Monday, May 07, 2012

More on the deplorable state of contemporary higher education!

At the BBQ to which my neighbors/friends had invited me over, I slipped into a rather serious and depressed/depressing mode while talking about education.  It has become one giant ponzi scheme at so many levels, I told them.

Almost a day and a wonderful grilled steak and conversations later, here I am reading more during my solitary lunch break, and .... yep, more depressing stuff.  If only students would understand how much the system is sucking them dry!

Exhibit A: This WSJ report that "Only 49% of graduates from the classes of 2009 to 2011 had found a full-time job within a year of finishing school, compared with 73% for students who graduated in the three years prior."  Despite a plethora of such reports, students don't seem to care, and I have often wondered why.  Could there be a great deal of truth in the report's simplistic/sarcastic comment?:
Many students nonetheless express optimism, though perhaps that's simply the Lake Wobegon effect: They might believe they're all above-average after years of positive reinforcement from their parents. In the same vein, they may see themselves as exceptions to the rules of the job market.

And then there is the whole aspect of athletics versus academics. 

We might even cut down the number of classes we offer, and reduce the numbers of full-time instructors, but never shall we even marginally reduce our commitment to athletics.  It is similar to the maniacal Republicans adamantly holding the line on military budget.  Exhibit B: This Bloomberg report on the supremacy of athletics at public institutions:
Rutgers funneled $28.5 million from the university budget and student fees into sports, the most among 54 U.S. public universities in the biggest football conferences, based on data compiled by Bloomberg for the fiscal year ended last June. It was at least the second straight year at the top of the list for the state university of New Jersey, despite cost-cutting after lawmakers and faculty protested that academics were losing out.
(To see Bloomberg’s data on sports spending at Rutgers and 53 other schools, click here.)
“Rutgers puts too much money into athletics at the cost of basically every other department,” said Stephen Sweeney, the Democratic president of the New Jersey Senate, in an e-mail. He applauded efforts by Athletic Director Tim Pernetti to increase revenue. At the same time, he said, “the faculty, student body and the families of students who are supporting them through school simply pay too much.” 

So, ok, those are at the undergrad levels. The typical cure offered by the higher education industry is, well, more schooling. So, we then have excited people going in for PhDs in fields like history, which is Exhibit C:

If it were not for the fact that it is a brilliantly sunny and warm spring day, this would be one hell of a depressing Monday!

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