Senate How should Education be reformed?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ghost, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    That's because you didn't specifically ask that. You asked about people that society doesn't think would be good investments. I answered that by saying that whether or not it's a good investment should be left up to the individual, not society. What more do you want?

    I could list for you some factor that I think a person should consider, but nothing in there would be binding on anyone else, merely what I would consider.

    For example, you should consider what you actually want to do with your life. When I was in college, I had several friends who were there (mostly financed through student loans) because they didn't know what they wanted to do. Several of them dropped out of college with thousands of dollars in debt and nothing to show for it. Others got degrees that didn't help them find jobs when they graduated. (For example, one couldn't find a job with her Theater degree, and wound up working at Barnes and Noble, where she eventually moved into management.)

    If you don't know what you want to do with you life (at least in a general fashion), then the answer isn't to go to college, but to step out into the world and try to figure out what you want to do. Once you know that, you can try going to college (if it's necessary).

    You should consider the cost of the school that you want to attend (both the tuition and the living expenses), and how much you are likely to earn as a return on that specific investment. If a Bachelor's from State isn't going to earn you more money than an Associate's from Community College, but will cost you three times as much and twice the time, it doesn't make sense to earn the Bachelor's degree.

    On top of all that, it's important to compare your dreams and your limitations. A lot of kids want to be an astronaut when they grow up, but NASA only takes so many applicants. You should ask if it's actually realistic for you to achieve your specific dream, or do you need to temper your dream with a little more reality?

    Those are just some of the considerations that a person needs to review before deciding if college is the best course for them. In most cases, people just aren't doing that (or helping their kids do that) before they pressure them into a 4-year college.
  2. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
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    College is a very costly way to figure out what you want to do with your life. Getting a job and working in the private sector costs much, much less.

    But many young people have been indoctrinated to think go to college-get a degree-land a nice job that they think all they have to do is show up and the rest will work itself out.

    Not the way it works unfortunately. Just ask the thousands and thousands of kids with MBAs out there.

    I only figured out what I enjoyed doing and wanted to do when I actually did it.
  3. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
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    I think something that should be kept in mind is that people have a very hard time finding the ability to go back to school, especially once they're out in the world and having living costs to worry about (in contrast to someone like myself, that lived at home through a BS and MS because that allowed me to afford it). I'm all for making education much cheaper, if not free. However, I think that would be dependent on what the major is.

    That said, I think we need to break this idea that everyone should/needs to go to college. It's a bad recipe. There are things that you need to go to college for, yes, but there are plenty of things that you don't need to go to college for, and some of them are still very well paying, they're just not the things that college gives you benefit from, or where practical experience working your way up can be much greater.
  4. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Oct 28, 2001
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    At the very least, if you want to use college to figure out what you want to do with your life, start at a community college. In the long run, it can make it cheaper and easier for you. For example, in Virginia, an Associate's from a Virginia-certified community college guarantees you admission to any state-owned university. That makes it a much cheaper way to get many of your general education credits out of the way before you devote yourself almost entirely to your chosen major. By the time you finish an Associate's, you've already gained most of the general benefits that come from a college degree. Most of what is left after that is specialization in your chosen major.

    I've known several families where the parents encouraged their kids to live at home for a year (often with a token $100/month in rent)and work while they figure out what they want to do. In several cases, that experience radically shifted the kids' views of what they wanted to do, while in others it helped provide additional motivation to work hard in school and do well. (My father calls it the ditch principle. Everyone should have to dig a ditch at least once in their life, so they learn how much they hate it and are motivated to get a better job.)

    Exactly. College isn't for everyone, and it's often not the best course.
  5. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
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    I think many people go to college because they've been told they have to in order to succeed. Obviously someone in a scientific field or medicine, yes, that's true. But business?

    All one has to do is go to a school and see which building is the largest and most posh.....in the last decade it's the newer business schools. They get these huge endowments just like sports programs.

    There are exceptions, but sports and business programs have such a huge piece of the pie.

    Then we wonder why kids aren't going into science and math. They're not sexy fields to begin with. Then you have less promotion on top of that.

    Our own JCC is skewed towards science majors but that's not the norm in society by far.

    In my ideal situation, I would keep the collegiate sports programs but force them to be entirely self-sufficient or abolish them(and I'm a big sports guy but there's a time and place but trust me, they would get enough support to be self-sufficient). And the business schools would spin off and become separate indy schools.

    You would keep basic business and personal finance courses, but the specialties would be spun off.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 6, 2012
  6. MarcusP2 Games and Community Reaper

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    Football and basketball would get enough to be self sufficient. The rest would be gone. It's debatable as to whether that is a problem.
  7. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Well, it could be a problem but the question is: these are all quasi-rent seeking programs that are being supported by other program's success. The extent to which others would fail to reach self-sufficiency could be debated. If you opened them up to outside support then I think you would have more programs. Another way to alleviate that would be to have an entire athletic department self-sufficient and not program specific. That way you do preserve more programs.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 6, 2012
  8. Ghost Chosen One

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    Oct 13, 2003
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    On college costs, didn't Obama's student loan reform pass a new law that said college graduates can't pay more than 10% towards their student loans, and not more than 20 years? If loans are now limited to a time and to a proportion of income, then that should make college affordable to everyone.
    Last edited by Darth-Ghost, Sep 6, 2012
  9. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    I admire your commitment to egalitarianism Ghost. But, the issue isn't just that college isn't for everyone but also that many of the degrees don't even land people jobs in their fields of study(specifically business degrees).

    The college degrees are becoming disconnected to the realities of the marketplace.

    I wouldn't be adverse to the idea of everyone with a general education degree because at least then they have some options. But, the specialized fields.....expensive and with someone holding a MBA and under-contributing to society, that's not a good cost benefit ratio.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 6, 2012
  10. Valairy Scot Force Ghost

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    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Speaking as someone with a Communications degree (a few decades back:p), my degree is only worthwhile if a prospective employer wants candidates to have a degree even though a degree is not necessary for the job. I have no *skills* relative to the field as it now stands.

    When I went to college, I was the first in the family and as others have said here, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My family background is all blue-collar; I had no real "role models" to aspire to or wish to avoid. Now, unemployed and searching - no tech skills for the good jobs that predominate here in Bill Gates land and yet (how do I phrase this) more skilled than a mere minimum wage job, I find the only jobs really available are the minimum wage jobs that won't pay the bills (and I don't live richly;I live adequately). I'm roughly 15 years from realistic retirement (full Soc Sec - if still available then); I don't think it's feasible to go back to school incurring all that debt for roughly 10 years of full employment following...

    I need to go buy a winning lottery ticket - hah!
  11. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    A reform like that also needs to place limits on who can receive those student loans. Otherwise, what is to stop someone from running up $150000 in student loans to get a PhD in English Literature, and then get a $30000/year job (meaning that they would only pay back on the order of $60000). That money has to come from somewhere (not to mention the interest on the loan). I don't see how such a system would be sustainable, unless you increase the interest on loans for people who can afford to pay of their loans under that scheme.

    I'm sorry, but I don't want my interest rates to go up to subsidize someone else's useless degree, just because I got one that's more practical and leads to a better paying job.
  12. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
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    This should not be going into personal attacks - Lowbacca_1977 edit
    Last edited by Lowbacca_1977, Sep 6, 2012
  13. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
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    Awww. :(

    Anyway, college is not about getting a job. We need to dispel that myth. College should be about becoming a better person-- or, with business and economics, often worse. :D It should produce people who better participate in society. That's why I think as many people as possible should attend. Someone who holds a degree tends to be a better employee and has better career prospects no matter what major he had, but that's not the primary purpose of getting one. We need to stop the culture of demonizing people just because their degrees of choice doesn't guarantee they will be able to pay off a six-figure loan in a reasonable time, or because they don't fit into the rah rah capitalism free market mindset. I think it'd be better to demonize the fact that tuition has gotten so high.
    Last edited by Darth_Guy, Sep 6, 2012
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  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    How do you mean that it should create a better person? And more to the point, why shouldn't that be done in high school, rather than continuing another 4 years? Education is a great thing, but where is a reasonable cut off for it?

    And as for tuition, are we looking at the cost to students, or the cost of tuition as an absolute, without looking at how much is being paid by university/state/etc sources vs how much the students pay?
  15. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    College offers an education that I don't think we can ever reasonably expect high schools to match. It [TIRED CLICHE BUT I COULDN'T THINK OF ANYTHING BETTER] broadens the horizons [/CLICHE] of its students and exposes them to new ideas. Professors also tend to be much better educated than high school teachers and have experience teaching higher-level courses (I went to college where the professors actually taught all the classes, which I think should be more widely practiced). If you want high school teachers to hold Doctorates, their pay grade needs to reflect that-- the fact that many profs are underpaid notwithstanding. I also think that young adults (say, 18-25) are different kinds of students than the adolescents who attend high school.

    I think college should be primarily paid for by the state, with ideally no tuition for undergraduates at all. At the very least the United States can drastically lower it to an equivalent level to most other developed countries.
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  16. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
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    Well, I can understand the first part, especially to some countries that basically figure out at 16 or so what you'll be doing for a career, whereas here it's not til early 20s in some cases. I would question if you're starting to deal with a supply and demand problem, though. Part of why, I'd say, you get better teaching at college level than high school level is that there are far more applicants than there are positions, and so the best are taken. In contrast, for high school, because everyone goes to high school, there is a need of more people, and lower standards.

    As to tuition, to clarify, I meant.... is the problem with the costs going up in general, or just the cost to the student? Since that is a relevant factor. I do think it's also worth noting that you're citing broadening the horizons, but to the best of my understanding, in a lot of developed countries, university educations don't do that. For example, by doing my bachelor's in the US, I had to complete 48 units of general education. I'd think this is a huge part of that 'broadens the horizons' part you talk about. However, if I'd gone to UNSW in Australia, for example, I would have been required to complete just 12 units of general education. In the UK, to my understanding, there are no GEs present at all and you start directly in the field you want to work in. In that sense, it doesn't seem to be at all about the sort of broadening of horizons you're talking about (unless I'm misunderstanding how you intend that phrase). So it's very much comparing apples and oranges to look at the US broad education that college provides and the UK's narrower (and shorter) university educations.
  17. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
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    Yes, I know postsecondary education in other countries is shorter (I prefer the U.S. model), but that doesn't change the fact that the tuition (cost per year) is often lower.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    Yeah, but where does that cost lie? I know Australia is a delayed cost (although designed to not cripple people financially), but I'm less sure about Europe, on the whole, for undergrad structure beyond that the UK is having to add some charges into all that. I would wonder if you're creating a supply and demand sort of problem and creating scarcity with the general education requirements, though, and I'd wonder if getting rid of that would bring the costs down, not just in total, but also on a yearly average.

    It's not as though schools are raking in the money right now, so to me it seems that the problem is something structural that should be addressed when discussing why costs have increased so quickly, and that does need to be addressed even in a model where the state is paying for everything.

    Related question, if this is about breadth, how do you feel about community colleges? Plenty of people already start there where costs run lower, then either go into a 4 year university at the end of 2 years to complete work on a bachelors, or they walk away at 2 years with an associate's degree and have something solid they can come back to if they're so inclined later.
  19. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    What does "become a better person" even mean? And how can you possibly think more attendance = more people who better participate in society? How are the two even connected?

    You know how people better participate in society? By having a job. By having a paycheck. By providing for their family. By paying taxes on their incomes. By contributing to the economy, not being a drag on it.

    That's how.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 6, 2012
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  20. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    I do think there are more and more cases of people getting degrees that don't offer much and yet land them with enormous debt. I was lucky I paid for my University course myself but I know others who have got a lot of debt and they want to continue to do a masters and PhD which will cost even more. I prefer to stick to just the degree, IMO it is simply not worth the massive cost and debt to get more fancy bits of paper that won't guarantee me a job anyway. I've had a degree 3 years now and I still have no paid work in the field, I work in retail in order to get money and that pays minimum wage.


    I don't think that cost itself is the issue, people would be able to pay off all the loan debt if they ended up being able to get good work after all the effort they put in. Often driving costs down affects quality, especially if government does it.
    Last edited by SithLordDarthRichie, Sep 6, 2012
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  21. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

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    Jul 31, 2002
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    The company I work for won't even interview you if you don't have a 4-year degree. But, it doesn't matter what that degree is in. Our finance director has a BS in forestry science, not business.
  22. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    thats dumb

    i know im supposed to put a wall of text here but there's nothing else that needs saying. it is self-evidently dumb
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Sep 6, 2012
  23. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Well, to be clear, I'm not suggesting degrees aren't important in some fields and areas of study. We want scientists to hold degrees. But many of them actually work in their fields and then do post-grad work on-site as well. Same with medicine.

    So yes, education is important. But, is a college degree critical? In some fields, yes. In some fields, no.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 6, 2012
  24. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    May 4, 2003
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    Why wouldn't you think that? If, as Even posits, college is a dedicated source of study that improves one's qualities as a citizen, it would be sort of bizarre if more people successfully participating in said program didn't result in improved citizenship.

    I hope I needn't comment on how sad it is that you seem to measure people's value in society here based solely upon their economic output. Are retired people worthless as citizens? Or at least when their total "drain" on the economy through safety net programs exceeds their cumulative lifetime earnings?

    There's a lot more to citizenship than simply "having a job," and a lot more to a society than the simple exchange of goods and services. College should equip people to do all those other things, too. I don't see what's ridiculous about that suggestion.
  25. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
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    Guy was talking specifically about people attending college helping them better participate in society. Rubbish. There are plenty of people who never went or dropped out of college who have contributed far more than the thousands who can't find a job who have a degree.
    So again, how did it help them "better participate"? o_O

    edit:
    Jabba Wocky
    College should equip people to do all those other things, too.

    But you nor Darth Guy have said what those other things are.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 7, 2012