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Monday, May 20, 2013

Johnny graduates from college

Are you excited about attending nephew Johnny’s college graduation?  He was an average high school student.  His parents were so pleased when he attended the local U rather than getting a job or entering a life of crime.  

            He has lived at home for the last six years and finally graduated with a degree in Physical Education.  He got an A in over half of his Physical Education classes (magna cum laude). Johnny never asked if any PE majors were actually getting jobs upon graduation. Guess what? Not one of his fellow grads is getting a job offer (except those drafted into the NFL or NBA).

By the way, Johnny now has $50,000 in college loans, and his parents have guaranteed most of them. The entire family is screwed (although Johnny does know the proper technique for a sit-up).

Poor Johnny – he was brainwashed from the get-go that he was a failure if he didn't attend and graduate from college. 

Maybe next time (Generation Z), we can give Johnny's younger brothers and sisters a few more practical options.  

MOOC’s (Massive, Open, Online Courses) are the wave of the future

MOOC’s (Massive, Open, Online Courses) are the wave of the future.  Here’s an interesting article from the New Yorker. 

The teachers unions in many of our universities will hate the notion.  They would prefer the cushy lecture to a dozen coeds out on the campus “park”.  Who wouldn't want to continue this pleasant job.

Let’s fundamentally change how we educate Americans post high school (I am not opposed to changing how we educate those in K-12 either.)  Let’s start by:

1    1)      Remove the subsidies for post-secondary education (government guaranteed loans, state tax revenues, and the GI bill).

      2)   Publicly encourage high school students to consider alternatives to college.

      3)  Tax, instead of subsidize silly degrees like Gender Studies, Political Science and Dance.

4    4) Celebrate innovative and leveraged ways to deliver education for a fraction of the price, like MOOCs.

      5)   Mandate that each college, major and course track and publish how their students are doing in the job market.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

That Time of Year

It's that time of year that the family comes together to celebrate that Johnny actually graduated from college (although it took six years).  The family has no concerns about Johnny's $120,000 in college loans or the fact that he graduated with a degree in Gender Studies.  Johnny is back on the street looking for a job at McDonald's and asking his parents if they still have his old bedroom available.  Was this use of six years and $120,000 in debt and the $20,000 of family savings a good investment?  Maybe not!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Dangers of College on the Jon Stewart Show

A funny (although accurate) story about the dangers of college on the Jon Stuart Show.  Dr. Marty Nemko has been saying that too many go to college in Nemko's books, blog and speeches for years. When discussing bartenders with college degrees, one commentor said: “I always assumed that they had a bartending major.” and Marty answered: "That’s called English Literature."

One of the enforcers (guys with real skills) in the enhanced indoctrination program about the dangers of college said: “If you hate going to school, college is a lot like school.”

Unfortunately the “Johnny has to go to college or I am a failure” thinking has been so deeply ingrained in our culture that few have the strength to think and act for themselves.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

College is not what it used to be

Here is one of many articles about the problems with college today found at the Thiel Fellowship.  He is the billionaire that is providing scholarships to a few bright kids to pursue a non-college alternative.

Here are a few points from this article:

"The promise that an expensive degree at a traditional university will pay off rests on some questionable assumptions; for example, that no cheaper way of attaining this educational premium will emerge."  Or that the education itself is what made the difference rather than the students underlying intelligence, curiosity and drive.

Colleges are surviving by making the experience a cushier, softer experience.  "A remarkable 43% of all grades at four-year universities are A's, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960. Grade point averages rose from about 2.52 in the 1950s to 3.11 in 2006."  We don't want our college students to face any discomfort at their country club schools.

And a key stat that is rarely discussed is how often students don't even graduate from college - "the chances of an American student completing a four-year degree within six years stand at only around 57%."  But the debt still has to be paid off for all those that walked away with no diploma in hand.

We need to rethink the assumption that everyone needs to attend college.  It is a good fit for some and a horrible one for many.

Digital Apprenticeships are a great alternative to college

Digital apprenticeships are a great alternative to college.  Of course this route does not enjoy many of the subsidies that traditional college offers like subsidized government loans and tax breaks for parents. 

You also won’t get the personalized attention of the San Jose StatePhilosophy professors.  Maybe that is a plus.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

San Jose State Philosophy Professors protest the wheel, the lever and Online Education

Interesting protest by San Jose philosophy professors – if they had been born a bit earlier they of course would have fought the wheel, the lever and the printing press.
Colleges continue to dislike measuring results – the argument being that their “work” is simply too important to measure.  It has to be accepted on blind faith. And if you can't measure it then we will have to rely on the intuition and experience of those that will be losing their jobs rather than on the unbiased results.  You can see where that will lead us.
And it is not just professors but also college presidents.  The article points out: “Many college presidents, too, are MOOC (massive open online courses) skeptics. In a Gallup poll released Thursday, most of the 889 presidents surveyed said they did not expect online education to solve colleges’ financial challenges or improve all students’ learning.” – well guess what if we get rid of half of our professors then we should be able to get rid of half of our college presidents as well.
This honest evaluation tells all about the priorities of too many college professors relative to the debate on using more technology to provide a better education at a lower price: “I started out very enthusiastic about the democratization of higher education through the global MOOCs, but I’ve gotten more cautious as my colleagues talk about what it might mean for jobs, at public universities,”  in other words it was all milk and honey until I figured out that it might cost me my job or at a minimum result in a cut in pay – and after all, my pay and benefits are job one.
Our college system acts like a virtual monopoly for many opportunities and many in this institution won’t give up that monopoly without kicking, screaming and whining.