Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Academia As Humpty Dumpty

How can so many college kids afford to party during spring break? Plane tickets, hotel rooms, alcohol, food, marijuana, all cost a lot of money. Do their parent’s pay for it? Do they use their government Pell Grants? Their taxpayer-subsidized loans? And where do they get the time? Don’t they have to study? Don’t they have to write papers? Don’t they have work-study jobs?
Coed Dorm Life

Millions of our young people believe they’re entitled to party - not just for a week in spring, but every weekend or even every night - for years. Most take five or six years to complete a four-year degree and then graduate with six-figure debt and few if any job prospects in this “new-normal economy.”
Remember the “Occupy” demonstrations? Many participants were students who spent lots of time protesting capitalism and holding up signs demanding their student loans be forgiven, not to mention trashing up whatever city they were “occupying.” How did they find time for that?
Occupy Wall Street

College is hugely expensive now, and too few of us ask why. In the late sixties and early seventies I was able to pay my own way through undergraduate and graduate school at state universities working part-time and full-time jobs that weren’t particularly high-paying. I was a hospital orderly on the second shift while an undergrad. I went to classes in the morning and worked the 3pm-11:30pm shift and scrounged for study time. After that I taught school all day and attended classes nights and summers for graduate school. I got no help from parents or from government for any of it other than the subsidies Massachusetts paid directly to its state universities. I got no grants and no loans - and graduated with no debt.
Studying for Anatomy Class in the dorm

It is this writer’s considered opinion that the discipline and time-management skills learned by juggling work and school will be more instructive than whatever is learned partying in Fort Lauderdale, Virginia Beach or in dormitories. Keeping a foot in the real world of work helps a young person maintain some realistic perspective while immersed in the liberal/political/social, grade-inflated cocoon of the 21st-century college campus. Much of what is learned there must be unlearned anyway to succeed outside the bacchanalian dormitories and frat houses of academia, where serious students are impeded in their study by the non-stop partying all around them.

Harry Crosby
The late Harry Crosby, an acquaintance from the WWII generation, told me he got his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in the late thirties and he was able to pay for a whole year’s tuition, books and fees by working six weeks in summer. Then he became a navigator on a B-17 and got his graduate degrees on the GI Bill after the war. What has happened in the past four decades to drive up costs so much? Has a college education gotten so much better? I don’t think so. There’s plenty of evidence that it’s become much less rigorous. Students pay more these days - to learn less - as for decades, tuition and fees have risen an average of 7.5% annually - far in excess of the cost of living and with little or no justification from the so-called intellectuals on our campuses. Some of those geniuses at Duke University, for example, where it costs more than $50,000 in tuition and fees for one year already, are raising the fees still more to cover sex-change operations for students.

If you can’t figure out whether you’re a man or a woman, it wouldn’t seem likely you’re going to learn too much at a university no matter how expensive it may be. Many economists predict a trillion-dollar education bubble about to burst when millions stop making payments on their student loans. Will the academic establishment come tumbling down like Humpty Dumpty? Looks like a real possibility. As economist Herb Klein put it, "Trends that can't continue, won’t." But what will replace it? Expansion of community colleges teaching real-world skills and online courses away from the La-La Land of the modern college campus would be my guess.

If you’re graduating from high school and you don’t have a firm idea about what you want to do, my advice would be: don’t go to college. Join the military or get a job until you know what you want for a career. If college will help you get there faster, fine - then go. You may learn, however, that on-the-job training will get you there more quickly and much less expensively.


Henry said...

Tom brings up the lies that the Right Wing has been circulating about Duke Univeristy. Of course Tom, in his bubble, dim-wittededly ate the story up and regurgitated it to us.

The facts, easily researchable, are as follows:

Students CAN, if they are not covered by their parents, purchase a comprehensive insurance plan through the university. This insurance does cover such operations, and adds about $5.25 to students CHOOSING to purchase the plan. To dishonestly, or stupidly claim that this effects
tuition is just plain scummy.

Tom, aren't you tired of being hoodwinked by these Right Wing blogs? Don't you care enough, or have enough pride in your work to research information in your columns? Or do you know that your columns are full of $hit, and don't care because you are full of it yourself?

Sloppy journalism no matter how you look at it.

Gary s. said...

Another old fogie turning up his nose at the younger generation.

And who is to blame for this new generation of partiers? If previous generations were so great, why couldn't they raise their offspring to be better members of society?

And haven't college kids been acting crazy for ever? Many of these "out-of-control" partiers have gone on to great things. Take former President George W. Bush, who had quite a hearty appetite for partying. A Newsweek profile describing his college years, says he "seems to have majored in beer drinking at the Deke House."

Well, mayber that wasn't such a good example to make my point.

Anonymous said...

People feel that they have to go to college because the days of American blue-collar work are quickly disappearing. There just aren't enough jobs that don't require a college degree left nowadays. Who's to blame? Well, maybe your corporate friends who keep outsourcing jobs would be one place to start. But laissez-faire capitalism is the best economic model! Yeah, for the businesses who are getting ridiculously cheap labor by exploiting third world countries. All the while they're literally taking jobs from Americans.

Texas Transplant said...

Dear me - you seem to have hit a liberal nerve today, Tom. This other old fogey feels that once again, you are right on point.

New Hampshire Native said...

Oh my, you seem to have pleased a Good 'OL Texan today, Tom. They like their lies big there, so they LOVE you.....

Anonymous said...

I agree, you would think Tom would get sick of getting played for a fool by swallowing these lies. Some people are born suckers.....never learn. Like Charlie Brown and the football. "THIS time they aren't lying to me"

Raised tuition for sex changes!!!! And he believed it!!

"huh, what, just an optional insurance plan?"


Anonymous said...

I thank Tom for being willing to lay it out just like it is. Somebody has to have the courage to step up to the plate and "wake us up." I am getting sick of paying everyone's way for not taking responsibility for themselves. I don't mind helping with a hand up, but there are too many out there who are living off the land. Tom got his education the way I got mine--plain old hard work and no one to pay for us. We learned a lot from that experience, and more should do it like we did.


Tom McLaughlin said...

The sex change surgery is included as part of student fees. I never said it was covered by tuition and of three sources I read, none said it was optional as the anonymouse person above claimed. I've linked one source.

Another source claimed that Brown and other Ivy League schools already cover it. Obamacare is mulling it already so pretty soon we'll all be paying for misguided people to mutilate themselves, and not just on college campuses.

How soon before all insurance providers are required to provide these "services"? Overgrown children already get insurance with Mommy and Daddy until they're 26. Some of the boys will soon be able to change into Daddy's little girl if they choose. Catholics are being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs. Massachusetts taxpayers already pay for sex changes in prison inmates.

Henry said...

Tom, we know how ignorant you are about sexual identity issues. It takes some folks a long time to come around to reality on many issues. Look at how mental illness was viewed by many in the past. And believe it or not, there are still some nitwits out there that ignore all the scientific evidence about global warming and it's causes! That is moronic as those dopes that ignored all the polls and evidence over the past election!

As for the OPTIONAL insurance plan that Duke offers - the way you and many right wingers are trying to spin it is still plain dishonmest and scummy.

Tom McLaughlin said...

There will always be things about which I'll be ignorant, but I know I'm a man. With a name like Henry, I assume you are too, but perhaps you're confused about that. Seems like I've touched a nerve. Were you born Henrietta perhaps and had an addadicktome performed?

People like you can mutilate yourselves all you want at your own expense, but I'll continue to object when I'm expected to pay for it.

Henry said...

Oh, so YOU are fortunate enough to not be afflicted with a gender disorder so it is ok to taunt and humiliate those that do. You call yourself a MAN? You seem more like a juvinile little twerp. An ignorant child.

Is it ok to humiliate and taunt manic depressives? People with schizophenia? Ha, ha, bunch of wacky idiots, right?

But here is another thing you got wrong. Most people now DON'T have to go through these mutilating operations aty their own expense, because like other disorders they are covered by insurance. Sorry chump, but times are changing, and you are on the wrong side.

At least you TRIED to be a man and make your feeble little attempt at defending your BS, unlike your last post where you hid like a sissy from the moronic "apology tour" allegation.

At least you admit you are ignorant. That is a big first step.

And now for your predictable "I don't have time for this".

Back to hiding little sissy man.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Yup, I definitely touched a nerve.

I suggest you call your psychiatrist and ask him/her/whatever to increase the doses on your meds.

Henry said...

Oooooh, how witty!

But nothing in the way of a counter-argument.

Hey, since hitting nerves is all you are about, how about your next column you poke fun at young, crippled cancer patients.

Anonymous said...

Henry, don't sink to Tom's level and call him names. Just like the people that are born with gender disorders and can't help it, some people are born with very little intelligence and can't help it.

Tom's may be the saddest, most pathetic infliction of all.

Rick said...

Gender Identity Disorder is a formal diagnosis in the medical field. Tom should make a practice of researching such things. Tom may very well have very low intelligence, but that does not excuse his lack of research and his mean-spiritedness. Ignorance is one thing, being an a$$hole is quite another. Children in school that taunt boys who act afeminate, or tom-boyish girls, are called immatuure bullies. Adults that continue this behavior are a$$holes.

Perhaps, like many of the most outspoken homophobes who later get caught in homosexual behavior, Tom is hiding what is really going on with all his bluster.

Anonymous said...

Of course your sources are not say that the insurance is optional...that would defeat the purpose of their lies!

Thnink man, c'mon. Find facts out for yourself and stop getting spoon fed by the bubble-keepers.


Reaganite said...

Don't worry about Henry, Tom. He's obviously someone who is still on his parents' insurance and doesn't understand how it works.

The monthly fee paid by those who decide to enroll in the optional plan is merely the price of admission. It does not cover the costs of the "gender re-assignment" surgery. Those costs are paid by the sponsor of the insurance plan, which in this case is the university. That money has to come from somewhere, because contrary to liberal beliefs, it doesn't just grow on trees and college can't raise it via taxes. That somewhere is through tuition fees and from the endowment of the university - no pun intended.

But, Henry, please, don't the the facts get in the way of your narrative.

Tom McLaughlin said...

This brilliant post, written by "Tom C" came up today on the "As Maine Goes" web site which carries my column each week:

"Colleges are expensive because they have become comfortable havens for leftists who, if they had to survive in the real world by being productive, would starve to death in a matter of months.

Politics aside, as a business owner, or a manager in private enterprise, would you ever hire a Ward Churchill?

Massive government grants and student loans only keep the money flowing to these liberal bastions, which now offer to academic princes salaries in the comfortable 6 figures. Cadillac health insurance plans, benefits and luxurious pensions are provided in abundance to those priests of Marxist theology - while the Bishops draw out half-million dollar packages, housed in university-provided palaces suited for royalty.

A couple of years ago I found myself in a small college town in northern New England. After dinner I took a stroll down one of the streets.

On each side loomed stone mansions built during the era of the robber barons. This was no old run-down neighborhood, each building was newly sand-blasted and recently pointed, aproned with rich lawns and landscaping that was impeccably maintained.

As I marveled at the luxurious offices and dean's residences, I thought: "This is where the robber barons of the twenty-first century live."

The river of money will keep flowing, billions of dollars spent "supporting education" that does not give us smarter students, improve of position in a competitive world, or instill intellectual rigor in those children of privileged families.

What it does, instead, is provide wealth for those who disdain America, and create an indoctrination system for those ideals sure to rot America from within.

Which is just what it is designed to do."

Anonymous said...

And where exactly should those hundreds of thousands of college students go to work after they quit? To the factory, just like their pop and grandpop? Oh wait, they've all shut down because your corporate friends have outsourced all of the work in the name of profits.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant and Tom C. in the same sentence, Tom? That has got to be the most ridiculous statement you have ever written. LOL.

Susan B. Anthony said...

Let's move on to another issue that has far more consequences than the volatile but relatively minor sex change insurance policy. Here are some links to read - from Time Magazine, Huff Po, and a Florida newspaper - that represent the tip of a huge iceberg of growing articles pointing up the hypocritical and obscenely high salaries of college officials who preside over the universities that supposedly "serve" American students.

I first became aware of this sort of travesty when I toured the library of a decidedly mediocre public university you have probably never heard of, and was told by the tour guide that the top floor of the new library was not open for tours because the university's president had a fabulous full residential suite (complete with gold plated bathroom fixtures)on that floor, despite having an even more fabulous suite in the administration building and presumably, a home of his own. When I asked the tour guide why the president needed two on-campus suites so close together, she said "I think he entertains up there; I see them bringing some really nice dinners upstairs from the dining hall."

Comments, anyone?

Anonymous said...

24 years of military service out of high school, retired and have a contractor job making just under what I made on active duty. Retirement heck plus current job, no o route of college can match it. Some will never see it. Partying for four years and just passing the finals does not make for an intelligent individual. The piece of paper that comes with that means next to nothing these days.