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Monday, November 8, 2010

The “for-profit” colleges are not the only culprits

This is the story in the Sacramento area of the unintended consequences of the government intervention and subsidization of college. Our politicians decided that more college was the answer for our society. So they made it easier via government subsidized debt for every kid to achieve this “dream”. As if attending college is the goal in itself.

College degrees by themselves are useless; it is the competitive advantage that the educations bestow - the secondary impacts that may or may not make the difference.

Here is the answer. Let’s require all schools (both private and public) to publish the wages and unemployment rates of their graduates. This after all is the result we are seeking - higher wages for a lower investment in education. It is not hard to find out what a college education cost, but it is virtually impossible to see the end product of this “investment”.

The state and federal subsidies have totally distorted the post-high school education market. Most kids don’t care about debt - especially when they are told by “adults” that it is a good deal. You have kids taking out big loans to major in “Office Skills”. $20,000 later they are in deep doodoo.

The “for-profit” colleges are not the only culprits here. Physical Education majors at Duke are not earning much of a return on their education either.

The answer is simple. Require colleges to collect and report the starting salaries for the first five years after graduation. And let’s remove all subsidies from after high school education. Don’t subsidize college loans; don’t subsidize public colleges. Most importantly let’s require the colleges to report with enough granularity down to what students are earning based on what they majored in.

A four-year degree in “Ehtnomusicology” is not a better investment than a one year certificate program in “Medical Assistant” studies. There are far too many ways to waste one’s youth and one’s future financial freedom by studying a subject that has absolutely no customers.

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