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Higher Education

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We live in an age where knowing how to find information is perhaps more important than memorizing it.  I think this changes the way that many disciplines such as social studies, science, and aspects of language arts should be taught/learned.

 

But they're not.  If you tell somebody to look something up on their phones, you're the bad guy.  I'm amazed by people's inability to discern a credible internet source from one planted by, say, the Mormon church. 

 

I work with internet-illiterate blue collar guys.  They come to my desk with an issue and I'll be, say, looking at Urban Ohio instead of working.  Their eyes are attracted to the banner ads and think that you're "supposed" to click on them.  They think some scam banner ad with Obama's face on it is a direct message from Obama. 

 

What was hilarious was that at the last place I worked, the owner was about 70 and didn't know what the internet looked like or was.  I could sit there on Facebook all day and he'd walk by my desk, convinced I was "working" on "the computer".  He's the one who's 50 year-old girlfriend worked in the office, accompanied at all times by a squirrel that spent the day nestled in her cleavage.  The thing would poke its head out while she was talking to clients. 

 

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We live in an age where knowing how to find information is perhaps more important than memorizing it.  I think this changes the way that many disciplines such as social studies, science, and aspects of language arts should be taught/learned.

 

But they're not.  If you tell somebody to look something up on their phones, you're the bad guy.  I'm amazed by people's inability to discern a credible internet source from one planted by, say, the Mormon church. 

 

I work with internet-illiterate blue collar guys.  They come to my desk with an issue and I'll be, say, looking at Urban Ohio instead of working.  Their eyes are attracted to the banner ads and think that you're "supposed" to click on them.  They think some scam banner ad with Obama's face on it is a direct message from Obama. 

 

What was hilarious was that at the last place I worked, the owner was about 70 and didn't know what the internet looked like or was.  I could sit there on Facebook all day and he'd walk by my desk, convinced I was "working" on "the computer".  He's the one who's 50 year-old girlfriend worked in the office, accompanied at all times by a squirrel that spent the day nestled in her cleavage.  The thing would poke its head out while she was talking to clients. 

 

 

This is more of a generational thing I think.  Unfortunately it's going to be quite difficult to re-educate those that did not grow up with the internet.  However I was referring more towards how we should perhaps be realigning how social studies and science are taught to kids in primary and secondary school, particularly how we treat access to information.  Memorization of facts may not be the best use of time in the modern world.

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Yeah but people seem to just find and entrench themselves in their own "facts".

 

I think The Daily Show and Colbert Report are doing more to change the political attitudes of young adults more than any one thing.  Yes, that includes high school, college, and graduate school education.  Those shows are TV that are about TV.  People want TV, even (especially?) college students, they don't want books.  They don't want to look stuff up.  In their minds TV is "strength" and reading is "weak". 

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I think The Daily Show and Colbert Report are doing more to change the political attitudes of young adults more than any one thing.

 

One of the most interesting trends to me is that, in large numbers, Millennials are not identifying as a member of any political party. Some of this comes from watching shows like The Daily Show and seeing how nonsensical today's political debates are. I think this is one of the reasons young people are less likely to vote, and when they do, they are least likely to vote for the party they see being associated with the most ridiculous actions.

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Yeah I don't think that before those shows there was ever a show, and certainly not a nightly show, that simply pointed out double-talk as the main activity of the show.  Those shows have been ruining Thanksgiving dinners for the past ten years.  Older generations are getting completely different information than younger adults.  It's because people trust people who speak to them.  Even though Stewart and Colbert aren't young, they speak effectively to a younger crowd. 

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^see, if you were a little older and been in school in the 60's when Mao jackets were popular everyone in class would have known who he was. Or am I mixing them up with Nehru jackets??  :|

 

You are. 

 

But how many of the trendies wearing Che shirts a few years back had any idea who he was?

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Analysis:

http://www.randalolson.com/2014/03/22/its-impossible-to-work-your-way-through-college-nowadays

 

I think back to when I started college, the first day I walked out the door looking for a job on the strip.  The first place I walked into hired me on the spot, a Blimpie Subs franchise.  I worked there 4 nights a week (5-10pm, I think) for the next 21/2 years until they sold the franchise to an Indian family.  Looking back on it I made absolutely horrible money, less than $100/week after taxes.  I really wish the owner hadn't been sitting there that day I walked in and instead I had walked another block to a place called Stefano's Pizza, where if I had become a delivery driver, I would have made WAY more money. Longer hours and WAY more per hour. 

 

One big thing I learned in college: when you're in college, deliver pizzas. 

 

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There's such an oversupply of highly educated people that are indeed qualified to do that sort of teaching but the private sector hates due to their skills not being specific enough. That's how higher education can get away with it. These days, when your are young, the private sector only wants you as a salesperson or somebody who does the same highly-specialized task over and over.

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It's a cruel reality right now that all these people who are naturally drawn to specific pursuits for their own sake, and who are inculcated from birth to believe that they are doing something good, are in fact being led into a vicious trap by the university-industrial complex.  The same machinery that created them will soon after dispirit and bankrupt them.  Who is losing?  Them and the students.  Who is winning?  The administrators.

 

But what's so weird to me about people in education is that like politicians the money's not really that good.  Rarely does a job in municipal, county, or sate government exceed $100,000, and most seem to hover between $40-60,000.  So the teachers tend to be out there "trying to do the right thing", because they actually believe in what they are doing, but the nasty people in the administration throw them and the kids under the bus whenever the need arises to get an $8,000 raise.  It's like, if you want to make $8,000 more this year, just go deliver pizzas every Sunday night.   

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There has been just this massive shift to adjunct and temp staff that it is making it really hard to build a career in higher ed. Insanely, it might be easier to make in lower levels of education due to supply and demand issues.

 

These days, when your are young, the private sector only wants you as a salesperson or somebody who does the same highly-specialized task over and over.

 

I think any college grad without a specific focus should just get up and move to Seattle, LA, or Austin (not SF anymore due to the housing shortage) and do sales at a tech startup. Nothing makes more sense right now.

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There has been just this massive shift to adjunct and temp staff that it is making it really hard to build a career in higher ed. Insanely, it might be easier to make in lower levels of education due to supply and demand issues.

 

These days, when your are young, the private sector only wants you as a salesperson or somebody who does the same highly-specialized task over and over.

 

I think any college grad without a specific focus should just get up and move to Seattle, LA, or Austin (not SF anymore due to the housing shortage) and do sales at a tech startup. Nothing makes more sense right now.

 

Yeah high school /grade school teachers are paid more and enjoy greater job security than college.  Then, even after you achieve tenure, many people still aren't happy. 

 

The big difference between high school/elementary vs. tenure track is that not only do high school/elementary make more money initially, they can also work weekends and during the summer, easily earning $10,000 more per year.  Meanwhile a tenure track professor has to spend all their free time for six years doing mostly uncompensated research in pursuit of being awarded tenure. 

 

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I still wouldn't necessarily want to be in either pair of shoes, though.  Elementary and secondary teachers are going to be facing inevitable serious compensation and headcount pressures; the education marketplace is probably among the most ripe of any sector for a little bit of creative destruction over the next 10-20 years (though of course, a lot of those currently in the profession will have safely retired by then, so this doesn't necessarily implicate current teachers so much as those thinking about entering the profession, as well as those new to the profession today).  Of course, that applies to higher education as well--possibly even moreso with the advent of MOOC suites, currently only in their infancy, as a substitute for non-elite higher education.  But I still wouldn't want to trade places with any primary or secondary school teacher today, either.

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Today's America: Working Your Way Through College Is a Myth

Posted: 05/02/2014 11:09 am EDT Updated: 05/02/2014 11:59 am EDT

 

I'm a young American, finishing my last year of college, looking down a road that gets bleaker every day. My family is dirt poor; people today seem to forget that in America today families still exist who don't have TV, who don't have A/C, whose electricity gets cut off regularly, and who can't afford to buy meat. That was -- is -- my family. I worked my ass off my whole life to get straight A's, while holding down a job to help out with bills and food; I applied for colleges from our local library because we don't have Internet, I studied with flashlights when our electricity went out, and when I was 18 it all paid off with a full-ride scholarship to George Washington University in DC.

 

And so I left. I left my family behind, I left my four younger siblings and my disabled sister with my single mother. I left because I didn't want the life I saw them struggling with every day. I left to be the first one to attend college, the first one to leave our state, and I had no idea how hard it would be. I left vowing to get educated, get a middle-class job, and come back to pull them out of this life. But financially stranded and on my own, I picked up two jobs my very first year in college and never stopped. Tutoring and waitressing were barely enough to pay my food and transportation in DC, not to mention my cell phone bill, and purchasing my laptop and dorm supplies...

 

CONTINUED

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cory-brooks/working-poor-college_b_5253189.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

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I sympathize with her story.  However if I were to do it again, I'd have worked 80 hours at two jobs for at least one year and saved at least $20,000. 

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I still wouldn't necessarily want to be in either pair of shoes, though.  Elementary and secondary teachers are going to be facing inevitable serious compensation and headcount pressures; the education marketplace is probably among the most ripe of any sector for a little bit of creative destruction over the next 10-20 years (though of course, a lot of those currently in the profession will have safely retired by then, so this doesn't necessarily implicate current teachers so much as those thinking about entering the profession, as well as those new to the profession today).  Of course, that applies to higher education as well--possibly even moreso with the advent of MOOC suites, currently only in their infancy, as a substitute for non-elite higher education.  But I still wouldn't want to trade places with any primary or secondary school teacher today, either.

 

We've discussed this before and there are a lot of reasons why I think you're probably overestimating what's going to be possible, and you seem to assume that these jobs are only about transferring educational content to students.  Based on what I've experienced, I highly doubt that many parents (or even community members without children) are going to be excited about the idea of having un- or semi-supervised adolescent students "working at their own pace" learning through technology away from schools.  There may be ways for technology to cut certain personnel costs in education, but there is still going to be a need for an adequate supply of teachers, and it will also probably be a long time before the public is interested in turning away from teaching as a profession.  There are also actual content-based reasons why I doubt technology can completely replace humans in this realm as well.

 

Per the link below, it seems that there are actually a great many other career paths and sectors that are more likely to be "disrupted" by technology:

 

http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

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I don't want to deal with an entire generation of unsocialized youth. And getting something like drywall done will be like $500 an hour because people will only know screen stuff.

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Today's America: Working Your Way Through College Is a Myth

Posted: 05/02/2014 11:09 am EDT Updated: 05/02/2014 11:59 am EDT

 

I'm a young American, finishing my last year of college, looking down a road that gets bleaker every day. My family is dirt poor; people today seem to forget that in America today families still exist who don't have TV, who don't have A/C, whose electricity gets cut off regularly, and who can't afford to buy meat. That was -- is -- my family. I worked my ass off my whole life to get straight A's, while holding down a job to help out with bills and food; I applied for colleges from our local library because we don't have Internet, I studied with flashlights when our electricity went out, and when I was 18 it all paid off with a full-ride scholarship to George Washington University in DC.

 

And so I left. I left my family behind, I left my four younger siblings and my disabled sister with my single mother. I left because I didn't want the life I saw them struggling with every day. I left to be the first one to attend college, the first one to leave our state, and I had no idea how hard it would be. I left vowing to get educated, get a middle-class job, and come back to pull them out of this life. But financially stranded and on my own, I picked up two jobs my very first year in college and never stopped. Tutoring and waitressing were barely enough to pay my food and transportation in DC, not to mention my cell phone bill, and purchasing my laptop and dorm supplies...

 

CONTINUED

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cory-brooks/working-poor-college_b_5253189.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

 

If she's going to GWU on a full scholarship, she's in a much better position than most, especially since she mentioned that "full" in this case included her room as well, not just tuition.  This is the kind of situation where student loans do make a certain amount of sense, though of course I can understand any responsible 18-year-old's hesitation about going thousands of dollars in debt before your career even begins.  But realistically, she would be in a better position right now with $27,000 in Stafford loans (maximum Stafford loan every year for four years) and a 3.6+ GPA than with no loans and barely above a 2.5 scholarship-eligibility threshold.  She would be in a better position for both grad school and for entry-level job applications (a bachelor's alone in political science isn't often enough, but with a high GPA at GWU in D.C., with the State Department and other federal agencies there, there could at least be a shot, credential inflation in the bureaucracy notwithstanding).

 

I still wouldn't necessarily want to be in either pair of shoes, though.  Elementary and secondary teachers are going to be facing inevitable serious compensation and headcount pressures; the education marketplace is probably among the most ripe of any sector for a little bit of creative destruction over the next 10-20 years (though of course, a lot of those currently in the profession will have safely retired by then, so this doesn't necessarily implicate current teachers so much as those thinking about entering the profession, as well as those new to the profession today).  Of course, that applies to higher education as well--possibly even moreso with the advent of MOOC suites, currently only in their infancy, as a substitute for non-elite higher education.  But I still wouldn't want to trade places with any primary or secondary school teacher today, either.

 

We've discussed this before and there are a lot of reasons why I think you're probably overestimating what's going to be possible, and you seem to assume that these jobs are only about transferring educational content to students.  Based on what I've experienced, I highly doubt that many parents (or even community members without children) are going to be excited about the idea of having un- or semi-supervised adolescent students "working at their own pace" learning through technology away from schools.  There may be ways for technology to cut certain personnel costs in education, but there is still going to be a need for an adequate supply of teachers, and it will also probably be a long time before the public is interested in turning away from teaching as a profession.  There are also actual content-based reasons why I doubt technology can completely replace humans in this realm as well.

 

Maybe I'm overestimating the possibilities; maybe you're underestimating them.  But considering that over the past 30+ years, those who have underestimated the transformative power of technology have vastly, vastly outnumbered those who overestimated it, I'll take my chances erring on the side of overestimation.  The modern education model is simply too expensive to be sustainable--and as the old adage goes, if something cannot be sustained, it won't be.

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I don't want to deal with an entire generation of unsocialized youth. And getting something like drywall done will be like $500 an hour because people will only know screen stuff.

 

Actually drywall rates are still incredibly low.  The cost to have some guys come in and do the work vs. doing it yourself might be double your material costs but that's WAY LESS than contracting out most home improvements.  Plus the guys who do it are nuts -- they don't hesitate for a moment to knock out a wall or ceiling that *might* have asbestos in it.  They just strut in and get to work with the pry bar. 

 

 

>Maybe I'm overestimating the possibilities; maybe you're underestimating them.  But considering that over the past 30+ years, those who have underestimated the transformative power of technology have vastly, vastly outnumbered those who overestimated it, I'll take my chances erring on the side of overestimation.  The modern education model is simply too expensive to be sustainable--and as the old adage goes, if something cannot be sustained, it won't be.

 

The primary purpose of K-12 education is to get kids out of the house.  Schools are babysitters packaged as "education", not unlike "educational" toys and games.  By far people are still taught and influenced primarily by their parents and immediate family.  Even the best teachers are only incidental characters during one's formative years.   

 

 

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The primary purpose of K-12 education is to get kids out of the house.  Schools are babysitters packaged as "education", not unlike "educational" toys and games.  By far people are still taught and influenced primarily by their parents and immediate family.  Even the best teachers are only incidental characters during one's formative years.

 

Eek.  And I thought I was a cynic.  Even I wouldn't go that far.  Though of course, not all students show up equally prepared to take advantage of the resources a given school might offer, and that's certainly largely a function of home environment.  But I still wouldn't go so far as to buy into the babysitter/daycare epithet.

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There is a huge backlash in my daughter's public school system with regard to Common Core standards and how it applies across the entire class. I can point specifically to the alarming lack of science (compared to my other two kids at other schools), and the level of math that I can only describe as basic. At 2nd grade, she is doing similar math that my youngest is doing in Kindergarten. Because of the size and diversity of learning levels in the class, the teacher's resources are focused on bringing everyone along at the same level, to the detriment of those who can do more. Certainly, this isn't a concern that is new (I remember my parents grousing about the same thing), but I find it alarming how simplistic the curriculum is.

 

And to be clear, this is not a condemnation of her teacher, who is new to the school, and is energetic, engaged and is doing the best she can with the limited resources she's provided with. I do take issue with the state standards and the ham handed way the administration has implemented them.

 

And quite frankly, the schools obsession with 'Guidance' (i.e. taking the kids into a group multiple times a week to emphasise that they shouldn't bully) is preposterous. I understand you want to get the message across, but when delivering that message comes at the detriment of actual academics, I have a problem with it.

 

I never thought I'd feel this way, but comparing private schools with public has convinced me that the public school delivery method is in need of significant overahaul. I'm not sure I can wait around for them to figure it out, though.

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Louis C.K. is actually doing tremendous damage to the Common Core simply by tweeting out pictures of his own third-grade daughter's homework and tests.  He's got a larger Twitter following than most people, to put it mildly, but the fact is that he doesn't really need to rip into them with any kind of comic style; the pictures self-ridicule.

 

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/377129/why-louis-ck-hit-home-common-core-josh-encinias

 

For the moment, Common Core still has a lot of major institutional backers, which will buy it establishment defenders for a time.  But if the Gates Foundation ever throws in the towel, look for most other backers to follow suit.  I honestly think that Gates will at some point; the foundation is fairly nonpartisan and it wouldn't be above them to simply admit that they bet on the wrong horse this time, and continue working towards other national education standards that aren't quite as risible.  After all, the concept will still have a lot of defenders even after the inevitable grave-dancing of those who want to see the concept itself permanently delegitimized, not just this particular manifestation of it.  But the latter crowd have to be thinking that the Common Core was manna from Heaven; there are few greater enemies to any cause than an incompetent friend.

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^ I do believe they do....in high school

 

I've been following Louis C.K. on twitter regarding this issue, and he has a very direct and common sense way of addressing its faults.

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Maybe I'm overestimating the possibilities; maybe you're underestimating them.  But considering that over the past 30+ years, those who have underestimated the transformative power of technology have vastly, vastly outnumbered those who overestimated it, I'll take my chances erring on the side of overestimation.  The modern education model is simply too expensive to be sustainable--and as the old adage goes, if something cannot be sustained, it won't be.

 

I'm well-aware of what the possibilities for transferring education content to students though technology might be.  However the human aspect is always going to be important is going to be very difficult to replicate.

 

In regards to education costs, I believe that it's more than sustainable as a percentage of GDP, especially when other Western countries are in the same ballpark.  But if we're really interested in cutting costs, the first and most important step would be to eliminate many of the unfunded mandates coming down from the state and Federal governments.  (Incidentally, many of these mandates and regulations are completely unsupported by research and would not hurt educational outcomes one bit.)

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There is a huge backlash in my daughter's public school system with regard to Common Core standards and how it applies across the entire class. I can point specifically to the alarming lack of science (compared to my other two kids at other schools), and the level of math that I can only describe as basic. At 2nd grade, she is doing similar math that my youngest is doing in Kindergarten. Because of the size and diversity of learning levels in the class, the teacher's resources are focused on bringing everyone along at the same level, to the detriment of those who can do more. Certainly, this isn't a concern that is new (I remember my parents grousing about the same thing), but I find it alarming how simplistic the curriculum is.

 

And to be clear, this is not a condemnation of her teacher, who is new to the school, and is energetic, engaged and is doing the best she can with the limited resources she's provided with. I do take issue with the state standards and the ham handed way the administration has implemented them.

 

And quite frankly, the schools obsession with 'Guidance' (i.e. taking the kids into a group multiple times a week to emphasise that they shouldn't bully) is preposterous. I understand you want to get the message across, but when delivering that message comes at the detriment of actual academics, I have a problem with it.

 

I never thought I'd feel this way, but comparing private schools with public has convinced me that the public school delivery method is in need of significant overahaul. I'm not sure I can wait around for them to figure it out, though.

 

I can't speak to the lower levels of Common Core math, but I can assure you that by the time the kids are in 7th and 8th grade, they're expected to master skills that used to be part of the high school curriculum.  The problem with this is that all human beings develop at different rates and all students have different potentials.  In other words, I strongly believe that we need to go to flexible and meritocratic tracking of students.

 

In regards to private schools, I'm not at all convinced that, in general, they do a better job of "delivering" content.  One thing that is certainly different is the fact the schools have more flexibility in controlling the learning environment, including not having to comply with many government regulations, getting rid of trouble-makers, and having more freedom in placing students where they actually belong.  There are a lot of things that public schools could do to emulate private schools, but very little of it truly has to do with pedagogy.  However if the public schools were given the freedom to behave more like private schools, many students would be "left behind," however probably not many more or less than we'd expect to see given the true variations of student abilities and motivation.

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^ We'll have to agree to disagree. What I've seen in the teaching process for my two in private seems much more advanced in content, and efficieint in approach than what I've seen in public. Part of that may be personal preference in teaching style. The private schools focus on theme based teaching (incorporating those themes throughout all the subject matter), and allow the kids to take the time to work on  complicated problems on their own, without instruction, for a time, then come back and share notes. I agree with the idea that approaching learning this way better allows the kids to understand the whole problem / subject, rather than just teaching them what the answer to the question is.

 

Now, I will say that the public schools seem to be tracking to this method of learning as well, so maybe we're approaching an equilibrium. But for now, I'm very disappointed in my 2nd grader's experience, and I've taken it upon myself to supplement her work with additional content at home, much to her chagrin.

 

I was a public school kid, and looking back I feel like I graduated at best a mediocre product. I am attempting to correct that trajectory with my kids. We'll see in another 10 years if my theories prove out, I guess.

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^ We'll have to agree to disagree. What I've seen in the teaching process for my two in private seems much more advanced in content, and efficieint in approach than what I've seen in public. Part of that may be personal preference in teaching style. The private schools focus on theme based teaching (incorporating those themes throughout all the subject matter), and allow the kids to take the time to work on  complicated problems on their own, without instruction, for a time, then come back and share notes. I agree with the idea that approaching learning this way better allows the kids to understand the whole problem / subject, rather than just teaching them what the answer to the question is.

 

Now, I will say that the public schools seem to be tracking to this method of learning as well, so maybe we're approaching an equilibrium. But for now, I'm very disappointed in my 2nd grader's experience, and I've taken it upon myself to supplement her work with additional content at home, much to her chagrin.

 

I was a public school kid, and looking back I feel like I graduated at best a mediocre product. I am attempting to correct that trajectory with my kids. We'll see in another 10 years if my theories prove out, I guess.

 

In regards to "efficiency," on a hunch, I do believe this could have more to do with classroom environment and peer effects.

 

As for private schools--as a group--all doing things one way and public schools all doing it a different way, I think you're painting with too wide of a brush.  In fact, I think that variations in instructional methods vary more by teacher than even by school (let alone school type). 

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There's some truth to the classroom environment. My daughter's class this year is pretty stable, but last year's class was like the zombie apocalypse (world war Z, not walking dead). I'm pretty sure her class was the runoff from the inclusive class, because I would guess that half of those kids needed to be on IEP's for behavioral concerns. I don't know how that poor teacher managed to teach the class anything.

 

But that is also partly what I'm paying for...to provide my kids with the most ideal environment I can. I have three kids at three different schools because they have three different sets of needs, and each school is the right fit for them...right now. My wife and I re-evaluate the situation each year. Despite my grousing about public schools, the environment is a good fit for my 2nd grader, for now. Candidly, If I don't start seeing some improvements in their delivery methods, I may pull her, but for now she likes it. Also, she was just admitted into the gifted program (slight brag here), so I'm hoping that this improves some of the issues that I've brought up.

 

Again, we'll have to disagree on the instructional method. Both private schools have invested in certain technique's / programs on a schoolwide level (Singapore math, theme based learning, etc.), the efficiency of the program may be impacted by the teacher, but I haven't had a teacher at either private school that I've had a problem with, at least as it related to academics.

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Median net worth of grads under 40 with student debt is only $8,700

WALTER HAMILTON

 

The financial travails of people under 40 with student-loan debt extend far beyond the college loans themselves, according to a new study.

 

That’s because people with student loans often have other types of debt as well, such as car loans or credit-card borrowing, that weigh heavily on their overall financial well-being.

 

As a result, college graduate heads-of-household under 40 with student debt have a median net worth of only $8,700, according to the analysis by the Pew Research Center. That’s a fraction of the $64,700 the same group without college loans is worth.

 

The median student debt is about $13,000, a seemingly manageable amount.

 

But because of the other loans they’ve taken out, the median total indebtedness of college graduates under 40 with student loans is $137,010, according to the study. That is almost twice the $73,250 debt level for their counterparts with no college debt.

 

CONTINUED

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-young-people-with-student-debt-have-median-net-worth-of-only-8700-20140514-story.html

 

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^well because college graduates tend to make more money, they also qualify for much more care debt, credit card debt, etc. 

 

We are complaining about college costs rising and wages falling, but people still have to control their monthly bills and "lifestyle" purchases.  Cars, trips, gym memberships, phone plans, restaurants, clothes, etc.  And the problem with professional employment is that you have to buy more and nicer clothes and probably don't want to drive a junker like my 210,000 mile Honda.  Also professional employment gives the graduate the illusion of financial well-being, and so graduates are less likely to take a second job to pay down debt quickly since they're confident that they will be promoted. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A lot of times now if I see someone who is really fit I wonder about their employment status. A 9-5 job leaves room for that sort of thing but a lot of other occupations don't. And there's fewer and fewer 9-5 jobs in this country by the second. I think what did this is the movie Bigger, Stronger, Faster and seeing the guys who lived in their cars just so they could lift at Gold's Gym.

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Oh, the scene at the typical college rec center these days.  There's always one or two anorexic girls who visit the gym before and after classes for a total of 4 hours on the elliptical machine every day. 

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We are complaining about college costs rising and wages falling, but people still have to control their monthly bills and "lifestyle" purchases.  Cars, trips, gym memberships, phone plans, restaurants, clothes, etc.  And the problem with professional employment is that you have to buy more and nicer clothes and probably don't want to drive a junker like my 210,000 mile Honda.  Also professional employment gives the graduate the illusion of financial well-being, and so graduates are less likely to take a second job to pay down debt quickly since they're confident that they will be promoted.

 

Not all of those things are created equal.  Also, you forgot to mention home mortgages, which have to be the lion's share of the above-school-debt figure (if the median student debt is $13,000 and the median total debt is $137,000, that's $124,000 of total additional debt at the median ... mortgage debt has to explain the lion's share of that).

 

Cars are a big-ticket item and the temptation for a college graduate to get themselves a good new one as a "graduation present" or because they "need" a car for work can be strong.  I know a college-educated, childless professional couple that still doesn't make a fortune (they're young and went into careers that will take them some time to climb) and until recently had two late-model BMWs; they recently traded in one BMW for a brand new Yukon.  I'm reasonably confident that I make more than both of them combined even without adding my wife's earnings, and yet I still putz around in a 2001 Altima with 163k.  (Hilariously, I just learned of one guy who makes even more than I do [just a little ...] and has me beat: Ludacris drives a 1993 Legend with over 250k on it.)

 

Trips are another thing that, just anecdatally, I see a lot of college grads splurging on; I think people are trying to relive spring breaks from college, or at least caught the travel bug there.  It's an expensive hobby, particularly if you're financing it on credit cards.  My wife and I are guilty of a lot of this in the last two years as well (both my sister and her sister had destination weddings in back-to-back years, and her parents live in India and insisted that we come see them after our own wedding two-ish years ago), but we take very few trips on whims and the last trip we took just for ourselves (i.e., without being nudged into it by family, who sometimes also provide free lodging on said trip) was on Amtrak.

 

The others you mentioned are seldom going to break the bank for most college grads.  Obviously, one can overdo anything, but a basic gym membership is not going to break the bank.  Nor is a basic phone plan, or dining out, or a basic professional wardrobe.  Of course it's possible to burn hundreds of dollars a month on premium gym and spa services, eating at Fleming's every week, and attending private shopping events at Saks Fifth Avenue, but those are controllable costs and I don't think those are what are getting most college grads in trouble.

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I can't remember if I brought it up before but a serious expense for the college graduate is attending out-of-town weddings.  I probably traveled to 15-20 weddings in the 10 years following college, and each one cost at least $500 to attend.  Do the math -- somewhere around $10,000 and that's before counting lost wages from part-time jobs. 

 

Most people who are 25-30 are probably spending $500-1,000 month frivolously.  Eliminate that spending and throw some sort of part-time employment into the mix and one could be $20,000 ahead per year. 

 

I think it's ridiculous how we like to think primarily about our salaries and rank ourselves according to that figure rather than how much we save each year.  Someone making $50,000 can be saving as much or more than someone making $100,000, and they can certainly invest their savings more wisely than the person making $100,000. 

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Yeah, I avoid weddings (plus, only like one of my friends is married, and only one is divorced). The whole concept seems weird to me. It's just too damn expensive to do cross-country flights and then find a place to stay for a few days (I only do cross-country flights for work or when I'm there at least a week to justify the cost).

 

Weddings are giant financial drains. My sister goes to about every one she's invited to, and I suspect it has put her in a bad financial situation since she went to school in Montana. I know a lot of people who do that (live far away from their college and attend cross-country weddings). Living in California, I'm not about to hop on a plane and go to a wedding in Ohio...maybe Michigan since I like vacationing there. If any of my friends in the Bay Area decide to go old school and tie the knot, I'll of course consider that. I pretty much narrowed it down to attending LA, San Diego, and Bay Area weddings. Vegas too.

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Looks like lawyers are now arguing that the Dept of Education should be on the hook for permitting abuses of federal student loans by for-profit colleges:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/corinthian-15-student-loans_n_6739016.html

 

Just heard a great segment on the Slate Money podcast about how Corinthian College was gaming the federal student loan system. Colleges are only allowed to get a maximum of 90% of their income from federal student loans (the other 10% must come from other sources) and Corinthian was maxing this out. So Corinthian began issuing their own private loans to students, because for every $1000 loan they gave to a student, that would allow them to bring in $9000 more federal student loan money.

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Just heard a great segment on the Slate Money podcast about how Corinthian College was gaming the federal student loan system. Colleges are only allowed to get a maximum of 90% of their income from federal student loans (the other 10% must come from other sources) and Corinthian was maxing this out. So Corinthian began issuing their own private loans to students, because for every $1000 loan they gave to a student, that would allow them to bring in $9000 more federal student loan money.

 

I just don't see the value or purpose of "for-profit" educational institutions. If nothing else, they shouldn't be allowed to receive federal funding. Corinthian is probably not the only college of this type that has been gaming the system.

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Just heard a great segment on the Slate Money podcast about how Corinthian College was gaming the federal student loan system. Colleges are only allowed to get a maximum of 90% of their income from federal student loans (the other 10% must come from other sources) and Corinthian was maxing this out. So Corinthian began issuing their own private loans to students, because for every $1000 loan they gave to a student, that would allow them to bring in $9000 more federal student loan money.

 

I just don't see the value or purpose of "for-profit" educational institutions. If nothing else, they shouldn't be allowed to receive federal funding. Corinthian is probably not the only college of this type that has been gaming the system.

 

I taught at one part-time for about two years, a few years before the unscrupulous tactics of these schools became well-known.  It was all new to me when I started there, but slowly the horror of it was revealed.  They tricked students left and right -- for example a student who withdrew from classes due to illness or pregnancy would be automatically signed up and billed for that same course the next quarter.  If they did return, they were told that they would only be billed for the weeks that they attended, but the school would end up billing them twice in full.  I heard about someone withdrawing from a class in week 5 or so, coming back the next quarter at week 6, then being told upon completion of the course that because they weren't there all quarter they had to take it again, so they were billed a third time.  Another technique was to recruit and then constantly shuffle students who were slightly mentally ill between one department and another so that they never graduated.  Often these students would attend few classes per quarter before disappearing but the school got to bill the government at best or their loan cosigners at worst for class after class that they did not have the capacity to complete. 

 

I left because I was laid off, but sometimes I think about the mountains of debt some of those people must still be in. 

 

 

 

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Not sure if this has ever been posted here, ROI per education dollar spent (higher rankings mean more value in the job market for education dollars spent):

 

http://www.payscale.com/college-roi/

 

Some highlights:

58 - CWRU (Highest Ranking Ohio college on the list)

159- Cincinnati (instate)  # 2 in Ohio

189 - Miami (instate) # 3 in Ohio

224  - Dayton  # 4

284 - OSU (instate)

336 - OU (instate)

369 - Cleveland State (instate)

834- Xavier

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