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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Being lucky enough to be born smart might be more important than if you attend college

This is about the 1000th article I have seen that mixes up correlation with cause and effect as it relates to the value of college.

They never try to compare comparable subsets (with IQs that are similar) when they make the fallacious argument that college grads make more money than high school dropouts and therefore it is a good investment.

They always forget to account for the average difference in IQs for college grads compared to non college grads.  I can tell you that one factor that always seems to pay off is to be lucky enough to be born smart.  A degree in Sociology is not going to cure this challenge if you weren't so lucky.

But alas, if this writer did attend the local U, he must have been sleeping during his Logic class.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Which Class Do I Take?

How about this for a college decision process?  Study the harder subject. 

You can take a class in Gender Studies where the prof awards 90% A’s or a class in Advanced Engineering Mathematics where only 20% of the students earn an A. In which class should you enroll?

You can take a class in Organic Chemistry where few students receive an A and many do not even complete the class. Or you can take a late afternoon class in Volleyball.  Nobody flunks Volleyball.  So in which class do you enroll? 

I will say it now; always take the harder class. Set aside the grade and focus on what you are going to learn.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Using equity to fund college instead of loans.

Interesting article about the antiquated system we have for funding college today.

At least with the federal home loan programs, the system attempts to qualify their borrowers, such that a borrower has a chance of not defaulting.

But this kind of evaluation is not even a consideration  in the college student loan programs.  It doesn't matter if you study petroleum engineering or sociology - you can borrow the same amount. And yet the job and income prospect for the two majors are obviously quite different.

This article suggests an equity-like program where an investor funds college in exchange for a part of the future income stream of the student. Conceptually it might work well, but if it is just another government program you can be assured that it will bring in a whole new set of subsidies. Plus the college establishment hates the idea that the petroleum engineering student might get a better deal than the sociology major.

Monday, April 7, 2014

We are not against college

Here is what we have been saying for years: “We are not against college but question many of the long held assumptions about it. We think too many attend, too much is spent on it and that students are under the mistaken belief that all college degrees bestow the same benefits. And when students, parents and governments borrow recklessly to finance it, we have a huge problem.”

This article from the Economist GETS IT! YES!!

College can be valuable – at the right price and if one studies subjects that the market place demands and needs.

The market does not need any more college graduates with degrees in Gender Studies, Sociology, Psychology, English and History. But the market is demanding grads in Electrical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, and Network Security.

This author is one of the few that makes three great points:

       1) Not all college education bestows the same benefits.
       2)  If one graduates with substantial student debt, the individual is frequently reducing her opportunities rather than expanding them.

      3)  College grads on average have higher IQs than high school drop outs. So the figures that compare the relative financial performance of the two groups should adjust for relative potential and not attribute all the extra earnings to college.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why have we combined minor league football with a college education?

With all the talk about unionizing college athletes last week, I question why we ever combined sports and education in college.  I am not talking about intramural sports nor club sports where the participants generally pay their own way.  I am talking about how we have combined minor league NFL and NBA programs with college. For most of us that is the way it has always been.

Granted, a few student athletes get a great education.  But this seems to be the exception.  Instead the institutions work at perpetuating the myth of the “student athlete” and the only goal is to find a way for the star player to get the minimum passing grade in his classes (which frequently are on a par with high school) and then coddle the athlete so he can retain his athletic eligibility. 

College Football and Basketball are big money – a $16 billion a year business.  And every time you have big money, the temptation is to cheat for a bigger share of the pie.

Why not move college sports into separate minor league teams that are loosely affiliated with colleges?  The business  would receive no financial support and receive none of the revenues of the minor league franchises. That way colleges could concentrate on delivering a great education at a competitive price (I know – you never hear about this second criterion.)

This story about a college football player’s A- final term paper might cause you to question the system we have created.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What is she trying to achieve?

As Charlie Rose introduces Drew Faust, President of Harvard, he says: “In her installation address, she said: ‘A university is not about results in the next quarter, it is not even about what the student has become by graduation. It is about learning that molds a lifetime, learning that transmits the heritage of millennia, learning that shapes the future.’”

Here is my question:  How in the heck do we know if the President is achieving her goals?  How would we know if she is an utter failure or a grand success at her stated mission?  Do we have to wait until the President and we are dead?

It is a noble sounding mission statement.  But is it possible that it is pure puff? Pure BS?

Maybe we should state the goals and the mission of the university in more down to earth words. Perhaps we should express it in simple language such that when the President of Harvard is failing we will know it and we can replace her. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Drunken Party at UMass Results in Injuries

"Police arrested 73 people at a University of Massachusetts at Amherst Pre-St Patrick's Day party in which unruly students threw beer cans, bottles and snowballs at authorities, leaving four officers with minor injuries."

As we debate the pros and cons of college, it is important to remember that substantial use of alcohol is frequently at the core of the experience.  

I am not a teetotaler, but can we go back to the basics?  What is the purpose of college?  In my mind, it is to prepare young adults to find jobs that will allow them to contribute to the economy.  And prepare these students at a reasonable cost.  

A party here and there is no big deal, but when regular drunkenness becomes established as the norm, then one must question how well we are achieving our primary goal.  

I don't think that enough colleges today are providing the important lessons and when you compound that problem with skyrocketing tuition fees, the whole institution needs to be rethought.