There is much I love about working in higher education…and much I do not. I’ve mentioned things I don’t love about higher education “a time or two” in this blog, but one of the worst things is how my industry creates victims. When I first tried to get my book published, I tried to convince publishers that there were serious, grievous problems in higher education, but I could never convince the gatekeepers of our book industry of the many, many, victims being created by the student loan scam which has warped so much of higher education.
The student loan scam has been creating these victims for years, and some are, at last, finally recovering from the hideous injury inflicted upon them by student loans. One has recovered enough to talk about it:
The victims of the student loan scam are complaining about what’s been done to them. I think the complaints are often quite justified, but some folks are tired of hearing of pain-in-the-ass kids complaining. The author of the above has a good reply to that:
You know what’s really a pain in the ass? Practically owing my first born (and their first born) to Sallie Mae for my student loans.
Education has been completely warped now. Allow me to list a quote from one of the great minds of humanity, Isaac Newton:
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Newton’s genius did not come trivially. To stand on the shoulders of a giant, you have to climb, climb up the path of knowledge of those who have come before. It’s not easy, and education, real education, is not an easy thing. That’s what education used to be: very difficult, requiring years of study and effort by the student. It terms of money, it was cheap, even our most prestigious schools, a few generations ago, charged very little tuition (assuming you studied hard enough to pass the entrance exams).
The student loan scam has changed all that. Now, “education” is now ridiculously expensive, and coursework has been defined down to nothing, in many classes. The student loan warped higher education from “much work, little money” to “little work, much money.”
Now, many graduates stumble out of college after 6 years, with no ability to pay back a huge loan. The millennial explains how miserable this situation is:
There are only four main ways to discharge your student loan debt:
(1) Pay it off
(2) Pay on it for 25 years consistently then have it forgiven
(3) Work for peanuts for 10 years and have it forgiven
Don’t get me wrong, “pay it off” is what should happen, but the loans are far too high, and jobs you can get with the typical “no work required” degree are out of proportion to the loan.
No, We Can’t Work A Job And Pay It Off While In School
Back when higher education was cheap (1950 Harvard tuition, for example, was $650, at a time when making $40 a week was quite achievable—minimum wage was $1 an hour), a summer full time job, combined with some work during classes and some parental support, was enough to pay for tuition at a top tier school.
All the money flowing in from the student loan scam has driven tuition prices stratospherically—milk would be over $15 a gallon if it rose in price like tuition has. You can work full time while in school, yes, but you can’t make enough money to cover tuition that way, not at many schools, at least. The median year’s pay barely covers average tuition today.
We Honestly Didn’t Feel Like We Had A Choice
The whole mythology of higher education is part of why there are so many victims created by this industry. These poor kids come out of high school thinking “college is what I must do next,” and unscrupulous college administrators (I’m not just talking about for-profits here) sign up these kids for crushing lifelong debt.
An 18 year old cannot go into a casino and place a $5 bet on a hand of Blackjack. It’s the law, and it’s enforced. Casinos are punished if they take advantage of a kid that way.
But, that same 18 year old, after the casino kicks him out, can walk over to a college and put himself into $20,000 of debt, in exchange for completely useless coursework of no value in any form. Neither the college nor the administrator who does this to the kid will be punished in any way…
Again, yes, I think millennials have some legitimate complaints about how they’ve been victimized by the higher education industry.
The millennial is right, we should not be heaping scorn on the victims of the student loan scam. On the other hand, on the schools, and Poo Bahs that run the schools, the scorn and derision should be very, very, high indeed.