College doesn’t have to be stupid, but they like it that way

I wrote this on MeWe just now, but then it turned into a rant big enough to stick on the blog: I get a text from my daughter this morning (she knows I’ve bailed on most of Facebook except a couple private groups, but wanted to keep me in the loop for fun stuff) about how she’s in a thread my buddy Brad Torgersen put up there about how stupid student loan forgiveness is.

My daughter commented that students don’t have to go into debt if they go to a cheaper college, watch their spending, and have jobs. She’s debt free. Immediately some guy told her about how maybe that was possible way back in her day, but it is impossible now because tuition and books are so much more expensive now and any jobs that college students can get all pay crap, so on and so forth, the usual.

My daughter is all like, DUDE I AM A JUNIOR IN COLLEGE NOW. 😃

Yeah, and I don’t pay for it either. My wife and I warned our kids their whole lives that we weren’t going to pay for their schooling. If they wanted to go to college, they were footing the bill.

But some of you might say, but Larry, you’re a rich successful author, how cruel of you! Surely you could pay for your children’s education!?

Nope. Because when Bridget and I were in college most of the kids we knew where mommy and daddy paid for everything, they just fucked around and had a good time, bouncing from major to major to “find themselves” (and I guess finding yourself involves a lot of recreational drugs, parties, and road trips!). Whenever they flunked or screwed up, daddy would send another check, until they eventually ended up with some useless but fun degree.

Meanwhile, I came from a super poor farming family that barely scraped by. Bridget’s family wasn’t as broke as mine by that time, but they certainly weren’t in a position to send her any money to pay for school. We met at State Cow College. When we got married we were broke. Everything we owned was second hand junk. But we set goals, worked our asses off at whatever the best job available was for as many hours as we could pick up, and got through college as fast as we could and only took out loans in emergencies.

Then we paid off those student loans as fast as we humanly possible, which is saying something, because we had our first kid before we graduated, and we were committed to having Bridget be a stay at home mom (which we’ve stuck to for 4 kids) but that also meant that I had to work my ass off and we had to delay a lot of gratification.

Twenty years later, Bridget and I are doing fine. Meanwhile, many of the people we know who coasted through school are still blundering about aimlessly, trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives. Hardly a scientific sampling, but enough to convince us that we weren’t going to screw over our children for life by letting them think college was a six figure, four year party, and twenty years later they’ve got a Masters in Gender Studies in order to be a bank teller, but they’re really hoping their artisanal scented candle business takes off on Etsy.

My kids are smart. They could have gone to whatever school they wanted. The oldest (who inspired this rant) got recruited by Ivy League schools. She was briefly excited by that idea, until she saw the $40,000 a year tuition, and that she couldn’t carry a gun in Boston, and said screw that noise, and went to one of the cheaper state schools. She has gone through a series of jobs, moving to whichever one has the best earning potential (as in lots of available hours) and then she picks up all the shifts from the dopes who call in sick every time they’re hung over.

A couple of years later our next daughter is dong the same thing, at a different cheap state school. Also working poor college student jobs and looking for opportunities to work extra. And both of them only borrowing the absolute minimum they need to survive (and so far, neither of them has had to do that, which puts them ahead of their parents)

And both of them are currently seeing the same exact kind of behavior Bridget and I saw two decades ago, as the kids who get constantly bailed out by mom and dad make an endless series of idiotic choices. Why not? There’s no repercussions (that they can see now at least). Spring break here we come!

The kids you’ve got to feel sorry for are the ones who want to live that happy good time lifestyle, but who don’t have a rich mom and dad, so they instead turn to the endless money faucet of student loans, because they don’t yet realize that eventually that’s going to come back around to bite them in the ass.

And Big College loves this shit, and just keep jacking up the prices. Because as long as there is some sucker who is willing to pay $400,000 for a degree that is functionally indistinguishable from one that costs $40,000, they’re going to do so, gleefully.

** So that’s what I wrote on MeWe, but I’m just getting started on this goofy topic.

Everybody seems hung up on this idea that going to an expensive school is going to make you so much better off than going to a cheap school. But as far as I can tell, outside of some very narrow career field networking situations that’s bullshit for the vast majority of us.

The only places I’m aware of that magical “networking” makes that much difference is that you are on the Yale rowing/golf team and friends with Chad Moneybags who can put in a good word with his dad who is on the board at FuckYou, FuckYou, and PayMe on Wall/K Street so you can get that sweet six figure right out of school venture capital/think tank job.

For the vast vast majority of the rest of us who aren’t anywhere near those social circles (and who don’t want to be!) the “prestige” of the place you got your degree from only matters when applying to your first job because the rest of your resume is garbage, and from that point on literally nobody gives a shit, and they’re going to judge you on the quality of your actual work.

Is the actual education at these elite schools really orders of magnitude better? No. Of course not. You’re paying for the name (and in some cases theoretical “networking”). Actual education might be better, but I wouldn’t bet on it, and there’s no way the improvement is proportional to the cost increase. And having friends/coworkers who went to various elite schools, sometimes the education is actually worse.

My senior year I took some test that they give to all the graduating business majors across the country every so often to gauge our overall business knowledge and how our schools stack up against each other. The only reason I remember this at all is that year State Cow College kicked the shit out of Stanford. Go Aggies.

And Stanford’s still relatively cheap comparatively. You want to go a couple hundred grand into debt for your fancy degree from NYU? Then you’d damn well make sure that you’re going to get sufficient return on your investment. Otherwise, you’re a dope. Sorry. You went to college. You’re supposed to be smart.

College is kind of a joke anyway. They keep you there paying money for four+ years. The part that is of actual value in your career/life takes up maybe half of that if you’re lucky. And even then you’ll probably learn more in the first six months to a year of doing your major for a living than you got out of college.

The rest is gen eds, that are supposed to make you “well rounded”. A concept which quite literally everybody knows is total bullshit. And most gen eds could be replaced with a few hour long Wikipedia spiral on the subject and you’d probably learn more, for thousands of dollars less. We all know it. The universities know it too, but they pretend that this is some enlightened educational blah blah blah to make you a better person, when in reality it’s just to make you a poorer person.

Even in your major, you’ll probably be required to take some bullshit classes that only exist because the university needs to keep employing some otherwise useless professor, and this is the only thing they can teach. Hell, to get my accounting degree I had to take a class in Future Basic, which was already a dead programming language twenty years ago. It was a joke. We all knew it was a joke. The class only existed because this was literally the only thing this tenured professor was qualified to teach. Yet we still all paid money to jump through pointless hoops.

Talking to my kids and other young people today, it hasn’t changed. If anything it’s gotten dumber. Gen Ed English class now is teaching basic shit kids should have learned in high school, only now you’re paying thousands of bucks for the privilege. Now go to your Gen Ed science class, which is mostly watching videos about global warming (which you could stream on YouTube for free if you felt like it, but this way it is more expensive and there’s a test at the end).

So we participate in this process where theoretically we learn about the major thing we want to do for a living, and in exchange the school makes you sit through a bunch of pointless bullshit that you’re all going to forget about ten minutes after the final, and never use again for the rest of your life. If half your degree is hoop jumping bullshit, then you might as well make get the cheap hoop jumping bullshit.

If you really wanted to make college affordable, ditch all the GenEd hours, and you could be handing out practical degrees in two years instead of four. Don’t know basic English enough to write your way through your real classes? Then your dumb ass can go take English 101. And the kids who didn’t sleep their way through high school can save money.

But nope. You need to spend hundreds of bucks on “Music Appreciation” in order to be “Well Rounded” instead. (and most Music 101 classes could easily be replaced by a Spotify playlist and listening to a couple of podcasts, and you’d actually learn more).

I can’t forget the most important part of all these mandatory GenEds though. If we didn’t have GenEd, how would academics be able to beat regular students over the head about whatever their left-wing cause of the day is? Sure. You probably just want to go to school so you can get a good paying job in engineering, business, or programming, but then you wouldn’t get indoctrinated… err… I mean, well rounded, by exposure to such vital topics as Critical Race Theory or Feminist Dance Therapy, and those professors need to get paid too.

Of course, any criticism of our crazy expensive yet shockingly lackluster higher education system will be met by screams of outrage by people who will label me “anti-intellectual.” Too bad the hucksters who came up with this scam are hardly deserving of the title intellectual.

So now to bring this full circle, Student Loan Forgiveness is the big brain proposal that says debts which are overwhelmingly held by privileged white liberals (who paid money to other privileged white liberals in order to theoretically achieve greater earning potential), should be paid for by everybody else, including those who don’t have college degrees and greater earning potential. So basically all of you truck drivers, shelf stockers, and now unemployed pipeline workers get to play the part of the mommy and daddy I talked about earlier who bail out their stupid kids after they make bad choices. Yay.

Now, will Joe Biden actually do some kind of student loan forgiveness? Or will this be another empty promise, like the DNC has done to every other group they milk for votes and then promptly abandon? (Black Lives Matter is simply shocked that the old racist white segregationist “racial jungle” guy who was BFFs with a KKK Grand Kleagle is snubbing them now that he’s in office. Who could have possibly seen this coming?)

Honestly, I’ve got no idea if loan forgiveness will happen. It’s a stupid idiotic proposal that reinforces bad behaviors and will raise costs long term, so the DNC should love it. However, since the DNC is merely a wholly owned subsidiary of the CorpoUniParty (don’t get butt hurt, libs, half the GOP belongs to it too), it depends if BigEd and the banks gain money/power off of it. If that cost/benefit analysis comes back positive, the loans will be forgiven, and if it doesn’t, then it’ll quietly die… Until next election when they need to make more promises to gullible liberals.

In the meantime, if you’re going to go to college, don’t bank on Santa Claus bailing you out. Go cheap. Go fast. Have a job. Get that shit done. Don’t borrow money you can’t pay back. Compound interest is a bitch.

podcast interview of me and john brown for our new book gun runner
January update post

261 thoughts on “College doesn’t have to be stupid, but they like it that way”

  1. Five kids. First two went right into the work force (although both were accepted into college, and one graduated in the top tier of his class). #3 got accepted everywhere she applied, but ONE school offered her a full academic scholarship. She finally got her head right and realized free is better than expensive. She just graduated and has been accepted into Medical school. #4 didn’t go to college, and #5 is headed toward the Navy. My view is that there is a narrow field of kids who should head to college, the rest should think long and hard. Many of my kid’s friends who went to college (and they were VERY jealous of at the time) – most either dropped out, failed out, or aren’t working in anything anywhere near their field, let alone a job that requires a college degree.

    1. If you are not in the top 20% of your high school graduating class, then college might not be for you.

      If you are not in the top 50% percent of SAT scores (and I might be dating myself here, I graduated in 1977), then college might not be for you.

      If you are not in the top 10% of your ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) tests, then college might not be for you.

      I was the laziest B student in high school, no scholarships for you! Volunteered to be shot, bombed, gassed, and die horribly for Uncle Sam for 20 years in exchange for not totally free medical care, and only paying 20% of tuition to pay for my college degrees (couple of AS, a BS, and an MS) and finished with a 3.5 GPA.

      Wife with a BS in Music Education didn’t seem to understand what co-signing a loan means, so when sons failed to find adequately paying jobs out of college, Boom, default, and guess who the lenders come after? Yep. And I’ll give you 3 guesses who THEY voted for.

      Just because you have a degree, doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed. Luck, common sense, and hard work are all equally important.

      1. Likewise, few ask potential grads if sitting in a cube, staring at spreadsheets, sitting in useless meetings, and generally living “Office Space” is what they really want to do with the rest of their lives.
        Or if they really thought through a life of riding herd on a bunch of noisy, rowdy, spoiled children.
        Just because one can get into an office job doesn’t mean that it will be the best fit.

        1. Or if they really thought through a life of riding herd on a bunch of noisy, rowdy, spoiled children.


          Is that a question about teaching elementary school, or is it still about working in an office? 😛

          I swear, most college students these days believe they’re going to make a career out of ‘mostly peaceful’ protesting.
          ———————————
          Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

  2. One other thing, Larry- those useless GenEds and a bunch of other assorted garbage involved in the college experience? That’s not even the colleges doing it, that’s forced on them by accreditation associations.

    If you’re not accredited, not only are there repercussions re: student aid (no federal grants or loans for unaccredited schools), but your credits mean nothing to other institutions and any degree may not be respected if you feel the need to go to grad school. So you could pay for your degree at Unaccredited U and didn’t need loans, great. But now you want to go to a grad school- they don’t recognize your school as being worth squat, so they won’t let you in. So your school needs accreditation, which means you have to deal with these associations.

    Accreditation associations are the bane of every college faculty member’s existence. Not just busy work like BS objectives and such (and apparently, “Look, the class is X and we’re teaching X” isn’t good enough). But these associations want to see certain things out of your school. You need to have those well rounded programs (meaning: credits need to be used for things far outside what the students are there to learn and must be wasted on multicultural underwater basket weaving and the like). You need to graduate a certain percentage of students, so if you start flunking too many unprepared morons, you will have problems keeping accreditation. And more stuff- this is very far reaching and affects every part of the school. Even stuff like the quality of the dorms.

    When I was in school, the rooms had no phone lines, there was no internet, and the bathroom was down the hall with communal showers. Now everybody wants to see ensuite bathrooms and the like with plenty of bandwidth and so on. Well, that costs money.

    Cars were cheaper in the early ’80s- well, they didn’t have airbags, ABS, backup cameras, bluetooth, or even air conditioning or power steering as standard features. Now they do. And they cost more. Many things in school are expensive… and there’s more features.

    And yet, in the midst of all this, nobody is hauling textbook publishers before Congress. Why does a simple math book cost $200 and get changed every two years? Because it makes money. They view students as money factories. So everything costs more and more loans are needed.

    Education can be a wonderful thing and put people into good stead for challenging careers. It can also be a money sink where people waste the equivalent of a good house in the suburbs to no useful end. And there’s a lot of folks out there raking in the cash who don’t especially care whether your educational experience is the first or the second.

    1. Truth! I was 37 before I started any kind of college. I did it because the GI Bill benefits are just sitting there and if I’m not taking advantage of it then I’m stupid since I paid for it.

      But those textbooks! Since my learning was all online, I learned after the first several classes to just buy the digital copy of the book but only if I absolutely needed it for the class. Several of those math classes that I took had a textbook requirement but as it was online, I realized after the first two that I didn’t NEED the textbook at all! All of the homework and tests were online! Saved myself a pretty penny there.

    2. Lets not forget that that $200 math textbook was written BY the prof teaching the course rather often.
      And the difference between the two textbooks is “we made chapter 10 chapter 12, and chapter 11 chapter 10, and chapter 12 chapter 11.”

      1. That’s more difference than a lot of the textbooks I had to deal with. ‘You can’t use the Fourth Edition, you have to use the Fifth. You see, in the Fifth Edition we changed the order of the questions in the end-of-chapter pop quizzes, so if you use the Fourth Edition, all your answers will be wrong.’

        That is literally the entire difference between editions in some of the texts I had to use. The professors openly admitted it.

        I did have a history prof who wrote his own textbooks, but he was a leading expert in his field and his books were published to the trade – which meant I could pick them up for $20 or so. I was lucky to have him. His name, by the way, is Waldemar Heckel, and if you are interested in the Hellenistic Greeks, he’s your man.

        (No, I did not expect to get a job out of studying the Hellenistic Greeks. But I had to take something to fulfil the bullshit Gen Ed quota, so I took stuff that interested me.)

        1. It appears that things haven’t changed much since Feynman’s rants about the terrible quality of overpriced textbooks, and the rather sleazy adoption process California used back in the early 60’s.

      2. I was an adjunct at a small college in the Chemistry Department. A new edition of the textbook came out every 3 years. The only differences were changing the order of chapters and moving the sample problems around. A publisher’s rep told me that they sell a look of books the first year of a new edition, a few the 2nd year and none the 3rd – too many used copies floating around. So, new edition every 3 years.

    3. The most expensive textbook I had was for grad school, and it was $268. (The only book I had to buy that semester. I wanted to cry.) They absolutely had to be new. Why? It was for “Accounting for Non-Profit Organizations.” Meaning it constantly had to be up to date because of, guess who, tax laws. Every time some IRS functionary or Congress decided to play around with related regulations? Old book’s out of date. You have to wonder if they were getting a cut.

      1. I’ll actually accept that specific situation – under the condition that it’s a terminal-level course intended to prepare you for a job in your field next year.

        Any lesser scenario should not need to cover current law. In fact, for educational purposes focusing on an older set of laws would be preferable because then you could look at what those laws were changed from, what they were changed to, and what the impact of the assorted changes was.

        1. You know, World Book Encyclopedia used to sell yearly update books of the changes, and not make you buy the entire damn encyclopedia all over again.

    4. I had to do accreditation paperwork at one college and one university I worked at. Your account rings true and accurate.

    5. Don’t get me started on textbook publishers. I just retired and realized the thing I missed least was the time spent every semester trying to find the best cheap text book I could for my students. I even used and recommended earlier editions when I could. It was maddening. I don’t miss it a damn bit.

    6. Accreditation is the Blight that has swept through many a profession. Got a podunk PD out in nowhere? Well, you, too, can be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get ‘accredited’ and be forced to turn your very useable and readable manual into a 500 page manual that looks just like what the NYPD use, all thanks to the Accreditation Police (insurance companies, don’t get accredited and you don’t get insurance.) Of course, the accreditors make a butt-load of money (usually ex police chiefs.)

      Accreditation has gotten so bad that they tried accrediting secretaries, oh, I mean ‘administrative professionals.’

      Stupidity abounds…

    7. Correct and correct!
      The textbook scam is one of the most obscene ripoffs!
      I’m old enough that $30 for a textbook was highway robbery, and now most are well north of $150.
      When I was in professional school, had one anatomy class with an required textbook, conveniently written by the professor, that in its intro noted it wasn’t meant for professional health care students, only for lower tier nurses.

    8. Amen!!! Rip out the current Accreditation system which is basically a time served model and replace it with performance and content measurement. Or just drop accreditation all together – buyer be ware.

  3. Too true. Both my wife and I served in the military, and used the GI Bill only to pay for our degrees (I did take out roughly $10k to pay for the second year of my MBA). There are so many options and opportunities out there, they just require that people apply themselves.

      1. I got my corporate job to pay for it. Heck, even Starbucks gives you money towards college now. There is always a way, some people are just too lazy/tired/unmotivated to find it.

        1. Depends where you are.

          Here in Canada, virtually all postsecondary institutions are government-owned, and if you are blackballed by one of them you will not be accepted by any others. I was kept out of college for over twenty years because of that. A variety of admissions people at a variety of places cheerfully told me there was no point in my even applying, because they would reject me on the spot.

          1. DJ— Explained downthread. I was sick and missed midterms, but couldn’t prove it. (I was out of my head with fever and had nobody to take me to my doctor. This was before we had walk-in clinics in these parts.) Consequently I flunked a couple of courses, and since it was my first term, that put my GPA in ‘Do Not Touch—Ever’ territory. Then, twenty years later, I found an admissions dean who had the horse sense to waive the rule. But I would never even have met so exalted a person in any of the government-run institutions.

      2. No, we understand that. TANSTAAFL. Military members pay for it with service. Some of us even paid for it literally by payroll deduction into a fund that was later converted over into the GI Bill in effect at the time. And military members are usually eligible for Tuition Assistance while taking courses on active duty. Said TA varying widely depending on year, service, and how badly the military wanted you to have that particular course knowledge/skill.

  4. “Don’t know basic English enough to write your way through your real classes? Then your dumb ass can go take English 101. And the kids who didn’t sleep their way through high school can save money.”
    Have to throw in that this is another part of the problem: schools that care more about ‘self-esteem’ and such crap than education. Kids who should never have been passed to the next grade going on anyway because of schools and ‘teachers’ who just want them moved along.

    Back in high school, having all the actual credits I needed, I decided to take a math class because I can do the four basic things, but beyond that I was terrible. I lasted two weeks before I found something else because this class literally started at the ‘2+2=4’ level, and at least half the class had trouble with it. Some flatly couldn’t do it(or didn’t want to bother and pretended they couldn’t). In a SENIOR HIGH CLASS…

    The teachers/administrators who’d passed them on in earlier grades had screwed them, without lube, and apparently didn’t care.

    Yes, I’m still pissed about it.

  5. Going to a prestigious school that you aren’t qualified for is negatively productive. This causes people to downgrade their major into something useless.

    The stimulation of being around other smart people can be useful — if you are smart. This was part of the magic of college back when fewer people went. Once upon a time, you were supposed to be fluent in Latin and ancient Greek before you went to college.

    Today, a large chunk of college is simply remedial high school — or even grammar school. Better to get those courses in at the local community college.

    One area where the prestige of the college you go to is quite important is if you want to be a professor yourself. The top research universities get their professors from the top research universities. This applies to grad school more than undergrad.

    1. Unfortunately, if you want to be a professor yourself, you’re already suspect in my book. I’d rather be taught courses by someone who’s actually experienced it in real life. Their lessons built on how they succeeded, or how to avoid their failures.

  6. I’m 41 with a BA Econ and MBA from a decent state University here in WA. I had a kid when I was going to school and got every grant and scholarship I could but my mom (who was dying at the time) convinced me to get the MBA. It’s the only thing I’m still paying for 16 years later.

    I left corporate America with a Voluntary Layoff after 12 years of torture and they paid for me to become an esthetician through a government extortion program. I now own my own spa, am much much happier in my work, am my own boss and am on track year over year to make what I made before I quit CorpoSuck. The price tag for college before grants etc. was roughly $75k. Price tag to be an esthetician $7k.

    I do think the funniest part of all this is that whenever I encounter kids who went to college they think they’re smarter then me by virtue of their “superior education”. Every kid under the age of 25 is convinced that they are the most educated kid in the history of the world. Of course, if asked, they wouldn’t know who the first president of the US was without looking it up on their phone.

    My kid – he just joined the Marines. He knows that the best way to get an education is to have your employer foot the bill.

    1. “Every kid under the age of 25 is convinced that they are the most educated kid in the history of the world. ”

      Some goofy old men over 55 think that of themselves, too. Not me! I am thinking of a …. friend .. of mine. You don’t know him. His name is …. Wohn Jright. Yeah. that’s it.

      But it is easy to overestimate your education (as I do, see below) if you happen not to meet really well educated people. And, sadly, they seem to be rare on the ground these days.

    2. Except the universities that “provide education to military members” are often useless paper mills. One of the dumbest humans I’ve ever met has a Masters Degree, paid for by the US Army.

      1. Depends on what it’s in.
        Resource Management and Production Control Associate degrees dealt with beginner concepts of business, management, inventory control, scheduling, psych, and making sure you could read at college level as opposed to a 9th grade level.
        BS Computer degree was programming, database construction, security; but without the nuts and bolts of an EE computer degree (I picked up that side mostly by building my own.)
        MS in Management is pretty standard. And by that level, what you get out of it depends on you, not the instructors.

  7. Nowadays, information is widely available and incredibly cheap. Almost every bit of human knowledge can be accessed through the internet. Colleges aren’t the repository of advanced skills and information they once were.

    So why go to college in the 21st century? Knowledge and training for very specialized fields. If you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars a years for anything but a Bachelor of Science in a technical/medical field, you’re wrong.

    Google’s creating six month long coding schools that they’ll accept as good as a four year degree. And if you’re aiming for a career in tech, you need certifications from accredited testing agencies, not a degree from a four year university.

    Anyone that goes into decades of debt for Gender Studies or a BA in French Poetry fails the first test at being an adult.

    I say this as someone that didn’t pay for his degree, I just had to do a minimum of five years in the active duty Army. During a war. At least my BS in military history has proven someone useful as a writer.

    1. I got a BS in English. Which is about all I learned which getting my BS in English. How to BS in English.

      (Love your books, BTW)

      1. As a holder of a BA in English, I entirely agree. But I was BS’ing in English at least from my junior HS year. I likely would have done well to continue straight to grad school, but the Eng. department at City U. seemed principally to exist for the farming of new English professors. When I returned to the classroom ten years later, it was at Two-Year Tech (who accepted me as a “sophomore” by my older undergrad credits) to buy an Associate’s in something useful.

        1. Most of those ‘xxx Studies’ degrees qualify the graduate to be…a professor of ‘xxx Studies’. And nothing else. Graduates outnumber available ‘Professor Of xxx Studies’ slots 50-to-1. Or more.

          “Do you want fries with that?”
          ———————————
          Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

    2. As a college instructor, I think I’ve found two instances of when a 4-year (although I think it could be done in 3 without a loss of quality) can be good for people. The first is for those who are smart *and* inquisitive and need direction but don’t fit into or can’t get into the military. (I confess that what I mostly learned in the military was that I REALLY didn’t fit in the military.) Many of them find that direction with the help of some instructors.
      The second is for the truly academically minded who just love learning for its own sake but are smart enough to know that 1) there aren’t enough academic jobs for them unless they go to that top tier expensive school, and 2) they may have to make a living doing something unrelated to their academic love but they’re okay with that.
      I’ve had quite a few students in each set. Most otherwise don’t belong there except to get a certificate, so they should do it fast and keep it cheap. I often encouraged students to drop out. “If you’re meant to go to college you’ll find your way back. I did.”

      1. That’s okay. Some of us can kind of fit into the military and make a decent career out of it. Until the BS level rises high enough that we realize we need to be somewhere else.

        It took me until being assigned to Andrews during the Clintons, and having Billy Dale’s wife working for me, and a corrupt commander and OIC, and doing a self eval during a 7 Habits course to figure that out. (Just because I’m slow doesn’t mean I’m stupid. LOL)

  8. One of the things I’m liking about Virginia (truthfully, it might be the only thing I like about this state at the moment) is for high school kids to be able to take college classes while still in high school, have them count as both AP credits and college credits, so when they graduate high school and move on to a four year school they can knock off an entire year at a fraction of the cost. I’m not sure if other states do this or now (I don’t remember anything like this in California in the 90s but it might have been there) but it really helps the kids who bust their asses in high school and not screw around.

    1. Utah does this. I have multiple nieces and nephews that had associates degrees when they graduated high school. Smartest thing
      They ever did.

    2. There is a similar program in Minnesota called Post-Secondary Education Option (PSEO). Have a junior in high school right now taking two (or is it three) college courses, and she will probably do the same next year. The school district pays for tuition and textbooks.

    3. Dual Enrollment is a big thing in Florida, especially with the Home School and Virtual students. It’s either free or super cheap to take college classes while still in high school.

      I will warn against AP classes – schools are pushing them, which devalues them, and not all of them are accepted by colleges, so you’re better off checking into that before taking any.

    4. Michigan does, but I’m not sure it’s not just another way to get butts in seats. Just my opinion from having a few in my classes.

    5. Dual enrollnent is a big thing here in Georgia, allows kids to knock out the basic gen-ed college classes. It’s not the same as AP classes. My son did very well on his AP class exams — 5’s in everything — but it depends on the college as to how much credit they will allow for whatever score a kid gets, and it varies wildly. He went to the school that gave him the most credir for his AP classes, and was able to basically enter as a sophomore and quickly knocked out a double major.

  9. “College is kind of a joke anyway. They keep you there paying money for four+ years. The part that is of actual value in your career/life takes up maybe half of that if you’re lucky. And even then you’ll probably learn more in the first six months to a year of doing your major for a living than you got out of college.”

    This is why I had a hard time staying in college, and ultimately left without a degree (and thankfully no student debt.) I was already doing the job I was going to college to get a degree that would say I was qualified to do the job I already had. And the classes I was required to take, as you said, were frequently laughable in how outdated they were.

    But when things tanked in 2008 (thanks, big media, for trash-talking the economy down) and my company closed, entry-level jobs were looking for people with Masters degrees and finding them, so that sucked.

    There are fields where advanced education is necessary. I wouldn’t go to a doctor who didn’t receive a college education. But a ton of degrees exist just to make the schools more money, and since the schools offer a degree in a subject, business start requiring a degree in that subject. And when a job requires a college degree but doesn’t care about the field (“You have an MS in mathematics? You sound like a perfect fit for our open position in Human Resources!”), then they’re just perpetuating the BS that you *need* a degree.

  10. So I’m a college professor at a small, less expensive private school in the New York City metro area.
    I’ve been in the biz for about 25 years now. I was accepted to the big name Ivys for undergraduate school, but I went to Rutgers-Newark NJ, which is a state school and was at that that time (early 90s), about 1/10 the price of Princeton. I got a partial academic scholarship and I worked to pay the rest, and I’ve worked ever since.
    I got my doctorate (in physical chemistry) from NYU, and I’ve worked as an instructor at NYU, Columbia, Barnard, Rutgers, Essex County Community College, and my current employer. I can tell you from inside that the label on the can DOES NOT in any way correlate to the quality of the education.
    ECCC was, 20 years ago, a bottomless pit of crap, but so was Columbia’s chemistry department at the time as well, but for very different reasons. ECCC was a dumpster fire because the students didn’t give a crap (that ever flowing faucet of Federal money), and so the instructors didn’t give a crap either. Columbia’s undergraduate education was also crap because the faculty didn’t give a crap because they were all wound up in the glory of being faculty at Columbia University in the City of New York, and undergraduates were beneath notice. Most teaching tasks were fobbed off on graduate students who themselves didn’t care or didn’t speak English, and the faculty typically responded “well, if you can’t hack it at Columbia, we’ve got 100 more just like you who’ll happily take your place.”
    My current employer and Barnard, oddly enough, have faculty whose main motivation was teaching and educating, rather than prestige, and I’d rate the quality of our classes now as equal or better than most of the big names. My current school also caps all lectures at 25, and unlike at a large school, we instructors actually know the individual students and can respond to individual needs. This is quite unlike the 700 student section I taught at NYU (41 TAs under my direction there, it was a hopeless mess). I did what I could at NYU to shove the worst debris away from my classes, but Intro Chem is the bottom of the barrel, so there wasn’t much I could do.
    I also tell my students, as you said, that the only thing the name school gets you is the first job. After that, no one cares. I’ve sat on plenty of hiring committees over the years, and not once did we care about where someone got their undergraduate degree. We cared about what their references said about their previous employment. My brother (undergraduate degree from state college) was a C suite level manager for the IT department at some big finance company and unless you’re walking out of college for the first job, they don’t give one solitary crap about your fancy degree: can you hack it, that’s all they care about.

    1. My wife found that our local community college was definitely a gem-in-the-rough. She took Honors Calculus from a professor who didn’t want to teach at the local big-name university because, as he said it, if he wanted to be messed with by little men who had no idea what he was teaching, he’d have stayed in Moscow, as in Russia. Big brain in mathematics, teaching at a comm college. Same with her physics teacher, got tired of the university bullscat and retired and went to teach at the comm college.

      I’ve taken history classes at the same comm college and the teachers were first rate, unlike the ones in the big-name university just down the road.

  11. One thing the people pushing student loan forgiveness never seem to mention is that forgiven debt counts as income. Get $50,000 of student loan debt forgiven, and as far as the IRS is concerned, you made an extra 50 grand that year that you now have to pay taxes on. So, you basically trade being the loan holder’s bitch for being the IRS’s bitch. Lucky you!

    1. Depends on how the forgiveness program is created. Some (like my wife’s) are tax-free. Usually you have to be working in state or federal government positions that are in high demand with a high turnover rate (like working at Child Protective Services, like my wife did).

  12. I was able to land a factory job with a company that had a tuition assistance program. I went to the local cheap state college using my employer’s money. It took me longer because I was stuck taking night classes and such, but while I was doing that I was also bidding on better jobs at my place of employment. By the time I was done getting my finance/business management degree, I had already worked my way into a computer programming type position. The people that hired me for the better jobs didn’t really care so much just what degree I was pursuing, only that I could prove that I was able to learn stuff. I’ve been quite happy with the way things turned out.

    I told my daughters that I was not going to foot the bill for four years (or five or six..) years of fun, for mostly the same reason Larry cites. They both chose to pursue occupations that did not require huge $’s to enter. They both realized that their end goal was to get married and have kids, so getting deep into debt so they could enter a stress-filled career wasn’t the best move. They are still both in the process of fulfilling their goals, so the end results aren’t in yet, but I believe they chose an intelligent path.

  13. “who was BFFs with a KKK Grand Kleagle”
    just a minor correction: Joe Biden was friends with Senator Robert Byrd (D, W. Virginia), who was an “Exalted Cyclops” in the K K K, not a grand kleagle. I’m not sure what the difference in rank means either, but I just figured I’d issue the correction to be a jerk about it. 🙂

        1. I strongly suspect that both the KKK and Gary Gygax cribbed a lot of their terminology from the Freemasons. ‘Level titles’ in original D&D are instantly recognizable to anyone who knows about Masonic degrees. The Klan’s silly ranks have the same flavour, and probably for the same reason.

  14. I teach English 101 at a community college. What Larry said about how “Gen Ed English class now is teaching basic shit kids should have learned in high school”–it’s worse than that. Way too many of my students don’t have the basic grammar skills they should have learned in elementary school.

  15. Two years? I studied English so I could be an editor and/or technical writer (I chose this over creative writing, which I wanted to take, but recognized would be almost completely impossible to get a job doing). The number of classes that constituted the actual meat of that? Like 5 or 6. I could have taken those classes and learned to do what I wanted to do in ONE DAMN SEMESTER!

    Granted, I wouldn’t have been able to take ballroom dance classes every semester for 5 years, but hey, it’s all give and take. Yes, I was one of those schlubs who wasted time in college because mom and dad paid for half of it and I took out student loans and pell grants for the other half. Happily I went to the Cow College version of Mormon University, and ended college with about 16k in debt. Which I finished paying off 4 months ago. Stupid responsible me. I should have just deferred payments until the government decided to pay for it.

    Only, here’s the thing…I figured out, in the LAST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE that I couldn’t stand editing or technical writing for more than 2 hours at a time. This was because the capstone course was working as an editor for a student monthly magazine. I worked my ass off in that class and hated almost every minute of it. In part because the “writers” for the magazine we made were Phys Ed majors. Ever try to make use out of an article that cites a damn CHINESE RESTAURANT’S WEBSITE as a source? I did. I told that SoB to rewrite the damn thing or get better sources. He complained. The Phys Ed class and the Editing class hated each other. Like a lot.

    I did, however, have about 5-6 years of experience working as a consumer desktop build/repair person, so I had a backup marketable skill from the get go. I spent two years after college getting paid 12-15 and hour to fix small business computers and servers before I realized I could teach myself and started grinding out IT certifications. 3 years after that I had 12 certifications and had quadrupled my paycheck. I really hate how college works.

    Also, the best thing I learned from my degree was that college professors are not profound intellects who actually know more than the average person. They really only know enough to get an entry level job somewhere. Because that’s what they teach you to do, so they don’t have to learn anything past that to do their jobs. Those who can’t do, teach.

  16. CLEP tests. Skip the college, study on your own, take the tests, BOOM! college credit for a lot less money. There’s so many ways to reduce the cost of a good education. I’m a big fan of vocational training (My kid graduated from high school as a sophomore in college, because the school *paid* for college classes) and went straight in to culinary school. She worked during class, and had a job waiting as soon as she got out. She has NO college debt, and (even in the restaurant shutdown) found a good paying job.

    1. Yeah, I took all of my history classes via CLEP. I wish I’d known about them sooner, I could have saved even more money!
      Plus I think I learned a lot more about world history studying on my own.

    2. You can get a two year degree of education just by not sleeping during high school.
      And yes, that’s a very sad observation.

  17. I was one of the kids that had a trust fund to pay for my college degree. Grandpa set that up, and I was lucky enough to have college coincide with the dot com bubble (graduated just before it popped so I had a nice nest egg left over). But, I was always driven, and didn’t party (much). Too busy learning. It was a great advantage to my start in life. Got my degree in aerospace engineering, and have made a good living ever since.

    That said, my kids will get some money from their grandparents for college. But they won’t know about it until we can’t keep it from them anymore. It won’t be nearly enough to get through 4 years, even at in state rates, let alone a private school. So they’ll have to still work and get crap loads of scholarships, and nearly all will have to be merit based because of their horrendous white, Christian, middle class, intact nuclear family privilege.

    We will hopefully be able to help out with our eventual grandkids , but we won’t be helping out our kids with anything more than nominal amounts. And those grandkids will only get our help if we see them as not becoming entitled brats.

  18. A year ago Elizabeth Warren was confronted by a father :
    “My daughter is in school,” the man said. “I saved all my money just to pay my student loans. Can I have my money back?

    “Of course not,” Warren responded.

    “So you want to help those who don’t save any money and the ones that do the right thing get screwed?” he responded.

    The man went on to say that his friend makes more money than him and instead of paying off his loans, the friend bought a car and went on expensive vacations.

    “I saved my money,” the man said. “He made more than I did. I worked a double shift, worked extra … so you’re laughing at me.”

    “No I’m not,” Warren responded.

    “Yes that’s exactly what you’re doing,” the man said. “We did the right thing and we get screwed.”

  19. My entire undergrad student loans for 4 years were about$4400.00. Uncle Sam ***did*** pay the rest, but it was a fair trade: serve in the USAF for a minimum of 5 years as a junior officer. Your basic ROTC scholarship, when I did it, was tuition and fees, books, and lab fees, plus a stipend of $100.00/ month.

    I’ve heard they are harder to get now, but then again, the Department of Defense was a lot larger in the early 1980’s than now. Still worth looking in to. And, hey, even got ammo and range time provided. . .

  20. Bravo, Larry.

    Due to some bureaucratic BS with the local middle school system approving a 6-day absence for my (straight-A, honor roll) son and then unapproving it 2 weeks after the absence concluded by telling me I had to go to truancy court with him, we ended up pulling both kids out of the public school system a few years ago in favor of an online-cyber academy. Best decision ever…

    My wife and I have been on the same page for secondary education since before kids and it mirror’s yours. The boys both know that they will fund 100% of their college education or tech school, depending on what career they think they want to get into. That doesn’t mean that if they take student loans that I won’t write a check at the end…. but they have no idea that it’s even an option. Skin. In. The. Game.

    The current sophomore is still a straight-A and honor roll student. He works at a restaurant about 10-hours per week (at almost $10/hr), teaches a kid’s jiu-jitsu class 5 days a week for 2 hours each day ($150/week) and some adult classes each week ($35 a class!) and trains jiu-jitsu and kickboxing 6 days a week. He completes his schoolwork whenever he wants to schedule it (within reason and on time) and will be dual-enrolled in the local community college this summer. He will be 3 credits shy of his AS when he graduates high school, which at this point looks like it will be about 3 months early.

    The kid is smart, of course. He was the one to recognize that it was our idea to put him in an online academy and to pay for it. He was the one that said “I can dual enroll in college my junior year. If you were willing to pay for high school, can you help with the college while I’m finishing high school?”

    He saves every penny. And spends as little as possible.
    Kid: Dad, I want a new PlayStation5
    Me: You have plenty of money saved, you can do something special every once in a while
    Kid: I worked too hard for that money and I like seeing the balance go up, not down.
    Me: Good choice, kiddo.

    1. Dual credit is the bomb. Don’t know why people spend money on AP classes with no guarantees at the end when a dual credit course is hours in the bank. My kiddo will be nearly if not fully a sophomore when she starts college.

  21. I have two in college right now. The first, earing a nursing degree, is using my GI Bill. Why not? I’m not using it. the next oldest got so much school scholarship money it’s more than affordable. They both work and help pay for school to have their won skin in the game. Neither are, thank God, wasting it.

    The goal, of course, is to graduate debt-free and they are well on their way.

  22. The banks don’t have skin in the game any more. Obama federalized all the student loans, likely because the banks saw this DefaultAPalooza on the horizon and wanted to fob their risks off on the taxpayers.

    Of course, Obama sold this to his dimwitted constituency as “taking the student loans away from the greedy banks”. Nope. The banks didn’t lose a dime. The feds paid them the full loan value, and they got to keep any interest they’d already collected.

    The “student loan bailout” has already happened, it was just to the benefit of the banks.

    The taxpayer has already paid off loans that will never be repaid. The only choice at this stage is exactly how it gets stuck in and how much lube is applied.

  23. No loan forgiveness , but we do need an education cost correction that is the result of bad government policy.

    The assumption was made that all kids should go to college, and so to make this happen the Federal government would take over the student loan industry. Before this point, a college would work with a bank and the student’s family to assess the risk of giving out a student loan. Want to study engineering and you’re a 4.0 student? There’s a good chance that student’s income after graduation will result in the loan getting paid back in a timely fashion. So that’s a lower risk than the 3.2 GPA student who wants to study 19th century French poetry, and may struggle to pay back the loan. So the schools were somewhat invested in the success of the student and tended to encourage more “practical” degrees.

    But when the Federal government took over the student loan industry it ended up disconnecting the Universities from student success. The schools get paid *immediately* just for getting a warm body in the door. So it doesn’t matter what the person wants to study, how prepared they are to be there, how useful or likely it is their degree will help them earn a living after graduation — or even if they never graduate. The schools also have an incentive to charge as much as they can — why not, since it’s free money for the school *now* and the student is the one on the hook in the future??

    So it’s in the interests of a college to make their school as open to as many students as possible, and to keep them in that school as long as possible. So they have bloated-up their curricula with a buffet counter of majors and areas of study to appeal to as many people as possible — a perfect way for Leftists to promote their ideology. And so as not to lose students too quickly, the schools will coddle and cater to them with “safe spaces” and climbing walls and other things that extend childhood into college to keep them happy with an “enjoyable college experience” (as one of the parents caught in the college admissions bribe scandal said). As one retiring Harvard prof said, he was basically told not to make his classes too hard or challenging in order to keep warm butts in the seats.

    So the result is the general dumbing down of the student body, the creation of an extended emotional adolescense, the School-to-Street Activist industry by the Left, and lot of young people who’ve been cheated of their own potential at a great expense.

    What needs to happen is that the Federal government gets completely out of the student loan business, which will force the schools to down-size their departments and become price competitive. It will also mean students are more likely to go to schools for which they are better prepared rather than Big Brand Schools where they will have a higher chance of failure. And it will reign in the School-to-Street Activist industry.

  24. I’m of the opinion that there should be massive debt forgiveness across the board. Student loans are predatory loans and they should be forgiven and the universities should be forced to pay for the loss.

    This is because most of the education system is selling lies on a massive scale to young people who really don’t know any better. When I was in high school, I was told that college was the way to go. And while I studied a STEM field and made a career out of it, I can only imagine how dumb and cheated many others feel because they were told to get a degree. Any degree.

    1. If Higher Education isn’t a scam to get people to take out massive amounts of debt, it’s close enough to breed true with it.

    2. If the educational system is selling lies. . . ( and for the most part, it is. . .) I’d love to see some student sue Big U for breach of contract. . . (evil grin)

      1. We’ve talked about that before, and had lawyers chime in that basically students can’t sue schools for false advertising. No school is stupid enough to promise future earnings. So when these kids get these stupid degrees, that’s on them.

        1. Unfortunate, but true.

          We’ll sell you the best pig in a poke that money can buy, and we’ll even let you see it before you buy it!

          And people still bought it.

  25. My daughter applied to ten schools, all different sizes and price ranges. She got wildly different offers, from $2000 given to all students in state (from my own alma mater!) to a massive scholarship at a expensive, small liberal arts school. We had savings, one of her grandmothers had savings, we had a set amount we could spend per year (I don’t remember what it was now, but nowhere near $10,000/year) and that was it. We told her what we could pay, what we would allow her to borrow ($20,000 total, tops — $5,000/year) and told her she had to pick within that. She looked at some cheaper options (community college, etc.) but ended up picking the liberal arts school and huge scholarship, graduated with a much smaller debt than many of her friends who went to “cheaper” schools, and had the option of graduating a semester early thanks to AP courses and other earned credit, but chose not to. Her loans were paid off early thanks to some gifts from relatives, and because we made sure from the first they weren’t an insane amount for someone starting out at 22.

    We have two children and the other didn’t go to college because of a mental health issue, but we had the same deal ready for him. We hoped to send him to a vocational school but that didn’t work out either…. maybe someday. Vocational schools rock. Anyway, no one was impoverished, our daughter got a really good education… and now makes more than either her dad or I do, ha ha. Parents need to stop this “find the college of your dreams and pay whatever it costs” nonsense. And colleges need to go back to teaching and quit being expensive resorts.

  26. There are countless history podcasts one can listen to and retain more information about Rome than what was covered in Western Civilization.

    And especially in IT. Start down the Certification path after high school and work your way up that way.

    It’s also been my experience in talking to people in business that their degree has been completely unrelated to the field they are currently in. But HR uses that as a filter as a way of employment. So that piece of paper does help get the foot in the door. Aside from that, I don’t know what it’s good for (aside from being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer that needs higher education).

    1. The thing that will stick the knife in the corrupt university system and give it a good twist is some acceptable form of alternative accreditation. There are several initiatives in that area, but nothing that has really taken off. Yet.

  27. Here’s a question:

    45 year old watches “house flipping” shows on cable, takes out VA/FHA loans and starts flipping houses. Real estate downturn leaves him massively underwater. Files bankruptcy, debt is forgiven (his credit is trashed for a while, but soon gets better).

    35 year old starts his dream restaurant using SBA loans (failure rate somewhere around 90%, largely because being a great cook doesn’t necessarily make you a great businessman). Restaurant tanks. Files bankruptcy. Loan is forgiven, again with (temporarily) trashed credit as the only consequence.

    18 year old has been told since birth by everyone he respects (parents, teachers, pastors…) that he MUST have a “college degree” in *something*. Gets one. Can’t pay his loan, there being no demand for feminist hermeneutics that year. Not allowed to file bankruptcy because?

    I don’t think they should get off scot-free, but do think they should be allowed to file bankruptcy, same as anyone else who makes a bad investment. Also, they should be allowed to sue the school that sold them the useless degree.

    1. I’d be fine with them declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcy exists for a reason. Loan forgiveness is not bankruptcy.
      None of that changes the fact that going into debt for stupid shit remains stupid, and this article is to combat your 3rd example.

      1. They can’t lose the student loans in bankruptcy, though. That was changed in the 1980s so that “expensive medical degrees” couldn’t declare bankruptcy right after graduation.

        Oddly enough, that’s right about the inflection point when college costs started outpacing inflation to a marked degree.

  28. I went to an Expensive Private School because I applied for many scholarships and the school topped off the ones I’d earned with one that completed the tuition. Since said EPS was also in a Low Cost-Of-Living Area, this worked out pretty well in terms of my student loans. And I was in a program that allowed extra credits above the maximum for free, so I took advantage of that. (20 credits was fine. 21 was a bit much and I didn’t do that again. Still wish I’d known how close I was to a philosophy minor, because this was a Jesuit school and nobody teaches philosophy like the Jesuits.)

    I’m currently in the camp of “make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy WHILE making them so the loan originator has to hold onto them for at least two years into the repayment period.” The result of such legislation would bring new loans to a screeching halt as a lot of people who would never be able to repay loans would get turned down…

    1. > …WHILE making them so the loan originator has to
      > hold onto them for at least two years into the
      > repayment period.

      Two years? Oh no.

      1) Make the *school* responsible for the loan.

      2) They remain responsible until half the debt is discharged.

  29. This is like mana from heaven for me. Back when I was working my way through college (dark ages indeed), student loans were not an option. I could either forego the assistance my parents offered (room/board, 1/2 of tuition) and be disqualified from loans because my family made too much money, or strike out on my own and be able to indenture myself to the banks for a loan. My parents made me understand what the terms of the loans were. All loans were expected to start being paid as soon as the student left college. Momma Tortuga did not raise a fool, no way I was going the college loan route. Good thing too, I ended up going the Navy route to make money to go to school. Never did finish my degree, but I am able to provide for my family quite well.

    My kids are just starting to reach college age the my better half and I have impressed on them that we cannot/will not pay for their education. That’s a little white lie the kids don’t need to know about, we have been setting money aside since we got married to pay for kids education. We will help them a little if they are good kids and keep their heads on straight. No money for BA in “Studies” nor will we pay for a four (or more) year party. Even better, if youngens choose to forego college that money invested can be used for setting up for life.

    Some degrees are worth paying for. Most college is not.

  30. Three kids. #1 didn’t like study, but he is very good at languages; somehow he managed to go to a professional school, but is earning his dues working as an English teacher at a Cambridge academy in Spain. #2 The girl… she is in a bad place; after her mom died (cancer), I was a mess and she paid the price; to make a long story short, she met a guy and the bastard raped her when she was 16… she did tell nothing to nobody until one day, when she was 21, I found her with her wrists cut, bleeding like pig… It has been three years since, and apparently she is now out of the woods, but there is a long road ahead; she want to go to a professional school and learn programming. #3 The youngest is studying business administration (I don’t know how it is called in the USA) and has got a full scholarship at Price Waterhouse; he wants to be an auditor (can’t say from where he got the idea, but there you are).

    Yet the three of them work to pay for their studies. I haven’t paid anything for them since they were 16-17 years old.

    I am glad for you, Larry. You have educated great, responsible kids. Congrats.

    1. The 2020 US Elections are in desperate need of a good audit. Unfortunately, the only way we’re likely to get it is at gun point by 50,000 revolutionaries.

      1. A bunch of us volunteers “audited”, (as much as possible as it can be done in Texas), a large metropolitan county 2020 election records. Amazing the amount of fraud and shenanigans occurring behind the curtain.

        Not only doesn’t the Emperor have any clothes, everyone is calling the children that mentioned the bare facts, “Racist Nazis.”

        Hopefully there will be some lawsuits, but the Red Party is current starring in the role of the Washington Generals…

  31. “The only places I’m aware of that magical “networking” makes that much difference is that you are on the Yale rowing/golf team and friends with Chad Moneybags who can put in a good word with his dad… ”

    Then again, Chad’s dad already promised that position to the otherwise useless spawn of a politician.
    Just because you roomed/ sported/ classed at school with the American aristocracy doesn’t mean they’re automatically let you into their circle.

    1. Heh.. thinking of the daughter of a prominent local family who went to Famous Ivy League School. The attitude on first meeting went from “Oh, are you one of THOSE (family name)s?” to “Oh. You’re Irish.” She had a hard time dealing with Mean Girls who had ten generations of Mean Girl ancestors.

      1. And anyone with enough charisma to break into that circle has enough to be successful without the Snooty U credentials.

      2. My grandfather was disowned ’cause he married an Irish lass.

        Years later a cousin had an encounter with one of the older matrons of the “elite” side of the family when they were look for a donor match for a family member. Unfortunately a comment about Irish being “white bastard n-words” limited the pool of donors from this branch of the family. Pity because a few of us were probably matches…

        And my sister discovered through genealogy information on one of the larger sites, the said “Elite” side of the family not only had Irish in their forefathers, there was a bit of darkness in the tree as well…

        LOL!

  32. It took me almost 6 years to get through college. Cause I had to take a year off and work. Then I couldn’t take a full course load some years, because again, had to work.
    I probably should have paid the loans off sooner, because they really weren’t that much, but back then interest was cheap.
    But I never once asked for a bailout and got it all paid off.

  33. Someone above mentioned specialty degrees such as doctor, lawyer etc. As a lawyer I can say without question the 3 years required to get the degree could easily be cut to one. That would however destroy the law school “business model” which is promise incoming students fame and fortune while hiding the realities that a small percentage of lawyers make big money, a larger percentage make good money but the vast majority make less than a decent tradesman (is that still a word?). An analogous situation would be culinary schools. Where I live there were 3 big name schools with tons of students who were incurring 6 figure federal student loan debt to get a culinary degree. Many if not most students thought great chefs all made bank and ran famous eateries (thanks to reality tv). The schools did not do much to disuade that belief. Unfortunately culinary is a profession where the average graduate could look forward to a 35K /- income. Executive chefs make between 60K and 80K per year. Without federal money flowing all 3 could not keep students and shut down. The same thing would happen to 80% of schools and degrees if the feds stopped giving money out to anyone outside of STEM fields and only then based credit worthiness or educational excellence.

  34. No rational argument will work with flaming liberals, you have to come up with something matching their biases. How about paying off the loans is RACIST! because its giving a bunch of money primarily to white people? Even if they don’t really believe all the BLM bs they would be forced to feign agreement, otherwise they’d be cancelled.

  35. Larry, I did both. Flunked out of my freshman year (paid for by Mom & Dad) at Big CT University, worked some crappy jobs for a couple of years, then realized that I really didn’t want to work at an auto parts store, etc, for the rest of my life.

    I PAID for my part time classes at Bergen Community College while working first at a stop & rob, then at Sears repairing electrical hand tools. Graduated with a 3.whateveritwas average and an AS degree in Computer Science. Bergen gave me a damned good value for my dollar. 35 years later I’m looking forward to retiring in a few years after a good career in telephony – I haven’t had to ask anyone if they wanted fries with that. And the only electrical tools I repair are my own.

    So my thought is that you’re dead right – kids will value their education FAR more if THEY have to pay for it. Good on you for making your kids learn that.

    1. Plus, the motivating factor of a bad job for actually sitting one’s butt down and studying is seldom mentioned.
      Too many yoots come out of HS with too many bad habits, and it winds up hurting them when they head out to Kegger U. They party, skip classes, flit around, and generally waste those expensive student loans. Some drop out (with debt), others push on, get the degree (with debt), and find out that the hate the occupation their degree is in.

  36. I knew enough to never look beyond state schools. My dad’s secretary, on the other hand, sent her son to Stanford. I’ve always found that amusing. I worked fulltime and went to class at night.
    My youngest daughter changed her state of residence and went to state cow college because it was a (comparative) deal. She worked as a lifeguard at the city pool. I still remember her calling one morning to tell us she’d had to open the pool at 5:00 a.m. and the temperature on the bank thermometer was -24 F. You don’t party keeping hours like that.
    My mother maintained that education was the classes you took outside your major. I have a degree in accounting but my favorite class was a ged astronomy class I needed to graduate. Fascinating.

    1. The two most useful things I did in college were philosophy and improv. Neither one had anything to do with my major, and the latter was a club—but the useful thing about it was that it tightened my reaction loop considerably. I don’t waste time thinking “this wasn’t supposed to happen” or “that can’t be happening.” It’s gone straight to “this is happening; what is my course of action from here?”

      It’s amazing how useful it is to be able to react instantly or near-instantly when something happens. Being slightly ahead of everybody else can mean getting in (or out) while the getting is good…

  37. Music Appreciation 101 made me laugh. Then cry. At the JC (I refuse to call it a Community College, it’s just a way to say this college sucks) I went to in 1975 fresh out of HS, I took Marching Band, Orchestra, and Chamber Music. All full Fine Arts University level credits. In 1997, at the same college, when I was looking at re-orienting my bookkeeping certs and going into a field that required additional Math and Engineering studies, I was told that I had to take Music Appreciation because I lacked the Fine Arts credits to go to a State College. I objected. Firmly. The “counselor” had to look up the 1975, 1976, 1977 course catalogs to find out that ANY participatory Music class was counted as Fine Arts.

    Fast forward to ~2003. My son is in the Music Appreciation 101. He proceeded to confound the teacher with 1) his knowledge of every bad music pun and joke [I blame his father] and 2) the sheer volume of music genres he was familiar with. As a family, we have an extremely eclectic and broad interest in music. There isn’t but one genre I won’t listen to, and others in our family take up that slack.

      1. Depends on the writer. I’ve come across science fiction rap, for example, and anyone who can slingshot polysyllabic scientific terms into rhyme and make it catchy has skills to my mind. (Not my favorite genre by all means, but I won’t discount the skill of some of its practitioners if they get away from the gutter grunge.)

      2. As a musician and a multi-genre music aficionado, I have to propose the fact that there is actually good rap music out there. Case #1 is “Paul’s Boutique” by the Beastie Boys.

        Then there’s the Epic Rap Battles of History Youtube channel, which is awesome. Where else are you going to hear diss rap in Iambic Pentameter, or a description of Zulu Impi tactics (with Caesar’s tactical rebuttal)? And the music is pretty good.

      3. Like any artistic endeavor, rap has a lot of garbage. But good rap is far more poetic than the vast majority of stream-of -angtsy-consciousness-with-random-paragraph-breaks that has passed for modern poetry for decades.

        And I generally don’t even like rap.

  38. Please allow me to make a comment on this topic, since it is very dear to my heart.

    Gentlemen, I went to a school that, in my humble opinion, is the best possible education in liberal arts remaining in this, the Second Dark Ages.

    Saint John’s College in Annapolis, back in my day, offered a program based on the “Great Books” of Western literature. Each class was a discussion class, and there were no tests, no grade, no electives, and every student follows the same course of study. There are no majors.

    Far from being experimental, like something a boy named Eustace in a Narnia novel might go to, this is actually the classical form of study as known in the West since the Middle Ages. We studied the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, astronomy, music, and geometry).

    Now, I have a confession to make.

    Sadly, I am the best educated man I know.

    I know more about more topics in more depth than any other amateur I have had the pleasure of meeting. I had a highly rarefied education at a rather expensive school. I’ve read Socrates and St John in Greek and Flowers of Evil in French.

    Yes, I know that sounds egomaniacal. It is because, alas, I am an egomaniac.

    I have also had the dubious pleasure of speaking to award-winning professors of particle physics who did not know the basic principles of science, whereas I had read Einstein’s original papers, and knew what he said, as well as Goedel and Heisenberg. This is in addition to talking to lawyers who never read the Federalist Papers, and eugenicists who never read Darwin.

    None of them knew the foundations of their thought.
    They were expert in their fields, but none knew what those fields were for, or what they meant.

    More to the point, none could hold a reasonable discussion on the topics of their education, because, sad to say, they had not been educated. They had been indoctrinated.

    All could recite, as if it were written in fire on tablets from Horeb, the unquestionable truths of the latest fad they had been taught were unquestionable. But not one man could question his learning.

    Much book learning also makes a man as foolish as Quixote and as proud as Lucifer, as anyone who reads my orotund and stentorian prose can attest. That is the terrible cost of a fine education. Only a man graced with humility, and protected by archangels, should attempt it. Otherwise my dire fate will be yours.

    And so I am writing to say that Larry Correia is entirely correct.

    Entirely. One hundred percent.

    And for those of you who have studied non-Euclidean geometry (as I have) and studied forms of rhetoric (as I have) but flunked basic math (as I did), I will say Mr. Correia is one hundred and ten percent correct!

    College, for those who do not earn their way , is mostly wasted time.

    And for the reason he gives: That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.

    I will not say this about trade school, law school or medical school. They will teach you your trade.

    Ditto for apprenticeships. Well worth the time and effort.

    I am confining my remarks to the liberal arts, that is, for bookish people who want to read the books on which all Western accomplishment is based.

    Everything I read in college was in the public domain. It it available free of charge on the Internet.

    Textbooks can go to the devil. No book written by the third-rate mind about a first-rate mind has ever done more good than harm.

    You could homeschool yourself by yourself free of charge and get an education better than mine. If you need a seminar to discuss the books they can had free online as well.

    Read. Think. Enjoy. Save Western civilization.

    1. Textbooks can go to the devil. No book written by the third-rate mind about a first-rate mind has ever done more good than harm.

      I am quoting this for posterity and my 3.6 Loyal Readers. Bravo, Sir.

  39. I finally finished my college degree this year (also debt-free) from the same school as Larry graduated from, though in my case I started there as a long-distance student who already got my associate’s degree from a smaller and even cheaper school. I know people complain about online learning, and the forced online learning this year has from what I’ve heard been mediocre at best, but in my case it was an inexpensive way to get what I needed for my bachelor’s degree while not having to deal with the absurdly expensive local-to-me state school, and I still got everything I needed. And doing the online option meant being able to live with family (not an option for everyone, of course, but for me it was a way to decrease expenses) and have a more flexible schedule for those things that could earn me money. Without having to pay the extra fees for their campus facilities that I was never gonna use anyway.

    I did benefit from my parents contributing a portion, but they didn’t pay anything close to all of it, and I had to figure out the rest via my own pocket or applying for grant and scholarship programs. It’s not easy, for sure, but it can be doable, if you put some attention to figuring out ways to minimize expenses and bring in what money you can.

    And one of those ways to minimize expenses is not to go to the local school that charges an absurd 25k annually…. yeesh.

    I am also a big advocate for getting a two-year degree from somewhere cheaper (such as community college) and then letting that be the first half of your bachelor’s degree.

    That said, the college education system IS ridiculous, and I’m gonna defer to Mike Rowe as far as how we should do about overhauling it. He’s a smart man.

    1. Successful on-line learning requires organization, dedication, and self-discipline. Those qualities are sadly lacking in most people, not just today’s young adults. My first foray into on-line classes showed me they were much easier to fail that classroom classes; unless, of course, you skipped the classroom classes completely. “Bueller? Bueller?”

  40. Larry, I agree with you about college being overpriced; that’s why I did the same as your daughters and went to a cheap state school where I had scholarships. Not everything is a liberal conspiracy, though. Going to college has been part of the American Dream for quite a few decades now, and it’s hardly limited to liberals. You gotta stop seeing conspiracies everywhere or you’re liable to give yourself a heart attack, and I need more MHI books.

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by college debt being overwhelmingly held by “privileged white liberals”, since as you pointed out, the privileged ones have their parents pay for them. College debt is mostly held by lower class people because they’re the ones who couldn’t pay it off.

    1. What the fuck are you talking about?
      Conspiracy? 😀 Spare me.
      Snort. Oh, there is no conspiracy. Liberals own higher education. Period. That’s a fact.
      Depending on the surveys you look at, and which branch obviously, the AVERAGE left to right ratio of academics is 10 to 1. If you look at really fucked up useless majors like sociology it is 33 to 1. (and that’s from George Mason and Brooklyn College, neither of which is exactly a bastion of conservative thought trying to skew the numbers. Brown clocks in at a whopping 60 to 1. Columbia 30 to 1. Princeton 30 to 1. Boston College is a mere 22 to 1. But then when you flip it and look at the most “conservative” universities in America, the ratios are nowhere near that and the liberal representation among faculty is disproportionally higher than the student/local population. AND only a tiny fraction of universities can be described as “conservative”.
      Plus, demographically, these rates have been accelerating as academia has become increasingly insular and inbred, with younger professors being more likely to identify with the left, and the older/retiring ones being more likely to identify with being on the right.
      Libs own/run most colleges. Period.
      Oh, I’m sorry. Is this one of those times where I point out the super fucking obvious, and then our lefties act like stating the plainly visible truth is a wacky conspiracy? Naw, you can shove that weak ass obfuscation. Because it’s even worse than people realize.
      Studies have also shown that the majority of students self-censor what they do/say in our higher education system out of fear of political repercussions. Looking at how most faculties swing, you get one guess which way that censorship is applied.
      Which leads to the next bit, where even a Harvard survey has said that as little as only 7% of incoming freshmen will openly identify as “conservative”… Which is frankly impossible just by looking at the nation’s demographics, but why, anyone with a brain may ask, do these students hide their beliefs?
      Duh. 😀
      And yes, college debt is overwhelmingly held by privileged white liberals, because every single survey I’ve ever seen on the demographics of the people who would benefit from student loan forgiveness are overwhelmingly A. White. B. Self-identified as Liberal. And C. you may quibble over my choice of the word “privileged”, but they WENT TO COLLEGE. Ergo, that’s a privilege many of the taxpayers they are expecting to pay for this nonsense have not been able to enjoy themselves.

      Also, my heart is fine. Responding to weak ass gas lighting posts like this causes far more excitement than writing articles about obvious blatant reality. But good try though.

      1. I also hate how smug and superior some left wingers act, but you and them are exactly the same in all the important ways; you’re just a palette swapped coastal elite. One week you’re whining about arrogant liberals looking down on conservatives and generalizing them as stupid, and then the next week you sneering at liberals with college debt and generalizing them as irresponsible.

        Do you actually remember what you write down or does it just fly out of your head once you hit post? 🤦‍♂️ You said that Gen Ed requirements were kept around so the liberal college professors can indoctrinate the youth, as if the administrators who actually run colleges would give two shits about that. Compared to some of ways I could describe your opinion, calling it a conspiracy theory isn’t gas lighting, it’s being far more kind than you’d be in my place. It’s also fucking hilarious that you think college professors enjoy teaching low level gen ed classes to students who don’t want to be there. You pretty obviously know fuck-all about universities in general.

        Speaking of you knowing fuck-all about things, I’d be curious to see what surveys you found that support your conclusion. Only about 55% of student loan debt is held by whites of any political persuasion. Young people and college educated people are more likely to be liberal, but there’s no way white liberals make up even a majority of debt much less an ‘overwhelming’ portion. Even though you’re wrong about that, it is still refreshing to see someone admit that they only care about people who align with them politically.

        It’s a good thing you obviously don’t care about changing anyone’s mind on this, because for such a talented author, your persuasive writing skills are surprisingly shit. Maybe you should have paid more attention to that part of your gen ed English classes 🤣

        1. Dude, he spent literally seven paragraphs talking about how gen eds exist to suck money out of the students (which is obviously what the administrators care most about), and then one paragraph talking about the indoctrination thing, and you seize on the indoctrination thing as being what he claimed college administrators care about? Obviously the liberal professors care most about the indoctrination thing, but Larry spent quite a lot of time making it clear that to the college, it’s all about money. Here, let me quote the first two of those seven paragraphs for you:

          College is kind of a joke anyway. They keep you there paying money for four+ years. The part that is of actual value in your career/life takes up maybe half of that if you’re lucky. And even then you’ll probably learn more in the first six months to a year of doing your major for a living than you got out of college.

          The rest is gen eds, that are supposed to make you “well rounded”. A concept which quite literally everybody knows is total bullshit. And most gen eds could be replaced with a few hour long Wikipedia spiral on the subject and you’d probably learn more, for thousands of dollars less. We all know it. The universities know it too, but they pretend that this is some enlightened educational blah blah blah to make you a better person, when in reality it’s just to make you a poorer person.

          Now, when Larry called the indoctrination thing “the most important part of all these mandatory GenEds”, did you really think he meant “the thing the college administrators consider most important”? Because I thought it was pretty obvious that he meant “the thing that I, Larry Correia, consider most important”, and that obviously the main purpose (from the college’s point of view) of the gen eds is the money.

          Another place where I think you failed to understand Larry’s post properly is when you say “It’s f___ing hilarious that you think college professors enjoy teaching low level gen ed classes to students who don’t want to be there.” Please point me to the place where he said the professors enjoy teaching those gen eds, because I’ve read his post twice now and I missed it both times. They use the gen eds as an indoctrination opportunity, sure. But I completely fail to see anywhere where Larry claimed that they enjoy it. Perhaps you could do me a favor and quote that part of his post where he made that claim.

          Finally, while I realize that asking someone for sources when they quote a survey is often done as a way of saying “I don’t believe you”, that’s not the case here. I’d like to see the survey you found with the 55% number. Posting links sends a comment to moderation, so maybe you’ve already posted it and that comment hasn’t been released from moderation jail yet, but if you could post a link, I’d be interested. (And if you want to reply to the rest of my comment, please do so separately from the reply where you post a link, so that I can see the rest of your reply without it going through moderation. 🙂 )

          1. Lol. 😀
            It isn’t like professors actually teach those low level GenEd classes. They come to class the first day and the last day and the rest of the semester is taught by some low paid grad student.
            Duh.

        2. Well, Wally clearly skipped his mandatory $4000 Understanding Basic English Mandatory GenEd.

          Man, you managed to fuck up a lot of stuff in very little space, you living embodiment of the Brandollini Principle.

          First off, I make fun of arrogant liberals EVERY WEEK. 😀 And I always look down on them for doing stupid shit while wearing their cloak of self-righteousness. It’s fun. And they never run out of material to give me.

          Second, I remember everything I post, and the search function is right there for everything I’ve ever written. I didn’t say indoctrination was the reason. Money is the reason. Indoctrination is a happy bonus (and a growing one!) though I’m sure it is the primary reason for many lefty professors who love molding impressionable young idiots. Despite your gas lighting that this doesn’t occur, look around, because the rest of us have seen it with our own eyes. (which is kinda like the definition of the word, duh)

          Third, we all know that if a professor doesn’t give a shit about that mando GenEd class, he comes the first day and last day to class, then the rest of it is farmed off on some poor grad student. We’ve all seen that too.

          Fourth, you question my writing skills because I’m unable to change the mind of a willfully ignorant dipstick who already has an entrenched position, even though everybody else seems to grasp exactly what I’m talking about and all my political posts go viral. Hmmm… As for what I learned in college English, I learned jack shit but I still paid money for it. And yet my self taught writing skills have earned me millions of dollars while the people who taught me English are still probably teaching English. 😀 Which is kinda the fucking point, doofus.

          I’m betting that you’re in the Big College business somehow (or deeply invested in a degree that you recognize was mostly a waste of money) so me pointing out the obvious has caused you a great deal of personal butt hurt. Oh well. LEARN TO CODE. Or install solar panels. Whatever the hotness is now.

          As for surveys backing my conclusions, I believe I cited two things. Most professors/administrators are liberals and most of the people who would benefit from loan forgiveness are white liberals. Plugging “what percentage of academia is liberal” brings up hundreds of results with varying results, yet all of them show libs dominate. Then it gets worse and worse by the squishier majors. And your best cherry picked example to refute my thing about who benefits is that MORE THAN HALF of them are white… So thanks? 😀

          Man, whatever school you paid money to really fucked you over. 😀

          1. Heh… I just checked the stats. About 200 comments here, mostly agreeing with me, several hundred shares on various social media sites with most of them agreeing with me. A couple of shares by big aggregators with their commenters mostly agreeing with me. Thousands of hits so far today (and this one is actually a fairly slow one for me).
            But because I didn’t convince this entrenched asshole who clearly has personal beef, I’m shitty at persuasive writing (declared some guy who the widest read he would ever be in his life is if I cut and pasted his comment into a blog post!)
            Behold the power of a college education kids. Go into a bunch of debt and you can be just as clever as Wally. 😀

          2. Also, from the Super Right Wing Brookings Institute (oh wait… never mind, I got that backwards)
            The bulk of the benefits of loan forgiveness would go to the top 40% of households. The lower quintiles of earners comparatively get dick.
            Poor people actually get fucked over more (somebody has to pay for affluent white liberals’ good times!) . But that’s okay, because the DNC only pays lip service to helping poor people. (need to bail out a hedge fund though, and they are on that ASAP!)
            Plus after doing a little poking around I can see where you got your bullshit 55% now, you dishonest dipstick. You cherry picked through the various proposals for loan forgiveness (which all vary greatly) and picked the number that looked the least racist! 😀 Well done! Warren/Sanders/AOC/the regular DNC have all floated different programs. All of them benefit white liberals the most. (and going back to the part where you whined uselessly about my ironic use of the word “privilege” these fuckers all went to college and thus have higher earning potential than many of the poor taxpayers who get to foot the bill)

            https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/who-owes-all-that-student-debt-and-whod-benefit-if-it-were-forgiven/

          3. Re: professors coming to class first and last day and farming off the rest to a grad student, I’d like to speak up for Wheaton College and say that when I went there (1997-2001), I never saw that happen. The only time I had a grad student TA for a class was when the prof was sick, or his wife was sick and he had to stay home to take care of the kids, that sort of thing. Maybe 1-2 times per semester per class, and some professors (including the prof who taught more than half the classes in my major) never missed a day.

            I know it happens a lot in a lot of other schools, but at Wheaton, at least when I attended, the culture was that professors were there to teach first and publish second, not the other way around.

  41. Read all the comments so far, and one thing that *almost* everybody is getting wrong is that COLLEGE IS NOT JOB TRAINING. Well, it was never intended to be.

    tldr; “Most people should skip college and go to a trade school”.

    You know who forked it up? The US Government.

    Back in the day almost all “college boys” were successful and part of the upper class. This was not because they had gone to University (as the rest of the anglosphere would say), but because, almost to a man THEY STARTED OFF UPPER CLASS. It was a rare bird (before the end of WWII) that went to college from the working classes.

    In the 1920s and 1930s no one went to University to “get a better job”. You could still “read” for law with a lawyer, take the bar and hang out your shingle. If you wanted to be a physician, it wasn’t until (near as I can tell) the 1920s that you had to *actually* attend medical school.

    What (at that time) universities/colleges did was to broaden your horizons and make you better at *thinking*. Academic Greek and Latin enforced a certain structure, and there was an expectation that you started to see the connections between that past and the present, between the different disciplines etc.

    In the sort of typical “wet streets cause rain” thinking our government decided that the way to make a smarter populous was to send more people to college. So we got the the GI bill for returning WWII soldiers. This sent a brazillion young men to college “to get a better job”.

    And so they passed that down to their kids.

    But the thing is, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make people *think*. People don’t *want* to think. It’s hard work. They don’t give a stink about Plato or how to derive the area under the curve, or *why* those idiot Europeans created that nasty web of interlocking assistance treaties that blew up the world after Archduck Franz caught one in the neck[1].

    People WANT to put their 8 hours in staring at the south end of a north bound ox, then go home and drink syrup from a bucket while laughing at the television.

    So we have parents, often uneducated themselves, thinking that college is a way for their kids to have a better life, while the colleges feeding at the trough of public and private money *catering* the the children and dumbing down the education. Wow, that’s a run-on sentence. Not going to fix it.

    Then you have the Gramsian Long March through the institutions at about the same time. This nuked the classics from the curriculum.

    By the late 1970s college was starting to become a *major* money maker, and college administrators stopped caring whether their students were *learning* as long as they were paying. The students didn’t care about learning because they didn’t know any better, and the parents didn’t know because all they saw were letter grades.

    It wasn’t entirely decrepit by the time I attended a state school (early 90s, after a hitch in the military), but it certainly wasn’t as rigorous as it should have been.

    It looks like it’s only gone down hill since.

    [1] People deride the .380 ACP, but TWO bullets caused more than 20 million people to die.

    1. Totally agree on the modern approach to gen ed. At one time it was useful, but now it’s just an exercise in checking the box.

      This guy says it best: https://www.whatwilltheylearn.com/about

      On a side note, that’s an excellent resource that tells you just what you’ll learn at elite schools. You can even find out such info like the 7:1 student/faculty ratio at places like Harvard.

      I finally got around to using my GI Bill for a degree a few years ago. Went full time. Wasn’t exactly going in with an empty tank in terms of knowledge. Barely needed to work at all (though basic math requirements suck when you haven’t done academic math since the late 80s). The quality of my output in every class far surpassed my younger “peers” who could barely string together coherent sentences, let alone a coherent thought. Most everyone got an A.

      My “summa cum laude” lies nearly forgotten in storage like the Ark of the Covenant.

  42. There was no GI Bill while I was in the Navy. We had VEAP and that was discontinued a year before I got out. I worked for several years and then hurt my back at work. My employer shafted me out of Workman’s Comp. The Vet’s Rep at the Employment Office put me in touch with Vocational Rehab and I got my Associate’s Degree while my back was healing. After an incident where we lost most of our Engineering Department for two months, my employer offered to pay for my Bachlor’s Degree. I went to a small school that had a good program. Now I work with engineers that went to the Big Schools. They make fun of where I got my degree until they work with me. I had 15 years of mechanical experience before I went to college and can make most of the parts that I design. My student debt was about $6,000 and was paid off years ago. A few years ago the school that I went to dismantled a good engineering program in favor of more Liberal Arts degrees. When I asked why they said not enough students were signing up for engineering because it was too hard.

  43. I think it depends on what industry you’re in. I’ve interviewed a lot of programmers over the years, and you can really tell the difference between ones who graduated from a good college (with a good GPA), and ones who took some self-study courses or something.

    The good programmers have a solid grasp of CS theory, which means that they can be actually creative with their code; it also means they can take instruction well. The bad ones basically have a list of pre-memorized solutions in their heads, so when solution #1 fails, they go to #2, then #3, and so on down the list. This approach actually works pretty well for simple low-level tasks, but completely falls apart whenever they encounter even a minor challenge.

    1. Counterpoint: since you can get tons of really good CS material online for free (e.g., MIT’s OpenCourseWare), it’s no longer necessary to pay six figures to have a good CS education. You do have to be self-motivated since you don’t have grades pushing you to study, but for anyone with good study habits, it’s possible to get the same benefit out of the courses for $0.

      You’ve mentioned elsewhere that you’re somewhere near retirement age; I don’t doubt what you saw over the course of your career, but I do not think that the trend you identified (college graduates being better programmers overall) will continue into the next couple of decades. The smartest people and the most creative problem-solvers will look at the cost of education, the availability of MIT’s OCW online, and say “Welp. I’m just going to educate myself for free.” And so pretty soon the best programmers to hire are going to be the ones who were smart enough to solve the problem they were facing (getting a good education) with a minimum of resource expenditure — a skill that translates rather well into solving computer problems efficiently.

      P.S. Posted this earlier but when I clicked the “Post Comment” button, nothing appeared to happen. Apologies if this ends up being a double post.

    2. Counterpoint: since you can get tons of really good CS material online for free (e.g., MIT’s OpenCourseWare), it’s no longer necessary to pay six figures to have a good CS education. You do have to be self-motivated since you don’t have grades pushing you to study, but for anyone with good study habits, it’s possible to get the same benefit out of the courses for $0.

      You’ve mentioned elsewhere that you’re somewhere near retirement age; I don’t doubt what you saw over the course of your career, but I do not think that the trend you identified (college graduates being better programmers overall) will continue into the next couple of decades. The smartest people and the most creative problem-solvers will look at the cost of education, the availability of MIT’s OCW online, and say “Welp. I’m just going to educate myself for free.” And so pretty soon the best programmers to hire are going to be the ones who were smart enough to solve the problem they were facing (getting a good education) with a minimum of resource expenditure — a skill that translates rather well into solving computer problems efficiently.

      P.S. Posted this earlier but when I clicked the “Post Comment” button, nothing appeared to happen. Apologies if this ends up being a double or triple post.

    3. Counterpoint: since you can get tons of really good CS material online for free (e.g., MIT’s OpenCourseWare), it’s no longer necessary to pay six figures to have a good CS education. You do have to be self-motivated since you don’t have grades pushing you to study, but for anyone with good study habits, it’s possible to get the same benefit out of the courses for $0.

      You’ve mentioned elsewhere that you’re somewhere near retirement age; I don’t doubt what you saw over the course of your career, but I do not think that the trend you identified (college graduates being better programmers overall) will continue into the next couple of decades. The smartest people and the most creative problem-solvers will look at the cost of education, the availability of MIT’s OCW online, and say “Welp. I’m just going to educate myself for free.” And so pretty soon the best programmers to hire are going to be the ones who were smart enough to solve the problem they were facing (getting a good education) with a minimum of resource expenditure — a skill that translates rather well into solving computer problems efficiently.

    4. Have to agree with Bugmaster on this. I’ve spent over a quarter century in IT and worked with certification masters, self taught, online taught, and those with formal CS degrees.

      Certification masters (“I’ve got 18 formally tested certifications on my resume, but I’ve never had a tech job”) in my experience are team poison. They spend far more time arguing about how this or that process doesn’t adhere to some theoretical standard than actually solving any problems.

      The self taught / online taught / code bootcamp folks can be very good at entry level to lower mid level work. Where they can run into problems are those situations where you really need to know WHY things are being coded this way. Robin Munn is correct that knowledge exists out there online, but few of the coders I’ve met without CS degrees have ever studied the theoretical side. It’s not as much fun, hard to see how it can be useful right away, and sometimes requires complex math to understand well. Unfortunately for them it is a big hole in their knowledge base that can severely limit their career. Worse, trying to learn the theoretical side later after working a few years can be harder since it requires you to unlearn some bad habits.

      1. I was self-taught and then went to college to get a CS degree to prove what I know… but part of my self-teaching was that my dad owned a college textbook on data structures and algorithms (no idea where he got it from as his college major had been biology), and since I didn’t know that was supposed to be too hard for me to understand, I devoured it at age 13. The CS degree did teach me LISP and SQL, but the algorithms class was the easiest A I ever got in college because I’d already studied it all five years prior.

        So if I hadn’t gotten that CS degree, I would have been one of those few coders without degrees who ever studied the theoretical side. I never studied Haskell in college, but I’ve studied it (and F#) since then to improve my theoretical background, and I’ve had it pay off in my ability to come up with creative solutions.

  44. Gen Eds can be done at an accredited community college.

    Talked to a girl and her father about it. She wanted a Chemical Engineering degree from Colorado School of Mines. I suggested they talk to the course councilor there and the same at LCCC.

    She ended up doing 60 hours ( two years ) here in Cheyenne for pennies, and only doing the degree related stuff at CSoM to learn how to design refineries.

  45. That’s the thing though: We’ve gone through a technological change, and society hasn’t caught up with it at all.

    Books *don’t* cost money (I have more books than I can ever read on any subject I care to read on something the size of my fingernail. I could sneeze and lose it.) Bandwidth *doesn’t* cost (serious) money. Professors’ time costs money, but the faculty of any given school are likely some minuscule fraction of a school’s operating budget. At my graduate school, the math professors were warehoused in a broken down building from the 50s with window AC, happily ensconced in nests of books and blackboards. The administrators and their singularly useless career counselors were in this over-the-top gilt-paneled marble-encrusted edifice behind three layers of secretaries each presiding over an ever more impressive looking mahogany desk.

    (Even this shit doesn’t cost serious money: Civil engineering, in whatever arrangement, is a one-time expense. But It’s the stupid status games that monkeys love made rudely concrete. Can I identify as a Martian? I hate humanity.)

    An infinite supply of kids all going after something that financial pirates are willing to loan money for costs money. It’s the same reason poorly built houses cost more than business jets. The demand is inelastic (you have to get a job, and so you have to solve the stupid monkey social games HR plays. Ideally you’ll manage to sleep somewhere that isn’t your parents house someday.) The suppliers can ask whatever imaginary number makes them feel warm and fuzzy.

    1. Okay, speaking more precisely, since you’re an accountant:

      The demand for school is inelastic in a screwed up economy stuck in a credential arms race. Learning to weld pipes or operate machine tools would have been a wonderful alternative before we decided we were all going to be “green.” The death of the real-world industrial economy is deranging everything, even the professional jobs: Why do you *really* need engineers without factories? Why do you need scientists if you can’t fit your thoughts on a quad-chart to dazzle an MBA about how this saves him money next quarter? If you “learn to code”, you can join the wonderful new class of techno-serfs competing with literally everyone else on Earth.

      The apparent value of the loaned money is close to zero. The price the schools can ask is limited only by the competition you alluded to, but it’s all heading for infinity – some places faster than others.

      I managed to squeak through without serious debt, but many of my coworkers are debt-slaves for life, unless they can flip the table by voting for communism and destroying the world. (Which I imagine they’re trying to do. Moot point, because voting doesn’t work anymore.)

  46. If they want well rounded students, go back to teaching the Seven Liberal Arts And Sciences; Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy. Which might get some of them the ability to problem solve. Or at least learn to tell a good argument from a bad one.

    We are putting our daughter through school, but she is getting a degree that involves real work and is getting good grades without the idiocy so often seen.

  47. If you want to learn Latin, Greek, Hebrew, or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, The Great Courses have video courses to teach you. They are fast-paced college classes (which go really slow in the early stages like pronunciation). The Greek and Latin both handle classical and Bible stuff, and the Greek one does some Homer. (Which is worth doing the whole course for.)

    They’ve also got some outstanding history courses (the Ancient Egypt course is great and huge). And a bunch of other stuff. The Central and South American ancient history stuff gave me nightmares, so maybe don’t share it with little kids in the family. Everything else is pretty suitable for everyone, if you’re okay with topics like concubines.

    You can buy them outright, subscribe, or subscribe to Amazon Prime’s add-on Great Courses channel. You will need to buy the language “guidebook” or find a copy online.

    My suggestion is that it will be easier for kids to learn a language if the whole family sits down and learns the language, because then everybody can converse or read together.

    1. They’ve got French, German, and Spanish too, but everybody has those. Oh, and the guy who teaches Latin and Greek is outstanding and also funny. So it’s really worth it.

      And yes, most libraries have audiobooks of most of the classics, and Librivox has free ones, and Audible has commercial ones. Listen to samples so you don’t get stuck with something boring; but a lot of Great Books are interesting, relevant, helpful, and fun.

  48. But, Larry…

    Those GenEd courses teach critical thinking skills. It is what allows the person with a masters degree in comparative religions to look down their nose at us losers.

    My thought… If you really gained critical thinking skills, you would have changed your major to one with employment potential.

    1. “Those GenEd courses teach critical thinking skills.”

      No, they don’t. Not anymore. Now they teach critical race theory. Mathematics, logic and reason are racist, you know. Tools of Whiteness.

      I wish I was kidding, but no, not so much.

      1. Bug-eyed prof: “The ability to think is a tool of colonialist oppressors.”

        “Like the maxim gun, steam engines, and sailing ships?”

        “Exactly!”

        “So if you were advising the Zulus or the Indians, you would tell them to spurn these things and leave them to their colonialist oppressors?”

    2. Ironically, the only time I actually got any critical thinking exercise out of a GenEd class was when the professor said something that set off my bullshit detector, that caused me to then go do research on my own to prove them wrong. So yes, they do teach critical thinking, but on accident. 😀

    3. FWIW, I went to a fairly liberal college (graduated on Y2K !). I couldn’t afford the full 4 years, so I transferred there from community college, but I still had to make up some gen ed classes. Many of them did, in fact, teach critical thinking skills; for example, there was a class titled Critical Thinking which should’ve been called something like “Introduction to Principles of Logic and Logical Fallacies”. Some other classes were just cool; for example, the class on Ancient Babylonian history and religion was incredibly interesting. The class on Technical Writing was not only interesting, but also immediately applicable; I legitimately benefited from it quite a bit.

      Yes, there were boring/stupid classes too, but I could avoid most (sadly not all) of them with a bit of creative scheduling.

  49. I have -two- degrees. The second because the first one was worth absolutely nothing. Window dressing. The second wasn’t ultimately worth anything either from a long-term employment perspective, but it’s a “professional” degree so I did learn many useful things. Like how to read a medical journal article. That turned out to be a life saver this year, eh? ~:D

    These days I learn pretty much anything I need to know on the Intertubez. If you get smart about searches, you can turn up pretty near anything. If I -needed- access to some obscure dead-tree medical journal article, or physics thing or engineering, I could purchase access through a university library or by some other service.

    Therefore, the current model of how school is done in Western countries is, IMHO, pretty much over. In Canada right now we’ve had nearly a whole year of lockdowns with remote learning. Universities and high schools have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century, finally, by the plague. Not the 21st yet, but the 20th.

    Fast forward to whenever our Mighty Overlords decide it’s safe to go outside again, most kids are going to look at tuition, housing, books etc. and laugh. Because, due to lockdowns, kids are broke and unemployed. They’re going to DEMAND a remote learning option, and they’re not going to take no for an answer.

    Because big companies have all been dragged along too. They are all remote-office now. Downtown Toronto is a ghost town, because no one is going in to the workplace. All remote, all the time.

    What does this mean? It means that a lot of universities in the Western World are going to attract a huge number of remote-learning students. And then they are going to go out of business, because nobody on Earth is going to pay $40K a year for remote classes. That’s not going to happen.

    Piracy alone will ensure it doesn’t happen. If a kid can record his live lecture series from Harvard (and what kid doesn’t know how to record a live stream?) then those lectures will be getting around to all his friends if they want them.

    1. It’s kind of funny just how “Unexpectedly!” pops up after a lot of the policies pushed by those who consider themselves to be educated. Having the whole Higher Ed bubble get popped as an unintended consequence of the decisions made by their own people in power is kind of a beautiful thing.

    2. Online free courseware, and looking at degree plans from various universities already makes it possible to get the studying done on your own time, without having to pay for an instructor.

      Covid lockdown was the preliminary stage of the Biden affair, and it was only rubbing in everyone’s face what they could have realized before. I touched on this in the essay just written, but the whole of the Biden affair is certain to change things WRT universities.

      You can still find worthwhile instructors at universities for specialized topics, but making effective use of them is an entirely different mindset from checking off requirements set by a state bureaucracy. Public school is a crutch.

    3. What gets me – in Canada, if you wanted government retraining money, it was mandated that you do some research – what job prospects were with a degree, what additional requirements (other degrees, work experience, having to move to other regions…) would be needed to have reasonable odds of employment, etc.

      But god forbid you should require the same before handing out student loans, to let some 18 year old kid know that if he racked up $60K for a Bachelor’s degree he was going to need a Master’s degree or vocational training for say another 20-50K, all to qualify for a chance at a job that pays maybe $35K a year… in a market that will have twenty qualified applicants for every position.

  50. This is a sore point with me. The degree in underwater basketweaving was a trope in the 1970s. To tell the truth, colleges have ALWAYS sold a certain number of degrees for social cachet.

    But people weren’t going into insane debt for them. They had sense enough to major in fields that would repay the expense.

    And yes, I grudge bitterly any attempt to forgive student debt incurred by Little Miss Arrogantly Stupid. There MAY need to be a way to discharge that debt, but it needs to involve a whole lot of pain. Including forfeiture of the privilege of voting until the full debt is paid clear.

    1. Oh, don’t worry. The privilege of voting is now reserved for the people who print the masses of mail-in votes required to produce the correct result. Actual voters need no longer be consulted.

  51. Just as a heads up, for anyone looking to cut down on the cost of college, Modern States offers a way for students to, essentially, get their freshman year free by clepping out of courses and getting vouchers.

    https://modernstates.org/

    There are other ways, as well, using DANTES and such. You can even test out of entire degrees.

    This is a forum I used to frequent a lot and they tend to have solid info, BUT do your research:

    https://www.degreeinfo.com/index.php

  52. I agree so much about the gen ed classes they make you take in college. It’s stuff you just finished in high school, no more advanced or special, and they’re forcing you to take it rather than letting you concentrate on your interests so you can make informed decisions about a major.

    My mom went to nurse’s training right out of high school and got an amazing medical education with an RN degree at the end. That would not be enough now, they’re now demanding nurses be BSNs so they have to go to college. I’d rather have the nurse that had the concentrated, immersive medical education but now I’m required to have someone who took double English and double math and double world history. It’s absurd.

    I went to community college before I transferred and I can tell you that my education in most courses in community college were on par with, or even better, than the expensive university. My daughter is also going to CC transfer route and I’ve warned her about the quality of education at universities so she can appreciate what she’s getting right now.

    You know, most majors could be replaced by book clubs and people would get a better, more rounded education. It’s really not a good investment anymore.

  53. I am at the other end of the spectrum. Doctor of Science, Physics, MIT. Five years to two bachelors degrees, three years and a few months to the D.Sc, 5+ months in the middle wearing a green uniform and learning how to shoot and clean the M16A1 for the Reserves, now retired Full Professor with 170+ technical articles and two dozen books including a half-dozen SF novels.

    The notion that the academic quality — what a hard-working student will learn — in the exact sciences at a topline university and at a third-rate place is the same is, well, bunkum. The book may be the same, but the professorial expectations are completely different. You get what you paid for. Having said that, the general education material for most students is a waste of their time. One of the European countries, my memory says England, but I may be wrong, assumes people got that in High School; their three year degree is about as good as our four year degree.

    However, I just spent much of a year dealing with the $400 textbook problem. I wrote a freshman physics (classical mechanics) text. Physics One is for serious students who have taken a term or two of calculus (common now in high schools), because it is based on two equations: Newton’s second law and PHYSICS – CALCULUS = NONSENSE.

    How does that deal with the $400 (no, I did not make that number up) freshman physics book?

    Physics One, paperback, Amazon, costs $20.

    Alas, I have no particular ideas on how to market it.

    1. Homeschoolers! You really, really need to get your book into the list of homeschooler resources!

      Just make sure that buyers know the kiddies need to have some calculus as a prerequisite.

      How to get the book into the ken of college students, I don’t know. But you could probably hit the high school market.

    2. “The notion that the academic quality — what a hard-working student will learn — in the exact sciences at a topline university and at a third-rate place is the same is, well, bunkum. “

      Seeing a bunch of talk about gen ed, business, accounting, and humanities type stuff in the post, I’m fairly sure he wasn’t talking about the hard sciences. Given the encroachment by the Low Expectations crowd into the hard sciences in the last 10 years, those programs at elite universities probably aren’t what they used to be, and it’s probably not trending upward.

    3. First off, Professor-
      “You get what you paid for.” – No. In many cases you clearly don’t.
      Next –
      “The notion that the academic quality — what a hard-working student will learn — in the exact sciences at a topline university and at a third-rate place is the same is, well, bunkum.”
      Except you just pulled a motte and bailey. I was speaking about college education in general, and you declare bunkum based upon the what.. .001% of engineering students who go to MIT?
      Nope.
      My point stands. In any sufficiently large or complicated system you can always find some outlier and use that to declare bunkum on the whole thing. Except just like anything else in life, it’s foolish to draw general conclusions based on outliers.

      And even with your point, getting an engineering degree from topline MIT is going to run you close to $70k a year for tuition/expenses/books, and an engineering degree from State Cow College (which is where my son is planning on attending for his engineering degree) here is going to run you about 1/5th of that (and that’s if you live fat and happy). So the “professional expectations” are better, but are they a correspondingly 80% better, and more importantly are they going to give you an 80% increase in income for that first job, which is again, the only job which is going to matter where you got your degree from because then after that it is going to be based on your performance and skills gleaned from that first job? Oh hell no. Not even close.

      Except that isn’t even fair, because the State Cow College my son is planning on getting his engineering degree from actually happens to have an absurdly out of proportion quality Aerospace Engineering program. Whoops. 😀

      So to make it even less fair, let’s look at the even cheaper state college my daughter is currently getting her ENGINEERING degree from. (yep, 2 engineers and a CS major here) and it’s even cheaper. She’s clocking in at about a whopping 1/10th! of the cost of topline MIT. Will she only get 10% of the education? Nope. Let’s be generous and say that she only gets 50% (highly unlikely, but I’m trying to help you out here) of an MIT education… Except she still got the degree, and she still is going to go get a job, and it probably won’t be as good as the MIT grad’s first job, both of them will still learn more in their first year of practical application/work than they did in an artificial academic environment… and then in five years when they apply for their next job, no hiring manager worth a damn will give a shit where they got their degree from, and instead they’re going to be interested in what they actually did for the last few years of work.

      Only the MIT grad will still be paying off $100k in debt, and the girl who went to Cheap State U will have just bought her first house.

      1. “…and then in five years when they apply for their next job, no hiring manager worth a damn will give a shit where they got their degree from, and instead they’re going to be interested in what they actually did for the last few years of work.”

        And this is true in damn near every profession. Law? Hell yes. I know plenty of of lawyers who went to Tier 4 law schools that got crap positions starting out, but when they went to work at corporate positions or other firms, they’re pulling down a quarter mil a year easy. Same thing in medicine.

        That awesome pedigree gets you a good job starting out, and after that, no one cares.

        1. My brother in law got accepted to tier 1 law schools, went to a tier 3 school instead because with the scholarship it was basically free. Then in his very first job he outworked everyone else, so from that point on it was a wash.

      2. MIT supplies open (free) courses – which includes I believe every course they offer. https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

        Sure you don’t get the piece of paper that says MIT on it, but you can get the actual education for free.

        Get the cheap piece of paper. Do the free courses and blow your competition out of the water when you are actually working.

        1. If you are interested in CS, I highly recommend SICP (I don’t think I’m allowed to post URLs, but if you google for “SICP mitpress”, you should find it). It’s a free book, and if you read it all the way through and do all the exercises, it will completely change your life.

        2. Yes indeed!
          Kahn Academy had a good reputation many years ago as a good on-line grade school education source. Jerry Pournelle used to recommend them. Not sure if they’ve kept up or if they’ve sold out to the left. Looking at their supporters list, I’m not sure they are any more (BOA, Gates, and Google are not my idea of reputable supporters.)

      3. Beyond that, there’s a case that the MIT grad is objectively worse on philosophy of how to use the technical skills.

        Hearsay is that that MIT faculty view their mission as making the students want to change the world. Which is a popular idea. Lots of Steve Jobs wannabes in technical fields.

        Is it a good mindset for technical decision making?

        If you are a technical expert making a widget to change the world, there is a long path of cause and effect between the widget and the world, and you are not trained to usefully understand that path. In other words, the focus of what you are trying to do is outside of what you were trained to do, and outside of what you can understand well enough to know if you are doing a good job or a bad job.

        Where, if you are just thinking about making the widget, you know a lot about making the widget, and you are doing a good job when you quickly deliver a cheap widget design that meets spec.

        Big name schools are very likely to be selling the cost with the idea that you will be getting intangibles like being a ‘thought leader’, etc. Well, the sort of person who finds that very persuasive is unlikely to be who I am looking for as a technical expert to guide me. There are hundreds, thousands, or more types of strange specialized widgets. If I have a hankering for someone to tell me how to make a better widget of that type, I look for someone who has worked on that type of widget at a university that supported the work well. Big Name University studies much fewer types of widget than are available to want to dig into, so I don’t start by looking at BNU grads. I check the literature, see what places write about strange type of widget, and start at those places.

        Now, MIT does have fields it is famous for, that there are very few other schools well regarded for. Likewise Stanford. But if you really know one of those fields, you can point to a cheap podunk school that is also good.

        There are still good people coming out of the big name places, but knowing that someone is from one would raise more concern that they are a technocrat disinterested in and hence ignorant about technical matters.

      4. I don’t know about other fields, but for CS, there are two reasons to apply to MIT or Caltech or even Berkeley. Firstly, their selection process (circa Y2K, not sure about now) is extremely hardcore. If you get accepted, you know that you will be studying side-by-side with some incredibly smart people. Secondly, the courses taught in those universities go beyound mere vocational training; instead, they teach you the concepts and theory that you can use to solve truly difficult challenges in your field; challenges that, perhaps, few if any people before you had ever encountered. It’s not a matter of percentages, but a qualitative difference.

        The thing is, you are right; if you are looking to get a decently-paid job fresh out of college, you don’t need a fancy degree from a fancy college at all. You only need that degree if you want to go beyound that. It’s the difference between e.g. learning a couple of the most common programming languages vs. understanding the theory behind all programming languages, so that learning a new one (or creating your own !) becomes the work of an afternoon.

        In the end, it all depends on what you want to achieve; and you are right when you say that there are tradeoffs.

        1. I’ve taken a graduate level course in programming languages. I enjoyed it. I liked seeing the way that the languages were theoretically structured, what features were and were not considered ideal, and building up according to this theoretical framework. However, the idea that all this theory would help me learn an actual programming language is laughable. Figuring out Java or Ruby or whatever the latest language is has nothing to do with whether or not I can put the classes into a hierarchical partial ordering.

          And as far as building my own language goes, the main lesson I’ve learned is don’t do it. I’m sure some genius could make the perfect language for a given task, but for the vast majority of us, just write it in C and tinker with the assembly if you must. New languages, if they have their own compiler written in them, they’re doing better than most.

          1. I was really thinking along the lines of CS61A/B/C (not sure if these courses are still being offered), where you learn how computers work from the ground up, as well as how concepts work from the top down. After that, you get to see programming languages for what they are: thin abstractions on top of electrons. Then, when you need to learn a new language, you can just say e.g. “OIC, they’re using lists of function pointers as event handlers”, and skip a full day of boring examples. Or, to use another example, you can ignore the entire “pass by reference vs. pass by value” dichotomy, by realizing that “passing” things means putting numbers onto the stack, and these numbers can be interpreted as memory addresses if you want them to be. I’ve met people who literally spent a whole week on this concept, instead.

            But, of course, ultimately you’re right: inventing your own programming language is a sucker’s bet.

        2. I have worked with a few top notch folks that graduated from MIT in my career. Also worked with a few top notch idiots from MIT.

          The difference was that the really good folks had practical experience in the field and could communicate well with people. The idiots never got over their egos and credentials.

          The same idiot that blew up the lab equipment was the same idiot that parked his sports car in four parking spots in a crowded parking lot and later found his valve stems taped to his windshield.

    4. I’m not smart enough to have a doctorate, but like I said in the comment above, in Computer Science there is a marked difference between junior applicants who graduated from a good college with a good GPA, and the rest. As you said, serious students have the tools and the theoretical background they need to solve novel problems creatively. Non-serious students, or even serious ones who are self-taught, need to be hand-held every step of the way. Their approach to solving problems is to basically work down the list of solutions until one works, because they lack the understanding that would tie these solutions into an overarching framework.

      1. I’m not smart enough to have a doctorate …

        You’re falling into a classic error of credentialism. A doctorate proves that you know a decent amount about one field, so you do have to have a certain baseline of smarts to get a doctorate. But the lack of one doesn’t indicate anything about a person’s intelligence, only about the choices they made. Maybe they were smart enough to realize that they could make more money in the long run by stopping at a bachelor’s degree and going into the industry, rather than spending oodles of money on a doctorate that would only lead to academic careers which (in some cases) would be lower-paying than what one could make in the industry. Don’t ever think that the lack of a doctorate indicates anything about someone’s intelligence; It Just Ain’t So™.

        1. Having a doctorate doesn’t automatically mean you are smart. It just means you stayed in school a long time. I’ve known a lot of really smart PhDs and also some of the most useless idiots ever.
          Credentialism is a trap.

        2. A PhD isn’t an IQ test, it’s an obsession test. Are you so obsessed with graph algorithms or yeast proteins or the exact meaning of every word in Hamlet that you’ll be willing to spend years of frustration dealing with the academic bureaucracy in order indulge your obsession? Then congratulations, you’re a good candidate for a doctoral program!

          Even in today’s credential-obsessed society, a PhD isn’t worth it from a monetary perspective; you’ll earn more, but not enough more to justify the extra time in school, even if you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. The only reason to get a PhD is because you really, really want to do this.

          1. I know people who stopped at a master’s degree because a Ph.D. would have made their earnings go down. In some fields, getting a Ph.D. sends a signal that what you really want to do is teach, and it’s a waste of time to give you a job in private industry because you’ll bolt for academia as soon as possible after they finish training you.

      2. Also, in reply to your “Non-serious students, or even serious ones who are self-taught, need to be hand-held every step of the way” sentence, I’ll repeat what I said above (in reply to another comment of yours) about how that’s changing. Now that MIT has their courses (including CS) online for free, the serious self-taught people are going to start showing up with the same theoretical backgrond that the college graduates have.

        1. You might be right about that, and in fact I hope that happens. Personally, I find it much more difficult to self-study through a difficult course, than to work in a group with a teacher, TAs, and other students; but this could just mean that I’m not smart enough (I say that without sarcasm).

      3. Funny, what did I just say about cherry picking oddballs to refute the general?
        I see your programmers, and raise you all the MFA grads who are still aspiring to write the Great American Novel, while autodidactic assholes like me get paid.
        You can’t refute general observation by specific outliers. That’s the kind of bullshit thinking that got us Obamacare (sure it fucked over the majority, but what about Poor Sally Born Without Feet?)

        1. You are absolutely right, but I did acknowledge straight up that I can’t talk about every industry, just the software one (well, and maybe a bit of bioinformatics, too). Maybe literature is different, I really cannot judge.

  54. I went as an adult to UW-Madison. Yes, the Berkley of the Midwest. I actually took a semester break to have my 2nd child. I commuted from about 45 minutes away.

    The things which made me insane:

    1. I had to take 3 credit hours of “ethnic studies.” But because I’m 1/2 Korean, I couldn’t take any Korean related classes. WTF?! I. AM. ETHNIC!

    2. They (lefties) interrupted my biology 101 class, gave an announcement about a protest at the top of Bascom Hill, & the whole time, as they blathered on about minority represention, I was seething about MY PERSONAL DOLLARS being wasted on that time suck.

    3. Labor & wages class (I’m a math + econ double major) was full on bullshit. WI is a bastion of unions so you can imagine.

    So, my daughter attended UW-Madison, tried to do the whole squishy poli sci/comm arts double major & after a battle royale with her the first semester, I convinced her to change to nursing, she found her calling, graduated with no loans (CNA & bartending to fund her education) and is a NICU nurse making big bank.

    We gotta fight to make kids see the truth.

  55. Ummm… Actually, I can think of 3 schools that being a graduate puts you into a fairly ‘robust’ network for jobs… VMI, Norwich, and the Citadel. But there is a ‘small’ upfront payback (5-7 years of military service)… The Navy paid for my degree so I don’t owe anything either. Both my daughters did their educations on their own too.

    1. No military service requirement for The Citadel. You can move on if you want but it’s a private college not affiliated with any branch of the military. And that ring knocker network is FOR REAL. My cousin is a graduate, as is his sister’s husband, and both guys have never had a job they did not get via the Network. Not that they couldn’t have been successful without the connections, but if you have them, you are expected to not only use them but also pay them forward one day. It’s essentially a cult much like Texas A&M.

      1. We detested most ring knockers in the military. And had some unfortunate encounters with the Network in civilian life. Watched them destroy companies, thousands of jobs and lives with a few rounds of golf and a handshake. But they got paid, every if no one else did.

  56. I have to give a proud father brag here on this subject. My senior in high school decided he didn’t want to go to college because of everything you just mentioned in this post. His idea, no influence from mom and dad. All his teachers and counselors would ask the students to raise their hands as to who was going college. He would be the only student who kept his down. Of course they would ask why not and he would just say trade school/electrician, do you have any info on that. The counselors would say, I’ll get back to you, but never do.
    He was on the Robotics team and assisted in the wiring for two years. He liked it. So he’s going for electrician.
    In his english class last semester, they were assigned to go interview a professional in a field of their choice. He emailed a few companies and got an interview. It turned into the company owner interviewing him. He followed up last week and he now has a potential summer job lined up working for an electrician after he graduates. He’s to contact the guy in May.

    1. My first post-college job came about by accident. We were touring a radio station when they asked our adjunct professor to talk for a minute. She did some work on the side for them and they needed her to work some extra hours because someone had quit.

      She was honestly surprised two days later when I asked her for a letter of recommendation—my reply was “You didn’t realize that you flat-out told us there were job openings?” So I got the job several months in advance of graduation. (And no, radio wasn’t my ambition, but JOB. And I wasn’t afraid of computers, and they starting with automation…)

  57. I was accepted everywhere I applied, including MIT and Johns Hopkins, and ended up going to Texas A&M. No regrets. Zero school debt and a great job. Also, my degree program (biomedical engineering) was accredited at A&M, which was not the case for most schools at the time.

    (Johns Hopkins sent me a letter saying they were offering a scholarship that would allow me to graduate “virtually debt-free!” Unfortunately, the fine print clarified that “virtually debt-free” meant “$80,000 in the red”. That’s $80,000 about twenty years ago, I might add. I was not exactly tempted by this offer.)

    1. Speaking as the resident Canadian, this kind of talk bewilders me. Up here, you don’t apply to a variety of schools in different parts of the country unless your family is flat-out rich. Student loans only cover tuition and books, plus a little for general expenses; they are specifically designed NOT to give you money for moving expenses or anything else. (Living expenses? Forget it.) And out-of-province students pay much higher tuition than in-province students, who are heavily subsidized by the system.

      The upshot of this is that your educational opportunities, unless you come from money, are limited to what is offered in your home province. At one point in my teens, I looked into the idea of going to journalism school. But the only English-language J-school program in the country at that time was in Ottawa, 2,000 miles and three provincial borders away. I could not afford to go to Ottawa, nor to pay out-of-province tuition, so that idea was scrapped after all of five minutes.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir here — but it’s a cautionary tale for those boobs who think nationalizing the colleges will magically solve all their problems. All it does is change a loose and leaky cartel to an iron-clad monopoly.

      1. I applied to three schools, was accepted to two, and ended up going to the one out-of-state because, after scholarships, it was by far the cheapest. (My state’s university and college systems go through cycles of being more worthless than usual, and they were going through one of those when I was in high school. All three colleges were private.)

        I wouldn’t have gone to college at all without scholarships. The nice thing is that though tuition was “free” for me, I was well aware of all the work I’d done to get that tuition paid, so yeah, I appreciated my degree. (Which is good, because I ended up with a degree that is only really useful as showing that I have the chops to buckle down and get a degree.)

  58. When the daughter was starting her sophomore year at UF heading for a degree in psychology, the navy recruiter stopped by to see her and offered her a full boat ride as far as she wanted to go -to Ph.D.
    That included paying for everything, tuition, books, a stipend equal to E-5 pay with raises as she progressed and a guaranteed job starting as a lieutenant(navy type) at either Walter Reed in DC or San Diego Naval Hospital in Diego. For that she would owe Uncle Navy one for one.
    She declined…
    Fortunately for her(and her mother) I was doing my field engineering gig overseas and didn’t find out until much later. On the other hand she did the BS in four years and it was paid for by my FTR money while I was overseas, heh, heh.
    Damn kid would probably be running the navy if she had taken that offer.

  59. My first attempt at college was in the mid-’90s (and proved you should DO YOUR RESEARCH before you try to go to a school) and I pretty much hit a burn-out point mid-way through the full university experience (I did a JC to get the general ed stuff done). Discovered that I had serious depression issues, yay! Didn’t get treated for nearly twelve to fourteen years, even better!

    So, I am back in school due to the Crow Flu because I can’t find any jobs that don’t REQUIRE a college degree (usually a MBA or such) that aren’t warehouse, delivery, or sales around here. Good luck trying to “work up” in a company, and I don’t want to work for the State of California-that would be a bridge too far.

    (Dad wants me to get a State job-benefits, pension, all that. I just keep looking at the people RUNNING this state and realize that the pension is going to go BOOM in a way they can’t paper over soon enough.)

    I’m taking classes for a marketing certificate at my local JC, and I’m reaching this point of “guy has a four year degree and wanted to teach classes after a credential list of doing jobs I’d have murdered for. I can TEACH HIS CLASS better than he can.” But, if I can get the certificate…maybe, just maybe I can get a job that is better than humping stuff for Amazon.

    1. I hear you. I had the same problem with undiagnosed depression;. Bombed out of my first term at college because I had a killer flu that started just before midterms and lasted until just after the last day to withdraw from courses. I finished the term and bulled my way through as many exams as I could, but I got two F’s and was ineligible to continue. The Canadian system (which I have discussed upthread) made sure that, having flunked out of one institution, I was ineligible to apply to any others.

      Twenty years on, I finally found a small private college that did not have a big enough bureaucracy to employ people specifically to reject applications. I explained to them what my problem was; they looked bewildered, and decided that the only thing to do was to send me upstairs to the Dean of Admissions. He listened to me for five minutes, decided that I was not a bozo, and wrote ‘OK’ on the top of my application form – and I was in! But it could not have happened at any public-sector institution; I know; I tried.

      The reason I got back in at that time was the same as yours: I couldn’t get any job worth having without a degree. I took extensive career counselling, they did the whole work-up, and the fellow told me frankly that I had all sorts of employable skills, but no HR department would even look at my resume unless I had a degree in something. Anything. (This is the only excuse for getting a B.A. in underwater basketweaving, by the way.)

      Took just enough courses at the college that accepted me to fix my cumulative GPA. Transferred without a hitch to a local university that happened to offer the program I was after. Made the honour roll in my first year there. In my second year I got rear-ended by a truck, suffered a head injury, and had to drop out because I could not get from one class to another without falling down.

      So it goes.

      1. My husband took six years to finish a degree that was four and a half semesters of actual classes, and the major reason for this was depression. Thankfully, we had a friend working in the admissions program who figured out that one of his “drop-out periods” which was causing major problems with the paperwork could be fixed by admitting him as a transfer student from the same school.

        So by paperwork, he was the first to graduate from his class, since the “transfer” was before his last two semesters.

  60. Seen the post in question. And yes, that guy is a dope.

    I didn’t graduate college, or at least, not yet. Did a year of community college while fishing with my dad. But I ended up not being able to fish the following year (another story), and when my money ran out, so did my time at college.

    A bunch of people encouraged me to get a student loan. Thank God I did not listen to those people. I enlisted instead, and between my technical training and my previous credits being rolled over, I am one math class shy of an associate’s degree, through the Community College of the Air Force.

    Most of which, I not only didn’t pay for, but was -paid- to learn.

    Meanwhile, most of the kids I went to high school with either had their parents pay, and partied for four years, or took out student loans, and are broke as hell.

    Sucks to suck, I guess.

  61. Note to people wanting a socialmedia like interface to many independent blogs: RSS feed readers like liferea (though im sure better ones exist) can aggregate the posts by many blogs and present them in a feed like an email inbox as they are written.

  62. Another thought on the subject: Three things are responsible for how the colleges got so screwed up: Federal Student Loans, the GI Bill*, and Tenure.

    The first two are funding guaranteed by the government. You’ll notice that college tuition costs started to rise right about the time these two things came into existence. The colleges began figuring out that, since the government was willing to assume risk in issuing what are essentially subprime loans to kids who would have to pay them back after they graduate, and since the government is just an endless cash trough**, they could effectively charge what they want for tuition, and the only people that lose out are the suckers who have their student loan debt follow them until they’re either paid off, or that person dead, and the taxpayers, who fund the GI Bill nowadays. Now flush with fuck-you money, the universities had the freedom to implement tenure.

    Tenure, for the uninitiated, essentially means that, barring a university professor commits murder or something, they cannot be fired. It takes a really serious offense to leave a professor vulnerable to losing their job. This effectively allows university professors to say and do virtually anything they want, and face zero repercussions for it. Spout Anti-American political ideology in your classes? Sleep with coeds? Excessive drug use? Getting arrested? Doesn’t matter; you can get caught with all of these things, and you’ll still have a guaranteed job on Monday, just please remember to wear pants when you show up.

    There’s two things that will get our universities back on track: A) Cap student loans, and B) eliminate tenure.

    One could make the argument that capping student tuition would have the same effect as A, but A would not only help solve the problem, but would also help smaller colleges that didn’t jack their rates super-high, while simultaneously screwing over the institutions that got greedy. If nobody can afford to go to them, then they’re just going to have to tighten their belts and drop their price, now won’t they?

    B probably won’t happen until after A happens. But once it does, all those tenured professors that use their lecterns as a political pulpit are either going to a) shape up, or b) get fired, as they should be.

    Wishful thinking, but hey, a man can dream.

    *The GI Bill is only a problem because it’s guaranteed money for the colleges. I’m not trying to say vets do not deserve to have their tuition paid for. And I’m a veteran too, so anyone who accuses me of saying vets don’t deserve the GI Bill can take their strawman and stuff it.

    **As long as the government exists, anyway. And given the current state of affairs, my hopes of seeing the nation still standing by the time I die is, well, not that optimistic.

    1. Not a prayer of it happening, but put the universities on the hook for the debt.

      Watch the problem fix itself by the next semester.

    2. When I was using my GI Bill bennies(we’re talkin’ early ’70’s here), the check came to me not to the school for as long as it lasted and as long as I could prove I was sill in school.
      And he tuition at the JC was $7.00 – $10.00 per semester hour. So a typical 3 hour course was $35-$50 per semester.

  63. I’ve already seen a couple of Left of center folks I know saying that if they do this student loan forgiveness crap that they’ll personally host the next Riot in the Rotunda.

  64. Two grown offspring here. Told both of them that they were on their own for college or trade school. One paying for his own engineering education with his GI Bill, and working a job. The other, having washed out of the Navy with a heart problem, is paying his way through welding school by minimal loans and working a job. He’s already getting offers. He just turned 21.

    Two little offspring (3 and 5). They will be told the same thing.

  65. My mother rang me up today to rant, because apparently the University of the Philippines (likely it’s various branches throughout the country) has become hardcore New People’s Army recruiting grounds.

    University students have been turning up amongst the dead bodies in confrontations with the Philippine army. So there are now investigations being done on the campuses, and there is the inevitable screaming about ACADEMIC FREEDOOOOM.

    She noted that some of the wiser heads made the observation that the University of the Philippines are *state run universities* not independent states and the gentlemen’s agreement that existed no longer applies, and the ‘rights’ the academia and the media are clutching their pearls over don’t quite exist the way they imagined it did.

  66. My daughter is taking dual credit classes in high school right now through the local JuCo. She gets both high school and college credit for the same class. She is a junior, so between this year and next, by the time she actually starts college, she will have enough credits to be at least a sophomore. No stupid Comp 101 with 300 kids in the class or US History from a Liberal Perspective for her. Plus the JuCo gives her (read, me) a discount – they waive tuition and only charge about $200 for 6 credit hours. The credits all transfer, even to Hahvad or Yale. It’s FAR superior to AP classes which stress regular kids out horribly, then makes them pay to take a test at the end, and if they don’t pass, no college credit and all their hard work was for naught. My kid just has to make an 80 and she gets the credits automatically AND she gets the same extra points added to her GPA that AP kids get. Why in the hell would she want to take AP classes and have an ulcer at age 17? We are going to save a ton on tuition by her taking Music Appreciation online in a summer minimester at the JuCo instead of paying LSU $1500 for the same class. It’s a total win-win for all concerned. *

    *Except LSU, that is, but they can suck it. War Eagle.

    1. I took one AP test without a class attached to it—English Composition. I got a 5 on it.

      The heavy irony was that my college of choice required everyone (barring Honors students) to take English 101, no exceptions and no testing out. I pushed really hard to get into Honors, and it’s just as well, because if I had to take a class to “learn how to construct sentences and paragraphs” somebody would have had to die.

      Probably one of the other students.

  67. This is a test. I’ve tried to post a comment a couple times and it doesn’t seem to be going through. Maybe the fact that I’m overseas is making it end up in the spam filter?

  68. I teach in a rural community. When I talk to my high school students about their career/college choice I ask them where they want to go. I remind them that there is a local state affiliated University with almost the lowest rates in the state. “Look get your General Ed credits there, its cheaper then go to the one that has the degree you want. you can stay at home, and save money.”

  69. Here in the UK we don’t have gen ed courses and most degrees are only 3 years, you pick your major before applying, and that’s all you do (depending on the Uni there may be some options that are a bit of a tangent to the core subject, I did biology but did a course in science policy for example).

    Our degrees are a lot cheaper, max fee is £9000 a year but we still have the problem of too many people doing useless degrees and getting hideously in debt. The only solution IMO is to get rid of the idea that you have to have a degree to succeed in life and focus more on vocational training. (for example, nursing and policing shouldn’t need a degree)

    Finally, I want to agree with your point about students with rich parents, I had to pay my own rent and worked through Uni while my housemates whose parents paid it for them didn’t bother with pt jobs. Another friend of mine managed to spend his entire maintenance loan and get maximum overdrawn in 3 bank accounts by the end of the first term, yet once his dad bailed him out he got back in debt again!

  70. I paid tuition for one of my professors to literally never show up to class. Okay sorry. He came the first day. That’s it. And this is a thing he consistently does. Semester after semester. I even went and talked to the head of the department. All he did was parrot the professor’s continuing line of bullshit. So I knew he was worthless even though he knew what was going on. This was one of the many experiences I paid a crap ton of money to get a master’s degree for. And then no one even cared what the subject of that master’s was.

    It really is a bad joke.

  71. A great rant Larry!

    A reminder that schooling isn’t the same as education. Anyone can attend a school, but education requires some effort, and can come from many many different life experiences, including reading imaginative fiction.

    The biggest value of my 4 degrees, the last now 40 years ago, is that when someone tries to tell me that Degrees=Education=Smart Guy we need to listen to….. I tell them, “great news!” I’ve got all those valuable degrees so you should just listen to me as an official smart guy!

    At which point I’m told that degrees don’t give you wisdom or knowledge… But that we should listen to those OTHER GUYS with degrees, or titles or important positions as if THEY have wisdom.

    I believe Marc Twain said…,. ” I never let my schooling get in the way of my education…”

    Personally I value my freedom a LOT, and debt reduces freedom, so use it wisely, and infrequently.

    My best employees have a passion for what they do, and are thus motivated to excel. If they don’t know something they think they need to know, they learn it using the sources that they think will do the job the best way…..

    I read fiction to look at the world in new ways….books feed the soul…..

    1. This reminds me of a conversation I (Master’s Degree) and my Brother in Law (PHD) had with our nephew. We heard he was majoring in “Construction Management” and were concerned he was paying to do something he would get by just working. This kid, however, had an associates when he graduated high school, and he was working for a construction firm at the time. Per the guidance he got from 3 different foreman from 2 different companies, having his degree would mean he’d be eligible for promotion to a manager of some form (I don’t know the terms) after 4 years of work, which for him would line up as he graduated as he’d worked there for a couples years already. If he simply worked on the field he’d likely take 5 to 8 years.

      We felt like he had a good plan, but also told him to be smart about it and not spend money on something he could get paid to learn. His only made sense because had the associates already, otherwise it’s not worth the pay. I think he was surprised that two over educated guys like us were concerned he might be paying for schooling he didn’t need.

  72. Slightly off topic, but 50% of the Republicans are really not part of the uniparty? That seems awfully high to me, especially in light of votes around how they’re spending the Chicom loans my children and grandchildren will be paying interest on forever.

    1. I’m not part of the uniparty. I’m a registered republican, and a member of the town GOP committee. However, I’m a constitutionalist, tea party, small government, conservative.

      You want to know who the die-hard GOP uniparty members are, these reps who voted to impeach Trump are the worst: Liz Cheney, Tom Rice, Dan Newhouse, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Fred Upton, Peter Meijer, Adam Kinzinger, David Valadao, Anthony Gonzalez, John Katko.

      There’s noise that they shot themselves in the feet for reelection. What people fail to understand is they’ll just turn right around and join the communist-socialist, err Democrat Party instead.

  73. Yeah. These days, it is stupid to look at undergraduate from any perspective that isn’t cost minimazation with a hard look at returns.

    Universities will happily do business with people who don’t value their time after largely wasting a dozen years in public school, and who think that they will get decades of return from their time and money spent on a degree. The decades of return is especially suspicious right now. Universities have long shown signs of rot, fragility, and misplaced priorities. The Biden affair is surely going to disrupt things generally, and cause some change to the university business that is not yet obviously foreseeable.

    If one is advising a kid fresh out of secondary schooling, it is tempting to tell them to look at the BLS info, to see what degrees actually have potential for real world employment. Except, BLS makes projections, and some projections are clearly bullshit in ways that a highschooler isn’t going to detect. And years of looking at job advertisements is not something that most students can intuit from.

    Anyway, it is correct to say that the more expensive undergraduate degrees are not better. But there are differences in undergraduate degrees that can matter. Once you have a reasonable choice in major, and are looking at cheap universities (by preference local), there are differences between universities in how well supported that major is. You want a program that you are prepared for, that is going to provide instruction that is better than self study. But if your mind is not on using the credential, and the work to get your foot in the door on job one, you will screw up getting job one, and be SOL.

    Yes, graduate school can serve some purpose for some fields, and specific schools can be a lot better for a specific topic at the graduate level. You need the undergraduate degree before you can really know enough about graduate subjects to know about goodness of personal fit, and any undergraduate degree in the major will work. You had better not pick an undergraduate major based on the career plan of being a professor. Frankly, if you are an American, Professor is a lousy career plan even if you are going to graduate school.

  74. I have a friend here in America who was $125,000 in debt getting a PhD in Philosophy from an Australian university. Last time I saw him he was earning $12/hr. He wanted to teach Philosophy. They wanted his money.

    1. I met a college instructor once who had a 100,000 US dollar student loan debt– she had two degrees: Women’s studies and Religious studies, and she had gone to a college in the San Francisco, California region. I wonder if she has ANY chance of ever paying those degrees off?
      Let’s tick the bad choice boxes: [] expensive school, [] area with high cost of living, [] degrees with a horrible return on investment.
      And there she was indoctrinating college kids with the claptrap she had paid so much to learn.

      1. It’s all some of those people have, because their only real accomplishment is that bit of sheepskin from Expensive U.
        The gaslighted & suckers almost always defend and deny long past the point where the realization they’ve been scammed should have set in.

  75. My parents saved up and between that and scholarships I went to a small private school for no debt. In retrospect I think it was a mistake (except I met my wife). I’d rather have had the cash left over from what my parents saved up. That said, I felt the pressure that there was only so much money, so I made only one major change based upon departmental problem and took school seriously.

    Later when I went to my Master’s Degree I was the first one to graduate in 2 years after they reworked the program. I did that while working at 20 to 30 hours a week, and I had to do a 30 hour as week internship my last semester. I was paying for it myself, and needed to get it done and get to work, no lollygagging around. I also selected the cheapest school possible to do what I wanted (Counseling) and still get licensed.

    We’re saving for our kids, but making very clear that:
    A) They are going to an instate tuition school
    B) They aren’t taking out loans.
    C) They’re going to have a plan to graduate in 4 years.
    D) If any of the above rules are violated they don’t get the money we’ve saved up.
    We also intend to get them enrolled in our local community college their senior year, maybe junior, and knock out a lot of gen eds that way so there should be no way they need to violate C, even with a major change.

  76. college is marketed towards kids and parents very intensively. it is merely another consumer product. as voters, most parents have little or no interest what general policies are. it was offered up as an apologia for all the free trade deals and union busting.

    while higher education is more or less free in europe or canada, there are usually high admissions or qualification standards.

    1. Keep in mind that in most of continental Europe, it’s hard to get kicked out of college. An individual I worked with in insurance was quite proud of his PhD in Chemistry but got a little touchy when you asked why it took him 6 years to finish his undergrad degree and 4 more for a Masters and then 10 additional years for his doctorate. Most schools in the US don’t look that favorably when it takes you 6 years for a Bachelors degree and they typically kick you out of graduate school after 7 years, not 14.

      They might start with high standards but they surely don’t stick to their guns.

    2. Higher education in Canada is not ‘more or less free’. It is pretty heavily subsidized for in-province students, but the tuition bill for a four-year degree is still well up there in five figures. It just hasn’t hit six, because most universities are government-owned and their bureaucrats have no incentive to pursue profit.

      Which only means that the money motive is removed from the Gen Ed business, and indoctrination is all that’s left. God help us all.

      (Fortunately, we don’t quite have the American national neurosis about getting every kid a college degree. For some years now, Canada has been steering a lot of kids towards the trades, with apprenticeship programs more or less copied from the German system. So those kids learn to do things and make things, and make decent money thereby. Somebody has to pay for all the venti lattes at Starbucks served by barristas with masters’ degrees.)

  77. My daughter worked like crazy at BYU, a religious school that is cheaper than any in-state tuition. She did 2 top level internships in other research schools. Graduated no debt. Then 5 of the top biology programs in the country offered to pay her to get her PhD and tutor students. She applied to 6 and one wasn’t smart enough to make her an offer. She got into the top school she wanted. No debt.

    1. Yes, tuition at BYU is a bargain, even if you are not a member of the LDS church (member pay lower tuition).
      Unfortunately the SJW rot is washing into that campus as well.

      1. Yes, SJW’s are even in force at BYU. But you get a whole lot more conservative training than at any state university. That said, my daughter is now a full-fledged liberal. Hopefully it is just the enthusiasm of youth.
        “If you’re not liberal when you’re young, you have no heart. If you’re not conservative when you’re older, you have no brain.” (attributed to many, actual source unknown)

  78. I am an older woman. College for me was the way out of poverty and a REALLY bad home situation. Drugs, abuse, mentally ill, the list goes on. I was a c student and remember saying to my Godfather that I was going to look at votech so I could earn money, I was 16. My godfather said votech was for people who had no hope for their future. So off I go to college. I am working part time, taking public transportation, so NOT partying. Enter the 70s downturn, 80s big it better, 90s you are getting old, and not married. Your “career” isn’t, the career center is honestly crap, and there is a bubble economy. I got jobs in my field the kicker my employers paid for college, but none of my jobs got me out of the under 40K income. No kids. Some debt and yes defaults. You can’t live on minimum wage and pay student loans, pay rent, eat, all at the same time. Had I had a supportive, healthy, and economically smart adults, and really good adults in my life from grade school on I might have done a whole lot better. Unfortunately those are the breaks some of us “white Privileged” have. I just wanted a better life than I had. Adults (parents) wanted the schools to do all the work, raise their kids, educate them, instill civility and social conscience. The kids, adults like me believed so much that this would be the ticket out. It was a ticket, a ticket to just making it.

    1. But…but…according to “Dr.” Jill Biden, college degree holders on average earn MILLIONS more over their lifetimes than people with just a high school education!
      How dare you not conform to her vision!

  79. I went on a rant a few years back when debt forgiveness and free college was being discussed.

    Now, I took out 25K in loans for a two year period but paid them back. So admittedly, I am not very charitable towards people who demand I pay for their education.

    “OK, so how did *you* accomplish it?” came the question from a liberal acquaintance.

    Me: “Took general ed courses in community college, worked, didn’t own a car but got around on bus and bike. Took summer school, and saved everything I could. Then when I graduated, I took every shit job that came my way and then moved out of California.”

    “Oh, well that worked for you. It doesn’t work now.”

    I stopped the conversation due to the urge to kill rising.

          1. Sounds like it. I mean, sure; you feel bad that the person is having a rough time of it but I’m trying to throw a rope!

  80. Bryan Caplan is an economics professor at George Mason University and he makes pretty similar arguments in his book “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money”. Kind of ironic for a professor to be calling out the higher ed. system, but he doesn’t hold back and he especially goes after the uselessness of the general education requirements.

  81. First two years I lived at home and went to community college. I also took every CLEP test available. $50 then instead of classes and books is a blessing. Most parents today still don’t know about them. I saved probably $1000 over those two years (84-86).

  82. Even though I made the Dean’s List at Mercer and Kennesaw State, I was too stupid to figure out how to get scholarship money. I eventually went back to full time work and part time school but dropped out after maxing my credit cards one quarter for a pricey private college.
    I didn’t want a heavy debt load of that nature. I mean, not sure what I could’ve done with an English degree anyway. Taught school? Lol. Not with my temperament! Been a lawyer? Maybe. But then, that extra school and more debt…

    I ended up driving a truck for a living and making enough money to buy three dumpy little houses ( with my income and credit alone ) which I set about improving every chance I got, turning one into a rental and enjoying the tax breaks that offered. Real estate was a debt I could rationalize when it was making me money. And I learned a crap ton of useful skills rehabbing houses for fifteen years! Half my library are how-to books.

    Mike Rowe has been trying to tell us this for years: dirty jobs pay rather well. Certainly well enough for me to amass the beginnings of a real estate empire. Even doctors have to call plumbers for midnight emergencies!

    Don’t worry about prestigious school names. Develop real skills that most people actually need and you’ll be okay. And never stop learning! 🤩

  83. Best thing to do is go to your local community college for the first 2 years and get your bullshit GenEds done for cheap (along with CLEP tests which I definitely did a lot of). THEN go to a “better” school to finish out. Little known secret: all those impossible to get into as freshman colleges are a SHITLOAD easier to transfer into as junior with good grades from CC of WhoGivesAFuck.

    Also, I feel it is important to note that the professors at these schools are, by and large, not causing tuition to increase with their salaries. Despite exponential growth in tuition costs, professor pay has remained roughly the same, controlling for inflation, since 1970. So where is all that extra tuition money going? The Assistant to Under-Deputy Vice Chair of the Commissioner of the Registrar’s Brunch Committee. The amount of extra, administrative positions universities have added in the last 20 years is insanity!

    Also, GenEds are worthless, especially when they are “phone-it-in” noise in which no one actually learns anything anyhow. If we were still graduating people that spoke Latin and Greek so they could read the Bible and the Illiad, that might be one thing, but folks are taking 4 years of Spanish in HS, 2 more in college, and they speak less and worse Spanish than anyone that has spent 6 months working in a restaurant kitchen.

  84. From an european…
    Would not be a good move for your daughter to borrow a few thousand?
    The interest rate is very low and…
    -If Sanders/AOC/Biden/Harris bails her and the others… She gets “Free money”.
    -If not… she gets a good Credit Scoring, or Rating, or how you call it, for paying the loan.

    1. Nope.
      Borrowed money is still debt.
      You can’t bank on them bailing her out, plus, each of those you list has a different proposal. Some of which would benefit her circumstance, and others which would not. Pointless gamble.
      If you want a good credit score there are plenty of better ways to do it than taking on an unnecessary debt load at a time of your life where you have terrible earning potential (and last time I looked I’m like 20 points off the max credit score)

  85. Hey, that guy you’re talking about here. I was actually replying to one of the replies to your daughter’s comment, where an older gentleman was talking about how in HIS day he was able to go to college full-time for less than a hundred bucks a semester and was thus able to easily work his way through school and graduate debt-free.

    Unfortunately, I forgot to tag him as the one I was replying to, rather than your daughter. My apologies.

  86. Honestly, the best way to fix the problems with higher education is to turn off the money tap. Stop government subsidies of student loans, and reform finance laws to make them less predatory, and a lot of the issues we are seeing right now will dry up FAST.

    It will never happen, of course. Far too many financial and policy makers are heavily invested in the current process of turning the next generation into debt slaves. But if it could be done, it would defund a lot of the stupid going on right now.

    1. I dunno. Maybe the redditors will turn their gaze at university endowments. Then observe weakness that’ll be more effective then any government intervention.

  87. “And most gen eds could be replaced with a few hour long Wikipedia spiral on the subject and you’d probably learn more, for thousands of dollars less. We all know it. “

    Shades of Father Guido Sarducci, who did a comic sketch back in the ’80s called “The Five-Minute University”, based on the premise that you could teach in five minutes what the average college graduate actually remembered from most of his courses a year after graduation.

  88. I hope you didn’t get the kinda crap reserved for parents where one works and the other stays home. We discussed it well before we had kids, and made the call that whoever had the better job and income would keep working, while the other would stay home; we weren’t going to have strangers raising our kids. I seriously had a woman at my last job, years ago, who basically accused me of forcing my wife to stay home, barefoot in the kitchen.

  89. Great article, quite true!
    The point about Gen Ed is sad but true. In the olden days a general education meant learning the art of critical thinking and being able to back it up with the ideas of the great thinkers of the past.

    On July 4, 1776 here are the ages of some of the greatest thinkers to ever walked in the modern world:
    James Monroe, 18
    Gilbert Stuart, 20
    Alexander Hamilton, 21
    Betsy Ross, 24
    James Madison, 25
    Thomas Jefferson, 33
    John Adams, 40
    These people got GREAT Gen. Ed. educations, spoke several languages, and knew human nature better than the poor little Gen Y’ers of today. This isn’t what the universities of today are capable of producing.

    If I were a rich parent sending my kid to Harvard, I’d expect more.

    I paid for my own college education, working all the way through. My kids also paid for theirs. They are successful financially AND emotionally. They learned the power of hard work and PERSERVERENCE by working their way through college.

  90. I’m a professor of chemistry at a four-year small private liberal arts school in New England, and I cannot agree more with with your original post.

    Speaking broadly, my best performing students are often on scholarship, also working jobs while getting through school, and/or coming to school having completed initial service in our military. People who understand the value of their time and effort have no trouble with school.

    Similarly, there are many students who are very, strangely content to not participate in the education they (or their parents) are paying for.

    For my students who do well, the best thing I have done and can continue to do for them is guide them to internships – get a jump start on using their major before the degree has been conferred and with good quality work an even better letter of reference to the next job.

    Practical education trumps the theoretical education, or so it seems to me from my vantage.

  91. I have two basic points to make from my own experience. I have a BS in Physics from CMU and a PhD in Astrophysics from Princeton and I can tell you that from the hard sciences perspective, there is a vast amount of difference between the quality of education at various schools. Had your daughter wanted to be a physicist, she should have gone to the best school she could get into for that subject. Because the competition for research and/or academic positions after school is fierce, and the difference between a person with degrees like mine and degrees from Direction State College is that people with degrees like mine are employed in any position in their field they want to be employed in, and people with degrees from Directional State are not working in jobs they want. And there is absolutely no way a person can pay their way through CMU anymore, unfortunately, and thus cause of that is the gross inflation of costs due to the student loan program. (If you are good, you get paid to go to graduate school, so that’s not a problem.) CMU costs four times more in real terms today than it did when I went there in 1908-84. The education is probably 90% as good as they have added a bunch of bullshit diversity education requirements that I have complained to them about. Nevertheless, if you want a career in a hard science, my path is pretty much the only path: go to a very good school and do exceedingly well, and then get into the best graduate department for your field and impress them too. So you advice above might be perfect for your daughter, but it is wrong for the kids of some of your readers.

    Second, people have this notion that student loans are subsidies for students. That’s not true. The student doesn’t see any of the money. Student loans are subsidies for colleges and their employees, especially overpaid professors, and the hoards of bureaucrats staffing their diversity offices and all the other pernicious or useless things the schools do, like entire departments staffed with communists teaching racist and sexist propaganda to kids who will almost certainly become wards of the state at some point. The best thing that can be done is to completely END the government-backed school loan program. That is, no more loans, loan guarantees, or any type of interference in the free market for loans for education. As a part of that, I would agree to forgive current student loans, which after all are much greater than the loans I had to take out. My loans were about $10K. Sometimes loans today are 10 or twenty times that.

    Removing the government loans would essentially destroy almost all of the bad things about colleges. Unless they cut their tuition, half or more of the colleges would fail. Some colleges might bite the bullet and slash all the pernicious staff, all the useless communist departments, and be able to cut their tuition by 75% back to something people can afford. Others would fail. Some would charge people more for useful degrees than useless degrees. Some would make arrangements for “free college” but with a future “tax” on all earnings. There are plenty of arrangements that would make sense. The number of students going to college as a four-year all-expense-paid vacation would drop, and the number of students going to college who don’t belong there would drop to near zero. Instead of half of kids going to college, maybe a quarter would. The rest would have to find a trade or a skill to make money. And all those communist professors teaching racial and sexual grievance studies would mostly be out of work. I can’t think of one thing the government could spend $1.5 trillion on that would have a good an effect on the future of this country than that.

    1. Also, absent all that gov’t money, they couldn’t fund Departments of Equity and Inclusion, which per one report now suck up about 1/6th of the administrative costs of the afflicted schools.

      Then again, these departments serve as jobs programs for the otherwise-unemployable with their degrees in Useless Studies…. main problem is instead of the $2/hour they might optimistically be worth, they start at around $100k/year.

  92. Mostly agreed, but for the record — if your family income is under $65,000 (last I checked), Yale waives your tuition. Doesn’t do anything for the rest of the cost an Ivy League system (and of living in an Ivy League town, with Ivy League partying), but hey, save on tuition!

    My sister is a full partner in one of the primo firms in her profession, and she has the major say over who they hire for the Positions That Actually Make Money, who by default have a specialized Masters degree. She complains that nowadays she can’t find good candidates, and has resorted to raiding her alma mater (Flyover U) for graduates, and ignoring the rest. Which goes to show that even in a hard STEM field, most kids aren’t getting what they paid for.

  93. Larry, while I don’t dispute any of your statements of fact, I do take issue with your overall perspective in a small way.

    Your rant starts from the premise that the sole purpose of a college degree is to qualify for some sort of a skilled job. For the vast majority of students, I agree. However, I do believe that there is a small group of students who want and would benefit from a classical “general education” perspective.

    In an ideal world, there would be a cost-effective, practical track for students who wanted career preparation, and a classical alternative for those who wanted general education. I grant that that won’t happen any time soon for a lot of reasons, not least the political corruption of higher education.

  94. (1) Make all college loans subject to bankruptcy – they go away if declared and get paid last going forward.

    (2) College loan jubilee year! Coronachan says that gummint can take anything it wants from private business because Reasons. So if you have an outstanding loan from a college that took Federal Loan money, that college has to pay it back. For you.

    Coronachan also proves that abortion can be made illegal for *any reason* We have spent over 9 consecutive months controlling women’s bodies: locking them at home, denying them employment, forcing them to wear masks, etc.

    I’ve seen women business owners on the YouTubes and the viral videos ‘splaining how their lives have been utterly uprooted and destroyed by the lock-downs and the Red China Virus regulations.

    Coronachan says it’s not your body or your choice if it will save 3% of the American population that could die of the Wuhan Gurgling Death. Since 100% of human offspring’s lives will be saved if we require pregnant women to keep their offspring alive through their pregnancy, hey presto!

    Yes. I’m dreaming. Everything is broken.

  95. And this rant is in part – I’d say a big part – why Conservatives lost the culture wars. Sneering at the idea of a ‘general’ or ‘classical’ education (or any course not strictly related to ‘bean counting’ in its various forms) is what enables people to think that such things don’t matter. Then you wonder why kids either don’t understand the Constitution or openly disdain it. What the colleges teach in terms of philosophy and political and historical topics in general REALLY DOES MATTER. That’s why every college course catalog I’ve looked at over the past few years has REQUIRED electives in ‘woke’ BS. In short, your aspiring lawyer or business person or scientist or whatever may not know crap about Locke, but he or she will probably ‘know’ that Critical Race Theory is true and that the US was set up solely for the benefit of white men or, maybe a bit more nuanced – wealthy white landowners.

    You also overlook that many of the otherwise useless “studies” majors (E.G. “Gender Studies”, “Black Studies” etc) are used not only to pass certain ideas to the more ‘normal’ majors, but to produce A) An army of intellectual campus thugs, to keep the campus ‘climate’ sufficiently ‘woke’ or ‘antiracist’ or whatever and B) An army of ACTIVISTS many of whom go out into the ‘real world’ and cause many problems, to say the least. “Woke” or radical feminism has done much damage not just to relations between the sexes over the past 20 to 30 years , but also to the various laws related to the family and interpersonal relationships. Not to mention “The Personal is political” is totalitarian. And of course you are probably aware that Feminist lawyers (yes, that is a thing, and there are even legal organizations with some clout that consist of such) are trying (at least when it pertains to sexual assaults of all kinds) to change laws and policies that provide for Due Process for suspects. Then there’s the effects of Critical Race Theory on relations between the races and such things as the BLM “Peaceful Protests”. All this stems from the Universities whose cultural and political influence you seem to think can be safely ignored, and whose networking effects you sneer at. Being a “Yalie” you are expected now to have certain political beliefs and these beliefs aren’t yours or mine.

    Another thing you overlook is the use of 4 year degrees as proxies for IQ testing, and also to use to ‘gatekeep’ certain occupations usually for pecuniary gain. Steve Sailer in more than one column has pointed out that giving applicants for jobs IQ tests (or lots of the other ways companies used to assess workers) is now illegal. I have an Associates Degree in applied Biotechnology from 1995. It’s basically a ‘lab tech’ degree. I’d put the amount of difficulty of earning that ‘2 year’ degree ABOVE (now that I know what they have to take to get their degrees) any 4 year “Education” degree in my state. Yet they require a 4 year degree -4 years in pretty much ANY subject, mind you- to TEACH in Maryland. This is of course basically “price fixing”. My point? In many states and occupations they will punish you for the Community College (2 year and much cheaper) degree and many doors will not be open to you. It is kind of whack that you can required to have a 4 year degree in basket weaving for a bank teller job, but there it is. This also goes back to the School Accreditation scams that at least one of your earlier commenters posted about.

    As for student loan debts , I really don’t care. As far as I’m concerned I’m going to be paying taxes to a government that hates me for my race, sex and political beliefs anyway and wants to spend tons of money on wars I want no part of, at the same time letting the infrastructure (both human AND hard) of the country go to heck. Anyone paying attention can clearly see that the laws are now selectively applied and that whomever the government in power (Usurper Joe) serves it certainly isn’t the people or the Constitution of the United States.

    1. Heh… I like when I write an already long article, because I didn’t talk about every single aspect of a super complicated and vast subject, Johnny Internet Rando strolls in a few weeks late and declares that I “overlooked” those things. 😀
      Also, apparently, me talking about how it’s a financial rip off means that I must support all their woke bullshit, and even though I’m one of the rare non-libs who is really successful in traditional publishing, it is personally my fault that we are losing the culture war, because I don’t dominate a different leftist industry that I’m not in. 😀

  96. Well, you are certainly free to read all of that into my comment if you want. I’d really love to know how I made you personally (nice to know WHO is to blame lol) into the one single-handedly responsible for losing the culture wars. I suppose there’s also some spot where I said you were a ‘wokist’ or implied it or something, but damned if I see it. Lastly, I’ve left a comment or two on here before though years ago. I may hardly ever comment here, but I’ve been reading you for probably around eight years now, though I do not generally read your ‘writing’ posts. I mostly have enjoyed your past roasts of various people such as that newspaper guy who was traumatized by (IIRC) firing a gun.

    1. …losing the culture wars…

      I don’t think that’s the case though. Not when the left is openly censoring and deplatforming anyone disagreeing or critical of their dogma. Not when they literally have to resort to newspeak like “multiracial whiteness”, so as to explain why all the eeevil white supremacists they’re fighting are more diverse than a Village People reunion. Not when the motto “get woke, go broke” has become a more reliable market predictor than Warren Buffet’s investment portfolio.

      As anyone from a post-soc country can tell you, mainstream news media isn’t a great barometer for national culture. Nor is, per the topic at hand, the propaganda taught in higher learning institutions. Now, freely purchased fiction – that’s another thing. And since this the website of a nationally bestselling author (under publishers not usually known for aggressive marketing at that), well… draw your own conclusions.

  97. What most people fail to understand is that the whole college industrial complex is not about education but about sales of their services, name brand, and possibly access to a certain job. The college experience has been pressed on the American psyche as a new religion, a new way to salvation. For too many it is little more than an expensive lottery ticket. The fact that the American public will take out exorbitant loans, for the possibility of landing a great job, is a bit of a scam. How else are they able to expand their campus foot print decade after decade? The money keeps coming in, so they keep spending it. Part of this started in the 1960s, when colleges got the idea that they would press local and state governments for the rights to accredit different job requirements. This created a funnel to their front door. Then there was the pile on. Every college student has encountered the required book scam, that colleges use. A professor requires students to purchase the book they wrote, then they say that next semester’s students cannot purchase a used book, for the course as there has been an update.
    Add to this the sales pitch colleges and their missionaries have placed on K-12 educators. Many public school systems had good vocational, business, and technical programs. Many of these provided skills to get a job, after high school. College missionaries pressed high schools to eliminate these more costly programs, by saying they were blue collar and not erudite, part of the past. So many secondary school systems now have a single track for their students. ALL to college or bust. Needless to say hundreds of thousand kids leave high school with no ability or $$ to transition to college, and NO marketable skills.
    This elitism is short changing huge numbers of Americans, and leaving many unable to fill any jobs, as they are unskilled.

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