A serious joke for Higher Education



I saw a great cartoon on Zerohedge. It’s a joke, of course, but why not take it as a serious suggestion:

Imagine if higher education really did work this way. Institutions of higher education, especially universities, justify their incredibly high tuition because of the incredibly high value of their degrees, or so they claim.

“College degree holders make a million dollars more over a lifetime”, or so university officials claim, but this myth is easily debunked, to the point that janitors are better off than college degree holders, at least at current tuition prices.

But…why not make the above joke a truth? Just add another line to accreditation: “All accredited institutions allow graduates to return their degrees, in exchange for the institution paying off all student loans incurred for such degrees.”

Wow, this would melt the face off higher education. No longer would institutions sign up hordes of students for 6th grade level work, knowing full well that such work has no market value. For-profit schools could no longer rip off students with utterly worthless degrees, year after year, with no drawback to doing so. It wouldn’t take 18 years of fraudulent classes before students could feel like they could sue for being ripped off.

Instead, within, say, 2 years of graduating, a student could just go back to the university, and say “Sorry, turns out this degree doesn’t work as advertised. Here, you can take it back, and pay off my student loan for me. Mkay?” This may seem draconian, but keep in mind the university clearly ripped off the student of years of his or her life, far more precious than a $100,000 in my opinion (if you don’t believe me, come back when you’re 75, and see if you wouldn’t pay $100,000 to live as a 20 year old for 4 years!).

Institutions of higher education, with the sudden realization that they, and not students, would pay for institutional fraud, would probably be much more interested in not being so fraudulent anymore. Knowing that they, and not students, would be paying for 340,000 square foot student recreational centers that would shame amusement parks would stop their ridiculous building sprees. Institutions realizing that they, and not students, would pay for bogus degrees with no content, would no longer sell degree programs in homosexual music preferences, or coursework on Lady Gaga, or any of the other myriad versions of academic snake oil so prevalent on campus. Institutions realizing that they, and not students, would be paying all the seven figure administrative salaries would probably cut back on such insane pay. (Hey, anyone else remember when a “six figure salary” was a big deal? That’s chump change in higher education administration today!).

If degrees are so frickin’ valuable that universities can be shameless about charging 100k or so for them, why not have a money-back guarantee? If accredited schools are so frickin’ legitimate then why don’t accredited schools actually stand behind their product?

The simple fact that no institution anywhere stands behind its educational product well enough to offer a refund like this, despite the supposed legitimization offered by accreditation, strongly supports my assertions that much of higher education today is fraud, bordering on an extraordinarily expensive joke.