Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Liberal Compassion Rains Down on College Students - Watch For Flooding

Trina Thompson is suing Monroe College for the $70,000 she paid in tuition. She is suing the college because once she graduated, she was not able to find employment. Trina felt the college did not do enough to help her attain employment upon graduation. This lawsuit brings up so many problems inherent in the current higher education system.

Obama has a new goal that "By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” His plan is to get us there through even more government funding of higher education including making it easier for people to qualify for Pell grants. The problem with Obama's desire to increase government paid tuition is that increasing government payments of tuition simply increases tuition in general. What happens is that every time the government offers more money in Pell grants or makes it easier to get student loans, colleges increase their tuition to help them capture more of the increased federal aid. Colleges are able to do this because any time people are allowed to do something for free, they do not compare costs. So now you have students who do not price comparison shop their education because the government is paying for it anyway. And now tuition goes up for every student.

Make no mistake, this increased availability of federal funding will increase the number of students in the doors of each college institution, but these students will not necessarily graduate. As it is, most institutions have less than a 60% graduation rate for their students. If you increase the number of students in attendance by adding students that would not have attended college without government interference, in general, you just mostly increase the number of students that enroll in and begin to attend college only to later drop out, having spent mostly other people's money. Each time government aid increases, the pocketbooks of universities and professors increase at the expense of the taxpayer and others who would like to attend college on their own dime. The beneficiaries end up being these college institutions that are mostly liberal, and thus, friends of Obama.

Even as Obama is touting the necessity of a college education, I am intrigued by Trina Thompson's lawsuit for helping to point out that actually attaining a college degree does not necessarily facilitate good employment. And that colleges are in business for the money and not so much to meaningfully educate and help students achieve the employment these students are interested in. Colleges have done a good job of creating enormous expectations without trying very hard to help students achieve these expected results for the less than 40% of them that eventually graduate.

John Stossel even goes so far as to call college a scam and spoke with Dr. Marty Nemko for his 20/20 special about it. "If you're in the bottom 40 percent of your high school class," Nemko says, "you have a very small chance of graduating, even if you are given eight and a half years." Stossel continues, "colleges still actively recruit those kids, and eight years later, many of those students find themselves with no degree and lots of debt. They think of themselves as failures."

Now I do have a bachelor's degree, and I do believe that higher education is very beneficial for many. There is also a difference between an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree, and the quality of the resulting employment from a college education will vary greatly depending on which major is chosen. Great thought should be put into attending college, and it should not be the immediate next step from high school for everybody. Most of all I believe that the government should stay out of it.

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