It’s gotten better since I left.
It’s gotten better since I left.
Article in question: “Higher education: Is it really the next bubble?”
This initial statement is something that I would immediately respond to with an emphatic chorus of “Yes! Yes! Holy f$&% yes!” Reading the article, however, Lexington clearly has set out to question the matter more deeply. Fantastic. I trust The Economist, and I usually appreciate their opinions. Today: not a day I appreciate The Economist.
I would give an emphatic “yes” to the title because that is the emotion it triggers for me. I see many many fellow classmates having the same feelings about their education. One of the opening lines of the article describes the idea of a higher ed bubble: “The idea is that people are spending too much on higher education, taking on too much debt, and failing to get the reward they expect.” I don’t know a single student who wouldn’t echo those sentiments. It is a daily punch in the gut to joke around about tuition with my fellow school-goers: “Heh. At least I’ll be able to pay off my debt when I get a fantastic job after graduation!”, a statement usually followed by chuckles. And then deep sobs of grief.
No, there is no sobbing, but there is anxiety. A friend of mine that I work with is a trained architect, just two weeks away from graduation. He has sent many many job applications, but has not received any good news yet. He does have freelance work lined up, but freelance work takes a month. And, though people like to pay you after services have been rendered, an exception to that rule is rent. The idea of getting by month-to-month leaves little to no room for tuition debt considerations.
The more frightening and ongoing story to me is of another friend and coworker. He is a proficient software developer, also two weeks away from graduation. He has filed 50+ job applications, has excelled in school, completes independent projects, and has endured several intensive interviews that have asked him to take tests or write code on-the-spot. He should have a job, and he doesn’t. Only his fellow developers with an “in” or a connection have jobs.
To me that seems precisely like spending too much on your education, taking on too much debt, and (especially) failing to realize the reward of your efforts.
This would indicate, in my admittedly limited view, that the bubble should indeed exist.
The article cites this graph as reasoning that education still pays. The graph is as expected, and at first glance would seem to indicate that there’s no problem. But, may I just point out a few things to you dear reader?
There are more concerns than these with this graph (15% unemployment, for instance), but my main point is that the graph does not support the idea that there isn’t a education bubble.
Up to this point, I can take these points into consideration. They are plain facts, after all. But, the true opinion section of the article follows.
When I put the bubble hypothesis to Norton Grubb, professor of higher education at the University of California, Berkeley, his response in an email was that the bubble hypothesis was “ridiculous”.
No where in the following excerpt from Professor Grubb does he state the idea of a bubble is “ridiculous.”
[Education] has stopped delivering on the promise of a middle-class job = professions and managerial occupations, for which a BA was sufficient inthe 60s, and for which an MA is now necessary. So this leads to education inflation = middle-class kids seeking MA degrees and professional degrees, where a BA might have sufficed a generation ago.
I do not write for The Economist (not a disclaimer), and I do not have my own style guide. But I’m sure that’s a direct contradiction to the statement above it. While it is true that a bubble is not precisely the same as inflation, do they not have similar effects on higher education? Increases in inflation have a breaking point as well, where the model can no longer support itself and crashes to the ground, bringing all those currently involved down with them.
I don’t see any decline in the willingness of parents to sacrifice for their kids.
This is not my personal situation, but please, come to campus, have a coffee, and talk to some kids about who pays for their education, how far they are currently in debt, and how much their parents have decided, or are able, to contribute. Speak to some parents who worked their way through college and assume it is still possible. Ask a few kids what their parents thought of their parents’ “expected contribution” on the FAFSA (it’s laughably high for most families).
I’m also unsure how unaffordable college really is, as a general matter.
I respectfully ask you to shut up. I’m pretty sure you don’t know what you’re talking about.
And now, some more enlightened comments from Frederick Hess:
First, the dollars in question are actually relatively small. The Project on Student Debt reports that nationally, the average debt for those graduating seniors who have taken out loans was $23,200 in 2008. […]
And about one-third of students graduate with no loans at all; they’re not included in these debt figures.
Just a few things here:
I somewhat immaturely have noted that this article seems to be elitist, and displays an opinion that sucks. I do think it is elitist to assume many of the points in this article; it certainly is in assuming that middle-class families can afford to pitch in enough money, that $23,200 two years ago is “relatively small,” and that the fact that you have a degree when you leave means the money will take care of itself.
Actually, that last bit is just kind of ignorant, which is why this “sucks.”
Sometimes the darkest thoughts are inspired by the innocence of a sunlit afternoon.
You and me…we know about time.
This, right here, this is childhood.
Oh no! Poor hungry kittehs. :-(
LET’S JUST KEEP ON DANCIN’!
I kinda miss the rain.
Soundtrack to my morning commute.
In case you haven’t seen this beautiful thing.
mzriaspeaksometimes, giving it a shot. Brace yourselves!
This vehicle has been sitting in this position since it crashed for (presumably) most of the night.
Finished this delicious thing tonight.