12 thoughts on “Ah, College

  1. Nah, you’d have gotten in. The grade inflation has gotten to the point where if you’re breathing and almost sentient you’ll get at least a B+
    The problem comes in where I get them in college and they’ve got the same set of expectations: “I was here half the time, what’s up with this F?”
    I went through three degrees without a single loan. My parents weren’t rich but they were able to help me a bit. My first term in college was less than $1,000 for tuition and room and board hadn’t started to spiral. After that, I taught for tuition in my master’s and doctorate on top of other jobs to keep myself afloat. It wasn’t easy, but it was possible.
    I see students today who are now working two 40 hour a week jobs just to keep the debt down on top of their college work. They’re the ones who I admire for their work effort but who tick me off when they keep missing assignments and keep falling asleep in class. Kind of a sad trade off…

  2. Bachelor’s degree, hell. I’ve got a Master’s, and the most I’ve ever been paid at a job was $30,500.
    And the degree sure ain’t helping me get a job now. Employers see “Master’s degree” and they tell me I’m overqualified. Like hell I’m overqualified. They don’t even look at my work history now.
    But back on-topic, yeah, college is way, way, way too expensive. I get the feeling the tuition is being over-inflated, either to pad some people’s pockets or to keep more people out of college.

  3. Could not save for my kids’ education, so now my daughter and I both carry loans, she’s busting her ass, I’m working two jobs and when she’s done next August, she’ll be lucky to find anything in her field because all she’ll have is a bachelor’s. But I don’t regret it and I’m not angry. People have always had to do what was necessary to get an education, and she’s a better person for it. Getting through college without a family’s help is next to impossible and I was happy to do my part. BTW, I don’t have a degree. I couldn’t afford it. Maybe I’ll be one of those old ladies who finally gets her degree at age 110.

  4. Scott, Lord God I hate the Overqualified thing. I get that and always think, “Look, just exploit me. I’m asking you to. Please.”
    My other favorite when I first graduated was being told I didn’t have enough experience. So hire me so I can GET SOME. Jeebus.

  5. A few comments on tuition: please, please, please, do not tar all colleges with the same brush. Yes, if you look at average tuition rates across the whole college spectrum, it looks awful. But keep in mind, the really big name institutions can afford to hike their rates enormously because they know they’ll still get the enrollment. But the state schools, the small liberal arts colleges, the community colleges–they’re all faced with a horrible catch-22 right now.
    Let me offer a case study: a small community college, its funding coming from a variety of sources (about 60% from local property tax revenue from a mill levy established when the college was created, another 20% or so from the state, and the rest from tuition). Currently, our state is facing a half-billion dollar shortfall in its budget. The state has this nasty habit of passing constitutional amendments protecting funding for a varity of state budget pots–K12 education, roads and bridges–and also has a variety of federal mandates (medicare and the like). The only pot that isn’t protected right now? Yep, higher education. So this year’s budget–the budget the college is *currently* operating on, with about 5 months left–was cut by 10% already by the state leg. The budget for next year is anticipated to be worse.
    But wait, you say, only about 20% of the college budget comes from the state–what’s the big deal? Well, look at the biggest source of revenue: property taxes. Anybody checked out property tax valuations lately, in the midst of this enormous real estate crisis? The college is looking at nearly catastrophic drops in property tax revenue.
    So what are these kinds of colleges left with? If they raise their tuition, they get hammered in the press and in public opinion, not to mention the possibility of pricing themselves out of the market. But if they *don’t* raise tuition, how do they deal with 10%, 15%, 20% cuts in their revenue?
    Oh, yeah, cut expenses. I’m gonna cut the case study crap right now. I just got a new chair for my office. It’s the first new chair I’ve had in the 15 years I’ve been working at my college. I have a two-year-old computer, for a job that depends almost entirely on heavy-duty computing power. I have gotten a cost of living raise the past two years, and nothing more. Before that, I was lucky to get 1% above CoL. Our office has cut a position in the last year, and the college as a whole cut nearly 30 positions the year before that in a retirement buyout.
    At the same time, the really expensive stuff–maintenance of current buildings, costs of heating, cooling and electricity, and most important, health care for our employees–has been going up. The college has been cutting health care benefits every year. We used to have a really, really nice plan, but now we’re down to skin-and-bones HMO coverage for employees, and family coverage costs more–a lot more.
    Meanwhile, expectations for what we provide are going up. Students come in expecting high tech classrooms, which cost money to install, and more money to maintain. Not to mention training for instructors. We have to constantly retool to offer programs that meet current needs–high tech equipment for the health care programs alone is killing us.
    Okay, I’ll end the rant on that subject here. I think you get my point. We have been doing more with less for the past twenty years. My state currently ranks 48th in state spending on higher education, so we’re probably worse off than most, but I don’t think any state is doing all that hot right now. It’s frakkin’ depressing.
    As far as the qualifications thing goes, the really sad thing is the days of starting in the stockroom and working your way up are over. I think that’s the worst thing about our situation right now. My brother-in-law doesn’t have a college degree, yet he’s fairly high up in an insurance company, managing a team of disaster specialists. He couldn’t possible get that job now, but he got it because he’s smart, capable, and he started at the bottom and proved himself year after year. There are an awful lot of people who don’t do well in the college environment who could have very productive careers if given that kind of option. But this nation seems to have turned against that idea. It’s a shame.
    And I say that as a big fan of higher education. Sorry for the length, but this is (obviously) a hot button with me. I’ve been spending most of the last two weeks providing data for people fighting to keep our funding from getting slashed to the bone, and I’m tired. Dead tired.

  6. I’m going to finally get my Masters (yes, even at my advanced age of decrepitude) pretty much just so I can make a higher salary here where I work, or (plan B).
    However, I wouldn’t be able to do it at all except that since I work here, most of my fees and tuition are paid by the university. It’s a good perk.
    just fyi, this institution now offers a guaranteed tuition program for low-income students. I think more state schools are now offering this, which is a good thing.

  7. state college bachelor degrees should be like high school. free. same for TRADE schools. this is maybe the biggest destruction of the middle class.

  8. If state colleges didn’t require tuition, then only the wealthiest states could afford to educate their residents and the already insidious “brain drain” that poorer states suffer would increase.
    The wealthiest universities in the nation are currently struggling for operating funding. If they are having trouble, then how do you think smaller places are doing?
    Plus, the inference is that a state university education is not worth paying for or are somehow interchangeable with any other state university. That’s bullshit. It depends completely on the field of study, faculty, the university’s resources and sometimes its location. People from all over the world come to my state university to study with four or five of our faculty members. Two of our programs (both with undergraduate degree programs) are considered the best of their kind in the country.
    And the same is true elsewhere.

  9. I’ve got a 17 year old who has no intrest whatsoever in college and is considering trade school, which apparently cost as much or more as 2 year community colleges. My 14 year old just informed me that she wants to go to the U of W in Madison and study engineering. I’m still paying off massive loans for my Masters and don’t think we can qualify for any loans on their behalf.
    My parents just assumed my sister and I would go to college and perhaps further. I just assume that my kids probably won’t, barring some sort of miracle or new approach to paying for an education.

  10. Try having two Master’s Degrees (in disparate fields) and a JD. Talking about “overqualified.” Fortunately, I’ve found three employers willing to exploit me. So long as I accept part-time work forevah!
    And when I got my BA I realized Bachelor’s degrees were what a high school diploma was for my father’s generation (he only went to college because of the GI Bill). A Master’s=BA/BS of yore. Of course, this is as yet unrecognized. A PhD? Same as it ever was: training for academia, and nothing more. I’m overqualified enough, thanks…

  11. i’ll have to ask what my Phd cousin actually does. i know he is watching global atmospheric diisruption. we’re screewed.

  12. I skipped all that high-fallutin’ upscaled edumacation to be a rockstar, and I find I’m pretty parallel job-wise with most of the bachelors degree holders I know and some of the bigger fish.
    I guess that makes my high school diploma the third grade education of my father’s generation.
    I might actually believe that if certain degree-holders I know weren’t so entirely stupid..

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