Showing posts with label elite colleges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elite colleges. Show all posts

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Ivy League's Biggest Scam: Expensive Graduate Degrees That Don't Pay Off

 If you are thinking about enrolling in a pricey Ivy League graduate program, read a recent Wall Street Journal article titled "'Financially Hobbled for Life': The Elite Master's Degrees That Don't Pay Off." 

Reporters Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller report on a WSJ analysis of student debt owed by people who graduated from prestigious schools like Harvard, NYU, and Columbia. Two years after getting degrees from these toney joints, a high percentage of elite-school graduates were not working in jobs that would allow them to pay off their student loans.

For example, a New Jersey guy got a master's degree in Fine Arts in film at Columbia. Two years after graduating, he owes nearly $300,000 in student loans (including interest) and earns between $30,000 and $60,000 a year. Will this man ever pay off his student loans? Not bloody likely.

And this is not an isolated example. The WSJ reported that the median student-loan debt for Columbia's film program graduates was $171,000 in 2017-2018.  How many of those people are earning $171,000 in their current jobs? How many will ever pay off their student loans?

What attracts bright people to expensive Ivy League graduate programs? As one Columbia film graduate said, "We were told by the establishment our whole lives this was the way to jump social classes."

But we were told wrong. I got an essentially useless doctorate from Harvard, thinking the degree would erase Oklahoma from my vita. But it didn't. I still have range dust in my diction, and I still see the world much like my hard-scrabble ancestors saw it--the ones who lived through the Dust Bowl.

The WSJ analysis focuses mainly on Columbia University's film program and its graduate program in theatre arts. But there are other unindicted co-conspirators.  

Harvard's master of education degree, for example, is a scam.   You can get a master's degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education in only nine months, but the total cost of that experience is $85,000 (including room and board). 

I picked up a Harvard master's degree as I went through Harvard's doctoral program. I was proud of it at the time. I went to the graduation ceremony (very posh) and even framed the diploma.

But I no longer put that degree on my vita, and I lost the diploma somewhere along the way.  Thinking back on that experience, I wonder at my naivete.  I sat in packed classrooms containing as many as 200 students, and most of my teachers were nontenured instructors.  

One of my Harvard professors enjoyed rock-star status while I was there. She gave one two-hour lecture a week for a four-hour course. Her graduate students taught the other two hours.  Office hours? If you wanted to see this professor, you had to submit a written petition to one of her graduate students explaining why your appointment was worth this professor's precious time.

I say again. If you are thinking about taking out loans to get an Ivy League master's degree, read the WSJ article first.  If you still want to pursue that path, consult a good therapist--because you are delusional.

If you are from Oklahoma, a Harvard degree won't take the range dust out of your diction.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Will an Ivy League degree make you LESS employable?

 In a recent Wall Street Journal essay, R. R. Reno, Editor of First Things, wrote that he had stopped hiring graduates from elite colleges.  He noted that he had watched a Zoom meeting of students at Haverford College (Reno's alma mater), where students displayed "a stunning combination of thin-skinned narcissism and naked aggression." 

Haverford, like most elite private colleges, is a "progressive hothouse." If students are traumatized by racial insensitivity in that liberal bastion, Reno observed, "they're unlikely to function as effective team members in an organization that has to deal with everyday realities."

Reno acknowledged that not all college students are radical activists. Nevertheless, most have allowed themselves to be intimidated by allegations of racism or some other transgression of the unwoke. "I don't want to hire a person well-practiced in remaining silent when it costs something to speak up."

Reno went so far as to say that some politically conservative students at elite colleges suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. "Others have developed a habit of aggressive counterpunching that is no more appealing in a young employee than the ruthless accusations of the woke."

America's elite colleges charge students more than $25,000 a semester. Do they add value? Reno thinks not. "Dysfunctional kids are coddled and encouraged to nurture grievances, while normal kids are attacked and educationally abused." He doesn't think these snooty schools are teaching students to be courageous adults or good leaders.

I am totally on board with Mr. Reno.  I attended Harvard almost thirty years ago, and it was clear to me even then that I should keep my views and opinions to myself.  I can't say Harvard traumatized me. I had worked as a practicing lawyer in the rough-and-tumble world of rural Alaska.  I knew within a few months that most of my Harvard professors were slinging bullshit--very expensive bullshit.

But I pitied my Harvard classmates who had taken on mountains of student debt and got very little in return.  I have no doubt that some of them are still paying off their college loans.

So if you have an opportunity to attend an Ivy League school or some elite joint like Bowdoin, Amherst, or Swarthmore, you should read R.R. Reno's essay. You don't want to wind up with a diploma from a fancy college that costs you $200,000 and find that you picked up habits and world views that make you unemployable. 


A gathering of the woke





Monday, March 15, 2021

All Sales Final! No Refunds! Students lose lawsuit for tuition reimbursement against four Rhode Island universities that closed their campuses during COVID pandemic

Almost exactly one year ago, American higher education shut down in response to the COVID pandemic.  All across the United States, universities closed their campuses and switched from face-to-face instruction to online teaching.

Over the past several months, students brought dozens of lawsuits against their colleges, seeking partial tuition refunds for the 2020 spring semester. They argued that the quality of teaching suffered when teaching shifted to computerized learning.

Some student plaintiffs found sympathetic courts, but a federal judge in Rhode Island dismissed students' lawsuits against four Rhode Island schools: Brown Univesity, Johnson & Wales University, Roger Williams University, and the University of Rhode Island.

 Judge John McConnell ruled that the four universities had no contractual obligation to deliver in-person instruction during the spring of 2020.  In Judge McConnell's view, the universities' recruitment materials, which touted lovely campuses and stimulating classroom environments, were mere "puffery" and did not amount to a contractual obligation to teach classes face-to-face.

I think Judge McConnell ruled correctly. Confronted with the coronavirus pandemic, American colleges and universities had no choice but to switch instruction from the classroom settings to an online format.

I sympathize with the students who brought these lawsuits, particularly the one brought against Brown University, an elite Ivy League school. Brown's tuition and fees total $58,000 per year. Students did not shell out that kind of money to take classes by sitting in front of a commuter in their parents' basements. 

Nevertheless, America's college leaders were justified in closing their campuses last spring. It was the only responsible thing to do. Surely they realize, however, that they cannot teach students via computers over the long term, even if the coronavirus pandemic stretches out for many months or years to come.

The total cost of attending America's most prestigious colleges now amounts to about $70,000 a year or even more. Most students will have to take out student loans to cover the bill.

If Brown's academic leaders think their students will take out student loans indefinitely for computerized instruction, they are in for a rude awakening.  No one will go into six-figure debt to get an online diploma, even if the credential is from Brown University.

Thus if the COVID pandemic isn't quickly brought under control, it will be the end of expensive private-college education.  After all, a young person smart enough to be admitted to Brown is smart enough not to pay $58,000 a year for an online college degree.




References

Burt v. Board of Trustees of the University of Rhode Island, __ F.3d ___, C.A. No. 20-465-JJM-LDA (D.R.I. March 4, 2021).



Monday, September 26, 2016

My retirement account outperformed Harvard University's endowment fund this year: I must be one smart S.O.B!

Harvard University's $35 billion endowment fund lost money this year. For its most recent fiscal year, Harvard's endowment fund is down 2 percent. Wow! Even my piddling little retirement account did better than that. In fact, it did twice as well as Harvard.

Does that mean Harvard should hire me to manage its endowment fund? No, although I would gladly take that job for a modest 1 percent of assets under management. But Harvard's lackluster endowment-fund performance is a reminder that Harvard people are not as smart as they think they are.

In fact, I'm convinced that Harvard folks are no smarter than the average educated American. Actually, they may be less smart. Harvard and the nation's other elite colleges are now so mired in postmodern jargon about race, gender, sexual identity, etc. that they've forgotten how to analyze and solve problems, which should be one of the core purposes of a liberal education.

Our country is now largely governed by nabobs who got their degrees from Harvard, Yale, and a couple of dozen other elite universities. All nine of our Supreme Court Justices graduated from either Harvard's Law School or Yale's. President Obama: Harvard Law School. Hillary Clinton: Yale Law School. John Kerry: A Yale man.

And look where we are. Who can deny that our nation is less safe today than it was 10 years ago? Who can deny that the American middle class has lost ground over the last 20 years?

And yet we allow a handful of arrogant, poorly educated, and condescending idiots to run our lives. And now, in the highly publicized transgender bathroom case, we are about to allow nine old geezers on the Supreme Court to tell us if traditional bathroom rules in American colleges and schools violate Title IX. Which is ironic. The Supreme Court is going to dictate bathroom etiquette for American educational institutions, and the Justices are so old that most of them are wearing Depend diapers and don't even go to the bathroom anymore.


Image result for u.s. supreme court justices
Hey, your fly's unzipped!

References

Geraldine Fabrikant. Yale Endowment Shines vs. Returns for Its Peers. New York Times, September 26, 2016, p. B2. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/24/business/yale-university-endowment.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fgeraldine-fabrikant&action=click&contentCollection=undefined&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0