiots in my first year engineering classes (playing of Age of Empires during a lecture, or watching a movie, anyone would assume it), yet year by year, they're still there. You're over-generalising, like the user above was.

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Average student debt has been growing over time, even adjusting for price-rise. Lenders get special protection because this debt is difficult to write off through bankruptcy. In the long run, non-payment rates will probably rise, and the tax-payer will probably pick up the tab. Recently, a group of 15 students who took loans to attend a private college have written a letter to the Department of Education, refusing to pay back their loans, asserting that they have the moral high-ground for such a refusal, and asking other students to join in.

 

For the full text of the letter, check out the debtCollective web-site declares "we owe you nothing". Some of the borrowers have their mug-shots their, along with a justification. Scroll down for the full text.

 

This tale repeats across the centuries. One finds debtor revolts in Rome, anger at Jewish money-lenders, Greek debtors telling German creditors to suck an egg, and now this. 

 

For starters, the government needs to get out of the student-loan business: no lending and no guaranteeing. Stop helping people go through college. Statistics show that average income is closely correlated with education-level. If a private lender wants to evaluate the course a student intends to pursue, and wants to lend money on that basis... or using any parameters they like, that's good and fine. The government has no business lending tax-payer money for this purpose. [unfortunately education is political apple-pie; both Republicans and Democrats think it is a good thing.]

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For starters, the government needs to get out of the student-loan business: no lending and no guaranteeing.

I don't think this is just starters, I think it's everything. The value/price disparity for "higher" education is mind boggling. The free government money has over decades built a complicated education services system that no young adult could be expected to understand, or even begin to look at or question. Every corner of the culture tells kids to "go to college, get an education." With that heavy influence behind him, a high school graduate can easily stack up tens of thousands of dollars of debt within a year or two, all by himself by filling out a few forms -- and no adult anywhere can stop him. 

 

It's not surprising that the backlash to all of this follows along the "profits bad" crap seen everywhere else, instead of attacking a government which has ironically stopped proper profits and competition from preventing this kind of system to develop in the first place. Yeah, these former students are dumbos, but if I'm picking one or the other, more blame goes to the system, and their backlash has legitimacy.

 

Edit: And this is without getting into the corresponding junk "degrees" which provide virtually zero value in exchange for all of this inflated price debt -- which again, a high school grad is probably going to understand nothing about.

Edited by JASKN

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I just overheard this morning:

"Yeah, Meghan has had trouble finding a job. She has an English degree... prospects aren't that great turns out. She's got about $120 grand to repay, so..."

My thought was:

"And, that's never getting paid."

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$120K ! That's huge, given that 30K is more in line with the average. Chances are her parents have guaranteed to loan as well. 

Surveys and stats show that an average college grad earns about $20K per year more than someone who only did high-school. This is likely to be mostly correlation, and less causation. Still, this is a common message. And, it's easy to multiply that across 30 or 40 years of work and say that a college degree brings in 500K or more of extra life-time earnings. 

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I also thought it was huge. But, she and her family are a good example of what's wrong with this system.

 

I think the average earning stats are going to change soon, given the current value/price trajectory. Part of the "earning more" is likely employer reluctance to hire and promote in the absence of a degree. This has got to be only precedent, given how little real value is earned in most degree programs, and especially considering employers' needs to provide extra "real" training once they hire. One of my relatives has made it to the final-two candidate spot at least five times when applying for a head of marketing position. Every time, the spot was given to the candidate with the degree, despite my relative's 20 years of experience. To me, that's nuts, and if it's widespread it's only a matter of time before that kind of attitude has to change.

 

If you take a few key professions out of the mix -- say law, technology, and medicine -- and if you look at what real skills/knowledge are being acquired by students in degree programs, and if you consider that almost everything learned in college is available for free online, and then still consider how long college grads work in low-paying jobs anyway... Dollars spent on college usually look like dollars wasted, to me.

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$120K ! That's huge, given that 30K is more in line with the average. Chances are her parents have guaranteed to loan as well. 

Surveys and stats show that an average college grad earns about $20K per year more than someone who only did high-school. This is likely to be mostly correlation, and less causation. Still, this is a common message. And, it's easy to multiply that across 30 or 40 years of work and say that a college degree brings in 500K or more of extra life-time earnings.

I'd love to see the same stat, but this time comparing only people with the same IQ and high school grades.

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I'd love to see the same stat, but this time comparing only people with the same IQ and high school grades.

Google turned up this.

Someone once did a study of people who had attended Ivy League schools, and compared them to people who had been admitted to Ivy League schools and then attended some other school. The gap between the earnings of these two groups was much smaller than the gap between Ivy grads and grads from other top colleges. It is analogous because the input (students) is a bigger factor than the process (college).

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On 2/7/2008 at 1:49 PM, KevinDW78 said:

I am starting to think that government granting of financial aid to college students has enabled people who otherwise would not have earned the privilege of higher education to go to college.

I totally disagree with this statement because just because one person does not have the financial resources to attend university or even a community college does not mean that they do not have the education and preparation. In one point I understand what you are implying, there are lots of people that attend college because of financial aids and they barely graduated from high school, but that does not mean that the government should stop giving financial aids. In my opinion, the government should ask permission from the school that the students graduated or colleges that students are trying to enter for their academic performance in order for them to receive government help. The government should also utilize the parents' tax returns because there are people that I know of that receive financial aids and his/her parents have a decent salary that could afford the college expenses. 

Edited by Luis Enrique Colón

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