Showing posts with label Harvard Graduate School of Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harvard Graduate School of Education. Show all posts

Monday, March 6, 2017

Newman University and Paula Maxine Edwards: Does a college have a moral duty to warn students that some of its programs are not financially worthwhile?

Paula Edwards attended Newman University to become a school teacher. 

Paula Edwards, a single mother with two children, obtained a bachelor's degree in education from Newman University, a small Catholic college located in Wichita, Kansas. Newman's tuition rates are higher than public universities in Kansas, but Edwards chose Newman because she could take most of her classes in the evening while continuing to work as a paralegal.

Edward's education degree qualified her for a job in education, and in the fall of 2016 she was in her fourth year as an elementary school teacher in Wellington, Kansas. Edwards' teaching job does not pay well; she makes only $35,300 a year. Moreover, unless she obtains more education, Edwards' salary will not go up much. In fact, her salary is capped at $35,700--only $400 a year more than she is making now.

Most people who choose the teaching profession are attracted by the intangible rewards of educating children; they realize they will never become rich. Unfortunately, Edwards chose to get her teacher training at an expensive college, and she had to borrow a lot of money to get her degree. In fact, in 2015, when she filed for bankruptcy, Edwards owed $151,000 in student loans.

Obviously, there is no plausible scenario whereby Edwards can pay back $151,000 on a salary of $35,000. In fact, she seems like an ideal candidate for bankruptcy.  But when Edwards filed for bankruptcy in 2015, she was confronted by a major obstacle. Under Section 523(a)(8) of the Bankruptcy Code, debtors cannot discharge their student loans in bankruptcy unless they can show undue hardship. And this is very hard to do.

Remarkably, Edwards won something of a victory in a Kansas bankruptcy court. Although the bankruptcy judge refused to relieve her of $72,000 in federal student loans, the judge did discharge her private student loans--about $58,000.  Essentially, the judge forced Edwards to sign up for an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) for her federal loans with monthly payments set at only $21 a month based on her current salary. If she makes regular payments for 20 years, the balance of her loan will be forgiven.

But here's the problem with  Edwards' IDR--assuming she enrolls in the plan the government offered. Interest is accruing on the $72,000 Edwards owes on her student loans, and $21 a month doesn't begin to pay that interest. All unpaid interest will be capitalized and added to her loan balance.

Given her likely income trajectory as a Kansas school teacher, Edwards will probably owe twice what she borrowed when her 20-year repayment plan comes to an end in 2036.

But it gets worse. The federal government considers a forgiven loan as taxable income. Thus, Edwards could be forced to pay taxes on $150,000 in so-called "income," because that is probably the amount she will owe when her 20-year repayment plan is concluded.

If Edwards were indebted for any reason other than her student loans, she could shed her debts in bankruptcy and get the "fresh start" that bankruptcy is intended to provide. But the "undue hardship" rule in the Bankruptcy Code has probably forced her into a repayment plan that will stretch over the majority of her working life. She will be 56 when her payment obligations stop and she will face a whopping tax bill.

Newman College bears some responsibility for Edwards' plight.

Tuition and fees at Newman amount to almost $28,000 a year; and that does not include books and living expenses. No wonder Edwards owes $151,000 in student loans.

Does Newman University bear any responsibility for what happened to Edwards? I think it does. Surely Newman officials should have warned Edwards that it would not work out for her financially if she borrowed money to get a Newman degree in order to become a school teacher.

Nicholas Eberstadt, writing for zerohedge.com, reported recently that a lot of graduates believe their college studies were not worthwhile. People who graduated in liberal arts or social studies were particularly dissatisfied. In a survey of 1800 graduates, more than two thirds of psychology graduates said their degrees were "not worth it."  And almost half the people who graduated in fine arts, history, geography, and politics expressed the same view.

Eberstadt's report did not include any data for people who graduate in the field of education, but I feel sure a great many people who chose to get education degrees from expensive private colleges regret their decision.  More than 20 years after getting a doctorate in education policy from Harvard, I can assure you that my Harvard experience was extravagantly overpriced.

Eberstadt argues persuasively that the federal government has fueled the demand for postsecondary education by offering students cheap money to go to college. "Loaning these funds at below market interest rates and backing up these risky loans has led to massive malinvestment . . ." Eberstadt wrote.

Eberstadt is right. And Paula Edwards, who borrowed more than $100,000 in good faith to attend an expensive private college in order to become an elementary-school teacher, is just one among millions of casualties of our disastrous federal loan program.

Harvard Graduate School of Education: an elite school for suckers


References

Tyler Durden. The Most (And Least) Worthwhile Degrees. zerohedge.com (March 5, 2017).

Edwards v. Navient Solutions, Inc., 561 B.R. 848 (D. Kan. 2016).



Friday, August 26, 2016

Middle-Aged People Should Probably Not Go to Graduate School: Conner v. U.S. Department of Education (March 28, 2016)

Wages for American workers have been stagnant for more than 20 years; everyone knows that. In fact, many American workers have seen a decline in their real wages as inflation eats away at their paychecks.

A college degree supposedly enhances earnings, but not for everyone More than a third of college-educated workers are holding jobs that do not require a college degree.

As we drift into middle age, we search for ways to make more money. So why not go to graduate school? Maybe job opportunities will open up if we get an MBA. Or maybe we can unleash our creative capacity if we obain a master's degree in creative writing. Why not go to law school?

Of course, American colleges want people to think that going to graduate school is good career option. Undergraduate enrollments are declining at many universities--especially the second-tier liberal arts schools. The colleges have got to keep the money flowing, and many have been rolling out new graduate programs to enhance their revenues.   Juicing up MBA programs has been a favorite strategy.

Graduate programs can be expensive, and most people who pursue graduate degrees have to take out student loans to finance their studies.  But, hey--what could go wrong?

At least three things:

Age discrimination. Although federal laws protect people from age discrimination in the workplace, many employers discriminate against older workers. So if you are 45 years old and recently obtained a law degree or an MBA, you will be competing against much younger workers.

Law firms in particular are looking for bright young attorneys who have the drive and energy to work 80 hours a week.  The firms like to mold their new hires into the firm's corporate culture, and it is easier to mold a 25-year old than a 45-year old. And the firms definitely discriminate in favor of people who graduated from top-ranked law schools.

So if you graduated from a second- or third-tier law school at age 45, the chances of landing a high-paying job at a blue-chip law firm are virtually zero. And if you borrowed $140,000 to get your law degree (the average amount of debt for new law graduates), you are in real trouble.  In fact, your decision to borrow money to go to law school was probably a mistake.

Many graduate programs don't give students useful skills. Second, a lot of graduate programs do not teach skills that will enhance their students' marketability in the workplace.  The United States now has hundreds of MBA programs, but I have talked with people who got MBA degrees from non-elite colleges, and several told me they didn't learn much.

I myself was a sucker. I enrolled in the doctoral program at Harvard Graduate School of Education, thinking a doctorate from Harvard would open doors for me that I couldn't open with just my law degree.  In fact, I learned virtually nothing useful during my two years of study at Harvard other than the fact that HGSE is a pretty mediocre place.

Unsympathetic bankruptcy courts.  Several recent bankruptcy court decisions have involved middle-aged people who accumulated a lot of debt going to graduate school.  Some of these people argued that their advanced age should be considered--that they simply didn't have enough working years left to pay off their enormous student-loan debt.

But not all bankruptcy courts are sympathetic. In Conner v. U.S. Department of Education, for example, Patricia Monet Conner accumulated  $214,000 in student-loan debt to pay for graduate education in three fields: business administration, communications, and education.

Conner was a school teacher who had an annual income of about $60,000 during the years before she filed bankruptcy, and she never made a single voluntary payment on her student loans. When she came before the bankruptcy court, Conner was 61 years old, and she argued that her advanced age should be considered in her favor.

But the bankruptcy court rejected Conner's argument and refused to discharge her student-loan debt.. Conner appealed, and a federal district court, was equally unsympathetic."[C]ourts have regularly held that one's age cannot form the bases of a favorable finding for a debtor who chooses to pursue an education later in life," the court ruled.

Conclusion: Middle-aged people should be very cautious about going to graduate school.  Many Americans enter middle age not having achieved the goals they set for themselves when they were young. I myself am such a person. Going to graduate school may seem like a way to expand life opportunities--a second chance to obtain success.

But be very cautious. Gamblers who lose at the gaming tables often double down, hoping a big win will nullify their earlier losses. But unlucky gamblers who keep betting generally wind up losing more money. Universities, like the casinos, want you to think the odds are in your favor; but in fact they are not.

I do not give this advice out of a sense of superiority. As I said, I made a big mistake going to Harvard in midlife only to find that some of my professors were not as smart as I am. I wound up with a mediocre education and a lot of debt.

References

Conner v. U.S. States Department of Education, Case No. 15-1-541, 2016 WL 1178264 (E.D. Mich. March 28, 2016).










Friday, January 8, 2016

"Dream Schools Are Just A Dream": Melanie Lockert's Cautionary Advice About Borrowing Money to Attend A PrestigiousGraduate School

Melanie Lockert wrote a very mature and thoughtful essay about her student-loan debt for Student Loan Hero, a web site on student loan indebtedness. Melanie took out $81,000 to get her postsecondary education: $23,00 for her bachelor's degree and $58,000 for her master's degree. 

Melanie took on most of her debt due to her decision to get a master's degree from New York University, one of the most expensive universities on the planet. Remarkably, she was able to pay off all this debt in eight years, but she paid a price for borrowing so much money to get an education.

Melanie gave her readers five pieces of advice about borrowing money to get a graduate education, and her column is well worth reading. In particular, she warned people to be cautious about a decision to go to a "dream school." I am quoting her remarks about that here:
Dream Schools Are Just a Dream
It's not uncommon for people like me, who take on a large amount of debt to go to school, to be met with a certain amount of criticism. I was repeatedly asked why I didn't go to a cheaper school.
My answer? I wanted to go to my dream school. My dream obviously came at a cost, but I was willing to pay the price. I was stubborn and no one could tell me not to pursue my dream. However, I realized the reality of attending my dream school wasn't so dreamy after all. I got a lot out of my education at NYU, but it was a lot harder than I imagined.
Our judgement can be clouded by fantasy — we think a certain school can bring us legitimacy, talent, and clout. But in the end, it's just a school. Consider carefully the cost of your dream school and what price you might pay many years down the road.
Melanie's essay struck home with me because I too made a decision to attend a dream school: Harvard Graduate School of Education. Like Melanie, I came to realize that in the end Harvard was just a school, and a degree from Harvard contained no magic properties for improving my life.

If you are thinking about going to graduate school at an expensive university, I urge you to make a copy of Melanie Lockert's essay and tape it to your refrigerator so you won't lose it.  Then read her essay before you drop that graduate-school application in the mail.

References

Melanie Lockert. Student Loan Problems: What I Wish I Knew Before Borrowing $81,000 for School. Student Loan Hero, November 25, 2015. Accessible at: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/student-loan-problems-wish-knew-before-borrowing-81000/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=blach

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Racist hiring at the University of Louisville: Does it matter?

 The University of Louisville got caught this week by openly doing what most universities are doing surreptitiously: hiring faculty member based on race.  Through some incredible slip up at the University's human resources office, the Department of Physics and Astronomy posted a job that contained this language:
The Department of Physics and Astronomy announces a tenure-track assistant professor position that will be filled by an African-American, Hispanic American or a Native American Indian [sic].
 Let's give the University of Louisville credit for at least being honest. Most American universities, both public and private, now take race into account when hiring faculty and admitting students. In fact, in Gratz v. Bollinger, one of the Supreme Court's seminal opinions on affirmative action, Justice Ruth Ginsburg argued in a dissenting opinion that the courts should allow universities to admit students based on race because they will do it anyway, even if the Supreme Court rules that it is a constitutional violation. Let them do it openly, Ginsburg counseled, rather than force them do it with winks and subterfuge.

So what difference does it make if the University of Louisville decides that whites and Asians are not eligible for a faculty position in the Physics Department? On one level, it's no big deal.

Twenty-five years go, when I was a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education, it was well known that only minority students would be admitted to the staff of the Harvard Educational Review. In fact, one faculty member told me candidly that the Harvard Educational Review was "a racial ghetto."  I applied, and I was not selected.

But being rejected by the Harvard Educational Review had no major impact on my life. I feel quite confident that I have published more scholarly work than all the students in my HGSE doctoral cohort put together--certainly more than all the students who were on the Harvard Educational Review when I was at Harvard.

Likewise, the whites and Asians who won't be hired for a Physics professor's position at the University of Louisville will probably find other jobs.

And certainly, greater diversity on America's college campuses is good thing.  We need more African American and Hispanic professors, and we need more minority students.

But here's the thing. Academia's obsession with race, gender and sexual orientation has diminished higher education as a moral enterprise.

First of all, most racial and gender preferences are done dishonestly. The University of Louisville goofed when it said in print that whites and Asians would not be considered for a particular faculty position. In fact, a university spokesperson said the job advertisement was an "error" and muttered some gobbledygook about the university's commitment to diversity. But in fact, at least some people at the University of Louisville wanted to make a hiring decision based on race. You can call that diversity if you want, but that's racism.

And this dishonesty has permeated every aspect of American higher education. The universities are dishonest about their racism, dishonest about their tuition prices, and many are dishonest about the employment prospects of their graduates.

Moreover, this morbid obsession with race is eroding the rigor of higher education. Just last year, students at three prestigious law schools--Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown-- asked to postpone their examinations because they were so upset about the racially charged shooting death of an African American in Ferguson, Missouri that they couldn't study for their exams.
Think about that. People trained at our top law schools are so sensitive that they can't do their school work because they are upset by current events. Who would want to hire a lawyer who gets the vapors from reading the morning newspaper?

And occasionally, racial fixations at our elite universities have become downright embarrassing. Awhile back, Harvard Law School claimed to have a Native American on its faculty. A real live Indian! And who did that Indian turn out to be? Elizabeth Warren, who said vaguely that she thought her grandmother might have been a Cherokee!

Who cares, in an authentic academic environment, whether a law professor is one sixteenth Cherokee? The fact that Harvard Law School thought it was legitimate to claim it had a Native American faculty member based on Elizabeth Warren's unverified assertions tells you all you need to know about the intellectual and moral rigor of Harvard Law School.

Eventually, young Americans are going to ask themselves why they bother to enroll in these flim-flam shops--these palaces of hot air that obsess on race and blather about academic freedom while charging outrageous tuition prices that most people can't pay without taking out student loans.

Elizabeth Warren:
I think I am a Cherokee Indian


References


Philip Marcelo. Law Schools Delay Exams For Students Upset by Ferguson, Eric Garner Decisions. Huffington Post, December 10, 2014. accessible at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/10/law-schools-exams-ferguson_n_6301282.html




Monday, July 22, 2013

This explains so much! Lots of Obama's People Graduated From Elite Colleges

This explains so much!
I recall seeing a cartoon awhile back showing the puppet Ernie from Sesame Street at the doctor's office. Ernie and his doctor were viewing Ernie's x-ray, which showed a giant hand in Ernie's torso. "This explains so much," Ernie exclaimed.

Yes, and the National Journal's recent report showing where Obama administration officials went to college also explains a lot.  Among 250 prominent officials in the Obama administration, more received a graduate degree from Oxford University (the one in England) than any American public university.

More Obama officials got  their undergraduate degrees from Harvard than any other university.  Forty percent of the 250 Obama administrators got undergraduate degrees from Ivy League schools.  And if you added the one ones who went to other elite schools--Georgetown, University of Chicago, Williams, etc--I am sure we would find that more than half of them went to exclusive private colleges.

In my opinion, this is a bad thing and goes a long way toward explaining why the country is going to hell in a hand basket.

There is a common myth that people who graduate from elite colleges received an exceptional education and acquired skills and values that will make them valuable citizens.  But I don't think that's true. In fact,many of them acquire traits and outlooks that contribute to the degradation  of American culture.

Postmodernism. Most of the people who are schooled at our elite institutions are thoroughly indoctrinated  into the culture of postmodernism.  And what are the characteristics of postmodernism? Secularism (atheism); individualism (selfishness);  and relativism, the cynical worldview that there are no ultimate truths.

Without a moral compass to guide their lives, our postmodern elitists gravitate toward an obsessive drive for recognition, power, and gratification, which is portrayed so powerfully in the recent movie, The Ides of March.  In the beginning of the movie, the main character, played by Ryan Gosling, is a political idealist, but by the end he is a cynical, power-driven schemer, just like all the other political figures in the movie.

Provincialism. I received a doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education, which admittedly is the least prestigious school at Harvard; and so I won't say my experience was typical. Nevertheless, I was astonished by the provincialism of the people I met while I was at HGSE.

Most of them had only a hazy idea about United States history or geography. I think I could have given them a child's puzzle map of the United States and most of them would not have been able to put the states in their proper places.

We see this elite regionalism displayed when we look at where Obama's top advisers grew up. According to the National Journal report, half of the top people on Obama's second-administration team grew up in the Northeast corridor (including Maryland and Virginia) or oversees. Only 12 percent of his top people are from the South.

Racism and Bigotry. I also encountered a lot of racism and bigotry during the years I was at Harvard. Not the hard kind of bigotry that is stereotypically displayed in movies about the South, but a soft kind. People in my classes would make offhand remarks about the insensitivity of white males--the same people who would be sure to use the term "mentally challenged" instead of "retarded" when talking about people of limited intelligence.

And the obsession with affirmative action that infests our elite colleges is often nothing more than a thinly disguised contempt for working class white people. It would be one thing if affirmative action benefited a poor white kid who grew up in the Delta country of Arkansas without regard to race , but so often the beneficiary of affirmative action is a minority person who attended an elite private high school.

And bigotry toward Catholicism at our elite colleges? Hey, let's not go there. I've talked about that already.

Not Problem Solvers

It would be OK if Obama's top advisers all came from Harvard or some other elite school if these people were smarter than the rest of us.  But they are not.

Indeed, if Obama's advisers are so smart, what are we doing in Afghanistan?

If Obama's people are such great problem solvers, why haven't we taken one sensible step to solve the student-loan crisis or at least reduce the suffering of people who are overburdened by their college loans?

No Sense of Social Justice

Many of the graduates of our elite institutions believe they have a keen sense of social justice and are particularly sensitive to human rights issues.  But I don't think that is true either.

If these people have such a good sense of social justice, why is our economic system rigged such that pensioners and people on fixed incomes are forced put their retirement funds in the  risky stock market to get a decent return because the Fed keeps interest rates artificially low to benefit the banks?

And if Obama's people have such a keen pining for human rights, why won't Obama and his people allow Italy to extradite Robert Lady, the CIA operative who was convicted of involvement in a kidnapping in Milan?  How can the Obama administration howl for the rule of law when it comes to Edward Snowden while helping Robert Lady avoid the justice that was meted out for him in Italy.

And what about Guantanamo?

What about those drones?

No this country would be better off if we declared a moratorium on Ivy League graduates serving in any public office at the national level--and that includes the Supreme Court, which is stuffed with nine old fogies who all graduated from either Harvard Law School or Yale Law School.

I am only kidding of course. We can't ban people from public office just because they went to Harvard. My point, however is this: Our elite colleges are not preparing people to be good public servants. We need to put people in positions of authority who are truly civic minded, and many of the leaders we need received their education at good public universities, including the universities of the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain West, and the South.

References

Brian Resnick & Brian McGill. More Top Obama Officials Have Graduate Degrees from Oxford Than Any Public University in the United States. National Journal, July 19, 2013. Accessible at:
http://www.nationaljournal.com/decision-makers/more-top-obama-officials-have-graduate-degrees-from-oxford-than-any-public-university-in-the-united-states-20130719





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Think Long and Hard Before Borrowing Money to Go to a Prestigious University Like Harvard



According to an article in Inside Higher Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education (HBSE) is retiring its Ed.D. degree and replacing it with the Ph.D. As an Ed.D. graduate of HGSE, I am happy to see this happen. I would much rather have gotten a Ph.D. from Harvard instead of an Ed.D., and I would certainly have selected the Ph.D. option when I was a student at Harvard had that option been available to me.
Reading the Inside Higher Education article prompted me to think back on my Harvard experience and to ask myself this question: Was the doctoral degree I received from Harvard Graduate School of Education worth the money I invested?  If I had the opportunity to make the decision again, would I still elect to pursue a doctoral degree at Harvard?  The answer to both questions is no.
Me in my embarrassingly flashy Harvard academic regalia
At the time I was a student at HGSE, annual tuition was about $12,000 per year. Tuition has roughly tripled since then--it’s about $35,000 per year now.  And that doesn’t count opportunity costs. I was out of the job market for three years while I studied at Harvard, and the cost of living for the Boston area was high then as it is now--much higher than the South or the Midwest.
Of course I chose to study at Harvard because of Harvard’s prestige. In fact, I did not even consider studying elsewhere. I recall taking classes from two excellent professors while I was at HGSE--my education law professor and my economics professor. Both professors were gifted teachers, and to this day I try to model my own teaching after the way these two fine scholars taught. I was also introduced to the case method of teaching while at HGSE; and I teach cases to this day, sometimes writing my own teaching cases. 
On the other hand, most of my Harvard classroom experiences were pretty ordinary. Since graduating from Harvard, I have taught in educational administration programs at three public universities, and I know dozens of professors who teach in my field at universities all over the United States. When I consider my three years at Harvard as a whole, I feel sure I could have received a comparable educational experience at a good state university at a far lower cost.
If someone were to ask me today if the doctoral program at Harvard Graduate School of Education is a good investment, I would say no. Whether the degree obtained is called an Ed.D. or a Ph.D., I feel sure an individual can get a better value by pursuing a doctoral program at a reputable state institution--Indiana University or the University of Utah, for example--rather than going to Harvard.  Twenty years after the fact, I don’t believe my salary or my career benefited significantly from my having a degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education as opposed to one of a hundred other doctoral granting institutions.
I took out about $22,000 in student loans to attend HGSE, a modest amount by today’s standards. I can’t say these loans burdened me unduly. But many of my Harvard classmates borrowed considerably more. I remember one woman who took out a second mortgage on her home to pay for her Harvard experience.  And I know at least a couple of people who took out loans to attend HGSE and never obtained their doctoral degree.
In retrospect, I was foolish to have gone to Harvard instead of seeking out a less expensive alternative. I consider myself one of the thousands of imprudent people who take out student loans every year to attend prestigious institutions--Harvard, Dartmouth, Smith, Vanderbilt, etc. etc. and wind up with very little to show for it. We tell ourselves that a degree from an elite university must be worth the money--it’s going to pay off in the end.  We delude ourselves into believing that a degree from a high-status institution is a tangible sign that we are indeed bright and special people.  And we borrow money--sometimes a lot of money--in order to feed our delusions.
So here is a word of advice from someone with a doctorate from Harvard. Think long and hard before you go into debt to obtain a fancy degree from an elite university, and explore less expensive alternatives.  Unless you come from a wealthy family or obtain a full-ride scholarship, all a doctoral degree from Harvard can guarantee is a heavy burden from student loans and the right to wear a flashy academic gown. In fact, you may find that a degree from a prestigious university  diminishes the quality of your life rather than enhances it.
References
Basu, K. (2012, March 29). Ending the first Ed.D. program. Inside Higher Education.
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/29/country%E2%80%99s-oldest-edd-program-will-close-down