Higher education is about to get a wake-up call

That’s according to Andrew Gillen.  If you have children or grandchildren who’ll be attending college or university, his report is essential reading.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

In November, the Department of Education released post graduate earnings and debt data broken down by college program — which will have a revolutionary impact on higher education. Students (and policymakers) can now get accurate information about how much recent graduates earned by college and degree (e.g., a Bachelor’s in Physics from Ohio State University).

While the data isn’t perfect (it only includes students who received federal financial aid and so far only lists earnings one year after graduation), the data is complete enough to generate two tsunamis that will hit higher education in rapid succession.

One tsunami is enhanced accountability for the hundreds of billions of dollars federal, state, and local governments provide to colleges each year — funds that have historically flowed regardless of graduates’ labor market outcomes … there are about 1 million graduates each year who received federal financial aid to attend a college program that does not pass a reasonable debt-to-income test.

Consider the field of law. For every professional law school program that passes GEE, there are eight that fail. Moreover, only 14% of students graduated from programs that would pass, whereas 69% of law students graduated from programs that would fail. Why should state and federal governments continue funding these programs?

But the second tsunami bearing down on higher education will be even bigger — informed choice on the part of students and parents.

For years we’ve asked students to make one of life’s most important decisions essentially blindfolded. We’ve told them a college degree is the surest path to success but have given them little guidance on where to go to college or what major to choose once they get there. As a result, too many students leave with a mountain of debt and a credential that isn’t worth much on the labor market. The new data will help equip students — and their parents — with the information necessary to avoid these costly mistakes in several ways.

There’s more at the link.

This is long overdue.  I’ve long since lost count of the number of university students who graduate with degrees in subjects like ethnic, or environmental, or black, or latino, or asian, or feminist studies.  (Don’t talk to me about underwater basket-weaving!)  One finds them as baristas in coffee shops, or burger-flippers at fast food joints, or whatever.  They owe tens of thousands of dollars in study loans, and expect you and I (the taxpayer) to “bail them out” by paying that debt for them.  I have neither sympathy for, nor patience with them.

At least now (if they’re doing their job) parents and grandparents will be able to show their kids the real financial consequences of choosing a no-future-in-it degree – and, one hopes, refusing to fund anything along those lines, including providing accommodation and food if their offspring insist on wasting their higher education on such crap.  Tough love?  Sure it is – but it’s also real love, rather than the fake indulgence that allows kids to end up broke and unemployable.

Peter

9 comments

  1. I have even tougher love. If you aren’t smart enough to understand this on your own *before* embarking on a college degree, you should *not* be going to college at all.

  2. CDH x’s 2

    Peter,

    With all due respect, you seem to be acting upon the assumption that the problem is a dearth of information. “If only they knew, if only we had told them.”

    That reminds me of the poor pitiful bleat from a mediot (talking head) standing on an overpass during the hurricane- induced flooding, talking about the wandering crowds of cradle-to-grave sluggards: “Can’t someone tell them which way to go…”

    Any parent who endorses sending their offspring, and any adult who goes (they are adults after all, just like many in gardens of stone were), are complicit in advancing the cause of the fully matured communist indoctrination system.

    You will never regain your culture when you send them for instruction, to those who seek your demise.

  3. Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has been warning of the Education Bubble for quite a while now.

    Makes me glad my son is pursuing CNC machining as a career option.

  4. I graduated high school in 1969, I knew I wanted to go into engineering (Dad was an engineer so I knew what I was getting into). My guidance counselor was basically useless. She wanted me to go to prestigious, private engineering school, but the cost was out of our family’s budget. No real help on scholarships or grants (Dad made too much money) so a private loan was the only route to afford the recommended school. Fortunately, between myself, and with help form my folks, I decided to attend the local in-state university. With a couple of sojourns to work as a technician, I graduated with a BS in engineering and no debt. Would I have made more money in the first few years with a degree from a well-known university, yes. However, after a few years, the difference was minimal, and the lack of debt more than made up for it.

    We used to have a standing joke that the physics majors asked “Why?” The engineering majors asked “How?” and the humanities majors asked “Do you want fires with that?”

  5. As I understand this snippet, there are quite a few who do not go into grievance studies or what I would call hobbyist studies (anything where you need to be either one of the top 1% in the field or independently wealthy to actually survive working in the field) but are let down by the program they thought would be serious.

    Honestly, what I would do is make student loans (from now on, not back dating) used to get such a useless degree non enforceable.

  6. @MadMcAl:

    Make the educational institution receiving the funds a co-signer on the loan, of the part they receive. They’re the real immediate beneficiaries of a student loan. The student is potentially a beneficiary, but it’s the college itself that is consuming those funds right now.

    Put them on the hook in case the student goes completely belly-up on the federal loan, and there will be a sudden resurgence in the appreciation of rigorous academic work, both on the part of the university and the student.

  7. Well, it’s a self perpetuating liberal racket is what it is. We see endless pandering to get a degree and no degree = garbage adult. We see the dearth of skilled trades as being seen as anything but knuckle dragging white redneck jobs. We don’t see anyone (Even when I graduated HS in 1999) really putting up the charts of what jobs can be expected to make, where in conjunction with real world things like how much it costs to live in a large city vs a small town and crunching numbers that may show that yes big city may pay you more but it’s more than offset by the increased cost of living. That real world stuff is never or seldom discussed. When I graduated it was only a select few of the old guard educators that would even be bold enough to mention things like this. (As they were close to retirement or had enough seniority they were untouchable) I had exactly 2 HS teachers that would try to open the eyes of students that stated they were going to get a degree in something frivolous. Hey you maaaay want to have a back up plan there or you’re going to have a degree you’re upside down in, there are no jobs for and you won’t make money at it to pay back your loan if you do. Those teachers were tagged as mean. Mind you what was not mentioned was that those teachers said sure, get that degree in something fun but also have a degree in something that will pay the bills till you find a job in the fun degree that will…pay the bills.

  8. Traditional colleges have gotten away with charging whatever they wish because their income is backed by the taxpayers in the form of the student loan. Yes, make them cosigners to the students debt! Then you you see a change!!
    The article referenced about MBA programs at Boston University is a case in point. Boston University MBA applicants are down by 18% so they roll out an online degree at half the cost of the full time degree. The changes are coming, slowly but surely. When a college can charge over $70,000.00 per year (so many do!) there will be fewer applicants. Plus the demographics are declining of college applicants anyway, due to fewer students in the pipeline.

    The high school counselors who urge their students to sign up for massive debt should be held accountable as well. How about the many students who fail to complete the degree, and still have to pay back the huge loans?
    The bubble is close to bursting soon, in my opinion.

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