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mswas
11-18-2009, 07:19 PM
Are the rising costs of college tuitions together with the stagnation of wages leading us to a position where we'll see massive defaults on student loans?

Inspired by this diary on the DailyKOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/18/800460/-The-Education-Bubble

even sven
11-18-2009, 07:34 PM
Generally the only way to default on your student loans (government loans, at least) are to die or get horrifically injured. So let's hope we don't see a lot of defaulting.

mswas
11-18-2009, 07:43 PM
Generally the only way to default on your student loans (government loans, at least) are to die or get horrifically injured. So let's hope we don't see a lot of defaulting.

Ok, so maybe not defaulting but a general inability to pay them back. On a long enough timeline people will die, so if you can't default you continue to accrue interest right?

But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?

threemae
11-18-2009, 07:49 PM
Generally the only way to default on your student loans (government loans, at least) are to die or get horrifically injured.

I wish.

I am not a financial expert, but I believe that mswas's usage of the word 'default' is more accurate than yours. Perhaps we could say that government student loan debts are not able to be "discharged" through normal bankruptcy; only death, disability, etc.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/default

hobscrk777
11-18-2009, 07:50 PM
Ok, so maybe not defaulting but a general inability to pay them back. On a long enough timeline people will die, so if you can't default you continue to accrue interest right?

But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?

I think it means any number of things:

Students aren't aware of the disparity between tuition inflation and salary inflation
Students are aware of the disparity but still value college enough to justify the expense
Students are aware of the disparity but collectively believe it to be a short-term trend
Students are aware of the disparity but give it no regard, valuing college for reasons beyond the anticipated boost it will provide to their salaries

mswas
11-18-2009, 07:52 PM
hobscrk777 I don't think it's a matter of whether or not they value college, but whether or not college is seen as an essential stepping stone toward entry into the job market AT ALL. Its value is that it has become a requirement even for jobs that do not practically require a degree.

hobscrk777
11-18-2009, 08:15 PM
hobscrk777 I don't think it's a matter of whether or not they value college, but whether or not college is seen as an essential stepping stone toward entry into the job market AT ALL. Its value is that it has become a requirement even for jobs that do not practically require a degree.

From above:
Students are aware of the disparity but still value college enough to justify the expense

mswas
11-18-2009, 08:16 PM
From above:

But that doesn't even respond to what I said in any way. Student perception of value is completely irrelevant to the topic.

hobscrk777
11-18-2009, 08:23 PM
But that doesn't even respond to what I said in any way. Student perception of value is completely irrelevant to the topic.

Why is that? You said:


"...but whether or not college is seen as an essential stepping stone toward entry into the job market AT ALL. Its value is that it has become a requirement even for jobs that do not practically require a degree."

Who sees college as an essential stepping stone?

If it's (prospective) students, then they certainly place value on a college education if only for the sake of filling an employment criterion.

If it's employers, then this perspective becomes known to prospective students, who decide to attend college (even if they may not have otherwise). Thus, they place value on a college education.

I think this is very relevant. Both of these cases exacerbate an education bubble.

mswas
11-18-2009, 08:34 PM
Well actually it's really the employers who see it that way. Students are doing it because they are FORCED by the market into it. But still what point are you making? I don't know where you are going with this.

If students become incapable of paying their student loans what will that do?

Euphonious Polemic
11-18-2009, 08:42 PM
If students cannot discharge their responsibilities via bankruptcy, won't the banks simply carry the loan on the books until such time as the student earns enough to pay it off? Or perhaps the student ""merely" pays interest for the rest of their lives. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal for a bank to me! Customer cant pay the principle, can't get rid of debt through bankruptcy, and pays me the interest forever!

In an extreme situation, I guess the bank could write off the value of the loan, but I don't see that happening enough to warrant the term "bubble".

hobscrk777
11-18-2009, 08:42 PM
Well actually it's really the employers who see it that way. Students are doing it because they are FORCED by the market into it. But still what point are you making? I don't know where you are going with this.

If students become incapable of paying their student loans what will that do?

I was offering that as one possible answer to your query "But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?"'t tackled the iss

I haven't tackled the issue of students being unable to pay their loans yet.

mswas
11-18-2009, 08:44 PM
I was offering that as one possible answer to your query "But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?"'t tackled the iss

I haven't tackled the issue of students being unable to pay their loans yet.

Right, I am just not getting what you are saying for some reason. Student value of course is an important factor, but I am asking what happens when cost exceeds the benefit in a macrocosmic sense, not what happens to the individual student.

Eva Luna
11-18-2009, 08:48 PM
If students cannot discharge their responsibilities via bankruptcy, won't the banks simply carry the loan on the books until such time as the student earns enough to pay it off? Or perhaps the student ""merely" pays interest for the rest of their lives. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal for a bank to me! Customer cant pay the principle, can't get rid of debt through bankruptcy, and pays me the interest forever!



From my memory of how my federally guaranteed student loans worked, if you are following the income contingent repayment plan, and have not been able to pay off the loan after 25 years, the remaining loan balance is written off. Which, I guess, means the Feds would be on the hook for it (as they would be if the borrower died or was permanently disabled). No idea how private loans work, but I imagine a) it's in the loan documents somewhere, and b) the banks have made sure they will get their pound of flesh.

Siam Sam
11-18-2009, 08:52 PM
From my memory of how my federally guaranteed student loans worked, if you are following the income contingent repayment plan, and have not been able to pay off the loan after 25 years, the remaining loan balance is written off. Which, I guess, means the Feds would be on the hook for it (as they would be if the borrower died or was permanently disabled).

One other thing on that. The written-off portion is counted as income and thus subejct to income tax.

Sateryn76
11-18-2009, 10:15 PM
From my memory of how my federally guaranteed student loans worked, if you are following the income contingent repayment plan, and have not been able to pay off the loan after 25 years, the remaining loan balance is written off. Which, I guess, means the Feds would be on the hook for it (as they would be if the borrower died or was permanently disabled). No idea how private loans work, but I imagine a) it's in the loan documents somewhere, and b) the banks have made sure they will get their pound of flesh.

I assume by "Feds" you mean US taxpayers, right?

wmfellows
11-19-2009, 07:03 AM
Well actually it's really the employers who see it that way.

Semantics. Value in the sense it was used is appropriate.

Students are doing it because they are FORCED by the market into it. But still what point are you making? I don't know where you are going with this.


Forced?

No, they desire (value) a certain form of employment, this happens to require a college degree. Ergo they value obtaining said degree.

hobscrk777
11-19-2009, 08:35 AM
Right, I am just not getting what you are saying for some reason. Student value of course is an important factor, but I am asking what happens when cost exceeds the benefit in a macrocosmic sense, not what happens to the individual student.

It seems there was some misunderstanding on my part, then. I read your initial question (quoted below),

"But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?"

as meaning, "what are some possible reasons to explain this phenomenon?" not, "what happens when students are unable to pay back their loans due to stagnant, or deflating wages relative to their tuition costs?" Apparently you meant the latter.

Dangerosa
11-19-2009, 09:06 AM
I think there is a private college bubble.

Public colleges, by and large, are still affordable. You hopefully plan for them and hopefully your parents saved for them, and you might need a little aid in the form of grants, loans, or work study - but two years of a public college costs about what a middle class family would spend on a new car - and people manage to afford cars. The public university I hold my degree from is still only $6k a year - its kind of a crappy state school, but it is affordable.

Private liberal arts graduate degrees are increasingly problematic. $200k in loans to have a degree in English Lit? That isn't something that middle class families can afford. The thing is - I'm not sure the private liberal arts colleges were ever meant to be something the middle class could afford.

Thudlow Boink
11-19-2009, 09:30 AM
Here are some things that I've heard, but don't have cites for, so take them with as many grains of salt as you'd like:

Private colleges charge higher tuition because they tend to be tuition-driven, as opposed to public colleges that can rely on tax money and research grants.

The biggest factor (so I've heard) leading to increasing tuition rates is the "need" to keep the facilities and technology current and modern: computer labs, smart classrooms, campus-wide internet access, up-to-date athletic facilities, etc. Campuses that don't have these things will lose students to those that do.

One common strategy employed by private colleges is to set tuition rates high (thus getting as much money as possible from students whose families can afford it), while offering plenty of financial aid (scholarships, grants, etc.) to keep the actual price you pay within reach of plenty of others.

ultrafilter
11-19-2009, 10:16 AM
A few people don't seem to understand exactly what the term bubble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_bubble) means.

It's hard to say exactly what the intrinsic value of a college education is, but it's clear that many people are spending much more money on degrees than they'll ever recover as a result of that degree. Yes, we have a bubble, and it's going to be very nasty when it bursts.

even sven
11-19-2009, 11:01 AM
Let's keep our heads on here. The average student loan debt is $23,186.

That's the price of a car, an item which most Americans- college educated or not- will buy and pay off several times in their lifetime. While it's a good chunk of money, it's not exactly soul crushing quite yet. I mean, the average consumer manages to rack up over $4,000 in credit card debt on stuff that in many cases won't improve their earning potential at all. Wouldn't that debt be a good one to look at first?

I do think we need to reign in tuition- and as someone who realized after graduation that they paid up the nose for piles of facilities I never even used, I do think reducing the "country club" aspect of college life would be a good start. Let's start looking at what it actually costs to hold classes and maintain the library. Then we can decide who wants to pay to run the pottery co-op, sauna, and dining hall theme night.

Epimetheus
11-19-2009, 11:56 AM
Let's keep our heads on here. The average student loan debt is $23,186.

I'm pretty sure that average is 1.) Undergraduate only. 2.) Public schools and community colleges only (community colleges drop it down a lot) 3.) Scholarships and grants bring this way down 4.) "Average" debt figures usually only take tuition into account, which is a small part of the actual cost of college.

Also, some people tend to tout "average amount of subsidized loans taken out" as the average number, so I'm not sure if this number you reference, but didn't cite, is taking private loans into account. Another thing to consider is a lot of people spend 8 years working full time and going to school 3/4 time or half time. This lowers their debt after school, but the actual cost is higher, as they probably paid off half of the debt with their income.

Let's not confuse average debt with the actual cost of college. Not everybody gets into school with a full ride scholarship, hefty grants, mommy and daddy paying for everything, or are able to work full time while doing it.

For instance, my wife got her Masters with a total debt of like 6k. Her mommy and daddy paid for tuition, gave her money for rent, food and gas. She worked about 10 hours a week as a TA for extra spending money.

Me, I went to college later in life. I had a car loan (which I paid off shortly into college), my parents didn't contribute anything other than a co-sign on a private student loan. I tried working 40 hours but my grades dropped. I ended up working 25-30 hours, which limited my pay, so I had to supplement my income with extra loans just to eat and have a roof over my head. Needless to say, my student loan debt was more than 10 times my wifes. And probably closer to 3 times the "average." Yet the government looking at my debt probably only sees the 25k or whatever of subsidized loans I took out from them. They don't see the other private loans I took out.

ETA: Some of my money issues that came up were probably not something an 18-21 y/o has to deal with a whole lot either. Like no dental insurance and having to get several root canals/crowns, etc. Medical problems that cost a bundle, etc.

mswas
11-19-2009, 11:57 AM
Semantics. Value in the sense it was used is appropriate.



Forced?

No, they desire (value) a certain form of employment, this happens to require a college degree. Ergo they value obtaining said degree.

And still this hijack where you tell me what I already know is completely and utterly beside the point of the topic.

It seems there was some misunderstanding on my part, then. I read your initial question (quoted below),

"But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?"

as meaning, "what are some possible reasons to explain this phenomenon?" not, "what happens when students are unable to pay back their loans due to stagnant, or deflating wages relative to their tuition costs?" Apparently you meant the latter.

Yes, this is why I was confused as to why you were trying to teach me about supply and demand. I was indeed speaking of the latter.

mswas
11-19-2009, 12:01 PM
A few people don't seem to understand exactly what the term bubble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_bubble) means.

It's hard to say exactly what the intrinsic value of a college education is, but it's clear that many people are spending much more money on degrees than they'll ever recover as a result of that degree. Yes, we have a bubble, and it's going to be very nasty when it bursts.

Right, and the link I posted to in the OP has some cites regarding the rise in tuition across the board, not just at private universities on a yearly basis. The numbers as presented were kind of shocking to me. The post itself is kind of a polemic and is long-winded, but he's got cites to sources that are useful.

robert_columbia
11-19-2009, 12:13 PM
Are the rising costs of college tuitions together with the stagnation of wages leading us to a position where we'll see massive defaults on student loans?

Inspired by this diary on the DailyKOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/18/800460/-The-Education-Bubble

There's a big difference between the housing bubble and a possible education bubble.

If you default on your mortgage, you normally lose your home.

If you default on your student loans, they can't take away your degree.

Can you imagine:

"I used to have a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering and worked on designing fighter planes for the Air Force, until I defaulted on my student loans and they took my degree away and then they fired me for losing my degree..."

Eva Luna
11-19-2009, 12:59 PM
I assume by "Feds" you mean US taxpayers, right?

Depends how you look at it. I haven't looked at the default rate or at how many loan balances actually do end up being written off, whether for death or disability of the borrower or simple inability to pay - I don't even know that the income contingent repayment plan has been around for 25 years. I do know that I've been paying my own loans off faithfully every month, with interest, from when I got my B.A. in 1989 until I started grad school in 1994, and from the end of my post-grad school grace period in 1996 until now, with a forbearance of a few months when I had thousands of dollars in medical debt due to an accident that wasn't covered by insurance. (And during a forbearance, any interest that I couldn't pay was capitalized, meaning added back into my principal balance.)

If you want to dig up the balance sheet for Federally guaranteed student loans and their impact on the U.S. Federal budget, knock yourself out.

(P.S. Student loan borrowers are also taxpayers before and/or after they are borrowers, and sometimes also during.)

Wesley Clark
11-19-2009, 01:03 PM
Yes. However student loans have various payment plans and my understanding is lenders are willing to work with loan holders during rough patches.

http://www.finaid.org/loans/repayment.phtml

Of course, the longer you take to pay off the loan the more interest you have to pay.

mswas
11-19-2009, 01:13 PM
There's a big difference between the housing bubble and a possible education bubble.

If you default on your mortgage, you normally lose your home.

If you default on your student loans, they can't take away your degree.

Can you imagine:

"I used to have a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering and worked on designing fighter planes for the Air Force, until I defaulted on my student loans and they took my degree away and then they fired me for losing my degree..."

Obviously, but what I think is even more significant is if there is a point at which people will simply stop being able to afford college and then there is a massive scaling back of university services in this country.

Epimetheus
11-19-2009, 01:39 PM
Yes. However student loans have various payment plans and my understanding is lenders are willing to work with loan holders during rough patches.

Not so much with private loans. I am unemployed and cannot find a job in my field, but cannot get a deferment. I can defer my federal loan, but only for six months and the process to get it deferred can take 6 months. Also, I have to be registered with a local job service (I am, state employment agency), but I have to be willing to take any job (not willing to work at McDonalds, for instance- I didn't get 80k in debt to flip burgers). However, I do apply for all janitorial jobs, entry level jobs and of course, the field I went to college for, IT.

My other loan companies (AES and Chase) say that my loans do not qualify for deferment.

hobscrk777
11-19-2009, 02:46 PM
A few people don't seem to understand exactly what the term bubble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_bubble) means.

It's hard to say exactly what the intrinsic value of a college education is, but it's clear that many people are spending much more money on degrees than they'll ever recover as a result of that degree. Yes, we have a bubble, and it's going to be very nasty when it bursts.

Let me play devil's advocate here...I don't think that's necessarily emblematic of a bubble, though. If I spend $100k getting a degree(s) and my lifetime earnings are only increased by $95k, then I've effectively lost $5000 as a result of earning a degree. However, this says nothing about whatever else the degree may be worth.

mswas
11-19-2009, 03:00 PM
Let me play devil's advocate here...I don't think that's necessarily emblematic of a bubble, though. If I spend $100k getting a degree(s) and my lifetime earnings are only increased by $95k, then I've effectively lost $5000 as a result of earning a degree. However, this says nothing about whatever else the degree may be worth.

That's more applicable if you are the type that is meant for college. Many people go to college purely so that they can get a job, in which case college has no value in and of itself or more specifically has a binary value in that it increases the earnings potential or it doesn't. Most corporate jobs DO NOT require a degree. We could very easily give people job training in vocations and then provide six month courses. Like get an office worker associates degree, then when you want to move up to Management take management courses, or go get a certification for a particular piece of software that the company uses, or many other options. The four year degree has done two things, reduced standards in High School, and thus the value of a high school education, and put people into debt unecessarily. You do not need a college education to work in Excel and Powerpoint, you just don't.

However, what college was created for was as a generalist finishing school for people who needed a broader skillset, IE the classical education, which Liberal Arts degrees are a woefully inadequate facsimile of. Too many people major in beer.

But the real question, and this is what makes it a bubble is, "What happens when the earnings potential is demonstrably less than the cost of the debt burden?", and suddenly people stop going to college? I don't mean no one goes to college but lets say attendance drops by 5%. Universities across the country are going to have to start cutting programs.

hobscrk777
11-19-2009, 03:02 PM
Here's an interesting topical video I just ran across. Apparently there was a riot resulting in 14 arrests over a 32% hike in tuition at UCLA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33UU6MKuWSE&feature=player_embedded

Epimetheus
11-19-2009, 03:28 PM
Here's an interesting topical video I just ran across. Apparently there was a riot resulting in 14 arrests over a 32% hike in tuition at UCLA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33UU6MKuWSE&feature=player_embedded

I saw this and thought of this thread too. I think the huge hike is mostly due to California's budget crisis which would probably be having issues even without the recession.

msmith537
11-20-2009, 01:32 PM
Most corporate jobs DO NOT require a degree. We could very easily give people job training in vocations and then provide six month courses. Like get an office worker associates degree, then when you want to move up to Management take management courses, or go get a certification for a particular piece of software that the company uses, or many other options.

I see this refrain over and over again on this board which leaves me with one or more of several possible conclusions. That a significant number of people here:
-are not college educated (or not educated at a very good college)
-have never worked in a large company
-have worked in a large company but only in a low level, administrative or relatively unskilled capacity

As I have repeatedly said before, "office worker" is not a job description. Nor is the nebulous "manager" position. Companies hire people to perform particular roles or functions within the company. And those functions generally require people who are educated.

Even if it were true that most jobs don't require a college degree, it would still be a desireable qualification that would make one candidate stand out over another. Most jobs don't need military experience or having been the captain of your high school basketball team either. But if an employer is trying to decide from a pool of candidates, they might favor someone who has previous experience demonstrating leadership and discipline.

I don't know about you, but I didn't go to college (and grad school) to just get a bullshit job pushing paper around that any monkey can do. And that is the source of the potential problem.

There is a danger, IMHO, if that there are not enough "good" jobs, competition would become so intense that the cost of going to ANY college would become prohibative. You would end up with a very rigid class society where only the best and brightest with the wealthiest parents would go to the good schools. Some would get hired by the nations law firms, management consultancies, investment banks, engineering companies and other high paying prestigeous institutions while a significant number would remain underemployed or unemployed and become disgruntled. And the rest of society would simply "opt out", unable to afford an education and forced to take whatever menial jobs they can.

Dangerosa
11-20-2009, 06:38 PM
Obviously, but what I think is even more significant is if there is a point at which people will simply stop being able to afford college and then there is a massive scaling back of university services in this country.

I think its small private colleges that face the most risk. The lower tier.

State schools - as long as there are subsidies in place (and most at least benefit from land grants) will remain in demand because they have cost on their side. They are usually large as well and benefit from economies of scale.

The top tier private schools (colleges and universities) - and not just the Harvards, but the good regional private colleges that currently admit a small percentage of their applicants (and here I'll get regional because I know the regional colleges well) will do fine. Carleton in Northfield Minnesota only admits 10% of its applicants. Macalester in St. Paul 40%. They'd have to see a large drop in applicants to have issues (or see a huge increase in the need for aid that they can't support through endowments and grants - which is probably more likely.

On the other hand you have the "less intensive" small private colleges. The bill is nearly the same for Augsburg or Gustavus Adolphus, but the admission requirements are much less stringent. They are (around here) seen as the second choice colleges for people who can't get into Carleton or Mac. Those are the schools likely to face an "enrollment crisis" where they can't keep enrollment at sustainable levels as people decide that going $100k into debt for a degree in Russian History might not be the best plan for future success.

Really Not All That Bright
11-20-2009, 07:37 PM
Can anyone point to a study or studies about why the cost of tuition is rising so quickly?

Voyager
11-20-2009, 08:18 PM
A few people don't seem to understand exactly what the term bubble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_bubble) means.

It's hard to say exactly what the intrinsic value of a college education is, but it's clear that many people are spending much more money on degrees than they'll ever recover as a result of that degree. Yes, we have a bubble, and it's going to be very nasty when it bursts.

It is not a bubble at all. It may be a problem, but the cite uses the scare word bubble for no good purpose.

Bubbles happen when the value of assets get overpriced, and when they burst those values go down - stocks, houses, tulips, Beanie Bables. But there is no market for an already granted college degree, and even slots in colleges going begging because of the high prices is not going to change the value in terms of employability of already granted degrees.

The article mentioned that there might be a run of education bankruptcies like medical bankruptcies. The value of education loans might go down if they are not guaranteed. Colleges might see major price resistance. We might even see low prestige, expensive colleges closing. But none of this constitutes a bubble.

mswas
11-20-2009, 08:18 PM
msmith537 I didn't mean to imply that there were no corporate jobs requiring a degree. However, would you argue that many of those job you are talking about could not be serviced just as adequately by more targeted certification programs? Is there something about a 'liberal arts' degree that confers something special that rounds you out well for lots of different office type roles?

I have worked in a lot of offices. I do not have a college degree, but I have been a temp in offices, and done IT support for many different types of jobs. I have seen people fresh out of college who really have to learn the stuff almost from scratch. I had this opinion formed when being the Apple IT administrator in a medium sized office and how I wowed people with my mad skills teaching them how to use QuarkXPress, Photoshop or Outlook, which they had gone to school for.

Dangerosa Fair enough.

mswas
11-20-2009, 08:19 PM
Can anyone point to a study or studies about why the cost of tuition is rising so quickly?

Hmm, good question. As I undertand it, it's mainly administrative costs that are rising.

Epimetheus
11-20-2009, 08:28 PM
Hmm, good question. As I undertand it, it's mainly administrative costs that are rising.

I figured it had to do with the trend in high cost, newly build buildings, auditoriums, common areas and recreational centres combined with the fact the every year the state government cuts funding.

Really Not All That Bright
11-20-2009, 11:58 PM
I figured it had to do with the trend in high cost, newly build buildings, auditoriums, common areas and recreational centres combined with the fact the every year the state government cuts funding.
Universities have always had those costs. As far as I can tell, the cost of construction of a given building has actually dropped in real terms.

Epimetheus
11-21-2009, 12:10 AM
Universities have always had those costs. As far as I can tell, the cost of construction of a given building has actually dropped in real terms.

Really? Always? So they have always competed for state of the art buildings and top end recreation centers. This is why so many colleges had them in the early 90s and didn't need to build them (or rebuild them) in the 2000s. Call PBS, they got it wrong.

gonzomax
11-21-2009, 12:11 AM
I saw this and thought of this thread too. I think the huge hike is mostly due to California's budget crisis which would probably be having issues even without the recession.

I heard on TV news they got TARP money. It is not about a shortfall. It is greed.

Voyager
11-21-2009, 03:57 AM
I heard on TV news they got TARP money. It is not about a shortfall. It is greed.

It's about the shortfall. All the staff of the California state universities are taking 8% pay cuts through furloughs. A friend of ours who is a professor at UCLA is being pressured to retire with a buyout package. Another friend who is a teacher at the elementary school across the street has had so many students added to her 3rd grade class there is barely room for the desks. An article in the paper today said parent teacher conferences, usually normal about now, have been canceled, and it is almost impossible to get a meeting with a teacher unless there is a problem. This is not laziness (unless the teachers have suddenly got lazy) it is stress. Plus, every teacher in the high school my kids went to who didn't have tenure yet got laid off.

That's the so-called fat. The blame for this is clear, by the way. It is the minority of Republicans who just said no to California kids.

Nava
11-21-2009, 08:31 AM
Well actually it's really the employers who see it that way.

Semantics. Value in the sense it was used is appropriate.

It's not semantics. I am fully qualified as a translator according to the Spanish government (5 EOI), but not according to the people who hire translators. Therefore, I can't work as a translator, in spite of being qualified for it, unless I get a paper that those people will recognize.

The ironic part is that most of them never ask to see any proof that you did get the multicolored diploma.

Fionn
11-21-2009, 09:21 AM
msmith537 I had this opinion formed when being the Apple IT administrator in a medium sized office and how I wowed people with my mad skills teaching them how to use QuarkXPress, Photoshop or Outlook, which they had gone to school for.


How many colleges actually offer, much less require, classes in Outlook?

mswas
11-21-2009, 10:26 AM
How many colleges actually offer, much less require, classes in Outlook?

I don't know, that EVERY college doesn't give classes in Outlook is perfect proof that school doesn't prepare you for using the single most commonly used software in an office environment, in the world.

Don't you think it's kind of odd that you would scoff at teaching people to use the most common office tool? Simply because schools don't teach it?

Dangerosa
11-21-2009, 11:07 AM
I don't know, that EVERY college doesn't give classes in Outlook is perfect proof that school doesn't prepare you for using the single most commonly used software in an office environment, in the world.

Don't you think it's kind of odd that you would scoff at teaching people to use the most common office tool? Simply because schools don't teach it?

I've worked in IT for 25 years. I've worked for companies like Wells Fargo, Pillsbury, United Health Group. I've never used Outlook. I've worked for Groupwise shops and Notes shops and - back in the day - cc:Mail shops and currently a GMail shop.

Which is why they don't teach it.

We are currently teaching 20,000 people to use GMail. Its one hour worth of training - not exactly college level material.

Now, when I went to business school they did make me take a course on MS Office. But frankly, they didn't even bother to teach pivot tables or VLOOKUP or any of the other stuff that's hard to pick up on your own. Any idiot that can get into college should be able to figure out how to underline in Word on their own.


Now, I don't agree with msmith that you need a college degree to work in business. I've had management level jobs in Fortune 500s without a degree (I now have a degree, but have chosen not to pursue any job that involves managing people - I manage projects) and did for 20 years. My husband has a senior management job at a Fortune 100 without one. BUT the two of us both were lucky to be in the right place at the right time (IT related or web related work in the late 80s), both of us are fairly bright, charismatic people. There are firms that place a LOT of value on the degree (Google) - and firms that place the value on experience. But its way easier to get those first jobs that have corporate responsibility with the degree, and its way easier to see the promotions come through with an MBA. And you certainly don't need that Sociology/Psychology double major.

mswas
11-21-2009, 12:38 PM
I've worked in IT for 25 years. I've worked for companies like Wells Fargo, Pillsbury, United Health Group. I've never used Outlook. I've worked for Groupwise shops and Notes shops and - back in the day - cc:Mail shops and currently a GMail shop.

Which is why they don't teach it.

We are currently teaching 20,000 people to use GMail. Its one hour worth of training - not exactly college level material.

Now, when I went to business school they did make me take a course on MS Office. But frankly, they didn't even bother to teach pivot tables or VLOOKUP or any of the other stuff that's hard to pick up on your own. Any idiot that can get into college should be able to figure out how to underline in Word on their own.

And yet every temp agency in the country tests your capability in Microsoft Office regardless of whether or not you went to college or whether or not your resume is filled with technological positions that are above and beyond the complexity of anything in Office besides Access and Excel.

Now, I don't agree with msmith that you need a college degree to work in business. I've had management level jobs in Fortune 500s without a degree (I now have a degree, but have chosen not to pursue any job that involves managing people - I manage projects) and did for 20 years. My husband has a senior management job at a Fortune 100 without one. BUT the two of us both were lucky to be in the right place at the right time (IT related or web related work in the late 80s), both of us are fairly bright, charismatic people. There are firms that place a LOT of value on the degree (Google) - and firms that place the value on experience. But its way easier to get those first jobs that have corporate responsibility with the degree, and its way easier to see the promotions come through with an MBA. And you certainly don't need that Sociology/Psychology double major.

Yes, it's obviously easier to get those jobs with a degree. But that's a reflection on the market as much as it is on actual job requirements. There is a reality that many of those jobs DO require the degree and the degree makes it helpful, but that's for people who are going for jobs where they know what they are seeking, not for your average liberal arts job seeker that is sending resumes to every company they can think of.

Just because your company doesn't use Outlook doesn't mean it's not commonly used. Also, if you didn't learn Outlook then the Microsoft Office course you were provided didn't adequately teach you how to use Microsoft Office.

Then again, that's a constant source of income for me. Making folders and setting rules in Outlook will cost you an hour, even though it takes me a couple of minutes, because if I have to come to your office, I'm charging an hour minimum. Because I know how to use these programs without a college degree.

That being said, it's time to go get an easy $ 50 by setting up a Blackberry.

Dangerosa
11-21-2009, 02:38 PM
I think we are talking at different levels - I'm not even at msmiths "Marsh and Mclennan $500 an hour consultant" or "making it to partner at Accenture" level of discussion - but I'm talking far beyond someone who cares what a temp services tests for competency on.

(By the way, I do program and project management and manage the vendor relationship for the Microsoft product line for a company that - if it were incorporated in the U.S. - would be in the Fortune 200. Things like upgrading 40,000 PCs to Windows 7 - that's my problem right now. Office 2010, another one of my problems. Another one of my team's problems right now is a Blackberry Enterprise Server for GMail - but that belongs to another PM on my team - I don't usually do mobile). We do similar jobs - except my scope is a lot larger and I moved out of technical and into managing technical projects about five years ago. Before that I did systems engineering and architecture. I still do some engineering, architecture and a lot of IT strategy, but not at a "which knobs to turn" level any more. I'm well aware Outlook is commonly used, in fact did an analysis recently on Microsoft's market share in that very area (well, actually it was Google's, but you can't talk about GMail market share without knowing Microsoft's - I'm just saying that commonly used does not translate to 'everyone needs to know how to use it.')

mswas
11-21-2009, 04:19 PM
I think we are talking at different levels - I'm not even at msmiths "Marsh and Mclennan $500 an hour consultant" or "making it to partner at Accenture" level of discussion - but I'm talking far beyond someone who cares what a temp services tests for competency on.

(By the way, I do program and project management and manage the vendor relationship for the Microsoft product line for a company that - if it were incorporated in the U.S. - would be in the Fortune 200. Things like upgrading 40,000 PCs to Windows 7 - that's my problem right now. Office 2010, another one of my problems. Another one of my team's problems right now is a Blackberry Enterprise Server for GMail - but that belongs to another PM on my team - I don't usually do mobile). We do similar jobs - except my scope is a lot larger and I moved out of technical and into managing technical projects about five years ago. Before that I did systems engineering and architecture. I still do some engineering, architecture and a lot of IT strategy, but not at a "which knobs to turn" level any more. I'm well aware Outlook is commonly used, in fact did an analysis recently on Microsoft's market share in that very area (well, actually it was Google's, but you can't talk about GMail market share without knowing Microsoft's - I'm just saying that commonly used does not translate to 'everyone needs to know how to use it.')

I know you know what you're talking about, that's clear from everything you've posted so far. But I think you're talking a little bit past what I am talking about. As you said, different levels.

Y'all are referring to high level professions. That isn't what I am talking about. I am specifically talking about the type of jobs that temps do all the time, that you don't need a degree for. Specifically ones where they hire someone without a degree as a temp, but when they want to fill the position permanently they often try to find someone with a degree. My argument is that the level of competence is generally comparable.

And I am not drawing from experience as to what is expected of a temp, I am drawing from experience as to what is expected from people I have worked with as a temp or in IT. A lot of the people simply do not know how to do their own jobs very well. I have seen it time and again, people baffled by the every day processes they deal with.

Your Fortune 200 Operating System rollout is a position where I can see needing a degree for. Likely, a lot of the techs underneath you who are going to be going to the desk and listening to people bitch about losing work because Windows 7 glitched out on the broadcast you did over the weekend, don't require as much training.

And I am not saying that you are working in some kind of silly little environment where you don't use Outlook, my point is that even though there are cases, even Fortune 200 cases, where Outlook is not used, that doesn't make it not one of the most commonly used pieces of software in your average office. Also, when I talk about not being able to use Outlook I mean simple shit like redirect rules, and exporting to a PST. I don't mean fancier stuff.

I didn't go to school, and I was lazy in my career path as an IT professional. I could have gone a route that would have had me climbing up to a position like yours or at the very least where I'd work directly with you, but I decided that it wasn't for me.

I think you guys are coming at this a little bit like you think I am denigrating schooling in general. I'm not, I just think that a lot of people who are utilizing schooling don't necessarily need it. Lets call them Cornflower Blue Collar jobs. Where they are White Collar jobs that are filled by blue collar sorts of folks. There should be a lot more opportunities to go straight trade school for office jobs and not waste people's time with majoring in beer and taking the 'Post-Modern Philosophy in Gossip Girl' class.

I know you're a real professional, and I believe you are awesome, and I believe that your education helped you become that, and you worked hard for that. But you are not the type of person I am talking about and neither is msmith.

Basically my argument is that someone just entering the workforce should have at least had a basic office skills class that covered Outlook, Powerpoint, Word and Excel as well as other basics. Understanding what a Firewall is, understanding what VPN means, the basic concept behind TCP/IP. How to program a copier. Obviously, my view is going to be skewed by my relationship to IT, but I do see a lot of people that find their basic day to day operations incredibly baffling. It's sort of like, I know how plumbing works, I can redo the plumbing if I really had to, but I hire a professional because he's going to do a very good job doing it. I don't expect people to know how to do my job in IT, but I do expect a certain level of basic competency that I find lacking.

Really Not All That Bright
11-21-2009, 04:22 PM
Really? Always? So they have always competed for state of the art buildings and top end recreation centers. This is why so many colleges had them in the early 90s and didn't need to build them (or rebuild them) in the 2000s. Call PBS, they got it wrong.
How many colleges, exactly? Where did PBS get it wrong?

Dangerosa
11-21-2009, 04:33 PM
Yep, and if you are happy doing tech support or temp admin work, right now you don't need a degree. That's changing quickly though - at least for the desktop techs we work with. We get enough applicants with degrees that we can use it as a gate.

When I started in IT, I didn't need a degree at all to get almost to where I got (and I'm not sure that the degree helped in that last little push - helped, yeah, I'm sure it helped, necessary - I think I'd have gotten the last promotion without it). But today, it would take an exceptional person to be offered those opportunities without a degree. When I started, I worked with all types of folks who had been amateur programmers and developed their skills not in college, but hacking on an Apple II+. Now those sorts of jobs at an entry level pretty much need a degree. There are still a lot of old dinosaurs my age and older who didn't get a degree - the older sys admins I work with don't have them - the younger ones all do.

As there are fewer jobs in the U.S. that pay well, the competition for those jobs will increase. One way to gate those jobs is 'requiring' a degree. Is it necessary to be competent in the job? Very often not. But few people will get hired without it. Those that do will have managed to get 'commensurate experience.' Or know someone.

Therefore, the demand for "degrees" that are affordable will continue to exist. The expensive liberal arts degrees from low end colleges - I don't see the market being able to support them.

Long term, many people - maybe most people - want to make enough money to be able to live a middle class lifestyle and support a family. That's hard to do on a temp admin sort of salary or doing tech support. And those jobs are going to need college. Or be highly skilled trade jobs (I keep trying to talk my kids into being plumbers.)

Fionn
11-21-2009, 07:15 PM
I don't know, that EVERY college doesn't give classes in Outlook is perfect proof that school doesn't prepare you for using the single most commonly used software in an office environment, in the world.

Don't you think it's kind of odd that you would scoff at teaching people to use the most common office tool? Simply because schools don't teach it?

Not at all, because I learned it on the job. I was hired because they wanted an counseling intern, so they were more than happy to teach me what I needed to know.

mswas
11-21-2009, 07:20 PM
Not at all, because I learned it on the job. I was hired because they wanted an counseling intern, so they were more than happy to teach me what I needed to know.

I am more referring specifically to people who are going for office administrative sorts of jobs. You should probably know Outlook before you get a job, but because it's not expected, it's ok for them to train you. But then again you were an intern, so that's kind of what internships are about.

Dangerosa I actually kind of hate doing IT, I am trying to get away from it, but in the meanwhile it's always a good fall back position. I'm doing some writing work on a Sci Fi property that has a potential to actually turn into something, IE, the person who is spearheading it actually has mad connects. If that takes off and I get a writing credit, then that'll help my writing career. So that's where I am focusing. In terms of other fallbacks, I'm a licensed massage therapist and I'm working on doing Drupal theming work. So I'm trying to get some all around skills so I can do lots of different kinds of jobs. I think the Drupal Open-Source model for bringing up contractors through the internal system is an interesting one to watch. We'll see how many other fields turn to similar models.

Susanann
11-21-2009, 07:33 PM
The old rule of thumb, was that your college education should not cost more than your first years salary after you graduate.

I did it, it worked for me, and I still would not pay more than that.

If people would hold to the guideline, then we would not have so many people in debt, so many people messed up, so many people who are college educated working at minimum wage.

It just does not make any sense to pay more than that.

Epimetheus
11-21-2009, 08:03 PM
How many colleges, exactly? Where did PBS get it wrong?

PBS aired "Declining By Degrees. (http://www.decliningbydegrees.org/)"(instant watch on Netflix FWIW) Granted it was made in 2005, but it was about that period (According to the show anyway) in which the "arms race" between colleges kicked into gear. I know for a fact ours did (Mizzou, though they started with a NIIICE rec center, then a nice biochem building all the while constantly raising tuition about 7-10 percent every year. No locked in rates for us.

Really Not All That Bright
11-21-2009, 09:33 PM
The old rule of thumb, was that your college education should not cost more than your first years salary after you graduate.

I did it, it worked for me, and I still would not pay more than that.

If people would hold to the guideline, then we would not have so many people in debt, so many people messed up, so many people who are college educated working at minimum wage.

It just does not make any sense to pay more than that.
Sure it does. It makes sense to spend up to the amount that the degree will increase your future earnings, which would generally be a much larger figure than your first year's salary.

The problem is estimating your future earnings with and without the degree.

ETA: Thanks, Epimetheus. I'll have to look into that.

Fionn
11-21-2009, 11:10 PM
The problem is estimating your future earnings with and without the degree.



Very true, and there are so many factors involved it's easy to see why people end up making decisions that ultimately don't benefit them in the long run. For background, I've been a counselor and an advisor at both a community college and a four-year university.

1) It's a decision most people make right out of high school, based on the person they think they'll want to be in the future. Some of them pick majors and career paths they're completely unsuited for, which can end up extending their time in college as they try to figure out something else to do.

2) They make their decisions based on the best-case scenario in their chosen field, rather than the typical-case scenario for the job they want, where they intend to live.

3) A lot of people who would honestly be better off earning an associate's at a community college or entering the workforce go to college because it's what they've been told they should do, and either they or their parents won't hear of them doing anything else.

4) They're fixated on a college because of its reputation, so they'll pay a premium to attend it even if they would get better value somewhere else.

5) Some people use college as a refuge. They automatically go for more classes if they can't get a job even if it won't help them, they spin their wheels taking classes they don't need because they feel like it's a safe bet in an economic downturn, or they refuse to enter the work world.

mswas
11-22-2009, 11:23 AM
The old rule of thumb, was that your college education should not cost more than your first years salary after you graduate.

I did it, it worked for me, and I still would not pay more than that.

If people would hold to the guideline, then we would not have so many people in debt, so many people messed up, so many people who are college educated working at minimum wage.

It just does not make any sense to pay more than that.

But of course you need your degree to know what your earnings potential is. And that seems like kind of a messy way to do it. I know people who were making like $ 35,000 a year after college, but a few years later were making six figures.

Damuri Ajashi
11-23-2009, 01:45 PM
I was offering that as one possible answer to your query "But generally what does it mean that tuition price increases are occurring while wages are stagnating?"'t tackled the iss

I haven't tackled the issue of students being unable to pay their loans yet.

This is gonna be a bit of a drive (and might even derail the thread) but I think people are becoming more and more aware that they are not merely competing with other Americans for jobs. They are competing with kids coming out of Xinhua University and the engineering schools in India. By global standards almost everyone in America is overpaid and the only thing that you can buy that offers any insulation from global equalization of pay is education.

Things might have been different in the past but these days it is very hard to get very far without a college degree unless you own your own business.

mswas
11-23-2009, 01:55 PM
This is gonna be a bit of a drive (and might even derail the thread) but I think people are becoming more and more aware that they are not merely competing with other Americans for jobs. They are competing with kids coming out of Xinhua University and the engineering schools in India. By global standards almost everyone in America is overpaid and the only thing that you can buy that offers any insulation from global equalization of pay is education.

Things might have been different in the past but these days it is very hard to get very far without a college degree unless you own your own business.

This true, as well as foreign students picking up the slack at American universities.

Voyager
11-23-2009, 01:57 PM
This is gonna be a bit of a drive (and might even derail the thread) but I think people are becoming more and more aware that they are not merely competing with other Americans for jobs. They are competing with kids coming out of Xinhua University and the engineering schools in India. By global standards almost everyone in America is overpaid and the only thing that you can buy that offers any insulation from global equalization of pay is education.

Education that puts you in line for a job difficult to export. If you are studying to be a doctor or a lawyer, fine, but it might make more sense to study car repair than computer science. A programming job is easy to export, fixing a car not so much.

mswas
11-23-2009, 02:01 PM
Education that puts you in line for a job difficult to export. If you are studying to be a doctor or a lawyer, fine, but it might make more sense to study car repair than computer science. A programming job is easy to export, fixing a car not so much.

One of the options I've thought about is going to learn some engineering and then just make crazy gadgets using a 3D printer to make molds. Being able to machine some discontinued part would be a handy skill.

tomndebb
11-24-2009, 08:27 AM
If you have degree in your field of interest then it becomes a bit easy to start up your career rather than just having experience in hand without any pro degree. http://www.thedegreeexperts.com provides a platform for online degree seekers to get educated from accredited universities.
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[ /Mopderating ]